Choose 2021 | Wrapping Up.

I’ve been looking forward to putting this post together for a few weeks (honestly since November, when I chatted with Carolyn about the series she was putting together to celebrate this OLW practice). Last year’s wrap up is one of my favorite posts to revisit … I love how the review tells a story about the year and about me and my OLW.  The monthly check-ins here continue to be one of the most useful practices for me around OLW – they force me to reflect and connect. Some months it makes magic, and some months it barely holds together. which all feels a lot like me. and my life right now.

January 26 – I finally announced my word … and explained a little about why I felt called to my first do-over. Basically, CHOOSE just kept showing up! I also shared quotations from Anne Lamott and Pastor Steve. “We become the future we choose. Let’s make it one full of joy, gratitude, and hope.”

February 23 – Helpful lessons about the choices I make in my thoughts. Strongly influenced by @SharonSaysSo and a series of Instagram stories she ran advising “If you can’t change it why choose it”, I committed to giving up complaining – choosing to give mind, heart, or head space to stuff I couldn’t change. I haven’t been 100% true to this commitment, but it’s still one I value … and sometimes even on bad days.

March 30 – I was looking forward to life post-vaccination and acknowledging all the choices that entailed. ahhh, the optimism back then! and still I recognized “The harder choices are going to come once more folks are vaccinated. when more things are open. when gatherings are going to be larger and likely include folks we (me) just don’t know very well (or worse, do know well, and know they’re not making similar choices). that’s gonna mean having the courage to say “no”. I think it’s also going to mean giving grace to folks who make different choices. and that was not something I actually contemplated when I thought about ‘all this’.” In retrospect, I haven’t done a great job with that grace, but I have gotten pretty good about saying “no (thank you)”.

April 27 – I wrote about Choosing Connection (one of this year’s intentions): “When faced with choices about which projects to pursue, which books I might read, which groups I might join (or leave), which Zooms I want keep up, where I might start venturing out and meeting up with folks – I’m choosing those that create or nurture Connection.”  This was an excellent lesson and one I still use to evaluate my choices!

May 25 – Choosing Connection and Stillness. My small group had just finished Brené Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection and there’s a guidepost (#8 cultivating calm and stillness) that really resonated. I reflected on how I chose stillness: “For me, a solo run to the lake – now a Sunday morning ritual (thank you Carolyn, for this framing!) – is that kind of time. I leave my earbuds at home. Once my feet and my breathing find their rhythm, my mind is open … for feelings, thoughts, dreams, questions, and occasionally, if I’m lucky, an answer or two. It’s also my dark-early-morning-quiet time with my journal, a devotion, and 10 minutes of centering prayer. Sometimes it’s reading, or knitting, or a conversation with a friend. Often it’s saying “no”. and almost always, it’s a choice.” yep, still.

June 29 – Inspired by Tsh Oxenreider, I revisited Gratitude as a choice. Tsh wrote: “On those days when I choose to remember to do this — and it is a choice, every single iota of this practice — here’s what I notice underneath the surface: the sacramental goodness that all of life is a gift.” Together with these words from the previous year “Gratitude is a choice that becomes a practice that becomes spiritual muscle memory”, I recommitted to my own daily practice of listing five things for which I’m grateful.

July 27 – I explored unconscious choices – also known as bias – when I listened to season 2 of Brian McLaren’s podcast “Learning How to See”. This closing reflection still resonates:

“Inspirer of holy boldness and humble bravery-
… give me the humility to learn from my community-
… along with the courage to differ graciously from my community …”
May it be so.

August 31 – Marc spent the weekend before this post in the ER … and that started his journey to a cancer diagnosis. I read a post by Joy Fetell Lee about finding joy in all the things and it reminded me of my intention to Choose Joy. “Still, I know in my heart that joy matters; it’s rooted in my faith. I believe in a God who created us out of love, to be joyful. I imagine my joy making God smile. It becomes a sacred act.”

September 29 – I wrote about still being in a liminal space, even setting up camp in that most uncomfortable place and asking for a more comfortable mattress. and still, I had the power to make choices. I documented a few of the choices I’d made during the month that brought me joy. “I may not know what’s coming on the other side of this time, but I know I’ll have choices. and I trust I’ll be able to find joy in some of them. and honestly, that feels like a pretty good place to be, in spite of the uncomfortable threshold.”

October 28 – more wisdom from @SharonSaysSo – this time about hope. “Hope is a practice. Hope is a choice. Hope is cultivated. It is exercised. Hope is developed. It is not a feeling.” Marc had a biopsy mid-month and by month’s end he had a diagnosis, treatment plan, and surgery scheduled for mid-November. “October threw me and my family some big challenges. My Hope muscle got a workout. I spent some unhelpful (and in the moment gratifying) time focusing on choices I didn’t get to make. but Hope helped. Hope gave me back some agency.”

November 30 – more wisdom from Diana Butler Bass about Gratitude, suggesting we expand suggesting we broaden our response to gratitude beyond the preposition “for” to include “with”, “through”, “to”, “within”. “I realize I need to go deeper on gratitude with others. Gratitude for others is huge, but with?! …and then I see a link between my intentions for connection and gratitude that goes beyond anything I’d imagined back in January. and then I wonder … perhaps these monthly checkins are exactly that. perhaps these checkins answer those questions for all of us.”

I spent the month of December intentionally looking for joy and gratitude beyond “for”. I found so much! and even though this last week presented challenges we weren’t anticipating, we managed. There’s nothing like pulling together as a family to navigate a tough situation to drive home gratitude “with” and “through”.

My mom’s follow-up orthopedic appointment is this morning at 9:30. We are all incredibly grateful for your good thoughts and encouragement this past week – thank you!

and I’m (optimistically) looking forward to being back here next week … with a combination of looking back and looking ahead, and maybe – hopefully – finding myself again.

Cheers to the new year!

15 thoughts on “Choose 2021 | Wrapping Up.

  1. Wow – CHOOSE has taken you on quite a journey in 2021. And it’s led you through some really difficult moments this year! This was a gorgeous reminder of everything you taught us through your year – thank you!

  2. You had quite the journey with choose. I hope your mom’s appointment has excellent results and I look forward to seeing you in this space more – I’ve missed you!

  3. This was a journey, Mary. I really like how you did this little wrap up!

    But beyond that… sending good thoughts for your Mom today. I hope all goes well.

  4. Echoing others in that your 2021 word let you around quite a bit. I think that’s a good thing! Sending healing thoughts and wishes to your Mom – all the best for her appointment today.

  5. I really enjoyed this wrap up Mary. Sending prayers and good wishes to you, your family and your mom. I having a feeling things are on the upswing!

  6. As I read your reflections on the year and how your word helped you get through with joy, gratitude, hope, and grace, I thought about how much wisdom you must have gained and am grateful that you have shared your insights with all of us. Thank you, Mary!
    I hope your mom’s doctor visit went well!

  7. This year’s journey took some winding paths but “choose” served you well. Here’s to a new year and continuing the journey.

  8. What a wonderful reflection. I need to revisit my word through my blog posts this week before I am ready to say goodbye. Thinking about your mom’s appointment and hope you got some helpful news.

  9. It’s so important to remember that we can choose our attitude to everything. A friend of mine would always choose to see even the worst of things as an Opportunity. Sometimes that drove me crazy when I wanted a Good moan. I have decided that I shall use the word Balance to get my life sorted this year.

  10. Looking back on your year, I’m really struck by just how powerful Choose was for you given how many things were outside of your control. It seems like it was a very empowering word in that respect.

  11. I am always in awe of your learning and humility, and willingness to be with what is difficult or uncomfortable. It seems to have been such a rich choice for you this year, with layers of meaning and links to many things. I hope that Marc is making a good recovery (and I feel bad that his illness somehow this wasn’t in my consciousness) and that all will be well with your Mum too. You have such grace and gracefulness – it is always inspiring to read your posts. Sending warmest good wishes for the year ahead and for whatever your new word for the year is …

  12. It was quite A Year, wasn’t it? I’m sending all the best juju for your mom (and . . . you!). Here’s to a quick return to finding yourself again. XO

  13. You had a rollercoaster year but your choices made it sound more manageable and more thoughtful than it could have been. I hope your mother is on the pather to recovery and mobility on her own. I’d love to talk and see how you’re doing. xo

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