I Dare You


I’ve picked a guiding word of the year for the past three and a half years. They usually appear to me without too much work. But this year, geez, this year I sat patiently waiting for my word to show up – and it was reallllly dragging its heels.

My word for 2013 was SACRED; it was a lot about making room for quiet and space and exploring and accepting my spirituality. It helped me commit to a daily meditation practice which has been fantastic. I can enthusiastically say that I am very proud of myself for sticking to it. Is that weird? Are meditators allowed to be proud? I think mostly the proud comes from making a daily commitment to a practice, and one that was solely focussed on ME. It fed and continues to feed me. SACRED also led me to exploring Nature as Church, something I’d like to focus more specifically on in 2014. SACRED helped me to really get inside my body more, to allow my emotions to be felt instead of pushing them away with distractions and “It’s fine” denials.

So I loved the guiding word SACRED and I had half a mind to keep it for 2014.

Using Unravelling the Year Ahead and looking back over my 2013, I realized that it was a quiet year. Quiet is okay, and sometimes desirable, but it was also kind of…boring. A little anemic. A teensy bit rudderless. Looking back over 2013, I feel like I sort of let life happen to me rather than being the author of my own experience. SACRED was nourishing in a lot of ways, but it was a bit short on action. And though it’s okay to have a fallow year, I’m ready for action in 2014.

I’ve been trying to wrestle several notions into a guiding word for 2014 for over a week – several words were auditioned. RISK was in the lead for a few days, but I was uneasy about the negative associations of it (I wanted action and chance-taking, but not risk-for-the-sake-of-risk or danger). Wild, Brave, and Awake were each considered, but discarded for not being *quite* what I was looking for. But in reading the description of this month’s Mama Scout Wellness Challenge, I stumbled upon my word: DARE. Yes!!! This is it. Everything I’ve been trying to articulate, encapsulated into one word for the year. Yay!

I want to take some chances, try some new things. I want to say yes to challenges, things that are a little scary to me, things that push me outside of my comfort zone. I want to take some deep breaths and hit the go button on things that I might deem a little bit selfish – but in the soul-feeding realm of self-care and growth.

Specifically, I’m thinking of daring to say yes to retreats with girlfriends, a wilderness survival class for women, international travel with my husband, a residential meditation retreat. And writing more. Definitely writing more.

I’m scared. I’m such a perfectionist, with tendencies to maximize and over-research; I’m very risk averse and tortured by decision making at times. I over-think and under-do. I’m very good at talking myself out of things.

But I’m excited. I’m looking forward to DARING myself in the coming year, coming to terms with the inevitable pruning of life’s potential paths by saying yes to one thing and no to others. I do so hate to lose opportunities, but prolonged indecision is basically saying no to all of life. And I’m just not going to say no to life. What a horrible waste.

I will fuck things up. I will make mistakes and maybe embarrass myself and feel awkward and unsure. But you know what else I’ll feel? Alive. I think it’s a good trade.

Do you choose a guiding word for the year? I’d love to hear your words and the stories attached to them!

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8 thoughts on “I Dare You

  1. I love this concept and find your writing on it really inspiring. I think I’m a few steps away from Dare, but I hope to work on those steps this year.

  2. To paraphrase Simone de Beauvoir, to do anything, one must leave out a great deal? I’m excited to see what you dare to do this year!

  3. Hi Chessa, I don’t have a word for the year to contribute–unless it is GROW–but I wonder if you’d be willing to meet with me. I parent a 2-year-old and am a grad student in Information Science (my *second* attempt to find a professional direction that fits me). I feel strongly pulled to unschool my son. However, I have so many questions, and I don’t know anyone who’s been there. I also haven’t been in Seattle long enough to know a lot of folks generally. I would love to connect with you if it could work out. My email is in this comment if you think you might be open to it!

  4. So, you know, this is just brilliant. The concept and the writing. Your voice is thoughtful and engaging and logical – all things I wish my juniors could be. Some day. Some day. Baby steps…

    Anyhow, I am also entranced by the idea of a guiding word. Much more approachable and realistic than a New Year’s Resolution, eh? I shall have to ponder my word, although with 2014 fast approaching its end, perhaps I should focus more on a word for 2015?

    While I decide, I was wondering if I could use this post of yours and this concept as one of my writing prompts for my students? I’d love for them to explore the idea of a guiding word because doing so could potentially help them write their personal statements for college. Whaddaya say? I’d give you full credit…

    • Thanks, Maricel!

      And yes, of course, use this idea all you like! It was definitely not a Chessa-original, so no worries on that angle. I definitely do find it useful and I do think it’s much more approachable than the resolution route – there’s nothing to break, you know? It’s an aspiration that can morph with you as the year goes by.

  5. Pingback: Nourishing Koalas | Leveled Up Style

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