My 2016 Word of the Year

Happy new year! I'm going to tell you the story of the word I chose to guide me this year. It's a little long, so go pour a cuppa, but it all makes sense in the end.

Tree in Snow on Mt. Hood in Oregon

My journey to my word of the year started back on Winter Solstice, although I didn't know it then. This was my second year doing a small Winter Solstice ceremony. Last year, I wrote down a list of things I wanted to release and burned them in a bonfire. This year, I smudged myself and did a verbal release. My list was very short: I released any need cancer has ever filled in my life, and I released any need to hold on to that identity going forward. Then I welcomed in what I desired which was to be healthy and whole in mind, body and spirit. When I was all done smudging, I pulled an animal medicine card and it was the Swan card: grace.

Photograph of the Swan animal medicine card illustration

It tells the story of a little swan who wants to visit the Dreamtime, but  Dragonfly, the guardian of the Dreamtime, tells her she is only able to enter once she is willing "to accept whatever the future holds as it is presented, without trying to change Great Spirit's plan." She agrees "to surrender to the flow of the spiral and trust" what she is shown in the Dreamtime. When she emerges afterwards, the Dragonfly is stunned by her transformation. Swan explains that because of her acceptance, she was changed and she learned to "accept the state of grace."

The next two paragraphs I read that night gave me chills, considering what I had released during my smudging moments before.

"So it is we learn to surrender to the grace of the rhythm of the universe, and slip from our physical bodies into the Dreamtime. Swan medicine teaches us to be at one with all planes of consciousness, and to trust in Great Sprit's protection.

If you pulled Swan, it ushers in a time of altered states of awareness and of development of your intuitive abilities. Swan medicine people have the ability to see the future, to surrender to the power of Great Spirit, and to accept the healing and transformation of their lives." (I underlined the part that nearly made me faint.)

So I sat with this reading for a bit and then the holidays happened. The new year arrived and with it my thoughts for my word for 2016. I started choosing a word for the year in 2014. That year and last year, a word came to mind quite easily. This year, not so much. I came up with a trio of words to guide my work life for 2016 easily, but I was quite stuck on a personal word. Susannah Conway's email course, Find Your Word, was recommended to me so I signed up. It was truly helpful and a wonderful process that I recommend to anyone. It doesn't matter that it's January 12th either, you make the rules.

Find Your Word 2016 email course with Susannah Conway

First I did a guided visualization on my ideal day. Then, a series of questions about the coming year: what is happening, what I hope to happen, what dreams I want to nurture, what areas of my life need support, what qualities I want to develop in myself and finally, what does my heart need.

From these exercises, plus a long list of suggestions, I made a list of 16 possibilities and then narrowed my list to six words: Power, Peace, Grace, Grow, Golden and Pride. For each word, I wrote how I define the word, what it feels like, synonyms and the dictionary definition. Now the hard part, simmering on the words. I eliminated a few easily: Peace, Pride and Grow. I loved Golden, but decided to make it a color guide for the year instead. So it was down to two: Power and Grace.

These seemed like very opposite words to me, two different directions to go in and both were calling to me. Power meant physical strength, big energy, and financial power. (My husband and I have begun a big money transformation over the past few months so this meaning appeals to me). Power felt awesome, inspiring, hard but worth it. Grace meant soft, polished, elegant, and feminine. Grace felt intuitive, lovely and serendipitous (due to my pulling of that medicine card).

In the end, I went back to the question, "What qualities do I want to develop in myself this year?" My answers were forgiveness, softness, gentleness, confidence and respect. This question is how I have used my word of the year in the past to guide me. It's a very internal thing for me. After sleeping on it last night, and talking it out with two trusted friends, I made my decision.

2016 word of year for Jessica Nichols

And there you have it, a very long story about my word for the year! I put the word in gold glitter to start incorporating the golden word I didn't choose (which meant warm, shiny, magical, magic hour, light and delicious to me). I hope you enjoyed hearing the story.

Do you choose a word for the year? I would love to know, please leave me a comment and tell me about it.