Whole – how it’s going, one quarter in

I’m really going to do my best with continuing to recap my word of the year throughout the year, hopefully every quarter.

Here’s where I wrote about whole and why I chose it.

On the whole I’d rate myself a 6 out of 10, making progress but not doing particularly great in all of the areas.

Body and health

  • This has been an unbearable summer. Even for people who enjoy summer in Johannesburg, this one has been “challenging”. For me, it has been absolutely horrible. Imagine spending your weekends in the coldest rooms of your house and in bed due to headaches. Yes, that is me. I only felt whole at the office and on cooler days at home.
  • I have lost about 1 kg and I am disappointed that it’s not moving faster.
  • I made and had my eye appointment and… the difference is so slight that there’s no point in getting new glasses made (yay, R10 000 saved!). Apparently I need to make behaviour adjustments like not staring at a laptop for hours on end, make the font bigger on screens (I did my iphone that very day) so that there isn’t such a strain.
  • I had my cholesterol and iron checked and I was honestly despondent until my doctor called me back. Yes, my cholesterol was higher but she is not concerned yet. Apparently the double iron supplement is doing what it needs doing so keep on keeping on. I feel like it’s swings and roundabouts – eat more red meat for iron, but red meat leads to higher cholesterol. Ugh. Perhaps this next quarter will settle things down?

Mental and emotional

  1. I have started the year with great work boundaries. I have a number of hours I’m prepared to work every week to both 1) keep on top of things but still 2) have a life and I’ve been tracking and keeping to it.
  2. I’m still behind on a lot of self-imposed things but I’ve just had to tell myself to focus on the things on my actual scorecard.
  3. I don’t know if the teens have just settled better into school but they are a tad more communicative. I still struggle with “this is not how I envisioned parenthood”.

Financial

  1. I bought a car. Love it, happy with it.Β  The disciplined savings is worth it every day I get to drive in its deliciousness.
  2. I did some good money thinking while listening to The Broke Generation podcast (I want to write a post about one of the episodes) and had a realisation: I think I’m spending money recklessly in a few places because I don’t have a clearly-defined financial goal. So, am pondering…
  3. Therefore, I haven’t done the no-spend month yet but my plan is still to do one this year.
  4. Until then, I’m spending lots of money on good things like people’s birthdays, gifts and fun things.

Fun

  1. I’m finding fun in music, writing, reading and photography, all of which make me feel whole.
  2. I can’t wait to do more photography in autumn, the prettiest time of the year.
  3. I still need to decide on a celebration for my birthday in August that will be fun and will feel like me. Who are these people who like big parties to celebrate milestone birthdays? (As an aside, I read a book called Are we having fun yet? by Lucy Mangan where Liz, the protagonist, said to her husband something like, “what were we thinking organising a big wedding? We’re both introverts, hate crowds and being the centre of attention. No wonder I was unhappy the whole day)

In summary, I’m thinking about whole enough that it’s top of mind, and I am filtering a lot of my decisions through the lens of “is this going to make me feel more whole? does this look like whole?” which is the whole point.

And that’s how my word of the year is going. How about you?

Do you still remember your word?

Is it guiding your decisions and choices?

PS these photos are all from years past as it is still a few months too early for proper cold weather πŸ™

The Happiness Trifecta

Gretchen Rubin mentioned on her podcast that she know thinks of the Happiness Trifecta as a way to embrace or enter the year.

I have mentioned in my Instagram Stories but I decided because I want to be happier this year, to do the Happiness Project Revisited. Part of that foundational work for the year has involved these three items too (if you want and I want :)).

1. Word of the year

  • I am a big, big, BIG word of the year fan because it’s such an easy way to guide your thoughts and actions on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
  • Choose one! Choose one per month/ quarter/ whatever takes your fancy.
  • How to choose a word of the year
  • For inspiration, read all myΒ word of the year postsΒ here.
  • My word for this year is WHOLE. If you missed the post last week, you can read it here.

2. Annual Challenge – write24in2024

  • This year, Gretchen Rubin’s challenge is to write either 2 – 4 minutes or 24 minutes every day in 2024.
  • I am using the challenge to write 2 – 4 minutes a day most days to update my daily diary and then at least twice a month, I want to write for 24-minute sessions. Today and every Sunday I use a longer burst of timeΒ  – 24 minutes – to write a blog and/ or newsletter. I am timing myself and once I have an idea of how long it currently takes me, I might work on the newsletter weekly and send it at the end of the month, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. I already say “you can do anything for 15 minutes, so 9 minutes longer every week is technically “nothing”. So far I’ve written about 48 minutes every Sunday but I am allowed to stop at 24 minutes.
  • Are you joining in the #write24in2024 challenge? How are you using it? You could write in a journal, make a list, clear your head before sleep, update your line-a-day journal,Β  make the next day’s to-do or ta-da list… the possibilities feel endless.

3. 24 in 2024 list

  • This is such a fun way to do your goals.
  • Make it as small or big as you want. I would caution you to have a mix of goals – some once-off items (buy new bedroom curtains, replace all my gym clothes, etc.) and some project-based items (go out to eat 12 times this year, have a date night once a month, read two books every month, etc.)
  • I have now done my list of 24 goals TWICE. The first time I had 26 goals so I let it sit. I then whittled it down to 24 with some stealthy merging of goals. And then I listened to the podcast episode where they discussed their goals and I want to play with my list AGAIN. My list feels a bit too boring and I think I have too many hard things and not enough fun.
  • Have you made your list? Do share! if you’re on IG, tag @organisingqueen so I can come see.
  • I will write more about this in next Sunday’s session.

4.Β Other fun things

    • To play with the 24 in 2024 theme, I have also resolved to declutter as many batches of 24 things as I can. I’m on number 15 of Batch 2. You can see all these items on Instagram in my highlights.
    • I initially had these as separate goals – declutter 24 items of clothes, gift 24 items of stationery (I still want to do this), use up 24 bath/ body/ beauty products.
    • Doesn’t 24 nights away from home sound fun (if I count business travel, I could do it)? I’ve already got 1 in the bag as we were away on 1st Jan.
    • Can you think of anything fun on the 24 theme?

I love to hear your words, your own “24” challenges, so please tap the comment block to reply.

Recap of 2023 word – tend – and my word for 2024

My word for last year was tend and I’m not sure if my searching is accurate but I can’t seem to find a post I felt certain I’d written.

I’ve now checked my blog again and even Instagram – nothing.

I chose the word tend for 2023 because I was entering a season of busy (a senior leadership programme at work on top of my very full job already) and wanted to be sure that I gave attention to the things I needed to – my health, family and very close friends.

It felt at times like I did a terrible job but in fact, when I look back over the months, I realised that I did tend to the most important things. Yes, it could have been better (isn’t this always the case?!) but my word was a reminder to keep focussed and tend the things that mattered for that season.

It worked out because I ended up with my accreditation, passed with distinction and we also received the top syndicate group award.

The second half of the year started with a week-long holiday at the beach to celebrate (I booked this months and months in advance precisely so that we’d have something to look forward to after last exam, etc.). However, things went super crazy at work straight after that holiday and only started easing off mid-December.

Which brings me to how I was feeling.

Broken.

Broken at work – I felt very much that I could do nothing right. I was doing 2.5 jobs and therefore nothing was done in the way I like to work, with no end in sight. Add to that it also felt like I was getting horrible feedback from quite a few people which is really hard for an enneagram 1. Eventually I was saying (in my head) “take a number; I know I’m not getting to things quickly enough” but I couldn’t anymore with the 11pm work end times.

Broken in my family – I blame it all on the twins getting phones but last year was my actual worst year of parenting ever. Even worse than year 1, and I thought that was bad. Of course, phones, new schools, high school are all big adjustments but everyone was fighting all the time, or so it felt. I do not have an obliger or upholder so nothing has ever been easy.

This is also the age at which you stop writing about things to do with your kids and I am still not sure how to navigate this in speaking to… anyone, even friends. With the result that my friendships did not feel nurturing in the way I needed them to do, so that’s feeling broken too. I feel lonely.

Broken in my spirit – I basically feel like I’ve lost my sense of fun and am mostly sad. I cried more last year than I ever did in 2020. It was good that I had “watch more TV” on my #23 in 2023 list because TV did make me happier, as did reading some good books.

Last but not least, broken in my body.

I had a gastroscopy on 1 December 2022 so I was on a course of pantoprozole for GERD and stomach ulcers, and a new fun thing, low iron. I also watch my cholesterol carefully but when I ate “well enough” to control the GERD/ stomach ulcers, it was not a great diet so my cholesterol didn’t dip enough. I won’t bore you with the whole year but while I am finally sorted with my cholesterol, my iron stores are still terrible AND I’ve gained 6 kg. So that is just huge fun.

As my doctor said, it’s really not bad. All my bloods are great (except for the iron stores) and even my ferritin levels are in the normal (if low) range. I know it’s not bad but for someone who was healthy for 48 years, it is a real mindbender to have to monitor how you’re feeling and take actual prescribed medication twice a day.

I said all of that to say I considered happy for my 2024 word, but then I settled on WHOLE.

I want to feel whole again.

Whole – “in an unbroken or undamaged state, in one piece. complete in itself”

I’ve also chosen some supporting words – enough (my 2015 word) happy, brave, vital and strong

What’s your word for 2024? Care to share why you chose that word?

{Goals} Quarterly review – Jan to March 23

And here we are, at the end of the first quarter of the year.

Three months over – just like that!

A summary of just a few high – and lowlights over the last quarter:

  1. I applied for my passport and received it.
  2. I read 31 books, 8 of them 5* reads, which is a great start to my reading year.
  3. I have watched a lot of TV (one of my #23in2023) – finished Dead to me, On the Verge and am now knee-deep in The Bold Type. And of course, I’m also watching Daisy Jones and The Six.
  4. We finally had our solar installation and it has been life-changing. I don’t have to think about loadshedding when I want to go out or concern myself with my laptop holding charge until the power comes on again.
  5. Despite being on iron supplements over the last 3 months, my iron levels have not improved to a degree where I can stop them. I think I thought that 3 months would sort out my iron deficiency but apparently not.
  6. I’ve had a consistent 3 workouts a week since January – two Zumba classes and a Spanish class. We have had a new Spanish teacher this year and it’s been so invigorating for my dancing.
  7. A friend of mine was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer. Everything else pales next to that, doesn’t it? She is a fighter and she’s fighting as much as she is able.

Life is like this, isn’t it? Highs and lows.

Tend is being a good word for me this year – a reminder to take care of my health, family, friends and work.

How was the first quarter of 2023 for you?

How is your word working out?

{Goals} 2022 word of the year update – Q1

This year I chose a main word, delight, and two supporting words – balance and rest.

I’ve spoken enough about rest – how it wasn’t working and how I’m doing a reset.

But for now, let’s talk about the other two words.

I chose balance so that I would not work all the hours of every day and that my life would look more balanced. As my coaching client said so beautifully last year, I can enjoy my work without being consumed by it.

I set some specific actions for myself every week and month, and I’ve been sticking to them (#upholder). The other key thing is that I’m tracking my time. And yes, I ended the quarter on target for my work hours goal – yay!

As for delight, it has been just the thing to get me searching for moments of happiness on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

I set goals every month and some of them have to answer the question, “what can I do this month to bring more delight into my life?

  1. If I feel lazy about going to take the picture, I remind myself, “delight!” and go do it.
  2. If someone invites me to have a quick coffee or tea at the office, even though my to-do list is always long, I remind myself, “delight” and say yes.
  3. If I have a choice between two books, I ask myself, “what will delight me more at this time?” and choose that one.

I listened to three delightful audiobooks this quarter too and can I just put forward the case that if you enjoyed a book the first time round, you are going to probably love it even more on audio if the narration is good. The three books are Mary Jane, Daisy Jones and the Six, and Rachel’s Holiday.

And that’s my word of the year update!

How has your word of the year been working for you? Do you need a reset on your word? Do you need ideas to keep your word top of mind?

I’ve chosen a word, now what? 5 practical ways to make your word real.

It’s all very good and well to choose a word of the year but sometimes I ask people a few months in, “how’s your word of the year going?” and they can’t even remember their word.

Don’t feel bad if this is you; it is very normal but that’s not to say we should accept that, throw up our hands and just leave it be.

My 14 words from 2009 to 2022

  • 2009 – simplify
  • 2010 – consolidate
  • 2011 – courage
  • 2012 – create
  • 2013 – trust
  • 2014 – shine
  • 2015 – enough
  • 2016 – joy
  • 2017 – give
  • 2018 – fun
  • 2019 – bold
  • 2020 – light
  • 2021 – play
  • 2022 – delight

After 14 years of me choosing and living with a word, I’d like to share a few things that work for me:

  1. Set your word as your screensaver/ password or desktop wallpaper on your laptop or phone

Out of sight means out of mind. If you have to type in that word as a password several times a day, it will stick. If you see it as your wallpaper on your phone when you reach for it 80 times a day (or so the stats say), you’ll start to remember it.

2. Make a policy for yourself around your word

E.g. if your word is connect, then maybe you’d say, “every time someone asks me on a friend date, I will say yes”. When my word was fun, I weighed up every commitment with “does this sound fun?” If it didn’t, I declined. My policy this year is to stop and take the picture (a sure source of delight to me afterwards even if I don’t feel like it in the moment)

3. Set goals for your word

Ask yourself monthly, “how can I _________ this month”. Where do I need a reminder that I am enough? Where can I take delight? How can I be brave? What needs to be nourished and how am I going to do it? Who can I connect with? What can I create?

4. Review how you did at the end of every month

On a scale of 1 – 10, how much did I move? Did I take enough action? Did I rest enough? is there enough balance? And so on. Use your word and make changes for next month if what you were doing wasn’t working.

Set a reminder in your phone otherwise you will most likely not remember. I call the last day of every month Goals Night for this very reason.

5. Stay open to your word

Yes, I just said in 3 above to set goals, but also stay open. Sometimes the need for your word will appear in unexpected ways. Last year my word was play and I have not worked as hard at my job in many many years. There was a need for me to remember to play. See? My 2016 word was joy and that was the year we bought this house and struggled to sell the previous one. I had to choose joy in those 3 months!

Bonus – buy a piece of jewellery or art

I have many necklaces and rings that remind me of my words through the years. I also bought a piece of art off etsy one year for courage.

What are the tips and tricks you’d like to share?

My 2022 word of the year – delight

Choosing my word this year has taken a bit of work.

This print is from a course called Elevate The Ordinary I took with Andrea Scher in 2012. The poster summarises my life manifesto πŸ™‚

I did a word of the year exercise with my team where we all shared the word we felt “2021 work” had been for us and that we were ready to leave behind, and then we all chose a word we wanted our work lives to be in 2022.

My 2021 work word was stretch and the work word for 2021 is balance.

(for the record, 3 of the 12 of us chose the word balance!)

Then Gretchen Rubin announced the challenge for this year – rest 22 in 2022. This felt like a big exhale because we’re all tired, right? I also knew it would be the most difficult challenge for me as I’m not good with resting which is exactly the reason I’m embracing this challenge.

I then considered having relax as a word which sounds more fun than rest, but then I remembered. “Relax” is something people say to upholders like me all the time, and honestly, it drives us mad. This is therefore not a good way to feel about your word before the year has even started.

I then started thinking about what would make me feel like I had both balance and was resting enough, and my word came to me – DELIGHT!

When I have mental and physical space to play and take pleasure in things, I’m resting enough and I feel balanced.

Delight – great pleasure, happiness, joy; to please someone greatly; seeing people, places, things and ideas as something to find joy in.

What does delight mean to me?

  1. to take pleasure in the small things that bring me joy
  2. to delight in my job, I’m working enough, having enough people time and I have enough time to do deep work where I’m contributing and adding value
  3. to celebrate my family for who they are
  4. to take pleasure in friendships that are wholehearted, affirming and reciprocal
  5. doing exercise that makes me happy, like Zumba and Spanish
  6. to spend time creating with words and photos regularly (like this!)
  7. to finish projects in my home and upgrade/ fix tolerations
  8. to spend money mindfully and with intention on things that make me happy
  9. to get life admin done quickly and efficiently
  10. to say yes to new experiences for connection
  11. to meet more of my health goals
  12. to know that I’m nourishing myself with good, nutritious and tasty food, even if more expensive
  13. to read good books that I know word for me without being swayed by bookstagram

The nice thing is that when you’ve decided on your word it feels exactly right. And delight does exactly that for me. Three weeks into the year and I’ve had so many moments of delight it’s been a pleasure. If you’d like to see, I’ll be adding to this tag on Instagram the entire year.

I also feel like delight is beautifully supported by balance and rest. It’s the first year I’ve chosen support words but hey, year 3 of a pandemic feels like it needs three words instead of one πŸ™‚

Won’t it be wonderful if I have 100 extra moments of delight this year?

How to choose your word of the year

If you’ve been around awhile, you’ll know that I have chosen a word of the year for a long time, in fact, every year since 2008. This is year 15! If you scroll down to the end of this post, you’ll see a list of all my previous words.

Gretchen and Elizabeth, on the Happier Podcast, use either a word or theme for the year. 

It’s all good; the idea is that your word will guide you, inspire you and motivate you.

So how do you chose a word? There are many ways – also, let’s be honest, sometimes my word has come to me in a flash, sometimes it’s taken a few weeks of pondering, sometimes I think I have it and I change it at the last minute when “trying on” my word doesn’t feel right, and sometimes I’ve known months in advance.


Here are some thoughts and questions which I hope will guide you.

  1. Your word can be more than one word; it can be a phrase or even a short sentence.
  2. Your word should call you to something (perhaps you want to create more of something in your life that is currently lacking)
  3. What do you need? What do you want? How do you want to feel? What do you think is lacking in your life? That may be your word.
  4. Your word doesn’t have to be cool or trendy. One year (the year after my twins were born) my word was consolidate (seemingly the most boring word of all) because I needed to get back to basics in myself, home and routines.
  5. Your word might feel like it is the exact opposite of who you are. Go with it. Last year my word was play. Playful is not who I am naturally but I needed some lightheartedness from the pandemic.
  6. Is there an area of your life that could use an extra boost? You might need a word just for your work or for your family.

(at this point, some of you already know what your word is but some need more help)

Here’s what to do:

  1. Reflect on 2021 – what worked, what didn’t, what needs to change, what do you want more/ less of?
  2. Write these answers down on paper.
  3. Look over your answers and see the words that seem to pop out. Or, see if any themes emerge (maybe there’s a lot pointing to health, or to taking charge, or boundaries).
  4. Write down all the possible words. Do you land on one that resonates deeply? Great. If not, keep looking. Check for synonyms in the dictionary.
  5. When it feels like you have your word, share it with a friend. Does it feel right?  Great. If not, maybe sit with it for a few days.
  6. Remember this is a moment in time. You can change your word anytime. A podcaster lost her dad and changed her word in September because she said, “now is the time of restoration for me”.

Please share your word with me; I love to hear everyone’s words!

My word of the year recap for 2021 – play

My word of the year for 2021 was play and for the most part it was a good word in that it invited me to hold things loosely and to choose play over work sometimes.

Let me share what play looked like for me in 2021:

  • I redid a photography course from 2012, Superhero Photo, and loved it. I also brought my big camera with me on holidays and intentionally played with it a lot. I also found some old cameras which I also used – sometimes it’s freeing to only have to focus on composition and how pleasing framing is to the eye, and nothing else.
  • I went on intentional photo drives during autumn and winter, my favourite seasons.
  • I read 152 books, 43 of them audio, which is a particularly playful way of reading for me as I so enjoy a well-narrated book. The question, “what sounds like play?” became very important.
  • On that note, I did Gretchen’s #read21in2021 and cleared 32 books from my non-fiction bookshelf. I’m going to write some more on this because I learned so many useful things about my project style.
  • We went on four holidays – Drakensberg, Clarens (twice) and Ballito.
  • I brought back 1:1 dates with the kids.
  • I watched the most TV I’ve ever watched in my entire life – Nine Perfect Strangers, Kim’s Convenience, Marriage Contract, Lula Rich, Mare of Eastown, and Grace and Frankie for the second time, amongst others.
  • I went to Zumba at three different gyms, chasing the most fun classes.
  • I did Susannah Conway’s three photo challenges – April Love, August Break and December Reflections, and Laura Tremaine’s May photo challenge too.
  • I went to the ballet with two friends – one of the highlights of my year.

All in all, a good year of play.

I have chosen a new word for this year and I will tell you all about it next week πŸ˜‰

How was your 2021 word? Do you feel like you lived it out enough? How can I help you more?

(I am planning to write at least one more blog post, maybe two, on how to make your word real to you in a practical way).

{goals} my word of the year for 2021 – play

At the risk of stating the extreme obvious, 2020 was not an easy year for many of us.

As I was contemplating a word for 2021, nothing came to mind. Literally nothing.

I got busy tidying, decluttering and sorting papers as I do at the end of every year, and I found a printable from a course I did – one of those word cloud things.

A word jumped out at me – PLAYFUL.

And immediately I knew my word of the year was PLAY.

I’m not a naturally playful person and I feel that this word will help me not only have fun again but also be more playful in spirit. I considered having fun as my word again but I like to choose new words every year, at least for now.

Why play?

  • I love that it’s a verb which means I need to take action to make it happen.
  • I want to do some fun projects – I’ve already identified Superhero Photo, a course I did 9 years ago. I found all the emails the other day and they brought me such joy that I can’t wait to play along again. I’m an upholder so I will happily and successfully complete a project like this all on my own. And bonus – I get to play with my big camera again.
  • I also noticed that when I participate in Instagram challenges purely focussed on creativity and the actual photos instead of what the grid is supposed to look like or not, and your engagement levels, etc. (none of which I pay attention to but that inner critic is always reminding me of the shoulds), I’m so happy. I take pleasure in posting a picture of the day. If it ties in remotely to what’s happening in my life, I might write a sentence or two otherwise, just posting is so freeing.
  • I want to design and write a new workshop on personalities which definitely feels like play to me.
  • I’d also like everything to feel more like play than work – so to infuse a sense of play into things. How can I make this more playful? more fun? E.g. reading never feels like work but I do sometimes think, “hmm, I need to read a few more non-fiction books” and this year, I want everything to feel more playful.

So how am I going to keep this top of mind?

I make a folder on my computer every year called Marcia’s favourites. A few weeks ago I spent a few hours while listening to a book scrolling through about 5 years of my favourite photos. Some are favourites because the landscape or scenery is breathtaking. But many are favourites because of everyday delights, like the way the light reflected off something, or a beautiful flower or item found in an unexpected place, etc.

I then copied the photos that felt playful to me into a new folder called play, and I’ve made a collage which I printed and put in front of me on the wall in front of my desk to remind me daily of my word.

In previous years, I have had jewellery made like a ring or a necklace. Some of these items have been passed on, like the TRUST necklace that I passed onto a friend going through a divorce. I might still do this because I love wearing a reminder and it prompts conversation which is always nice.

I also recommend making an image with your word and saving it as your lock screen on your phone so you see it hundreds of times every day.

What is your word for 2021? How will you remind yourself of your word to keep it top of mind?

Can you believe this is year 13 of choosing a word?! Here is a full list of all my words over the years:

  • 2009 – simplify
  • 2010 – consolidate
  • 2011 – courage
  • 2012 – create
  • 2013 – trust
  • 2014 – shine
  • 2015 – enough
  • 2016 – joy
  • 2017 – give
  • 2018 – fun
  • 2019 – bold
  • 2020 – light
  • 2021 – play
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