For the past several years, I have selected a word to help shape and guide my year to come. This practice was inspired by Ali Edwards, who calls it “One Little Word“. My previous words were:

  • 2009Essential – In this year, I wanted to simplify my life and pare it down to what was essential to create and be happy. By focusing on this word, I was able to say no to more unnecessary purchases and commitments.
  • 2010Resource – For this year, my most successful One Little Word year, I wanted to focus on where I was using my free time, creative energy and money. With that in mind, I focused on buying more from local vendors and finding time to work on my writing. It’s the year I published my book, by finding time to edit it in the wee hours of the morning. It was a good year.
  • 2011Create – Outwardly, I talked about “create” as a way to focus on my creative process. I wanted to create more writing, another manuscript, and connections between my book and other readers. Inwardly, I knew that my husband and I were planning on creating another life together. We very successfully created life (I was pregnant within a few weeks of the new year) and I barely worked on my writing. I actually spent most of my pregnancy not writing about it and now I think I’m finally ready to integrate writing back into my life.

This year, and in all of the years to come, I know that so much of my energy will be focused on meeting Nora’s needs, as it should be. So, I wanted to pick a word that reflected that focus. As I thought about it more, I also wanted to pick a word that would help me maintain my relationship with my husband and myself. After all, transitioning to parenthood can be challenging a couple, especially a couple that has been together fourteen years prior to parenthood. I wanted a word that balanced self-care and other care.

With all that in mind, my word for 2012 is nurture.

Image created on Wordle

nurture [nur-cher] verb

  1. To feed and protect: to nurture one’s offspring
  2. To support and encourage, as during the period of training or development, foster: to nurture promising musicians
  3. To bring up, train, educate

When I think ahead to my Year of Nurturing, I think about slowing down enough to notice the needs of my husband and daughter. With going back to work, I know that it will be hard to balance the pressures of a busy full-time job and the needs of  an infant and a husband. I want to be able to be focused on work while I am at work and focused on my family when I am at home. I want my first thoughts at home to be about helping my family, supporting them, encouraging them to grow. I want this to be a regular part of our lives.

I also think about hearing and responding to my own needs for self-nurturing. In the first few weeks postpartum, it was incredibly easy for me to forget to eat for hours on end. I would suddenly realize I was hungry and then devour way too much food at one sitting. I don’t want my self-care to follow the same path. I don’t want to ignore my needs for weeks and then suddenly feel like I need to gorge on manicures or clothes or crap from the internet. (This is my typical path when I don’t consistently care for myself.) Instead, I want to carve a little time out for myself each day, whether it’s to take a short bath or to read a few pages of a fun book. I want to find a way to make this a part of my daily routine.

I think that the best way for me to achieve this lifestyle is to have a few goals for the year:

  1. Find the place in my life for nourishing rituals. I’ve noticed that Nora thrives on routines, on doing the same thing in the same way each night. For example, we have our bedtime routine down pretty pat. She is familiar with what we do each night. She knows what follows the bath and when she can expect to be fed before sleep. This type of routine soothes her. As I was walking through our bedtime routine the other night, I realized that this routine was actually a ritual. I could find moments of mindfulness and presence within our repeated actions. I think in order to really nourish my family this year, we need to find the rituals that work best for us. Where are the places that we can look forward to nourishing each other?
  2. Ask my husband each day for ways that I can support his creative and professional work. My husband, Aaron, is the primary daytime care provider for Nora. He will also be working two nights a week at his teaching job. As I learned over the 11 weeks of my maternity leave, providing daytime care for a baby can be exhausting. He did such a good job during my maternity leave of making sure I had free time away from the baby, so that I could continue to be a good mom. I want to return the favor for him.
  3. Make room for ways that I can nourish my body. I know I can find time for my work life. I know I can find time to take care of my baby and my husband. But do I have time to Zumba? I know that seems a little flip, but I am being serious. Right now, I don’t know how I can work healthy eating and healthy exercise back into my life. I am working on it, but I am finding it hard to make it a priority. For this year, I want to make sure that I am putting healthy behaviors first, so that I can have enough energy to take care of everyone else.
  4. Take time to nourish my creative spirit. Again, this has to do with time. I may not be able to find time to create every day, but I hope that a creative practice can continue to be a part of my life. During my pregnancy, my creative work really fell away as I focused most of my energy on making room for Nora in our home. Now that she’s here, I want to reconnect with my creativity and find ways to share it with her. Hopefully this blog will help me stay on track.

I know I am setting myself some very big goals for 2012. I also think that they are valuable goals. They will help me to really manage my time in a way that focuses on what’s most important: my family, my health, and my spirit. Here’s to working towards a nourishing 2012.