Mindful.

There’s this thing I’ve seen around, on blogs and in bullet journal communities, called “Word of the Year.” The idea is that you pick one single word that is meaningful for you, and you meditate or think on that word throughout the entire year. Need more peace in your life? Choose “calm.” Looking for happiness? Choose “joy.” Or “focus,” “balance,” “brave,” “grow.” You get the idea. There’s even a site to collect these words, and a hashtag: #oneword365.

Normally, I have to admit, I don’t have much patience for gimmicks like this. (Ask me how much I fucking hate The Secret.) I like my self-improvement to be a little more, well, evidence-based and scholarly. But, what can I say — this year, I’m up for trying new things. Maybe what I need is to shake things up, do something I wouldn’t normally do.

My word for 2018 is “mindful.”

Mindful: “Aware of your responsibilities.” Or, “A spiritual state of great importance on the path to enlightenment.” “Giving complete and non-judgmental attention to one’s present experience.” “Heedful,” “careful,” “conscious.” From the Old English myndig, meaning “mindful, recollecting, or thoughtful.” Translation of the Pali word sati in Buddhist texts, usually taken to mean “awareness.”

I chose “mindful” for a host of reasons. For one thing, I’m focusing on my writing and creative projects more, and I can’t do that if I’m scattered and unfocused. (Which, lately, I’ve been scattered and unfocused.) For another, I’m bringing mindfulness and meditation to my daily life. And lastly, I realize that for years now I’ve existed in a state of perpetual autopilot, and I need to break out of it. For a long time — for a decade, at least — I was in survival mode, just living day to day, coping with financial emergencies and family strife and loss of child custody and exhausting retail jobs and emotional challenges and a raft of life disasters. But over the past five years or so, I’ve worked hard to disengage from bad jobs, bad people, bad situations. I find myself in 2018, with my dream job, with the best partner I’ve ever had, with my kids back under my roof, with so much I’m lucky and grateful to have.

It’s time to appreciate what I’ve got, stop letting it all fly past in a blur. It’s time to bring awareness and attention to my big and beautiful life. It’s time I learned to be mindful.

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