random thought: on redefining

Some time ago I mentioned that over the past few years around each anniversary of the date I stopped practicing law, I've picked a word to help guide me for the coming 12 months.  My habit of choosing a word started because of a serendipious visit to a little boutique on the Oregon coast weeks before I turned in my notice at my job -- and so now, every year since I've chosen a new word in the September/October timeframe, as opposed to the more customary beginning of the calendar year.  For me, it just seems like fall is the right time for renewal.

This year, I chose the word INSPIRE.  At the time I chose the word, I was pretty clear on why I chose it:  first, I knew that I would be spending much of the coming months in promotion of my book, and I hoped that people feel inspired by it; but secondly (and mostly), I knew that I wanted to start working in earnest on a second book, and I hoped that inspiration would come easily for me in the process.  It seemed simple enough.

Then last week, I decided to sign up for Ali Edwards' One Little Word online course.*  Ali has been choosing a word in lieu of resolutions for several years now, and is a scrapbooker extraordinaire; however, while I don't scrapbook,  I loved the idea of having monthly prompts to help me focus on my word and keeping it present in my life over the months to come.  I figured that instead of scrapbooking, I'd simply do the exercises in my journal, and see what came of it.

As promised, Ali's first prompt arrived in my inbox on New Year's Day.  So I grabbed a cup of tea, and listened to her voice while taking notes.  In addition to a few exercises, one of the things she suggested was actually looking up the definition of our words, to see if it sparked anything -- that perhaps there was a definition of our words that we hadn't considered, that we might also like to incorporate in our coming year.

I will admit that I was rather skeptical about this:  after all, INSPIRE is a pretty easy word to define, and I felt pretty certain that I knew how to define it.  However, it seemed a bit pathetic to start shortchanging myself at the very beginning of the course, so I did as she suggested, and consulted Dictionary.com.

The definitions  for INSPIRE I came across were pretty predictable: to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence; to give rise to, bring about, cause; to influence or impel

Yup.  Pretty much what I imagined.

But then I came across the final definition:

to take into the lungs in breathing; inhale. 


Wow.  I hadn't even considered this.  But yes, of course, to inspire would also mean to inhale -- and yes, absolutely, one of the things I wanted to be sure to do this year was to inhale everything -- to draw inspiration from everything around me, to use it to challenge myself in my writing and in my photography.
I also want to be sure to be acutely aware of what I inhale this year:  what I surround myself with, what I take in both spiritually and experientially, ensuring that it is as healthy for me, in all ways, as possible.

And finally, I want to take a moment to stop and inhale -- to be more mindful of my life, and my family, and myself.


So now, INSPIRE has taken on a whole new meaning.  And now, I really can't wait to see what 2011 brings.

* Note:  if you've chosen a word for 2011 and you're so inclined, it's not too late to sign up for Ali's course.  Admittedly, I've only done the January prompt so far, but it seems really, really promising, and the price is very reasonable.



Image:  Photograph of our neighbour's quite thoroughly toilet-papered oak tree, shot with the Nikon D700 and the 16-35 mm lens Nikon so kindly lent me.