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.