Word 2015


My word for 2015 is artist. The word came up for me a couple of times in Wyoming. It kinda hung there in conversation and then receded to the back of my mind. Late in the trip, I took a ride into town and saw the word carved in the wooden sidewalk. I almost passed it by, but decided to turn back and snap a selfie before going back to the ranch. A few days later, I was in Jackson waiting for my flight when a friend lent me a book with this page in it.


Again the word hung there. Again, I snapped a photograph. And again I forgot about it. Fast forward to December and I’m thinking about my word of the year. My word for 2014 was Shine, and I loved it. Having this word as an anchor last year let me own parts of myself I never really valued. Things like holding space, deep listening and empathic conversation. Honoring these gifts led me to a place I never, ever thought I would be.

“Artist” feels similar, yet different. I can say I am creative. I can sometimes even stretch that to say I am artistic. But to use the noun form of the word in a simple declarative sentence, and say “I am an artist”?! Mmmmm . . . no. It makes me wince, if I’m being completely honest. And yet, other people can say it about me. Just this weekend, I had a friend come to my house for the first time. As I was giving her the nickel tour, she said it about three times: “You are an artist.” I tried to ignore it (see a pattern?) and yet (again) that word hung there – “shimmering” as Christine Paintner might say. Finally she said it again and I turned to her and blurted out, “Do you know artist is my word of the year? And I can’t say that about myself?” We stood there in silence, experiencing one of those holy moments in a friendship that allows another person to bear witness to the chasm that separates us from our own truth.


My challenge this year is to build a bridge across that chasm and claim this part of myself for myself. Right now, I would rather eat glass, as it feels like laying my guts out and exposing the most tender part of my soul to the wolves. However, I know that protection and silence keeps things small and secret, sequestering them in shadow when they desperately need light to grow. My intention for this year is to gently step into an expansive illumination, embracing and encouraging who I know deep down I already am. It’s being brave and saying four little words aloud. It’s being scared to death and trying to do it anyway.

25 thoughts on “Word 2015

  1. Sitting here in tears over your beautiful words, your beautiful spirit, your beautiful art and your beautiful…artist…self.

    You inspire me in so many ways. I am sure as the world you inspire so many others, too. More than you can every know…

    One of my phrases for 2015 is to “Show Up.” Inspired by YOU. Because that is who you are, and what you do. You do show up in so many ways – for the words that need to be birthed, for poems we all need to read and believe and remember, for collages and photographs and words. Words in all sizes and shapes and colors and fonts.

    I adore your words, your poems, your writings, your humor, your gifts, your collages, your reflections, the spaces inside you that are silent… until your artist self shows up and announces, “It’s time. Come on out.”

  2. I am so damn inspired by this post I don’t even know what to say. Showing up, being open and willing to own that you are an artist. Makes me want to embrace my music even more. Just got two rough mixes of the songs I recorded on Dec 18th and sat in awe of what I was able to accomplish. The words came to me, “I am a singer.” Bowled me over. I’ll later pretend I never thought those words…so I’m typing them here. Thanks for being vulnerable and in that being a good example and encouragement for me. You ARE an artist. I AM a singer. And we shall be free. :)

      • And to inject a little humor here: When I told Tom you don’t refer to yourself as a musician he said, “What is she, fuckin’ nuts? She can sing the shit out of any song out there!”
        And obviously, still a Jersey boy at heart.

        • Oh and one more thing . . . when I was writing that line about “building a bridge across the chasm” your voice singing that line “building a bridge only you can walk across” (can’t remember the song, but you know the one I mean). That’s it really – no one else can do this for us. And I imagine it is walking as we are building. One skinny-ass plank at a time.

          • LOVE that song. It’s ‘Hold On’ and it’s so true…we have to walk our path ourselves…no one can do it for us. But I’m thankful for friends like you who are walking their own path while I’m walking mine…and the connection we can have as we’re battling and fighting. Love your statement ‘who are we NOT to be happy and do what we want’.
            And please give Tom THE biggest hug for me. LOL. I might print his quote and hang it on my wall! I love y’all. Truly lucky that I met you all those years ago.

  3. Well I’ve never had the nickel tour of your house, but I can say with certainty that yes, you ARE and artist.

    And I can’t wait to see where this year takes you, and how much differently you feel about who you are after the end of this year… Because realizing the artist that you are is one of the most freeing (though terrifying, I must admit!) things you will ever do!! You are brave, and you can do this–you are already doing this!

  4. I really DO want to see the hangers. I want to realize there is a woman on the planet, who I know(!!!!), that really and truly only… has…. 10…. hangers. Sheesh, maybe just six! This quarter tour is now on my bucket list for 2015.

  5. Sheila, I love your word of the year. I agree with everyone else here; you are an artist.

    I enjoyed your article at simple homeschool. Starting back in January was difficult for me this year because we spent most of our Christmas break away from home only to return to boxes and paper and the general mess of Christmas that I had to corral before I felt at ease. My ‘vacations’ are always more work than my regular life. LOL

    Have a great weekend!

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