build · one little word

2016: One Little Word



Well, hello there! Happy New Year! How were the holidays?

We stayed home for Christmas, carried out our own little traditions, and started new ones. It was a quiet week, but it was good. And then right after Christmas, we hit the road to Southern California to visit family. How great to visit family during that final week of the year when no one is rushing around to buy presents. We spent our days walking to the park and playing with toys and cooking family dinners and reading.

It was a good balance this year.

I haven’t been around the blog lately. Something happened in the fall – I’m not really even sure what it was – that made everything feel like it was on hold – a fog, a fall funk, if you will.

Zora Neale Hurston wrote in one of my favorite books, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” I believe this is also true for seasons. Fall felt like a season that asked lots of questions but provided no answers. I am hoping the new year ushers in a new season with, if not answers, at least a fog-lifting.

I love the new year. Starting over, starting fresh, making new. I love a makeover (it’s what most of my projects are, really), and January 1st is the best kind of makeover – new dreams, new goals, new habits, new ideas.

A clean slate.

Happy New Year Chalkboard


Last winter, just before New Year’s, Husband and I got away to a lovely inn near my hometown. In the morning, over breakfast, we wrote out a whole bunch of goals for ourselves and our family for 2015. We were feeling very optimistic as we scribbled line after line of resolutions and ideas and aspirations.

As we were driving to Southern California last week, I reminded Husband of this and suggested we do something similar again this year.

Me: Maybe we can take time while we’re gone to think about goals for the new year?

Husband: Yep. That’s a great idea.

Me: Ugh! I meant to make a copy of our list from last year to see how we did.

Husband: Nope.That’s a terrible idea.

He’s right. When you know you’ve failed, you don’t always want to see how terribly you’ve failed.


As I started pondering my “One Little Word” a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do one this year. What would it be? What do I really need to do? I could stand to dive more into “practice” or “pursue” or even “refine” again. There are layers to these words that could play out every year for the rest of my life.


When I thought about what I really wanted to “create” this year – what I wanted to change, what I wanted to have or be by December 31st, 2016, my ideas kept coming back to “build”.

Build. It’s a clunky word. Not intrinsically pretty or motivating like “refine” or “pursue” or even “slow”. It’s not glorious in hand lettering (see above). It won’t make for a lovely Instagram (but I’m going to do it anyway).

But it does seem to fit into the areas of growth I’m thinking about this year. I made a new list in my journal for 2016, but it’s much simpler and looks like this:





-build on positive

So much better than two pages of notes. Here’s a little more about what they each mean:

Strength. Yes, as in physical strength and flexibility. I’ve always been fairly strong, but I’ve lost some of that since BB and BG were born. I don’t want to be a body-builder, but I want to get stronger this year. BUILD seems like a natural word for this.

Community. Living hundreds or thousands of miles away from family requires you to create your own community. Over the 13+ years we have lived in California, we have experienced varying amounts of community – an ebb and flow of having a core group of people to do life with outside of our own house. For various reasons (see: Fall Funk), we are in a phase of being homebodies. I want to be intentional about BUILDING community in our daily lives.

Work. If I could just show up and do the work – to make SOMETHING on most days – I could BUILD a collection of work, whether that’s making jewelry or redesigning a dress or writing. To build brick-by-brick, bead-by-bead, stitch-by-stitch, word-by-word (or Bird by Bird) would surely show growth over the year. I am excited to see what could come from that kind of practice.

Margin.  Five Januarys ago, I bought my first Kindle book – Real Happiness. Then three Januarys ago, I picked the book up again as part of my journey to being more purposeful. This January, I’m going to pick the book up once again to help BUILD more margin in my life. More quiet, more mindfulness, more prayer, more space. (Santa also brought Sitting Still Like a Frog for BB’s stocking. We’ve done a couple of the guided exercises together, and I think they’re great. Hoping we can all work on this as a family this year.)

Build on the Positive. I’ve always been a glass-half-full, rose-colored-glasses, Pollyanna kind of gal. But lately (see: Fall Funk), pessimism has been seeping into my thoughts, and I more easily focus on what is going WRONG. I want to change that. I want to return to my more optimistic self, and I think the key to this is to BUILD on what is going RIGHT.

See? Not overwhelming. I imagine it playing out in very simple ways. When I wake up in the morning, how can I build? I can work out instead of wandering aimlessly online. At night, after the kids are in bed, how can I build? I can carve out some quiet time. When I’m having a hard day, how can I build? By thinking about what is going WELL and building on that.

I see my One Little Word as a reminder that I have a choice. I can decide what I do with the circumstances, time, constraints, and situations I’m in every day. I can choose to wallow in a funk or I can choose to BUILD.

brick by brick


After we got home from Southern California, I pulled out my journal from last winter to look up something, and I stumbled on our goal sheets. I tried to quickly turn the page to avoid seeing all of our failures, but something caught my eye, and as I dove in, I realized we did much more than I’ve been giving us credit for.


-drink more water

-exercise more (We quit the gym, got an elliptical, and I exercise more than I did before!)

-re-evaluate work/life balance (Husband – I think he’s done really well in this area this year)

-camping (There have been several living room camp nights – it’s a start!)

-BG learn letters (Well, thank you, preschool!)

-family movie night

-date nights

-use a budget app (a few months counts, right?)

-get an iPad for me (Ha! I don’t even remember adding this one. Good job, me!)

-paint living room/dining room/hall (done, done, and done)

Hey! Maybe it’s not everything, but for a glass-half-full kind of woman, I think that’s pretty great!

I mean, it’s definitely something to “build” on.



8 thoughts on “2016: One Little Word

    1. YNAB. You Need a Budget. Very simple, very flexible, has great videos to go along with it. Should probably add that to this year’s list….Build Wealth? ;)


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