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Well-Being TLC

January 2023: Word of the Year = Love


2023 Word of the Year: Love

With the New Year countdown complete and the echoes of Auld Lang Syne faded, 2023 beckons my word of intention. You may be familiar with this "Word of the Year" tradition that started for me some twenty years ago as an idea from a friend relayed from a book she was reading. I prefer the gentle glide into January that a word offers me to the performative pressures of a resolution. Experience proves that my intention is stronger than my resolve.

My word for 2023 is “Love.” Love what is in front of me. Love what is lost because it existed. Love myself and others without condition. Love may seem a lofty goal, but for me it offers a deepening into what already is. I believe there exists an untapped well of abundant love available in this world and with the right divining rod I can access it. The world needs more love, not less, as do you and I. The challenge is my ability to embody love and offer it freely.

Loving myself is easy under the right conditions. I bask in achieving a personal goal, receiving a client’s compliment, or reading a friend’s appreciative note. Recognition for doing is built into our culture, as if love must be performatively earned. The challenge is to love myself as is when nothing is accomplished, when my energy level says no thank you, and my body shows and feels her age. Can I love myself when I cancel plans without being sick but still need a break? Can I love myself when I say no to another’s request when I have the time and ability but lack the desire to help? Can I love myself when someone I love disapproves of me to the point of cutting off all contact with me?

Yes. Yes. And yes.

The friends that I made plans with may be disappointed to go without me but will understand because they care more about my wellbeing than the scheduled event. As for not helping upon request, my reluctance signals to me that I need more unoccupied space in my day—I could overfill my schedule by saying yes to every ask that matched my skillset. Instead, when my yesses happen they are genuine. And what about being ghosted by a loved one? It hurts and it sucks, but this is one of those difficult circumstances that requires more love, not less. It calls for me to love us both enough to let go—let go of expectations I have for our relationship and let them be. I can still love them from afar.

Loving from afar while grieving a living person can be similar in some ways to retaining connections. Maintaining active, loving relationships also requires letting people be themselves instead of disparaging them for how I want them to be to match my ideal of them. Where I feel others failing to love me points me to my own wounds, wounds that only I can pour my own love alchemy into to mend.

The best gift I can give someone is to love them as is, not how I wish they were. It is also the best gift I can give myself. This does not mean I ignore my potential. Rather, I gently lean into a changed version of me, and on my good days, I will do so lovingly without demanding perfection. I will not wait to love myself until I am improved, withhold my self-love until my metamorphosis is complete, divvy out my love for me sparingly like stars on an achievement sticker chart. Instead, I will love myself with each step, faulter, setback, or monumental crash as it happens.

I wish unconditional love for you in 2023 as well. Your unique way of sharing love is a gift the world needs. May the love you offer multiply and be abundantly returned! Best Wishes in the New Year!

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