Category: lifestyle

Why make resolutions when a word will do?

Why make resolutions when a word will do?

It’s one month into a new year. Have you taken a moment to slow down and ponder what you want for the year ahead? New year’s resolutions have a reputation for being overwhelming and often unsustainable. Whether its because our expectations are unrealistic or we aim for too many changes at once or our motivations are misaligned, we often forget all those good intentions by this point…..the end of January.

I used to be fast out of the New Year’s gate gleefully clutching my list of resolutions. These were carefully considered but there were so MANY of them my brain couldn’t process let alone work with me to integrate them into my life. So, for the last few years I’ve become an enthusiast of choosing A WORD to represent my expectations, hopes and dreams of the year ahead.

There are no hard and fast rules

Sometimes I choose an over-riding theme (this year), other times a quality or way of thinking I want to nurture in myself.

This year I know many people have completely opted out of any kind of new year’s resolutions because through our shared pandemic experience we’ve learned that much of life is out of our control and plans can change abruptly.

Others have gone with a low expectation goal. I was talking to a friend last week and she said, “My goal for this year is to grow out my bangs.”  I still laugh about it. She has a very good chance of achieving!

One Month In

Here we are at the end of January. If you’ve already abandoned your resolutions or decided to dispense with the whole idea this year, why not give it another go and try a one-word resolution? It’s a no/low stress approach to framing the year.

Choosing a Word of the Year

How to go about choosing a word of the year? First, I nail down a theme. Ask yourself, What do I want to work on in the next year? How do I want to grow? Do I have dreams that are not yet realized? Consider these questions. Take note of ideas as they come up.

Drawing a blank?

Pay attention to the books you’re reading, to what others are saying, to the signs you see in the world around.  These can all become potential clues.

Journal random thoughts. Sometimes a word will show up repeatedly. If you don’t get an idea this way, consider turning to art to inspire. It doesn’t have to be writing, music, dance, painting collaging, sculpting, drawing, lettering all work – whatever feels most like you.

You can also gather with friends and make it a group activity (works virtually). Settle in with a stack of old magazine. Rip and tear images that speak to you. Then collage the images and words in a notebook doing your best to not overthink it. This should be fun and take you back to childhood art projects. Once this is done share page with friends. Talk through themes and patterns. Other perspectives can be just the thing to help the word appear.

Things to remember

Remember that words have many meanings and will look different for everyone.

Not all words work out and that once you choose your word remember it is not written in stone and it will change and morph throughout the year and even refine itself into something different.

Remember there is no ‘correct’ way to do this.

The power of Words

I came to understand the power of words when I ‘accidentally’ started doing what would later become the Oh My Word journaling method. Every day choosing a word representing who I wanted to be or how I wanted to feel….doodling it on the page…colouring it. It was the circuit breaker that helped me to begin managing my life long anxiety pattern, negative thought loops that had me spiraling down worm holes with alarming regularity.

What the experts say about WORDS

Words can change how we process life, according to researchers Andrew Newberg M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman who authored, Words Can Change Your Brain. More specifically positive words trigger physical, physiological and emotional changes as they alter the expression of genres, create new neutral pathways in the brain, trigger the production of feel good chemical and motivate us.

“By holding a positive optimistic word in our mind, we stimulate frontal lobe activity” the authors write in their aptly titled book. “This area includes specific language centers that connect directly to the motor cortex responsible for moving you into action.” We get out of our heads and into action.

That one little word can be more productive that a whole list of carefully considered resolutions.

Watch for it

The best part of the word of the year practice is remembering your word and seeing how it shows up for you over the year. You can do monthly check ins you can keep your word visible with post it notes throughout your home.

My Word of the Year

My word this year is a short phrase – go with the flow. It’s been my big takeaway the last couple years. I now know that adaptability, flexibility and resiliency are just as important as having laser focus on what I want and that the best laid plans…… (well, you know the rest). So far, I’m feeling good and must say a LOT more relaxed as I settle into each day.

PS? I draw and colour my word of the year once a month or so in my Oh My Word journal instead of leaving post it notes around my house. It keeps it top of mind and active in my life.

Don’t have an Oh, My Word journal yet?  You can get yours here.

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10 Ways to Mindfully RESET

10 Ways to Mindfully RESET

At this time of year, after a few delightful months of summer sunshine we find the pace quickening and ourselves swept up in the hustle-and-bustle of Fall. Before the whispers of overwhelm set in take the time to mindfully reset before moving forward. This way Fall serves as an invigorating season and an overture for a new beginning.

Fall symbolizes new beginnings with mindful reset.

10 Ways to Mindfully Reset

1. TAKE A BREATH – Close your eyes and breathe making sure the exhale is twice as long as the inhale. This settles body and mind and allows for the release of what doesn’t serve you.


2. SLOW DOWN AND FOCUS NARROWLY – Ignore the inclination to be a world class multi-tasker. Be in the moment and focus on just one thing at a time. Not everything has to be done at high speed it leads to high stress levels and mistakes. Trust that you don’t need to stay in motion all the time. Create reset breaks every day to check in and let go of what doesn’t serve. Take timeout and just be.


3. CONNECT WITH YOUR SENSES – A couple of times a day stop and focus on engaging one sense at a time. It is a grounding practice and helps you to connect to your center and feel vital and strong.


4. GET OUTSIDE – Feel the crispness in the air, the rain on your face, the wind in your hair, the sun on your skin. It clears what is stuck or stagnant and reveals fresh new growth underneath.

Getting outside refreshes and brings you back to center.


5. CONNECT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS – This is always a reminder of what is truly important and most meaningful in life.

Friends and family always align us with who we are and what is truly meaningful.


6. RELEASE – Let go of any worry and any thoughts that need clearing out. Remember that in order for worry to exist, we have to imagine that something bad might the reality is it hasn’t happened yet so this ‘bad thing is just a creation of our imagination. Understood this way, worry is a self-created state of needless fear. Breath …. release. It’s just a thought and thoughts can be released and changed.

Releasing worry and negative thought opens to positivity and what could be.

7. REFLECT – Take stock what you’ve learned and accomplished so far this year. What do you want to remember? Celebrate? – Ask yourself these questions and distill answers down to one sentence.

Distilling down to a simple sentence brings absolute clarity.



8. IMAGINE – Imagine a life of your own design. What matters most to you now? What parts of you are aching to step forward and lead? Distill down to simple sentences.


9. CHOOSE – Looking at what you’ve imagined, what will you choose for yourself? What will be a                 priority? What will you place at the center of your life?

10. RESET – Every day choose a one-word intention that supports who you want to be and what you want and then following the Oh MY Word daily ritual put it on the page. This is the key part of the practice because it moves what you desire from your head into your heart. This is where all change takes place. As you choose intentions every day you will start to see them made concrete in the experiences of the day. You will not have to stress or push through. You will be guided to your next step and the one after that.

One step will reveal the next.

Enjoy Fall with this mindful reset. Slow down, return to center and then with renewed energy gather the abundance in preparation of what is to come.

If you don’t have an OH MY WORD journal you can get one here:

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Book Depository UK

Paperback is now available at all online bookstores.



Your new normal – A joyful, mindful, balanced life

Your new normal – A joyful, mindful, balanced life

While summer isn’t usually the time when we think of fresh starts, this year the change of season comes in the midst of a big change in our lives – reentry into the world.

A joyful, mindful, balanced life

While some of us are gleefully running towards freedom and planning trips, get-togethers, celebrations and coffee dates the rest of us are choosing to hang back and approach reentry with slowness and caution.

Embracing celebrations
Hanging back

Whatever style we choose we won’t be ‘finding’ our ‘new normal’ but ‘creating’ it, in a way and at a pace we’re individually comfortable with. Our methods may differ but we share a common goal – a  joyful, mindful, balanced life.

Take stock

I recently read an analogy of the new normal being akin to moving out of your home for a time and then moving back in with all your stuff. Do you still like the house? Does it meet your needs? Does the furniture fit?  Have you outgrown it or is it time to downsize? Is it in need of a little update or a whole top to bottom reno?

This ‘new normal’ can be a bit daunting. What will yours look like?

If the whole thing is a bit overwhelming, try asking yourself a few questions.

What’s important to me now?

What feels good?

What did I learn in the last year?

What do I want to leave behind and what will I take forward?

Place these things in the center and live with them for a while before you make any changes.

You can delve deeper with questions like these:

Who am I now?

What do I want?

What am I longing for?

You might not know all the answers. Start with what you do know.

Write it down

This conveys the energy of your thoughts into something tangible, setting things in motion. Often when you see your ideas in print, you’re able to easily expand on them. Try a stream-of- conscious journaling (put pen to paper and capture thoughts). The best part of this style of journaling is that you don’t have to make sense of the random thoughts or even write so it can be reread, the purpose is simply to get it out of your head. You instantly feel lighter and it’s surprising what sticks with you long after you’re finished.

Make a vision board that represents your new normal

These are so cool, and they work! You can make one on card stock, poster board or any firm board material. You can also do it on the computer, but I’ve always liked the tactile approach.  Flip thru magazines or search online for images, words, phrases, quotes that represent how you want your life to look and feel. Cut them out. Glue on your board. Be creative and add doodles, paint, symbols. Put it away. Let it manifest. I always forget about mine and then sometime later I stumble on it and without fail the images and feelings expressed on the board are now in my life. Here’s how to make one.

A word a day

Choose a word every day that represents how you want to feel or who you want to be.  Draw, print, write or doodle it on the page. Colour it. Is there a specific quality that you want to be reflected in your new normal? Choose the same word day after day until you know it is a part of you and then move on to another word. I’ve been doing this for 8 years it began as ‘heart doodles’ before it ever became Oh My Word 5 minute daily journal.

Bravely moving forward

The more we give ourselves permission to set our own pace, to trust our own inner guide and to bravely move towards what is meaningful to us, the more we create a world where that is the ‘norm’.

May your new normal, be one that nurtures a joyful, mindful, balanced life and is anchored by what is meaningful to You.

Is it anxiety, worry or stress?

Is it anxiety, worry or stress?

Is it anxiety, worry or stress?

They all tend to fall into a shared basket of maladies in the 21st century. Do you suffer from a triumvirate of all three or does one create major havoc in your life?

If that’s the case …. which one?

Is it anxiety, worry or stress?

The New York Times recently had a great article by Emma Pattee that explains the difference between anxiety, worry and stress. Since one or all affects most of us, I thought it would be great to offer a summary. You can read Pattee’s article here.

What’s WORRY?

Worry is characterized by being obsessive and repetitive. It’s when our minds ruminate and dwell on negative thoughts, uncertainties or things that could possibly go wrong. Melanie Greenberg, a clinical psychologist in Mill Valley, Calif and author of The Stress Proof Brain explains it this way, “worry is the cognitive component of anxiety. That means worry happens only in the mind and not in the body. When we worry it calms the brain down, it’s likely to cause us to problem solve or take action. Worry is a way for the brain to handle problems in order to keep us safe. Its only when we get stuck thinking about a problem that worry stops being functional and start becoming negative.”  

If you’ve been in the clutches of worry you know how tightly it can hang on and consume our thoughts.

Dr. Luana Marques an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and President of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggests taking these steps to manage worry:

  1. Give yourself a worry budget and only allow yourself to worry for a specified amount of time (i.e. 20 minutes) when the time is up. Redirect your thoughts.
  2. When you’re worried push yourself to take action to move the thought out of your mind.
  3. Write your worries down. Studies show that 8-10 minutes of writing can calm repetitive thoughts.

What’s STRESS?

Stress is a physiological response to an external event like a deadline, doctor’s appointment or exam that exceeds the individual’s resources.

Stress used to be a natural response to a threat like a lion lurking nearby. Today we’re not faced with lions but traffic, work and relationship expectations and financial issues that fire up the limbic system and release adrenaline and cortisol which help activate the brain and body to deal with the threat. Symptoms of stress are a rapid heartbeat, clammy palms and shallow breathing. While it might feel good  at first as adrenaline floods the body and gives you a boost to reach a deadline or get to an appointment, it becomes chronic stress if your body stays in this fight-or-flight mode continuously. Chronic stress can lead to many health concerns like digestive issues, increased risk of heart disease and a weakening of the immune system. Try these to manage stress.

  1. Exercise is a way for your body to recover from the increased production of adrenaline and cortisol.
  2. Know what you can control and let go of what you can’t.


Anxiety is the culmination of both worry and stress. It is both cognitive and physiological. This means we experience anxiety in both mind and body. It takes worry and stress to the next level. Dr. Marques explains it this way, “anxiety in some ways is a response to a false alarm. An example would be you show up at work and someone gives you a look. You start to experience all the physiology of a stress response because you’re telling yourself that the boss is upset with you or that your job might be at risk. The blood is flowing, the adrenaline pumping and your body is in fight-or-flight but there is no predator nearby. The threat is in your mind.”

Dr Marques reminds us that there is a difference between feeling anxiety which can be a normal part of life and having an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is a medical condition that may include stress and/or worry. Suggestions to manage simple anxiety.

  1. Limit Sugar, caffeine and alcohol
  2. Wiggle your toes – this kind of refocusing can calm you and break the anxiety loop.
  3. Distract yourself – go for a run, listen to music, cuddle a pet, or rub a piece of Velcro or velvet.


Worry happens in the mind.

Stress happens in the body.

Anxiety happens in both mind and body.

In small doses worry, stress and/or anxiety can be positive forces in our lives.  It is when it escalates and stops us from acting in healthy, positive ways that it becomes an issue that needs addressing.

OH MY WORD can be a helpful management tool for worry, stress anxiety.

OH MY WORD Journal can be helpful in managing anxiety, worry and stress.

OH MY WORD is a science backed, 5 minute daily journal that will help you transform negative thoughts, ease anxiety and worry and cultivate joy in your life.

  • Replaces negative thoughts with positive ones you choose thus redirecting the worry.
  • Positive thoughts flood the body with dopamine and serotonin diluting and effects of adrenaline and cortisol.
  • Creates a creative, mindful distraction from anxiety.

OH MY WORD Journal can be purchased here:

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