Mina’s WOTY and Annual Challenge

I woke up alone on Sunday morning (January 1st) for the first time since I was 19 years old. I had a lovely celebration with friends the night before and even in the days leading up. And the day of the 1st itself was rich and full—I wrote, I went to a three-hour 5Rhythms event, talked to a friend on zoom and had dinner with another friend. But it’s clear that this will be a very different year. How different and in what ways is still an unknown.

So, my word of the year (WOTY) is WELCOME.

Every year (as many of you do, no doubt, and many of us here at Fit Is a Feminist Issue) I choose a WOTY (here’s about last year).  Sometimes the word is aspirational and other years it is a beacon. This year it is the latter—a lighthouse to indicate the shoals, when I fall out of alignment with its intent; and a north star to guide my speech, actions and spirit. Last year was a hard one and this year coming will be … well, January 1st is at its core, just another day, the next day following December 31. It is not a magic wand or a reset button. It is a continuation of what already is, with the added seasoning of a societally reinforced moment for self-reflection and taking stock. All of which means, this year will be hard, too. At least for a while. How I approach it is where I can make a difference.

Other contenders were words like resilience, grit, open and heart. None of those quite captured the full essence. Resilience and grit were too anchored in the challenge, too much about survival. Open and heart did not feel robust enough, like they were too easily crushed. Then Nicole proposed greet and my mind immediately jumped to welcome (Thank you for the prompt!). I can greet something with pleasure or dismay. I wanted a word that included the dismay, invited it in. I want to welcome the dismay, the grief, the fear, and all the everything hard and unpleasant. Just as much as I want to welcome the love, the heart, the kindness, the connection and all the everything pleasurable and joyful the year has in store. Welcome contains flow and ease, dynamism and stillness.

Good. That’s settled then.

As for my annual challenge (not a resolution!), I had some initial resistance to this staple in my new year habits. My being protested, “Just getting through the year will be a challenge! Isn’t that enough?” Yes. And an annual challenge will redirect some focus. I’m sticking with my habit. This year I’ll return to a challenge I undertook 5 years ago—to not shop for clothes, shoes, accessories for the year. I had an initial instinct to change the challenge a little from last time and allow myself vintage or second-time around shopping, but even in just thinking about it, I quickly realized that I appreciate the challenge not only for its environmental aspects (which Sam talks about so well here in her piece about how she’s continuing her no shopping challenge), but also for the mental hygiene, keeping my mind space clear of my tendency to crave a new piece of clothing. To wit, I almost didn’t take up the challenge, because I had this thought, “But I’ll need the pressure release and/or the solace of buying something new!”


This year I’ll work on welcoming the discomfort, instead of burying it under a new pair of pants and a fresh top.

Wish me luck!

And welcome to whatever may come.

9 thoughts on “Mina’s WOTY and Annual Challenge

  1. On the challenge: I love your reflection on why allowing vintage or second-hand wouldn’t get at all the reasons to take up the no new clothes, shoes, or accessories challenge. I feel similar (at the early days of the same challenge!), and have added a more amorphous category of impulse shopping in general (and photography equipment). The idea for me this year is to appreciate and use (and get rid of if not using or appreciating) the things I already have. Good luck to us both and I look forward to checking in periodically through the year!

    1. Oh I like that “impulse” category addition. I will adopt that, too. I noticed that the last time I didn’t “shop” I impulse bought more skincare products than normal, so I want to be on the alert for that.

  2. Hi Mina, I’ve experienced this as a really moving post that is about your complex relationship with loss and change. In 2019, most of my posts at the beginning of the year were about my own process around a break up too and how it flowed through my life, the developments it sparked and all the garbage it dug up. Welcome everything and then see what serves. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Mina thank you for sharing the rawness of the shifts in your life — you are so present. Whatever word you choose I know you will weather the year with grace. Xc

  4. I love Welcome as a WOTY! You write (as always) with such feeling that it seems exactly the word we should all use, every year. My favorite meditation teacher, Jeff Warren (a Canadian!), has a meditation that you might like. It’s called Welcome to the Party. For whatever feelings, thoughts, sensations that come up while sitting, we respond, Hi– welcome to the party! I’ll be thinking of you and sending positive vibes to you as I do it today.

  5. Mina, thank you for such an open post. I love your idea of using Welcome to welcome the discomfort that may arise. I can relate for different reasons and I tend to bury my discomfort with sour kids or exercise or other things and I will take your prompt to allow myself to sit with the discomfort, as necessary. Also, you’ve got this. Can’t wait to hear what magic you’ve created in the coming months.

    1. I laughed at your reference to sour kids. Figuring out when I’m healing with exercise and when I’m burying is a day to day investigation, that you remind me here to notice.

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