Saturday 18 January 2014

One Little Word

I don't tend to share particularly private thoughts and feelings on my blog.  I'm not too keen on showing any sign of vulnerability.  However I am going to write a bit about what has been going on so that you understand why I chose my One Little Word for this year.
One Little Word is a course run by Ali Edwards.   It has been part of Big Picture Classes but is now run by Ali on her own website.  There are other One Word sites: My One Word and One Word 365.

The idea is that you choose one word to focus on during the year.  Something that you want to see more of in your life.

I signed up for the OLW online course and completed 2011 with RESTORE.  In 2012 I got as far as April with FOCUS.   I planned for 2013 to be PRESENT however my father was taken into hospital in mid January and died at the beginning of February. OLW went out the window.

So I thought it would be great to sign up for this year - I particularly like the new format on Ali's website - and started thinking about a word.  I had a long shortlist of words: released, wholehearted, unconfined, trust, forward, confidence, embrace, overcome and was fairly taken with EMBRACE.

In the Autumn of last year a class was offered by Oprah working through the book 'The Gifts of Imperfection' with the author Brené Brown.

I worked my way through a section on numbing in the Gifts Of Imperfection class and realised that I had 'closed down' since September 2012.  This was the time that my father was taken seriously ill from a longstanding condition and meant that Roger and I were living partly at home and partly in Pembrokeshire, 200 miles away.   In February 2013 my father died and we still continued to be living here and there whilst we cleared out his house.  Doing all the official bits and clearing the house kept me really busy and so I could get away with not thinking about deep stuff.  Those that know me, know that I think a lot - some would say too much!  I tend to think about stuff rather than share it with people - after all other people have far worse problems than I have!

Brené spoke about numbing as closing down those emotions you don't want to experience by using something else.  It could be food, alcohol, drugs, shopping or in my case - too much time on Facebook.

She also mentioned that you can't choose which emotions to ignore - it's all or nothing.  So in blocking out the negative emotions you also block out the positive ones like joy.

I had realised before the Brené Brown course that I was suffering from depression.  Not the 'I'm a bit down, well a lot down', but the real thing - I have suffered from clinical depression before and have usually noticed if it was creeping up on me again and taken avoiding action.  But this time it settled on me and I struggled to take part in anything, especially my own life!

As I worked through the stuff on numbing I realised that the closing down began in 2006 when I didn't deal with the empty nest syndrome or the death of my mother in 2007.  One of the things that Brené mentioned was that grief was the absence of normal.   Since January 2006 various things have happened - some sad, some happy - but each of them has changed my normal.  Roger retired in February 2012 and another season of our lives started.  What I hadn't recognised was that each time my 'normal' had changed I hadn't acknowledged it and so by last September all the changes that I hadn't dealt with hit me.

And that's when the a-ha moment dawned and my word for 2014 came to me. PARTICIPATE.  I am going to participate in life and although the things that I want to bring into my life are the same things I was trying to RESTORE in 2011, I feel more hopeful of success.

Just as I found my word I found the Documented Life Project and thought that would be just the thing to record my participation in life.  So I am amalgamating my One Little Word journaling with my Documented Life Planner.

I also found a free study of Psalms through the year which I am also including in the planner.

And this page ready for the week just gone.

I am making more effort to get out of the house, to connect with people in real life as well as online.  To be able to keep this journal going I have to actually live and take notice of the living.  And so far I am doing well.  There are far less down times than there were before Christmas.  And I am recognising again when the down time is coming so that I can take appropriate action.  I have learned not to commit myself to things that will cause me stress until such time as I feel strong again.

And during all this time I have had the support of a wonderful husband, fabulous family and great friends.  Thanks to you all.

Thanks for reading through to the end.


  1. Hi Bernice, I am a long time follower of your blog...I understand how difficult it must have been for you to share something so personal but I can't help but know how many lives you will touch and make a difference in. The death of my father changed my life forever and so as he was in life so he is now in spirit...a wonderful influence on how I choose to live my days. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. It's good that you have recognised the different life events that accumulated to you feeling this way. It is so important to manage mental, as well as physical health, and to keep a healthy balance in all things. I love how your DLP journal is coming together. I hope it helps you to find joy and ease, and some fun a long the way. I love Brene' Brown and I have her book 'The Gifts of Imperfection'. So glad that you found the course helpful. I am finding TAW inspires and lifts me. Morning Pages allow me to offload and work through any niggles I have, I hope you find a way that helps you too. I like that you showed your vulnerability, it shows bravery and a sense that you are real. Thank you.

  3. Bernice, I can so identify with what you have been going through. I, too, have been through 'the valley of depression' for years with times of being fine and times of living in the darkness. I've done OLW with varying levels of success the past several years. Last years' word OPEN really opened my eyes along with Brene Brown's TG of I part one on line class. I have started seeing a therapist to help with the things that lead to my depression and chose the word 'ENOUGH' for this year. It is already making a difference for me. I love that you are taking a multi-pronged approach to your word. Incorporating the documented life project and the study of psalms into your journal seems like it will be such a help for you in beginning to participate in life again. I use TAW to inspire me to write Morning Pages as well as do the OLW prompts. Writing Morning Pages is a great brain dump for me and helps me set intentions for the day. I love that you have been able to be vulnerable on your blog and wish you success with your efforts this year. :)

  4. Bernice,
    I just want to say, "Way To Go, Girl!" I love Brené's book. So glad that you are deciding to PARTICIPATE in life. You have many gifts to contribute. Bless you friend. You are an inspiration to many.

  5. What as brave, beautiful post! I went through much of the same numbing when my mom died in 2008. it has taken me a long time to emerge from that. Last year I chose joy as my word to help me recognize the joy al around and it did help. This year it is embrace, because I need to embrace more and do more, especially as I have retired. Change can be so difficult but we can become stronger. A great word for the year!

  6. Such an honest, open post - thanks for sharing Bernice. There was one particular part that really struck me and that was about the "normal" and how it changes and we need to change with those "normals". Love it, thank you for sharing.

  7. This is a fantastic post. I know we have talked about this before but just reading it in black and white has really helped me to understand this concept that 'grief is the absence of normal'. I'm looking forward to this year of participation! Kate

  8. Bernice - I too am doing OLW after doing Brene's course, looking forward to the new course in March. Depression is something I've been dealing with and I've also found forcing myself to get out, to be grateful and creative all help me prevent the downward spiral. Thank you for being honest and sharing.

  9. Bernice,
    I had no idea you had all this going on. My heart goes out to you; and prayers that you are able to deal with your depression and get to where you want to be this year.
    You know I love to participate in your journal projects and hope to do so this year.

  10. Bernice, I want to thank you for sharing in this blog post. It is hard to be vulnerable. Because you took the risk, today I am encouraged and am given courage, as I feel a stronger connection with you and your journey. Many blessings of joyful surprises as you Participate! THANK YOU!

  11. Bernice, you and I have been on the same spiritual journey and I didn't know it. Can't wait to meet you in April and spend time face to face with you. I am so grateful that you were vulnerable and shared your pain and God is using you to help so many others. I just read all the Made info and want to sign up for it. I am kind of doing the same thing in my DLP journal this year. It is really my story of my spiritual journey in 2014. Thanks for sharing all the good sources and for being you! LOVE Diane

  12. Bernice thank you so much for sharing. It's amazing how many people seem to be coping but are crying deep inside we don't even show it to ourselves.


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