A word for the year: Push

a time to plant and a time to uproot …
a time to tear and a time to mend …

Under our feet, nestled in cold earth, seeds bide their time. They wait for the warm season to call. They prepare to tunnel through the dirt; they anticipate oxygen and light. And then, in the fullness of spring, they push. Up, up, up, they push.

I have been aware of One Word 365 for a few years. The past couple of months, the idea has sunk in: forgo New Year’s resolutions, and choose instead a theme of sorts for the next twelve months. One word to motivate, to bracket, to embrace you.

This winter, I am a tender of hopes and a grower of dreams. I am forecasting, preparing, and my almanac is brief: push. One verb. It is my guide to the sunlight and a warning of frosts that may come.

mustardseedI am buried deep, but pushing.

In Story Sessions, we talk about resistance: those poisoned flowers that distract your eyes and snare your hands; those shadows that whisper you can’t, not enough; those January winds that numb your art.

What do you do when you meet resistance? You push. Oh how you push.

This year, that call is simple in all its manifestations:

Push upward. There are skies up there, skies you cannot imagine.
Push against. The wind howls a warning of stagnant waters, moldy with complacency and lies.
Push through. Brambles tangle your skirts but your feet are still free.
Push for. There’s a stream running with sweet water called wholeness, called reward. My muddy hands dig for the weight of gold.
Push away. Dark hollows hold magic, but you’re not under its spell.
Push onward. Your legs may be sore, but poppies will welcome you over the next hill.
Push toward. Strange galaxies welcome the not-lost wanderer.

At the birth of a new year, I am embracing the labor-pains of nascent dreams, of undead faith.

I don’t know what the coming months will hold. Perseverance has never been my strong suit. But this year I plan to push, when my bones resist and my spirit quavers. When the rock won’t roll, when the mountain won’t move, when the seeds won’t grow. Push with heavy arms and empty hands, half-crazed mind and half-full heart.

Here’s to 2014, a year to push. Like a mustard seedling anointed with rainwater, like a bent reed straightening toward the sun as the wind dies down.

I have no time to squander, for springtime is soon. And where ground has lain fallow, trees may rise.

What are you ambitions for the year, in one word or many? If you’ve done One Word 365, how has it worked for you? How do you push past resistance?


  1. This is so beautiful. It makes me want to make “push” my word but I don’t have a word. I’ve not done the word thing before, but I like the idea.

    May you push with everything in you, rest when you need to, then push some more. May this year be a year of life and freedom and discovery.

    1. Thanks Jen. You should consider writing personal benedictions for a living.

  2. For sure Kate! Enjoyed reading this. There is something to a word to define one’s perspective and to color ones efforts for an entire year. It seems like it will make it a bit easier to achieve, and this I can get on board with. Here’s to pushing forward and finding what we didn’t even know we could do!

    1. Thank you, Marvia. I think there’s a fair bit of correlation between “push” and “intentional.” We’ve both got an interesting year ahead of us, eh?

      1. Yes! We do, but we’re not alone. And it will not be impossible. Excited to see the beautiful unfolding as we keep moving forward! ;)

  3. […] you have followed my sporadic writing for a while, you know that around this time last winter, I jumped onto the word-a-year bandwagon, choosing a verb to embody for the whole year rather than listing a bunch […]

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