I have been mentally drafting this post on my word of the year for 2017 for a couple of months now – actually, maybe longer! – but I haven’t been able to put it all together, both because I’ve been parsing out my thoughts and waffling on my word, as well as whether I was ready to share it with the world. But ready or not, here goes.
I ended 2016 on a personally fairly rough note. I’ve been struggling with the many plates I am attempting to keep spinning, keeping all the balls in the air. I’ve let quite a few drop (beekeeping, in particular, stands out in my mind), and felt like I’d let even more fall closer and closer to the ground. In addition, I think there was a touch (or maybe more than a touch) of delayed (?) post-partum depression thrown in for good measure. I spent the last bit of 2016 doing my best to live out my word of that year: present. I tried to be present, and to experience even the hard stuff toward the end there. Being a Mama to Adella Grace is everything I’ve ever hoped it would be and so much more, but lately I’ve struggled to figure out where I fit in the picture anymore, between the many obligations I’ve placed upon my own shoulders, work, and being a mama and wife, too. I don’t have much, if any, time to myself anymore, which I definitely knew was coming, but it’s just recently taken a toll on me mentally and physically. I don’t have time for my yoga practice much anymore, which I think has me way off balance. I have very little time for creative pursuits or even cooking, and the things I do for our shop end up being the not-so-fun stuff (taxes, payroll, bills, etc.) and a whole lot less of the parts I enjoy, and the little time I get with Adella after 5 or 6 pm each day is spent focusing 100% on her, and I wouldn’t have it any other way as far as that goes. That’s not even mentioning the fact that my work responsibilities have increased over the past year, which is great, but just not the same place that I was when I took on a lot of things I’m involved in. Then to top it all off, if I spend some of my non-working time away from Adella Grace, I feel guilty, not to mention I’m sad I am missing time with her. I know that none of this is breaking news to anyone who has had children, but momming is SO hard, y’all!
On the night of my 30th birthday, my dear sweet friend (and business partner), Jess) asked me what I saw and felt for my 30th year. (She likes to diveright in to the deep stuff.). The first word that popped into my head was FREEDOM. I hadn’t thought about it before she asked that question (I don’t normally navel gaze this much, I swear). But I instantly knew that I wanted to be free of unwanted obligations, free of mom-guilt (and self-imposed guilt otherwise), free of clutter, free to choose how I spend my time and most importantly, some free time! The word space also rolled around in my head. I wanted space in my life for ALL the things I love and want to do… but nothing really rang as true as Freedom, as cheesy as that word sounds.
It was from this place I was praying for affirmations, for signs, for guidance for this next year as I chose my word for 2017. I was praying for God to meet me where I was, to show me what I should focus on in 2017. I truly believe in choosing a word of the year, and the past 2 years, this process has helped steer my actions and mind, and I believe that whatever you focus on, you will manifest something into being that fits your focus.
And just like that, in the midst of my hardest, toughest, saddest, most hormonal week, God met me where I was: at work. I had to inventory a very unique asset that I had never even seen before: gold and silver eagles.
I thought it was pretty cool, snapped a picture to send to Wheat to show him what I was doing, then returned to being bogged down in my mental anguish and job duties. I didn’t get finished what I needed to do with the eagles that day, so I had to go back to Thomasville the next day to finish up the eagle project.
The next morning on my way to work, on the itty bitty backroad I’ve recently started taking, Excuse my French, but I’m not even shittin’ you, there was an eagle blocking my path in the road. No cars around, I slowed to a stop and the eagle hopped over the fence and hung out in the field next to me. I stayed for maybe five minutes, staring at the eagle and the eagle staring at me, while I felt like God popped me on the back of the head.
It hit me: no matter how I tried to choose a new word, I kept circling back to Freedom. In five years, I had never seen a gold or silver eagle, yet I had seen hundreds of them the day before and was heading back to finish up with them, and if not for that second, unplanned trip to Thomasville, I wouldn’t have had this five minutes with this real, live, symbol-of-freedom eagle in the middle of the road. This entire time I had been thinking “freedom” meant one thing, but I suddenly realized that God could use my yearning for freedom in any number of ways: it could mean financial freedom, it could mean we finally moved to the country so I could have the space and freedom to pursue some of the things I don’t have room for in town, it could mean I finally figure out what to give up to give myself the freedom to focus a little bit on myself this year (as 2016 was clearly the year of baby).
How’s that for an affirmation?
The following weeks since, I seem to continually run into birds. I received a tiny cardinal in my stocking, I’ve found feathers, I ran across an old letterpress feather I chose as a little kid on one of our many family antiquing trips, and each one has made me instinctively think, “free as a bird.” And thus, I don’t feel like I have much of a choice as to my word of the year for 2017: FREE.
So far, it’s off to a wonderful, much happier, hopeful start than 2016 ended (not to say I wasn’t happy, but life was just hard there for a minute).
To kick 2017 off, I decided to cozy up with a book I had been eyeing at the shop over the holiday season.
Much to my surprise, the introduction by Adrianna Adarme was about how the 2005 commencement speech, “This Is Water,” by David Foster Wallace changed her life and her perspective on her thoughts and how she spent her FREE time. So naturally, I looked up the speech and gave it a listen. Imagine my surprise when he began talking about FREEDOM, defining it as attention, awareness, and discipline, and being able to truly care about other people and to sacrifice for them.
Wheat asked if having freedom, or free, being my word of the Year would make me feel trapped. But Freedom isn’t here versus there, it’s the ability to control how I see my surroundings and how I think, how I act, and how I love people. This is how I want to spend my year: bringing my attention, awareness and discipline to my thoughts and actions.
And so, one of the ways plan to free myself of self-imposed obligations is by letting the self-imposed guilt for not posting regularly here go. I’m not sure when I’ll post again! Maybe not ever. It takes a lot of time to draft blog posts, take pictures, edit pictures, link over to other places, etc. and there just isn’t a whole lot of extra space or free time in this season. I love writing, but after four years of blogging this month, I’m growing weary of feeling the sense of obligation to document every aspect of my life. I spent 2016 doing my best to feel present, and that leads me to not want to spend so much time connected to my phone and writing about everything as and just after I do it. I want to be free to do as I please and not feel obligated to share it here in this space. I want to keep my focus on the real things happening around me. Not to say I won’t be sharing bits and pieces of life (find me over at @oystersandpearls on Instagram, @nataliekirbo on Snapchat, and @oystersandpurls on Ravelry), but I won’t be writing proper blog posts… probably for a long while. For now, this isn’t necessarily me saying goodbye to the blog, but perhaps just, “see ya later.”
I don’t know exactly how God will use this word to guide me this year or what challenges and adventures will manifest through it, but I’m looking forward to following my fascinations and the FREEDOM that 2017 holds, in whatever form it comes in.
Want to find your own word of the year? Give this podcast interviewing Susannah Conway over at Squam a listen, or visit her website at www.susannahconway.com.
And be sure to take 20 minutes or so and give “This Is Water” a listen here.
If you’re still here, and maybe have been here all along, thank you for reading, thank you for your words of encouragement. Thanks for following your fascinations, which I can only presume are what led you here! I wish you all the best in the new year. Feel free to share your word of the year in the comments, so that we might inspire each other.