Friday, February 5, 2021

How My 2020 Word of the Year Changed Me Forever

Howdy, Campers and Happy Poetry Friday! My poem and the link to today's Poetry Friday's host is below.

The question TeachingAuthors have been batting around this round is, What did I learn in 2020 that will help me in 2021?

Esther, as always, rallies us with gusto offering one tiny prefix to see things anew; Bobbi walks beside us talking honestly about this crazy road we're all on; Mary Ann takes inspiration from a book that's part practical advice, part surprising memoir of a holocaust survivor, and Carmela shows how she is training her brain to be indistractable, offering solid tips and a wonderful found poem to go with it.

This morning I was thinking about how the first word I’ve ever chosen for a full year, CAPABLE, changed me in a year that has changed me. 

In 2020 I learned that I am capable of creating a 3-hour online class on writing poetry for children (next class scheduled for July 17, 2021). I am capable of learning how to comb my hair backwards on Zoom, I am capable of learning how White-centered my thinking and teaching are and discovering how to change this, and I am capable of developing a Zoom-friendly wardrobe (red is my best color on Zoom). To my surprise, I am capable of embracing teaching online. (I sometimes feel closer to people online than people in real life...I think of all my Zoom friends, family and students as my Flat Stanleys.)

I am capable of running again (yay!), taking care of two hatchling tortoises and not killing them (we named them Meredith and Derek...can you guess what we watched from March through December?), capable of finding a most excellent dog-friendly cat, and capable of dusting off my picture book manuscript and working on it for 10 minutes a day.

I am capable of ordering stuff online I never thought I'd be ordering online, doing without a lot of stuff I don't need, enjoying online yoga classes to buoy my spirits, exploring weird neighborhoods in Los Angeles with my dog and/or my husband.

I am capable of embracing the chaos, embracing the unknown, allowing myself to collapse into a puddle of tears, redefining who I am, being filled with hope again. I am capable of  learning to understand racism differently.  Basically, I am capable of persisting.

So thank you, 2020. You and my word of the year have changed me. I am more willing to look up a video on how to fix something, read the directions more than once, or simply not be angry at myself if I can’t figure out how to do it the first time around. Rather than try once, give up, and ask someone else, someone smarter and more capable than me to do it, I may set aside more time to figure something out, or pat myself on the back and say, April, you’re Capable. You can do this. 

Thanks to you both, I tried longer and I beat myself up less.

I'll tell you the word I've chosen for 2021. But first, I'd like to bid a formal adieu:

ACCOLADE (draft)
by April Halprin Wayland

Good morrow, Noble Knight.

Please ~ rest your sword by the door;

come hither.

I have called you here at sunrise

to honor your heroic year of service

in a most trying time.

Your work has taught our people

how to be safe, develop grit,

and—as your name suggests—become capable.

Because of your exemplary

to the palace, to the castle town, and to the world at large,

this kingdom hereby confers upon you

the highest order of knighthood in the field of language:

the First Ever Word of the Year

or FEWY.

Please kneel.

Retire now in leisure

and know that your steadfastness and pluck

has changed us forever.

poem(c)2021 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

My word for 2021 is FOCUSED, a concept Carmela's post covered beautifully. I can't wait to see where it takes me.

Do you have a word for this day, this week, month or year?  So many of you do--please share them!

Be sure to check out this week's Poetry Friday deliciousness at Jone's!

posted by April Halprin Wayland with love from a house full of animals

Here's our brand-new very dog-friendly kitty, Gato: 


Linda B said...

That learning you've shared I hope equates others during this year of making do or figuring out and patting self on the back for survival, April. More than once I shiver at the serendipity of something that happens, like you choosing "capable" for a year you didn't know was going to happen. How wonderful that you have honored that steadfast "knight". (I think it might stick around with "focus", don't you?

Tabatha said...

April, I loved this post! So inspired by what you learned. xo

April Halprin Wayland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
April Halprin Wayland said...

Yes, Linda, now that you've brought it to my attention, I do think that each word becomes part of one's DNA. Each word builds us, just as each year does. Thanks for coming!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks, Tabatha ~ I think the world has learned so much, and continues to do so. Let's hope it helps us climb out of the darkness.

Carmela Martino said...

Love your poem and learning how your Knight has helped you, April. Wow! How it's helped you grow!
My 2021 word is AWARENESS. Another thing I learned in 2020 was how much I take for granted. I hope that with increased awareness, I'll also nurture more appreciation for all the good in my life. Hugs to you!

Janice Scully said...

We don't often fully consider how we all have persevered during this year. It's been a trial and you have quite a list of successes. I enjoyed your celebratory and encouraging post, Apri.

Kay said...

Capable was quite the word for last year--how did you know it would teach you so much when the year began?

Ruth said...

What a great post! Capable was a wonderful word for last year. My word last year was Hope, and my word this year is Flourishing.

jan godown annino said...

Such a get-up-and-Go! essay, dear April. I love your warmth, generous sharing, the everything about it, especially your poem, which leads me to share that my word of 2021 is SING.

Sally Murphy said...

April - I love this post for numerous reasons. First, I love that you chose a word which proved to be the word you needed (and so many of us needed in 2020!). I also love that you seem to have chosen the same show to binge watch. I rewatched the entire Gray's back catalogue with my son, who had not previously watched them.
And, although I confess I haven't chosen a word this year, your new word really resonates with me, as I have been working to be more focussed. I listened recently to an audible book called 'Indistractable" which lead to me being more aware of just how distracted I can be - and some strategies to change that. I am listening to another called 'Chatter' which is opening my eyes (and ears) to the ways internal chatter impacts us, and how to deal with it.

Jone said...

Isn’t it amazing how OLW will have an effect in a year? I like your word, CAPABLE. And indeed you were capable in so many ways. Mine was JOY and it guided me well.
I like your focused for this year. And your sweet new kitty and tortoises? Fun.

Linda Mitchell said...

What an affirmative post. I respect that you allowed 2020 to strengthen you and you found how capable you were to meet its challenges. I really do love the OLW idea. It helps me focus on something. Hooray! A wonderful poem. You had me at Good morrow.

Julie Phend said...

I loved this post, April. I've been writing down some things I've learned this year--I call it Lessons of the Pandemic, and it's surprising how much there is to be proud of and grateful for in the midst of all this. I didn't have a word of the year, but my summary word is Resilient. Thanks for this post--the personal reflection and the poem were both wonderful.

author amok said...

I can imagine that Good Sir Knight, CAPABLE, retiring at the end of his year of service. Thank you for sharing this amazing overview of your 2020 April. Can't wait to hear more about your poetry classes.

Jarm Del Boccio said...

Yes, I have chosen a word for 2021 - SURRENDER! I'm not capable of controlling all that comes my way in life, so I am surrendering my heart, home, health and hopes to God. He knows me best, and loves me most. I can trust Him. Doing so has caused me to relax and worry less, while moving forward in my career as an author. Thanks for inspiring us with your word, April!

Trine Grillo said...

Hi April. My word is REACH - Reaching out to what lies ahead.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Carmela, thank you! I love the word AWARENESS.

Thank you, Janice ~ a few days before writing this, I started dictating this while I was on a hike with my dog. The list surprised even me.

Kay ~ who knew?!?

Ruth ~ Hope is one of my all-time favorite words. It’s on our fireplace mantle. FLOURISHING makes me see a whole garden of flowers. What a beautiful word.

Jan ~ SING! What great word. I’d love to hear where it leads you and how it helps when things look bleak.

Sally ~ You and your son and me and my husband! Our son is a first year resident in Emergency Medicine, so watching all those seasons grounded me in the vocabulary of his world. You and Carmela both were impressed by the book, Indistractable.

Jone ~ Yes, one little word, especially for those of us who sweat over every single one. I love your word, JOY. And yes, my zoo has filled our home with FUN!

Linda M ~ Thanks for commenting <3 What is your word?

Julie ~ A summary word...I like that idea! And RESILIENT says so much. Thank you for stopping by.

Laura ~ Thank you! One thing I’ve learned from the class I taught last month was how many White poets I talk about. I was completely blind to this. I am learning.

Jarm ~ SURRENDER has served me well at times. It’s a challenging action, a brave one. Thank you for sharing your word.

Trine ~ I can visualize you REACHing out. I see someone reaching for a star. It can’t help but stretch you!