fitness · WOTY

It’s Word-of-the-year time again #woty

Image description: Wordcloud composed of the following words: smile, space, spaciousness, stretch, creativity, skillflow, blossom, integrity, focus, better, #woty (from edwordle.net)

For some time now many of us here at Fit Is a Feminist Issue have been choosing a word-of-the-year as a sort of guide or focal point or value for the year to come (or at least that’s how I see it). You can read about our last year’s words of the year here. We also posted a check-in at around the halfway point to see how our words were serving us. Earlier this month Mina posted about the WOTY challenge and set us all to thinking about it. Her new word of the year, which she coined herself: skillflow.

Here are the rest of our words of the year, some with a little context about why we chose them.

Tracy: Focus

In 2021 my word was “mindfulness” and it helped me stay aware and present. For 2022 I have chosen the word “focus” because despite aiming for mindfulness, I have been feeling scattered, distracted, and overextended. I think “focus” will help me feel more grounded in one thing at a time and more aware of when I am taking on too many things that distract me from the things I would like to focus on. I am not an effective multi-tasker, and the idea of making a conscious effort to focus makes me feel lighter already. It will also remind me to take out my camera more often, since photography is one of the things that gives me joy.

Diane: Better

My word is “better”. Not in the sense of improving my skills, or doing longer or more frequent workouts, though I would be happy if those things also happened. I struggle with inertia and decision paralysis when there is no crisis or element of “new, shiny” to focus on. This year I want to focus on remembering that doing something is better than doing nothing. And then do something, even if it is just for a few minutes.

Nicole: Blossom

My word is “blossom”.In the year when I turn 50, I would like to encourage myself to blossom not settle or become stagnant. Whether it’s improving my speed when running or trying new strength exercises or finding things in my career that inspire a sense of blossoming.

Samantha: Integrity

My word for the year is ‘integrity.’ I’m not sure that’s exactly what I want though. I was torn between that and ‘authenticity.’ I do know that in a world that’s increasingly turbulent I feel the need to anchor in my own values and centre my way of being in the world. It’s the idea of being ‘rooted’ in the things that matter. Obviously I’m still thinking about the exact word but ‘integrity’ works for now.

Catherine: Creativity

My WOTY for 2021 was awake. And I have been. Awake to where I am in the moment, fretting slightly less over possible futures and past events. It’s been work, staying awake. But I’m here. For 2022, my WOTY is creativity. I’m looking forward to exploring the less analytical parts of myself, especially through writing, but also through movement. What does creativity in movement look like? I don’t know yet. I believe it will include more dancing, wild swimming, nature exploring on foot and bike, taking time out from my usual goal-oriented self. Stay tuned…

Elan: Smile

I took a beginners soccer clinic a few years ago. To introduce our first passing exercise, the coach asked us, “Do you know what is the first thing you do when you receive the ball?” I was expecting him to give an answer about footwork mechanics, but instead he said, “You smile. Because you have possession, and that’s why you are here. To play, be part of the game, and have fun. So no matter what, when you first touch the ball, smile.”It can be challenging to start or continue with new activities when you aren’t really good at them or feel you could be better. So in the new year, as I continue to explore new sports and exercises, instead of thinking negatively and being hard on myself I will instead remember to smile. 😀

Martha: Space

I made a vision board this year and hadn’t settled on a word per se as I was still letting things bubble. When I looked at the images, they reflected creative pursuits, physical adventures, risk taking, and embracing change. I realized all of these things were about space: My word is space: Taking space, making space, holding space. I’m taking space back for things that matter. I’m making space to grow, to reclaim and to explore. I’m holding space for me — to see where I want to go in this next decade.

Christine: Spaciousness

My word for 2021 was consistency and that worked pretty well. I wasn’t necessarily consistent in that I always did things every day or over and over in the way I had originally intended, but I did achieve a sense of consistency overall. I was quicker to come back to the things that I intended to do, they didn’t just drift away until I was reminded of them again. And I’ve also put a lot of systems in place to support consistency and make things easier for me overall.For 2022, my theme is spaciousness. After writing a month of blog posts about making space, I have a richer sense of the sort of space I need in my life on a day-to-day basis. The fact that this knowledge is coming at the same time as my best level of medication yet and at the same time that I have finished homeschooling my youngest child seems fortuitous. Because of a combination of ADHD and personality I have felt rushed and out of control of my time for a lot of my life. I’ve done a lot of work in the last few years to unpack that feeling and figure out which aspects I can change and which ones I have to accept or reframe.Seeking spaciousness for the next year will help me to continue that work and create space in my mind, in my projects, in my home, and in my schedule.

Natalie: Stretch

Last year was “rest” and it really helped me relax into what I could and couldn’t do in 2021. But like a muscle that has been retracted or coiled up I’m choosing 2022 to “stretch” my body, my talents and my ways of thinking. All that rest and inward focus has put me in a rut and I need to stretch out into new spaces and places to grow.

Image description: Winter scene of snow falling and close-up of snow-covered pine boughs in the top right corner. Overlaid on the scene are the words, “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. – T.S. Eliot”

Let’s see what next year’s new voices reveal!

What’s your #woty?

challenge · motivation · new year's resolutions · WOTY

It’s WOTY-Challenge Time!

In this last month of the year, two thoughts bubble up: What’s my word of the year (WOTY) and what’s my challenge? Many of my fellow bloggers here are thinking about their words. Nicole, for example, says she is looking for a word that expresses the opposite of existential dread. I look forward to what she comes up with. We will have more WOTY posts, to be sure.

Last year my word was enough. For the early part of the year, I reminded myself with some regularity what my word was. I needed the specific boost. Just now, when I sat down to write this, I realized I’d forgotten what my word was. Yet, when I looked back and found my word, it was like a carillon. Oh yes, now I remember my word and I didn’t need the reminder after a certain point in the year, because I had installed an enough-ness fuel gauge in my bodymind dashboard and was taking conscious note of the fuel level on a more regular basis. That realization, in and of itself, topped up the fuel in my enough-ness tank. My word did its job. Pause for mini-celebratory dance.  

In a recent Peloton class one of my favourite instructors, Christine D’Ercole, said that we should give ourselves user names that, when we say them out loud, have the same effect as an encouraging hand on our back. That’s the effect I’m looking for in my WOTY. A word that encourages me. A carrot word. Not a stick word. 

Colourful assortment of letter tiles
Surendran MP on Unsplash

This year’s word builds on enough. I’m not going to give it to you straight out. There’s some stage décor to put in place first. It turns out that enough is a pretty damn bold word. Enough gives me the courage to plunge into learning new modalities (including two separate yearlong trainings, one in Non-Violent Communication and one in Internal Family Systems). Enough inoculates me against being overwhelmed by the voices in my head and in society, who say that I’m past due on expanding into new disciplines. Enough grants me the audacity to incorporate these new techniques into my work now with the simultaneous confidence of a seasoned practitioner and the caution of a novitiate. I am integrating my existing skills base with the fresh skills I am learning and honing to offer more holistic coaching and workshops.

At first, my word for next year wanted to be something like mastery. But two reasons held me back from that choice. First, the word is outmoded and even ugly, in a world that is waking up to all the hidden and subtle ways we perpetuate inequities. Mastery comes with a heavy burden of colonialism and racism.

This first reason would have been more than enough to keep the word out of contention. But there’s more. The word feels static. As if we can master something and then that’s it. One and done. Thank you very much. You may now come to me with questions. I’ve moved on to answers. No. That’s not how I feel about the skills I already have facility with, nor how I feel about the new tools I’m adding. There’s dynamism in the process. Learning is cyclical, not linear, building and looping back on itself to collect new gleanings.

I wanted a word to express my desire to keep learning, integrating, experimenting and refining. In that spirit, my word itself is freshly coined, by me.

Skillflow.

That’s my word. Say it out loud. Feel it on your tongue. Listen to it come out of your mouth. Do you feel how open the word is? Versus, for example, the word skillful, which closes in on itself with that final letter L.

Skillflow: (noun) the continuous, regenerative cycle of learning and applying our skills; the flow of fresh skills mixing with honed skills in a reciprocal renewal of energy.

I am already enough AND I’m going to learn so much this year. I’ve got my word.

So … I wrote all those words above yesterday and I felt plugged in and buzzing with possibility. Excited for the year to come. Up to the task. Empowered. Then I woke up this morning with a possibility hangover. That’s when the part of me who is fearful of failure gets very loud. I was down in the dumps. Questioning everything from my right to even propose a WOTY to my very existence. Apparently, my word is threatening to some part of me that fears that a hand on my back will push me right over a cliff into a humiliating failure; that I’ll choke on my carrot word. Sigh. Thank you, fearful voice. Breathe. Notice that I am learning new skills around befriending that scared voice. Allow her words to flow through me, instead of getting stuck inside like a brick in an impenetrable wall of the-truth-of-who-I-am.      

My word for 2022 is skillflow.

How about that challenge I mentioned? Challenges are my version of resolutions (but not). A friend calls them my annual devotional tasks. They are ways of being I want to try on for size, with no commitment to extend after the year is over.

Last year my challenge was twofold—to continue not to shop for anything from Amazon.com except books and movies (an extension of my 2020 challenge) and to commit to a poetry exchange with my friend (and fellow blogger here), Kim. We agreed to send each other new poems we’d written every second Sunday. We have two poem cycles left and the whole process has been fresh and bracing, plus liberating and connecting. Excellent. Last year, I wanted a challenge that wasn’t all about self-discipline and denial, which has characterized quite a number of my challenges (like not shopping for clothes for a year). This year I want a challenge … well … I have no clue what to do this year.

I’d love to hear your WOTYs and any ideas for a challenge.

fitness · WOTY

Catherine’s word of the year: Awake

I’m not an early bird. However, even the morning larks among us would agree that 2020 was a good year to sleep through. Sleep is magic. Sleep is healing. Sleep feels delicious. Sleep is good for almost anything that ails us. But for me in 2020, I spent a lot of time turning away from the world outside, retreating, trying to shut out the feelings caused by what was happening. I just wanted to go to bed and wake up in 2021.

And now it’s here. 2021. Time to be awake, alert, engaged, curious. Time for sensing, feeling, thinking, processing, inquiring, musing.

It’s sunflower time.

A sunflower (girasole in Italian, meaning “turn to the sun”) seeks the light, turning to follow the brightness of the day.

An upright sunflower, enjoying some direct light against a blue sky. By Lisa Pellegrini for Unsplash.
An upright sunflower, enjoying some direct light against a blue sky. By Lisa Pellegrini for Unsplash.

I’m not sure I can manage quite that degree of exposure this year. Luckily, there are modifications available.

A sensible sunglasses-wearing sunflower. I like that idea. By Wan J. Kim for Unsplash.
A sensible sunglasses-wearing sunflower. I like that idea. By Wan J. Kim for Unsplash.

With or without sunglasses, sunscreen, and big floppy hat, I want 2020 to be a year in which I keep my eyes open to take in what’s around me and in me, even if it’s a bit much. I have dreams and plans and goals: for movement, for creativity, for connection. They can’t be done (or done well) in the dark. I need light and space and energy and warmth (or bracing cold) to be fully involved, aware. And awake. That’s it.

Dear readers: do you have a word of the year? What would you like it to be? What do you need to inhabit your word? I have extra sunglasses, if you want to borrow some.

fitness · mindfulness · WOTY

Tracy’s word of the year: mindfulness

Image description: Leafy country walking path with wood fencing and lush trees in Grasmere, the Lake District, England.

Like Mina (2021: “enough”), Cate (2021: “steadfast”), and others (group summary post coming this aft!), I too have adopted a “word of the year.” Anne’s guest post about it at the end of 2019 (2020: “explore”) inspired me to try it. For 2020 my word was “authenticity.”

I think it’s interesting to consider what motivates people to choose their words of the year and even whether they choose a noun (as most do) or a verb (as Anne did in 2020, and also, if you read her post, in 2018 and 2019, with “believe” and “bloom”).

My word for 2021 is “mindfulness.” Sometimes it happens that words that seem trendy or like platitudes take on new and profound meaning. Such is the case with me and the word “mindfulness” right now. I’ve seized onto it this year because I have found myself doing all sorts of distracted things since the pandemic started. Distracted eating. Distracted doom scrolling. Distracted television watching. Multi-tasking (I hate multi-tasking). It never feels good when I do things that I don’t feel present for — that’s how I think of mindlessness. And mindfulness, or being present to what’s in front of me, is the best way for me to reverse that habit of distraction.

My commitment to mindfulness grew out of the September meditation challenge using Sharon Salzberg’s Real Happiness. Catherine gathered a bunch of us to commit to it as a blog book group. Daily meditation is a great way to be mindful, at least for 10-20 minutes or however long you’re on your meditation cushion. When I’m not doing anything else it’s easy for me to be immersed in the task at hand (even if that task is just to sit quietly).

Since I’ve adopted “mindfulness” as my word of the year (two weeks ago!) I can’t say I have been practicing it consistently. Indeed, this week has flown by in a blur so fast I can’t believe it’s already Friday. When that happens, it usually means I haven’t been paying attention.

We have just begun a new stay-at-home order here in Ontario. I do not want to come up for air at the end of this 28 days (is it a 28-day thing? I don’t even know) and wonder what happened, having spent a month in a distracted state of auto-pilot. So I’m committing to being mindful, paying attention, appreciating the details, tasting my food, showing up for my meditation, my yoga, my workouts, my walks and runs, and focusing on one thing at a time.

Do you have a word of the year?

fitness · WOTY

Sam turns to Aikido for her #WOTY for 2021

Last year my word of the year was FOCUS. That didn’t play out as I had hoped. (HA!)

Today's word: Focus. You move in the direction of your focus. Where are you  headed? Is it where you want to go? | Words, Directions, Your head

Way back when, in the Before Times, I wrote, “This year I need to focus. I have one goal in mind which is getting ready for total knee replacement surgery next year. It’s not going to be easy. I have to keep up the physio, stay active, and do everything with knee health in mind. There’s no wandering off in pursuit of other goals. Everything has to be about my knee.

I need to practice saying things like, “that’s not the best thing for my knee and right now I need to give priority to my knee.” Focus. I need to not do things, like certain yoga poses, that I can do but that hurt my knee. Focus. I need to walk the right amount to help the joint but not enough to hurt it. Focus.”

Instead this turns out to be the year that we all have the attention spans of guppies because of pandemic stress and for me, some of the time, even reading novels and watching some TV shows turns out to be too challenging. Focus? Really?

Gif of tropical fish swimming

My knee surgery is delayed because our hospitals are in crisis. I don’t know when it will happen.

An awful lot of things feel up in the air.

There is so much celebration about seeing the back of 2020 but frankly I’m very worried about the future and not feeling that the right attitude is simply “boo hiss 2020” and “yay yay 2021.”

2020 wasn’t a bad year by chance. Impending climate disaster and political turmoil make me nervous and apprehensive about what’s to come next.

I keeping thinking about this quote.

In light of Big Change and the recognition that life as we knew it may be no more, I was considering some options–flexibility, resilience, adapt–for my 2021 word of the year. For me, the year to come is all about growing with and responding to change, and doing that in a way that’s grounded in the things I value, not just in a reactive way. I want to be flexible but not driven hither and which way by the winds of change. I want to use the feeling of change and the potential of the energy around me to move towards things I care about.

Could the pandemic help us live more lightly on the earth? Might we start to think differently about non-human animals? Will we still fly around the world? What about economic and political inequalities? How could we structure our society differently so we can better respond in times of crisis? My grad class on pandemic ethics spent a week reading and talking about Basic Minimum Income. There’s nothing like a glocal pandemic to make you realize that we all truly are citizens of the world and that we need to care for one another.

With all of these thoughts swirling around, I started to think about some concepts that are key to Aikido.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been on the mat. I can’t kneel with my injured knee. But I am not ready to say goodbye just yet.

I need a word that captures the feeling of going with the energy around you. It’s a year for Aikido words, I think. Going with the flow but taking it in the direction that you want to move, being centred and grounded but not like an unyielding block of cement. There’s an element of agency that’s involved. You don’t stand still and resist the attack. You don’t let it just blow you over either.

I posted the following question to Facebook, “Aikido friends, what’s the word or phrase in Aikido for going with the energy in an attack? Moving in that direction but using the energy to ultimately blend and get where you want to go. You know, that thing we all need in this awful, terrible, no good year! Not resisting all the time, that’s exhausting, but taking the energy and making it yours.”

An Aikido friend or two shared the obvious choice, the root word, “Aiki.”

“Aiki, a Japanese budō term, at its most basic is a principle that
allows a conditioned practitioner to negate or redirect an opponent’s
power.”
— https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aiki_(martial_arts_principle)

The friend continued, “As a budo principle, aiki is a decent way of living with things as they happen.”

The blog’s Mina Samuels suggested “flow” not as an Aikido word but as one that captures that meaning. She wrote, “I like that way of repurposing the word. In the short time I did Aikido, that principle has always stuck with me. The surprise of the “yes” when you go with the person’s energy direction, instead of resisting, that gives your strength the boost it needs.”

My Aikido friend K wrote, “Aiki and blend are good; whatever you call it, it begins with acceptance and is facilitated by gratitude. All power is in the present moment…”

Another Aikido friend M wrote, “”Awase” is blending, but another term to consider is “Musubi”: this is a more advanced concepts regarding the deep connection one makes with their partner or the reach within their body that allows an aikidoka to guide the flow of energy.”

You can read more about connection in Aikido here:

I like the Japanese Aikido words but it’s not my language and I don’t feel I understand the concepts well enough to make them my word of the year. I want to read more and learn more even if I can’t kneel on the mat right now. Maybe after knee replacement surgery. Maybe?

So, I’m left stiling thinking about “flow.” I do like the way “flow” follows after “focus.”

So I think I’ll declare FLOW to be the word that guides me through 2021, with a side of remembering the role of agency in going with the flow. All of this has made me realize how much I miss Aikido. Even if what I can do is limited, I’d like to get back to basic movements and some sword work.

Here’s me with my sword a few years ago:

Sam with wooden sword, while wearing Aikido gi, in the lobby of the student rec centre
Sam with her Aikido sword

We’ll do a #WOTY wrap post at some point here at the blog. Have you considered a Word of the Year for 2021? What’s your word and what’s it mean to you?

Given the year so far, I’ll totally understand if it’s ARGHHHHH!

Sat with Nat · WOTY

Nat’s Word of the Year is Rest

Recommended Soundtrack: Lay Me Down by Loretta Lynn featuring Willie Nelson

I thought about a lot of things I could focus on in 2021. While I thought restore, recover, re-emerging, recharge…what I really need is to rest.

For folks like me, who are privileged to work from home, there is a real problem of overwork. Even when I’m mindful of the hours I work it’s the pace & intensity that has really ramped up. No more casual coffee with colleagues after a meeting. They can be booked literally back to back.

There’s also the emotional work of supporting folks and it is exponentially more intense and frequent. Both in my paid work and social life. There seems to always be that one more thing I can do.

Many times in 2020 I would get to the weekend and sleep. Sometimes a whole day punctuated with 2-3 hour naps and a loss of interest in anything.

One thing that has drastically improved is my sleep schedule. Keeping the same routine regardless of the day has me now routinely getting 8 hours of sleep.

I fall asleep quickly & sleep soundly until the morning. I’m less groggy. No more 2 am wake ups. I sleep until 6. It’s marvelous.

So I want to keep this newfound bounty of sleep. More than that I want to honour the pace of my body, the need for rest, relaxation and not being productive.

When I rest I can meet the next challenge fresh. I can tap a reserve of energy for a big push.

My fitness plans are waking, yoga and cycling. Nothing epic, nothing impressive because I will need time to recoup from 2020 and be sure I don’t wring myself out in 2021.

I don’t need to justify my existence by being productive or impressive or inspiring. I need to take care of myself like a good friend would.

I’ve really enjoyed reading the other words folks have picked this year. Are you up for picking a word? What will it be?

Natalie smiles with her eyes closed while her beloved gives her a kiss. Thank you to Ruthless Images for our wonderful photos.
fitness · WOTY

Martha’s word of the year: hold fast

A few years ago, a friend introduced me to the concept of choosing a word to define my year. It’s a popular practice, with some using it to define their art practice, some to guide their planning for the year, and some others to explore the meaning and impact of that word in their daily life.

Mina and Cate have shared their thoughts on their word of the year in the last couple of days. I thought I would share mine because it represents a departure for me. Previous years I have used create, imagine, focus, and dream. This year I chose hold fast, not one word but two.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash Image shows a blue rope with a knot against a yellow plank.

Hold on its own felt too much like I wanted to put life on pause, and heaven knows, I had had enough of that feeling in the spring. A nautical term, hold fast means to stay the course, but it also means to maintain the strength of your convictions, or to align yourself to something that will help you keep moving forward.

Last year, I felt like I was often stuck fast, firmly held back by conditions or needs not within my control, most of them arising from the pandemic. This year, it seems natural to look at all the ways I can hold fast to what really matters and why. As I work better with questions, I wrote a few down in my calendar to act as prompts for the year ahead.

  1. How will I maintain my practices in fitness, work, and home?
  2. How do I maintain my focus, keep moving forward, and still hold true to my values?
  3. When must I stay the course and when must I let go?
  4. How committed or invested am I in an outcome?

The word of the year opens up lots of possibilities for thought and for action and I am excited by the power that offers for change and growth. What else might you be thinking of doing in this new year ahead? Let us know in the comments.

MarthaFitat55 writes from wet and windy St. John’s.