Who Do You Want to Be?

I finished 2015 much like I did the years before it: seemingly crawling to the finish line, ready to kick the year to the curb. 2015 was challenging in all sorts of ways — some old and expected, others new and unanticipated.

I’ve seen this gif floating around The Internets:

And it always makes me think: Yep. That pretty much sums up my year.

Heh.

Despite the bumps and bruises, I see good and growth and health in the past twelve months.

I’d chosen one word to focus on all year: wholehearted. And I see the ways I leaned into living more wholeheartedly, even when it was hard and even when it came with serious heartache.

Living and loving wholeheartedly led me back to a therapist’s couch, to dig in deep and keep working on the brokenness that is me. It opened my heart to love again, to let people in, to dream about the future like I haven’t in years, to cling to hope. It forced me to advocate for myself, to risk vulnerably in relationships, to hold my heart in my hands and extend it to another, without knowing what they might do with it. It’s what elbowed me to pursue a new treatment for my heart condition and what nudged me to get back on antidepressants. It’s the reason I’ve cried so much this year; it’s also the reason I’ve laughed so much this year. I’ve lived and I’ve loved and I’ve lost, and I’ve done it all with more wholeheartedness than ever before.

So even though I’ve been knocked down a time or two (or twelve), I know I am a whole lot stronger and healthier today than I was a year ago.

And maybe that’s the best I can ever hope for out of a year.

Maybe that’s more than enough.

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We find ourselves here again now, in the beginning moments of a brand new year.

And I can’t help but wish there was something magical about January 1st.

I wish that things would be better/different/new starting today simply because we’ve crossed into 2016. But sadly, life doesn’t work that way. Challenges don’t begin and end with the calendar; heartsoreness doesn’t dissipate at midnight amid the kisses and fireworks and shouts of “Happy New Year!”

If only…

Yet even I, with my jaded cynicism, can admit to there being something significant about the new calendar year.

Even if it’s just a placebo effect, there is an undeniable opportunity to start fresh. To begin again. To embrace new mercies. To get up from the mat, brush myself off, and determine to try again.

So that a year from now I can say I’m stronger and healthier than I am today.

I don’t start this year with a long list of goals or resolutions — my own history has proven that those don’t work for me. I lose sight too quickly, I fall short too fast, I forget my list in 4 weeks (if that), and ultimately end up feeling like a failure.

No lists for me. All I’ve got in my pocket as I begin this new year is one word.

This year I’m choosing to live with more badassery. It’s a continuation of my wholehearted journey — just with more spunk and boldness. And I’m thrilled/terrified to see what comes of it.

To be honest, I’ve been petrified to even say it out loud on The Interwebs. Because… @$$. And because… judgey people. And because… I care far too much what people think. So the irony isn’t lost on me: It’s taking badassery to declare badassery as my word for the year. So I’m stepping up to the plate.

Oy vey. The adventure has begun. Here goes…everything.

What about you?

Whether you feel like you’re starting 2016 from a position of strength or weakness, only good can come from choosing now to lean into this year with intentionality.

Who do you want to be? What do you want to focus on?

Choose one word and join me on the One Word 365 journey this year.

(You can read more about the movement, sign up, and find others with your word and in your region on the website: OneWord365.com.)

What’s your One Word for 2016?

Ever Becoming – One Word 365

Ever becoming

We are so grateful to have Alece Ronzino join us again this year. Alece is well-known to many of us in her work to both free and challenge us by inviting us to pick just one word to guide the year. While lengthy resolutions often spell defeat, one word can impact us in ways we can’t imagine. As her website says:

“Forget New Year’s Resolutions. Scrap that long list of goals you won’t remember three weeks from now anyway.

Choose just one word. 

One word you can focus on every day, all year long… One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.”

We invite you to enter the conversation in this piece and connect through the comment section below!

Ever Becoming
by Alece Ronzino

I set out to be brave last year. 

I waffle back and forth in my opinion of how well I actually lived it out. But there are moments when I find it easy to recognize the small acts of personal bravery that marked my journey through 2014.

I opened my heart to possibilities. I allowed myself to enjoy the present without needing to know where things may (or may not) lead. I let my guard down and let others in. I used my words more — like when I wrote about depression and suicide, even when it terrified me. I leaned into relationships and established healthier boundaries. I faced a devastating loss and didn’t fall apart like I once thought I would. I started going to church again.

From the outside looking in, I’m sure my life didn’t look very brave to others. But from the inside looking out, I see it: 2014 demanded courage of me. 

Let’s be honest though. The year didn’t end with me arriving at some grand finish line with an“I am brave” medal hanging around my neck. But I never really expected it to. That wasn’t the point.

The year did, however, end with me feeling more confident that I am becoming brave. And, when I force myself to remember the truth, I know that the process of becoming is far more valuable than the arrival at being

I hear Sara Bareilles in my head: Show me how big your brave is. 

And my brave is bigger this January 1st than it was last January 1st. Shoot, my brave is biggertoday than it was yesterday. And that, friends, is all that matters, isn’t it? It’s the best any of us can do really.

My last brave step of the year was choosing my one word for 2015: Wholehearted. 

I’m determining to live more wholeheartedly. To be all-in. To be fully present. I’m committing to give myself permission (and a nudge) to be truly myself. To stick to my guns. To live, write, and speak with integrity (in the fullest sense of the word — with wholeness and completeness in all parts of me).

I’m purposing to show up this year, in every way.

In each situation, in each decision, and with every single person, I want to show up wholeheartedly. Even when that means facing my fears. Or candidly sharing the vulnerabilities of my heart. Or taking a huge risk. Even when that means flying solo. Or saying no. Or standing my ground when I want to run away.

It’s a good thing I developed some extra bravery. This wholehearted business is daunting.

When I’m falling short and feeling like a big hot mess of a failure, do me a favor. Remind me to extend myself grace, and to focus on the journey rather than the destination.

Never arriving.

Ever becoming. 

Will you join me?

What word do you want to guide you through 2015? 
Join the One Word 365 community »

Follow Alece on Twitter and visit her blog, Grit and Glory.

It’s Not About Doing More

Alece-one-word

I’ve lived most of my life by shoulds. Growing up, I was the all-American good girl. I did well in school. I went on mission trips. I moved to Africa when I was 19 to serve as a missionary. I did everything “right”. By the book. The way I was supposed to, expected to, told to. The way I should.

But the treadmill of striving is exhausting. If only I could do more… If only I could do better… Yet for every should I manage to check off, more get added to the list. It’s a vicious cycle of defeat.

In my painful journey of the past few years, I realized how badly I needed to stop should-ing on myself. And I discovered how challenging it can be to get off that treadmill.

One of the ways I’ve found some freedom from the should shackles has been by ditching New Year’s Resolutions. I used to make a long list of goals I’d like to achieve in the new year, but never managed to live up to them (or, at times, even remember what they were).

It only left me feeling like a failure.

So I began choosing just One Word as I step into a new year. One word that sums up who I want to be, or a character trait I want to develop, or an attribute I want to intentionally add to my life.

And since it’s just one word, it’s easy to remember. I place reminders of it around my home and workspace, and I inevitably start seeing and hearing it everywhere, which helps me stay mindful of it.

One year, I committed to risk more—it forced me to step out of my comfort zone and do things I wouldn’t ordinarily do. Another year, my word was look—it gave me eyes to see God’s divine fingerprints even in the darkest of moments. Yet another year, my word was choose—a daily reminder that while I can’t control what happens to me, I can always choose my response.

My One Word isn’t another to-do list. It’s simply a guide as I make decisions, set plans, and go about my every day.

And I’ve seen these words shape not only my year, but also myself. They’ve challenged me, inspired me, changed me. Such is the power of intentionality.

I’ve chosen brave as my One Word for 2014, and with equal parts trepidation and curiosity, I am anxious to see how it will grow me this coming year.

Will you join me in choosing One Word for the year? It’s not about doing more, but about being who you were created to be.

Maybe a word popped right into your head. Maybe you need to let the idea percolate a bit longer. Either way, more often than not, your word finds you.

You’ll probably have a love/hate relationship with it. That’s okay. If it doesn’t scare you at least a little bit, it’s probably not the right word.

So… Together, let’s stop should-ing on ourselves.

What do you want to focus on in 2014? Who do you want to be by the end of the year?

Once you’ve landed on your word, write a blog post about it.
Then join the global One Word 365 tribe.

Stop Waiting for It All to Make Sense

Alece Ronzino Stop Waiting For it All to Make Sense

One of the biggest myths of our generation is that we need clarity in order to commit.

Before we pull the trigger, we first want answers to all our questions. We want a complete road map. We want to read the fine print before we sign our lives away. We want confident periods not uncertain question marks. We want to fully know what we’re getting ourselves into. We want surety before we take a step. And until we get it, we wait…

And we blame our lack of commitment on a lack of clarity.

But it’s a myth that knowing more would make it easier to say yes. It’s a lie we tell ourselves so that we feel better about doing nothing.

If I knew all that awaited me when I boarded the plane for Africa at 19, I never would have gone. If I could’ve seen the roadmap of hills and deep, dark valleys, I would have stayed Stateside. If I could have imagined all the heartaches and challenges that I would have to endure in order to embrace the victories and successes, I would have cowered in the corner crying.

Details paralyze more than uncertainty does.

If we wait until we have it all spelled out, that’s no longer faith-driven commitment— that’s just executing a plan. Commitment must be laced with doubt and hesitation and mystery.

Commitment, in its truest form, demands ambiguity.

Think of Abraham. “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home,” God said, “for a land that I will show you.”

Without even knowing where he was going or how he would get there, Abraham left.

Courageous commitment lined every footstep he left in the rugged soil, stepping away from the known into the land of the unknown.

What’s that thing scratching on the corner of your heart? What is that quiet nudge you continue to feel? What’s the passion that keeps rising to the surface? Whatever it is… Stop waiting for all the answers, for certainty, for assurances.

Commitment precedes clarity every single time.

So pull the trigger. Say yes. Jump off the cliff. Send that email. Start the conversation.

Take the step.

The courage lies in doing it afraid.

What is it for you?

What do you need to commit to?

{Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lauter-als-der-rest/6898114788/}

 

Alece HeadshotAlece Ronzino –  After pioneering and leading a nonprofit in South Africa for 13 years, Alece now lives in Nashville, TN. She is a Nonprofit Communications & Development Strategist, a freelance copywriter/editor, and the founder of One Word 365. She blogs occasionally but candidly about searching for God in the question marks of life and faith. Follow Alece on Twitter and visit her blog, Grit and Glory.