2023 – Words to Live By

When I began choosing words in 2017 to live by in the following new year, I never thought I would be choosing words each year to add to those initial words of minimalism, grace, and truth over 5 years later. Why did I choose these words? How relevant have these chosen words been in each new year?

2018: Minimalism, Grace, Truth

There was no writing on the wall in 2017 that prepared me for losing another job in less than 10 years. It was another company who decided to exit their industry in the spring of 2018. Rather than staying until the operation wound down its operations to receive a severance, I decided to take a much lesser paying position in a different industry. My decision was based on my personal experience from my first lay off in 2009. I was not going to take the chance again of being out of job for years when more job-seeking people would soon be flooding the employment market. I took the first position offered. It paid off if not in annual compensation. Minimalizing my life, accepting the reality with grace, and living my truth of an aging employee helped me to move forward in a positive way in mind, body, and spirit.

2019: Wisdom, Honor, Joy

When I wrote on December 16, 2018, my three words for 2019 were accompanied with selected quotes that I believed helped me to visualize the meaning of my selected three words.

In seeking wisdom, I chose a quote by poet, e.e. cummings:

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”

In speaking with honor, I chose from the Bible, Proverbs 4:8 (GW):

“Cherish wisdom. It will raise you up. It will bring you honor when you embrace it.”

In sharing joy, I chose a quote from the monk, Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”

In 2019 I finally realized my strengths and skills both personally and professionally. I was happy in mind, body, and spirit for the first time in a very long while.

2020: Silence, Commit, Fulfill

I chose three verbs in 2019 for words to live by in 2020. I wanted to take action with my new well-being in mind, body, and spirit. I chose the verb tense of silence to paralyze any doubts I had about myself and my abilities.

The most astonishing reflection came with my chosen verb, commit. I wrote, “Dictionary.com defines commit as “to consign for preservation; to commit ideas to writing – to entrust, commence – to do; perform.” I then asked, “Have you noticed that most “C” words instill a sense of fear? “Caution,” “Cancer,” “Change,” for example?”

My third verb I selected in 2019 for 2020 was fulfill. I wrote, “… as if anyone is to reach their full potential it is to bring that priority in life into realization.”

Wow! I had no idea when I walked into the emergency room on September 25, 2020 that I would be diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia. The remaining months of 2020 had me reeling on these three verbs. Could I silence my fears, entrust myself to fulfilling God’s purpose with this diagnosis?

2021: Mindfulness, Creativity, Discernment

I had had the best summer in 2020 until that fateful day in September. I wrote on December 13, 2020, “When I think about mindfulness, I think about the three principles of unities in drama from Aristotle’s Poetics – a play’s requirement to have a single action occurring in a single place and within a single day – unit of action, unity of place, and unity of time.” Mindfulness is being in the present – not looking backward or forward.

I added creativity to mindfulness. I promised I would invest my creative-self and wherever that creativity took me without judgement or promises. I would write, “Legacy is for others to decide so why dwell on it.”

My third word for 2021 was discernment. I wrote that discernment was my ability to distinguish intellectually or recognize spiritually without the world dictating to me how to live my life in that moment. These three words especially discernment would have me praising God and giving Him all the glory for the decision to sell our primary and vacation homes in the height of a hot real estate market to move to our forever home near the shore of Lake Michigan. If we had waited even one year, we would not have been so fortune with the timing or in health.

2022: Wholeness, Habits, Perspective

As I wrote on November 26, 2021, habits have three components: 1) a trigger, 2) a routine, and 3) a reward. Conscious and subconsciously, habits have had both an insignificant and compelling effect on me in 2022. Each chosen word since 2018, buoyed me throughout one of my most challenging years in mind, body, and spirit. The habit of choosing these words helped me to keep all things in perspective even when I became resistive to each chemotherapy drug.

When someone asked me what I would do if I won the Power Ball Lottery of $1.9 billion, I returned with my own question, “Would winning $1.9 billion change my life forever? Tomorrow, I will wake up, take my chemotherapy, vomit, have diarrhea, nausea, and unforgiving migraines. $1.9 billion would not change that reality. Health is wealth.”

As we near the end of 2022, I believe I will gain my equilibrium, that wholeness in mind, body, and spirit by keeping all things in perspective and continuing the habit of selecting my next 3 words to live by.

Will the next three words have the same impact as the rest of my words on my to live by list?

2023: Patience, Independence, Stories


Is patience a virtue?

Everybody has a first try at something, a first day on the job, and a first at all things. Some hit it out of the ballpark on the first try while others reach proficiency with time and guidance, while others never seem to reach it at all. If someone is fervently trying to do something, then they deserve patience (including myself).

So, what do we do with the people who are not fervently trying?

Have patience – the conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude. Especially post-pandemic, we cannot change others or their circumstances; but we can have the patience, that virtue, to change our reactions and responses, as well as the patience to listen with the purpose to understand.


Sooner rather than later in 2023 I will be deciding to become independent of social media. Social media has both positive and negative influences. I find, however, social media too controlling of the harmony I am seeking in my life. Do I really need social media? Does social media need me more than I need it? Those are the questions I will be seeking to answer in 2023. I know this one truth about myself; social media is a like an addictive habit such as cigarette smoking or a bad lover – kick it cold turkey.

I cannot become independent of all that seems to want to control my time, attention, and talents; but living more independently to whatever does not add value is key in 2023. Hmmmm, is it all about me? Perhaps another perceptive question to be answered.


I love The Mothwww.themoth.org podcast and radio show. I also love the PBS television series, Finding Your Roots. I also heartily recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Talking to Strangers – What We Should Know About People We Don’t Know. When this book arrived my husband jokingly asked, “Didn’t you write this book?” He and my sons tease me that I can talk to anyone from the grocery clerk to a corporate executive as though I have known them all my life.

Gladwell’s book and these invaluable television and podcast programs feature storytelling at its best. My third word I have chosen to live by in 2023 is stories – and sharing and listening to stories that may help bring harmony in mind, body, and spirit even if they are difficult to tell. Each person’s story provides the opportunity to further understand our own story and how our individual cog fits in the wheel of life.

In closing, Happy Thanksgiving. May everyone become independent from what weighs us down, patient with everyone we meet and with ourselves to share our stories with hope of love and understanding.


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