one little word

My OLW for 2023

Ever since 2008, I’ve been trying to live by “one little word.” Some of my past words have been:

  • Balance
  • Gratitude
  • Laughter
  • Joy
  • Present
  • Promise
  • Reset
  • Restore
  • Vitality
  • Wellness
  • Wonder
  • Yet

I can look at each of those words and nearly always remember what was happening in my life when I selected the word. This morning, at the top of the new year, and I didn’t have a word in mind to guide me. (Typically, I know what my word will be and I schedule a blog post ahead of time for the morning of January 1st.) After a lot of thinking, I found my word. Finding it took a circuitous path. Here are the highlights:

Last night, I was reading a Twitter thread from Carly Pildis who is both a writer and the director of community engagement for the ADL. Last year, she took time off from writing so she could have a safe pregnancy. One of the tweets in her thread was this:

This spoke to me. 2022 felt like a year where I wanted to have it all, but didn’t. I’ve had trouble finding my way back to my professional life after a year of homeschooling. There’s a book I want to write, but my writing time often gets squeezed each day. If I’m being honest, I’ve been bitter on the days that I haven’t gotten to the work I need to do. I often feel like I am running an infirmary since my children returned to school. (You know your kids have had a rough go of it when you get on a first-name basis with the PAs at urgent care!) It’s gotten to the point where it’s hard to call myself a writer since I’m not throwing myself into my work like I did before the pandemic began.

Carly’s tweet reminded me that I cannot have it all at once. Right now, in this season of life, I need to be available for my children. BUT, I know I cannot let my children overtake my life to the point where I’m not doing the kind of writing that fuels me.

In a recent Washington Post column (that I read this morning), Monica Hesse wrote:

To be a parent or to be a citizen means knowing there is nobody to fix this but you: in the nursery, in the voting booth, at protests, in conversations with your own family. It means acknowledging that sometimes when we’re asked the most is when we have the least to give, but somehow, you give it anyway. You just keep getting up.

See? I told you it was a circuitous route to my word. Almost there… I promise!

Despite all of the sacrifices, setbacks, fatigue, and frustrations, I continue to move onward. Most of the time I don’t move onward with intention. I move forward hemming and hawing. I don’t like feeling stuck nor do I like talking about how stuck I’ve felt in recent months. I have to find and keep some momentum to help me move forward. Therefore, the one little word I’ll live by in 2023 is ONWARD. It’s my hope that being intentional about moving onward, both personally and professionally, will help me grow in ways I cannot even imagine as I type this on New Year’s Day.


19 thoughts on “My OLW for 2023

  1. You have made me think about several things, Stacey. The pathways our minds take to get to some kind of discovery is at the heart of ONWARD…and I know that word will serve you well. I also love that each OLW selection that you have made holds highlights of the year it was chosen. You have highlighted what I need to have more of in my life: intention. This is the perfect post to read on New Year’s Day. (I chose the word LISTEN last year, and in the spirit of what John Spencer calls SLIME resolutions—
    I am going to improve that practice. “Listen” demands a second year!)

  2. Thanks for this post Stacey. Somehow your words always remind me of all the thoughts that run through my head and heart. You are a writer – maybe not as much as you’d like but your gift and your practice is present. I am in a different place in my life with grown children but your words resonate from so many years ago and even with grown up kids, life gets in our way. But onward we go – it’s what we do. Thank you for the work and sharing you do.

  3. The tweets about having it all remind me of a conversation I had w/ a couple of students a few years ago. Two girls sat on the couch in my classroom conversing about whether or not they could have it all. I looked up from my desk and said, “You can have it all. You just can’t have it all right now.” That’s true for all women. What happens to time, to our lives, if we collapse every experience into right now? I think the significance of each gets diminished, weakened, lost. We’re impatient w/ ourselves sometimes. Onward with grace for yourself and for knowing in good time you’ll write that book, the kids will get well, and you will have it all. Have a wonderful new year.

  4. Oh I love your thoughts here, Stacey, and the tweets and quotes! Onward is such a powerful word. My Grandy always used to say “don’t look back” and I think that is a version of “onward”- keep going! Have you read Maggie’s Smith book Keep Moving? I think it will speak to your OLW and I loved it.

  5. I love the description of your “circuitous path” to your OLW and the way you recognised that the writing “fueled” you. I am reminded of the expression ‘onward and upward’ – very English and stoic but your onward has so much more power and commitment woven through it.

  6. Onward! I love this word, perhaps even more since I read the Voices book about Joan of Arc written in poetry forms. That word stuck with me, this woman on a mission, who was positively inspiring and sacrificed so much. Your word is inspiring, and this time of pause has been all a part of the bigger picture to prepare you for ONWARD this year! Cheers! Onward! Enjoy the journey.

  7. I love this word and I love this post. I get caught up in wanting to get things done NOW and forget to take the long view. I understand your frustration, and I also understand when you say that at this time your children need you.

  8. I love reading OLW posts. I have no doubt that onward will bring magic to your life. Your word “Onward” instantly brought Elena Aguilar’s book with the same name to my mind. It’s about Cultivating Educational Resilience in Educators. Happy New Year!

  9. Onward! What a great OLW. Your post really made me think a lot – everything from your own introspection to the quote — I am going to be thinking about this a lot — the idea that we can’t have everything all at once.

  10. Enjoyed the journey you took us on towards ONWARD. My striving for career, advocation, family has settled into a steady spiritual march – onward.
    When I taught at The Dalton School – their motto was – Go forth unafraid. The logo was a mother crouching, letting her son run from her arms. Whenever I feel trepidatious, I think of those words and image. May you go onward with health and happiness unafraid!

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