One Words Better Than None (Or Too Many)

So today, on my writing site, I talked about my word for 2016: REBOOT. This is a follow-up to 2015, which was a JOURNEY, and 2014 when I was BRAVE.

These focus words have been more helpful than any “concrete” resolutions I ever set. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with resolutions, but it’s easy to see why they can end up being frustrating. For example: you write down on your list of New Years Resolutions “lose weight.” That’s it. Just lose some weight. No problem, right?

Maybe not, but what if you get sick? What if you do but then gain it back after a rough patch? What if you just stay the same, all year, no matter what you do? December 31 of next year rolls around, and all you have is this feeling of failure. It may not even take that long – studies have shown that people give up on their resolutions within the first month.

By giving yourself a focus word, you can take a look at what you’re doing throughout the year and decide if it’s in line with who you want to be or where you want to be going. The words I’ve seen people use, including myself, are never negative – you don’t see things like DROP or ELIMINATE or SAYNOTOTWINKIES. Just reminding yourself of your word is a burst of inspirational energy. It’s great. Try it this year. And tell me about it!

I dare you!

2015 was a Journey…2016 is time for a REBOOT

2014 meant being Brave. 2015 was a Journey. For 2016, the word is REBOOT.

There were a lot of changes in 2015. Added responsibility. New faces, places, things. Experiences that, while enriching and ultimately good in the greater sense of living, have worn me the hell down.

We bought a house. I changed jobs. I participated in events in front of a million people (Ask Me Another) and in front of complete strangers (Mudderella), both trials that challenged me mentally and physically. I wrote a novel. I made things.

And guys? I feel like a bit of a mess. I feel like the Stretch Armstrong you find in your garage after 20 years, and when you pull the arms with the hope of stretching, you send up with a pile of sawdust and rubber. I feel like your first swimsuit. I feel like a super ball with a crack in it, like if I try to fulfill a purpose I’m just going to explode tragically.

Anyway, you get the point.

2016 is going to be coming back to basics. It’s going to be about taking a look at the everyday, and reestablishing habits. It’s going to be about installing all the personal updates and getting my heart restarted.

I’m going to:
  • Spend less time on things that cause me unnecessary distress.
  • Be more honest – with myself as much as others.
  • Practice moderation. And, in doing so, relish what I take in.
  • Make new things out of joy, not necessarily to gain recognition or compensation.
  • Schedule time for things I love, no matter how trivial.

What’s your word for 2016?

Reflecting vs Resolving

So over on my writing site, I just did my annual post of my 5 Favorite Things from 2015. Check it out by clicking the image below:

2015 copy

I started doing this because every year, the big idea we see plastered all over the media each late-December-early-January is ARE YOU READY FOR THE NEW YOU? Everybody talks about resolutions. “Should we do them? Shouldn’t we? Are we setting ourselves up for failure? And have you joined a gym yet? Clean out your fridge! Quit your job! GET IMPLANTS!”

However, while I do give myself some soft resolutions as well as a word to focus on (more on that tomorrow), I have learned that it’s just as important to stop and ask, “What did I do with myself this year? Who was I?”

In 2014, I traveled a lot. It was awesome. This year, because I didn’t travel as much, I’ve been muddling through the past few days, kicking rocks, a voice in my head saying, “Great, so I bought a house this year. Big whoop-dee-do.”

Then I started going through my Facebook timeline and my Google photos and guys. I did so much more than “just buy a house.” I did travel. I did a marathon. I went to author events. Hell, I had an author event of my own. I was so lost in the big picture of 2014 not being like 2015 that I almost let those memories slip away unrecognized.

So, during these first few days of 2016, I urge you to stop and take a good long look at this past year. Delight in the memories. Realize what you needed to learn from. And realize that the passage of time is the same today, tomorrow, on New Years Eve and Day and March 5 and July 10, onward and onward. We’re all hurling through life at the same speed. Live it viciously.

I dare you.

5 Best Things from 2015

Holy crap, guys, is it seriously 2016? Oh God, I typed 2015 there originally. It’s already too much for me. But don’t get me wrong, 2015 was kind of crazy. Here are the big five awesome things that happened to yours truly this year. My Five Favorites of 2015 (in no specific order) are…

2015 copy

  1. The Travel Weekend, in which I went to Bard to see Neil Gaiman and then drove to DC to see Amanda Palmer the following night. She signed my hippo. It was magical.
  2. My First Book Event, in which I read from my poetry chapbook, Pickled Miracles, at Rickert & Beagle in Pittsburgh. I also sold custom poetry.
  3. Our First House, in which my husband and I bought a house in Pittsburgh. It was one of the most stressful processes I’ve ever gone through, but now…we own a freaking house.
  4. Ask Me Another, in which I was a participant on the NPR quiz show. Such fun. I didn’t win, but it was totally worth it.
  5. Crafts, in which my visual art game became stronger. I did monthly doodles, photography, felting, papercrafts…it’s been fun to have something more tactile to balance my writing.

Honorable mentions: The Chuck Palahniuk and Rainbow Rowell events, Picklesburgh, Welcome to Night Vale, Mudderella, the Priory Hotel, the Pittsburgh Botanical Garden, NaNoWriMo

Has this year been a journey? Absolutely. But even though that was my word of the year, it’s not over yet. Is it ever?

Tomorrow: the word for this year and what I have planned.

2014 was a Year to be Brave…2015 is a Journey!

So last year, I created a word for 2014, and that was Brave.

And I was. I tried taxidermy for the first time. I lost my wallet in NYC. I took my first bus and train trips (trains are better). I hit all the zombie hotspots in Western PA, and I drove from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in the middle of the night.

I made bread from scratch. I created a chapbook of poems. I laughed a lot, cried a bit, and made some new friends. When I would start getting anxious or, worse, bored…I said, “What can I do now?” It was a great year, which is contrary to what I’ve heard from a lot of people.

This year, as I sat on my couch re-watching season 2 of Hannibal on New Years Eve, I doodled trying to figure out what I wanted to do with this next year. I have a few goals – to visit Canada, to get comfortable playing the ukulele, among others – but I wanted another word. I wanted a theme.

I messed around with several words, including:

  • Adventure (too broad)
  • Dream (too abstract)
  • Finishing (too narrow)
  • Content (too slow)

Then, as I was writing about who I wanted to be by the end of 2015, I wrote a note about how I wanted to “document the JOURNEY.” And that’s what stuck.

I want this year to be a Journey. I want to ride through it and stop at the places that appeal to me. I want to try new foods and see new people and live so presently that all I’m thinking about is this moment, second, instant. I want to turn off regret and nagging and stuff that bothers me and drive.

And I definitely won’t stop believin.’ Or holding on to that feelin.’

Did you really think we’d get through this without a Journey reference?

How about you? Do you have a theme for this year? Any spiffy goals or ideas? Resolutions? Tell me!


I feel like the impending new year is an injection I’m getting. It’s coming, and no matter how many times I try to yell, “I’M NOT READY,” the universe refuses to listen to me.

And when they put me in the ground
I’ll start pounding the lid
Saying I haven’t finished yet
I still have a tattoo to get
That says I’m living in the moment
— “In My Mind” by Amanda Palmer