In my last post, I mentioned that have chosen a theme word and two supporting words for the 2022, and that I would be sharing more about them in an upcoming post. I want to mention that I used this workbook from Susannah Conway as part of the theme word process, this being my first time choosing a theme word for the year, and if, like me, you're having difficulty narrowing down a word, I'd suggest taking a look at it. To be clear, this is not a paid promo or anything. I like to give credit where credit is due, and this worksheet helped me come up with a theme word, and subsequently the two supporting words, which I would not have thought to choose on my own. In fact, I went into the worksheet thinking that I likely had a specific word chosen, but that I'd use it to kind of "double check" myself. Throughout the four day worksheet process, I realized that the word I was leaning towards, while extremely important to me and possibly will be a future theme word down the road, didn't quite capture what I was looking for (in case you're wondering, that word was "connection").
Part of the trouble I was running into when choosing a word, and this probably isn't a surprise to anyone who's routinely heard me say "I'm going to call an audible" when trying to decide what menu item to order, is that I was having difficulty narrowing it down to one final choice. I felt like there wasn't just one specific word that encapsulated the feeling that I was going for. Doing the worksheet, I was reminded that people often choose supporting words, and this helped greatly. I was able to find a combination of words that, together, formed what I was looking for in a theme.
The theme word I chose for the year was Nurture. The supporting words and Nourish and Release. I had a specific thought process behind choosing each one, and I thought I'd share that here.
Those of you familiar with my IVF journey might think I chose this for the association it often has with parenting/nurturing a child, and obviously, if I get to apply it in that way, I will be over the moon. But that's not why I selected it. When I decided on nurture, I was thinking of nurturing myself. In particular, nurturing my connection with myself, connection with divine/God/nature/universe/something greater than myself, with those closest to me (instead of focusing on more connections, focusing on nurturing the ones I have). I want to nurture my creativity, the ideas that float into my head that I so often tell myself "no, that wouldn't work, I'll never be successful at that" - maybe it won't, but I want to try to nurture, to cultivate those instead of just automatically dismissing. I want to nurture my spirit, my sense of free-ness (different from freedom) which 'I've struggled to find lately. I may not be able to connect with it in the ways I traditionally do, like traveling and exploring, but I can find other ways. Throughout the year, I may find additional areas that of myself and my life that I want to nurture. I'm open that, as long as it feels genuinely me, and is not born out of needing external validation or people pleasing. For now, this is my starting point for nurture, with the knowledge that it may adjust and shift a bit along the way.
A family member was talking about how they like the word lush, and in the context of my theme word nurture, this led me think of the word nourish. To clarify, I'm not saying that having nourishing food should be some sort of luxury. I'm thinking nourishing beyond just "nutritional food". I'm thinking nourishing my body, my mind, my heart, my soul. In terms of the body, this does of course involve making sure my body feels like it's getting the what it needs food wise, but based on listening to my body, not based on calorie count or any type of diet, because it's not about weight or shape, it's about my body feeling nourished in every sense of the word. It's making sure I give my body the rest it needs, both in terms of sleep and in terms of intentional rest and relaxation. It's silly things, like instead of letting my skin go dry and cracked because I'm trying to save on lotion (my internalized issues with abundance are a whole other blog post), I actually use the appropriate amount of lotion so that my skin feels better. It's nourishing my heart with activities that bring me happiness and joy, nourishing my soul with anything that speaks to it - nature, music, dance, yoga (all eight limbs, not just asana), meditation, prayer. To use my family member's word, there's a lushness to the idea of nourishing myself that isn't there with the idea of simply sustaining. I can eat food and get enough sleep to function, but that's just sustaining, surviving. Similarly, I can exercise because I've exercised my entire adult life and feel like I "should", or I can move my body in ways that feel fulfilling, joyful. And to be clear, I realize every meal or movement or night's sleep won't be nourishing. Sometimes my blood sugar gets low reason, and I grab basically anything to eat and hit it off at the pass before it drops suddenly. Sometimes the it's a cold/dreary day outside and what I wanted to do is go for a walk or hike (which would feel more nourishing), but I end up exercising indoors because the movement helps my mental and physical health, and it's better than nothing. I get that all this. But the idea is that I'm consciously working to build more nourishment into all areas of my life. And by doing so, I feel I'm setting myself up to nurture better. If I'm nourishing my body, mind, heart, soul, I'm going to better be able to nurture my creativity, my ideas, my relationships with myself, others, something greater, which is why I chose this as a supporting word.
This one sounds counterintuitive to the above - they both feel like they're "adding", while releasing feels like taking something away. I chose the word release in thinking of yoga concept of Aparigraha, or non-grasping. While in yoga Aparigraha may often be used in relationship with material things, for me, it brings to mind the idea of letting go in a broader sense. I think about how tightly I hold on to a lot from the past - my storefront, being a full time business owner, just to name a couple. I hold onto past versions of myself that no longer serve but I can't quite let go of. I hold onto other people's expectations and versions of me. I hold onto the "if only's" that I can't change. I hold onto perfect images of how certain things "should" be, which of course inevitably leave me disappointed because nothing and nobody is perfect, least of all myself. I hold onto so much self shame, blame, and guilt, nearly always for things that don't warrant it, or at least don't warrant the amount I'm putting on myself. And I don't feel that I can properly nurture and nourish myself if I'm so tightly grasping onto all of this. There's no room for appreciating the present, for newness, for growth, for moving forward when I'm already holding onto so much. In that sense, the idea of releasing feels supportive of the concepts of nurture and nourish, and it's why I've chosen this as my second supporting word.
One of the aspects that I love about all three words is the softness of them. They exude, to me, a quiet confidence, an inner strength and commitment to self that feels extremely authentic to me. For years, I've struggled with low self-esteem, lack of confidence, low self worth. I've also struggled with the fact that my anxiety and cyclothymia, particularly the hypomania, give people in inaccurate impression of me. I often talk a lot and loudly, despite being an introvert who values quiet, reflective time. Some of that might be just "who I am", but some of it is anxiety and/or hypomania. Anxiety also makes me feel and look to others as high strung, jumpy, someone who has a tough time letting go and relaxing. Often times, people- including myself - have a tough time getting past all of this to see the me that's underneath. This past year, I've connected more with the self that feels genuinely me, and there's a gentleness to it, a softness to it, that I'm truly enjoying. I'd like to continue to develop this, and I'd like to be able to bring it into my interactions with others and the world around me.
This is the first time I've done a theme word (and supporting words), and so far, I'm finding it helpful. I write these three words in my journal as part of my entry each morning. I have these words, and the concepts behind them, as part of my toolbox of reminders for working with my all-over-the-place brain, my cyclothymia, my anxiety. When I need to redirect or guide my thoughts, center myself and be more present, or remind me of my commitment to myself, I can draw on these words.