My Word, it’s 2016!

Have you started a diet? Renewed your gym membership or decided to walk more? Maybe you have resolved to cut down on Facebook time this year . . .

Along with such New Year’s resolutions, some of my friends each year choose a guide word to help navigate the unknown paths of the next twelve months. Last year I began my own tradition with the word Advance. You can read about why I chose it here.

My Special Word

This year my word is Whole-hearted!

A few months ago I heard Brené Brown’s TEDx talk on expressing vulnerability. Though I’m generally not a fan of  self-help books, her presentation piqued my interest enough to read The Gifts of Imperfection, her short book (130 pages) labeled “Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life.”

Credit: Goodreads
Credit: Goodreads


On the first page appears her definition for such a life:

“Wholehearted living . . . means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

Dr. Brene Brown, author/researcher/professor, has collected thousands of stories in the course of her qualitative study on authenticity and wholehearted living, which she describes as an act of faith that “requires believing without seeing.” (91)

This description sounds very much like my definition of faith, fueled by grace and joy, a faith I tasted first as a child hearing the blessed words of an old hymn at Bossler Mennonite Church: True-hearted, Whole-hearted, in which the men and women in the chorus belted out antiphonally: “Peal out the watchword, silence it never / Song of our Spirit, Rejoicing and Free . . . King of my life, my Savior will be.”


Quotes on Wholeheartedness

Maybe stories are just data with a soul. ~ Brené Brown

Never shy away from opportunity and wholehearted living. Never be fearful of putting yourself out there. The courageous may encounter many disappointments, experience profound disillusionment, gather many wounds; but cherish your scars for they are the proud emblems of a truly phenomenal life. The fearful, cautious, cynical and self-repressed do not live at all. And that is simply no way to be in this world.”
Anthon St. Maarten

Marianne could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby.    ~ Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.     Deuteronomy 6:5, King James Version


A Look in the Mirror

Last year, my good friend Sandra Cornelius gave me a mirror for my birthday. A survivor of many serious health challenges, Sandra took up the practice of placing mirrors in various rooms of her home during her recuperation, declaring with an inscription that she is beautiful even though she may have felt otherwise at the time.

With this object, granddaughter Jenna is learning the concept of self-acceptance, which is vastly different from pride or self-importance. Just as Aibileen, the maid, praised Elizabeth’s young daughter Mae in the novel The Help, Jenna is also hearing that she is kind, smart, and important.


In the month of January, named for the ancient Roman god Janus, we look two ways, with gratitude and perhaps a sense of relief for having survived 2015, and with anticipation and hope for the new year ahead.

Thank you for being my companion this year. I hope 2016 will be your best ever.

Happy New Year!

Have you made a resolution or chosen a special guide word for 2016? Looking back, what are you particularly thankful for this past year?

Coming next: Moments of Discovery, Keys to a Riddle


42 thoughts on “My Word, it’s 2016!

  1. I love your word. I still haven´t come up with one. 2015 was so full of changes, my word ´accept´ was perfect.´gratitude´ comes to mind. I may have used it before but it is always a good reminder. You will have no problem being ´whole hearted´ this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the affirmation, Darlene. From where I stand, you are also curious, inquisitive, and adventurous for having embraced wholeheartedly your new culture in Spain.


  2. I don’t do resolutions, theme words, or theme Bible verses. Sorry to bow out. I’m a little fascinated by the bloggers who have announced theirs, though. 🙂 My motto is “let it be…” (Ha.) I love your photo of Jenna–and that she didn’t mind modeling for you. She has an admirable model in you, as well as your husband. I am looking forward to growth and change this year as will be revealed as the year goes on …. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A woman with a mind of her own – good for you, Melodie. Your words speak eloquently for you in many venues. I admire that and I join you with intent to grow and change this year as well.

      About your observation about Jenna posing for photos: This generation, I think, is used to having their pictures taken because smartphones make it is easy. I realize too that I am very fortunate to have her living close by. It wasn’t always so. Until a few years ago they lived far away in Chicago. Jobs in Jacksonville brought them back to Florida.


  3. Marian — WHOLEHEARTED is a perfect hand-in-glove fit for you. I love it! My focus word this year is Alliance. Thank you for sharing “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown, I’ve added it to my reading list.

    You asked, “Looking back, what are you particularly thankful for this past year?” I’m incredibly grateful that our son, Evan, relocated from the midwest to Boise and is now only a mile down the road.


    1. Alliance fits you perfectly too. Count me as one of your allies as you move forward toward book publication. Wow!

      I just commented to Melodie about having children living close vs. far away as ours did years ago. You know of course it’s a tribute to your good parenting skills that drew Evan to live closer to you guys 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Whole-hearted is the best approach to just about anything. I started my diet last year, but I’m really having to resolute for will power. I cheated over the holidays with cake and pie. Messed up my blood sugar for a few days, but quickly got back to normal. Last night I ate deep fried chicken wings and got very ill. All that horrible vegetable oil sitting on a sick stomach. It doesn’t take much to sticking to the good stuff when you’re used to it and try to go back.


    1. What I remember best about you in 2015 were your victories: losing weight and stopping smoking. Who cares if you have a relapse or two. You just “pick yourself up and dust yourself off and start all over again” or something to that effect. Apparently your body has developed a healthy aversion to junk food. Have a frabjus 2016, Susan!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Whole-hearted suits you! Driving home Jan 3, I felt discouraged and saddened by unresolved situations looming on the horizon. God, as He has so faithfully done in the past, let me hear a song with new ears…about watching and being amazed because the story is still unfolding. I can add whole-heartedly to that! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you for sharing your moment of epiphany. Sometimes we imagine other’s lives to be all rosy and smooth but of course they aren’t. I have been dealing with an unresolved situation for about a year and a half now. Though it’s wearisome to wait and work and wait and work while the story is still unfolding, God is moving behind the scenes. Of that I am sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wholehearted! Yes, that’s me. No resolutions. I’m just going to live wholehearted this year. My husband is turning 80 so we’ve got to live wholeheartedly or just sit here and age away. I refuse to do that. 🙂 Thanks for the good word!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you, Marion. You are a perfect example of whole-heartedness. I feel that in everything you post. I feel it in your love for family–and now this beautiful exercise with your granddaughter. It’s been wonderful to get to know you and feel we both have deep faith coming from different traditions–and that’s OK with you. It’s more than OK for me. It’s been great to watch how unafraid you are in choosing new topics in the midst of familiar things. Whole hearted variety and spice. New Year’s Blessings to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I see you commenting with your Sister Archetype hat firmly placed. Thank you. In this decade of our lives, there is no other way to live. Elaine, I wasn’t actually aware that I was choosing new topics. I guess I’m just playfully (sometimes!) following my nose.

      By the way, I left a follow-up comment on your Wednesday blog post.


    1. My comment focused on all the elements of whole-heartedness already in evidence in this post. I can imagine you as a young girl fascinated by a hymn in which the chorus passed from the men’s side of the church to the women’s side. The professor in you found Jane Austen, and the grandma in your opens your heart wide open. Lucky Janna! These will all come pouring forth as you continue to write your memoir. Whole-hearted it will be!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Whole hearted is a great word to live by. I passed on resolutions this year I was and am so sick with a cold that I can’t shake off. I still cooked during the holidays and entertained family and friends. All I need is rest and can’t get it. I’ve read all your post just to weak to respond. Even today running like a crazy lady lol. Yet whole heartedly serving. My son Nikki last week home promised friends at work lunch. Of course I cooked and delivered it before noon. This year I want to focus more serving my family. I was a joy to see him happy to give to his colleagues. Jenna is blessed to have you to help her develop her inner outlook of herself. I tell you I learn so much from you. I will do this this weekend with my granddaughter’s. Have a nice week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gloria, you already serve your family sacrificially. I hope you can get some rest so you can feel healthy again. You DO deserve it.

      Your life is a testimony to wholeheartedness. I see this in your comments here and from what I have observed and know about you from Mother. Happy New Year to you and all the Araujo family!


  9. A well-chosen and fitting word for you, Marian. Not just for this year, but for all you do: your writing, your focus, your emphasis, your shared memories. You give, share, remember and create with your whole heart and mind. Beautiful choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From little on up, you and I have been taught whole-heartedness. I get the impression from your family stories there was no other way for your forebears to live life. Or for you. Thank you for the confirmation here.

      May you be able to create more memories with your mother this year. Time is precious, and I know you realize it.


  10. I have really enjoyed your post this week Marian…it makes such a lot of sense . Whole-hearted-ness, what a word.
    I think it’s brilliant that you are teaching Jenna about her qualities…she is quite a girl, like her grandma .
    CHANGE is my word this year. There are many aspects of my life I want to change and now I accept I need change…so against all odds I’m going for it .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Go for it, Cherry. Laurie, who has commented above, has posted a quote on her website that has stayed with me: “Whatever you are not changing you are choosing.” You choose to change and I choose to accept your kind compliment – thank you.

      Brava on your goal for the year and best wishes! Maybe we’ll need a mid-year reality check on your progress – eh? 😉


  11. Great advice, Marian. Living a wholehearted-life also embraces my one word – “gratitude.” I posted a video by Brother David Steindl-Rast on Facebook about his message urging us to stop and listen. To embrace what is good in this world.

    My gratitude includes friends like you for your support following an emtionally-charged exchange on FB. Thank you, my friend, for your kind words – always the right ones at the right time. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for the video. I like Brother David’s message to stop-look-go; I’d probably add “listen” in there somewhere too. I know you are still troubled about the loss of our grand-nephew. Thoughtless words can harm, but I hope only those of comfort will remain. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers too. 🙂


  13. This was wise and beautiful Marian. We should learn to accept and do things wholeheartedly. I love the analogy with the mirror and Jenna – self acceptance, not self importance or pride. We should all set out to do our best in whatever our endeavors, and learn not to be hard on ourselves for the things we’ve yet to get to. (I must learn this too.) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for following me here as I follow your peregrinations in Arizona. What fun!

      Yes, we Type A’s give ourselves a hard time in life. I mean to follow more closely Brown’s advice to pronounce what I accomplish everyday “enough”!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You have ambitious goals, Marie; I admire you for walking so far and so regularly. The stats on my iPhone “steps” app are far behind. Thank you for inspiring me to walk more in 2016. Your blog shows your powers of observation too. Thank you too for treating me often to views of places I’ll probably never see first hand.

      Liked by 1 person

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