I can’t say anything epic lead to this word choice or that I had an epiphany in the weeks before 2002 which pointed me to the word “Give”. Really what happened was that I spent a lot of time focused on myself and what I was getting rather than what I was giving. It began to irk me and I wanted to refocus my energy outside of my own wants or needs. Spending a year focusing on what I can give to others really helped me to center on my ultimate goal and purpose in life… helping those around me first and foremost.
The year 2000 was full of sparkle but graduation left me feeling disconnected and lonely. Most of my friends had gone away to college or they were working which brought them a whole new social group while I was doing community college and just trying to figure out where I fit into the bigger world I’d just entered. That is where Connect came in for me. I knew that I wouldn’t just magically find people, groups and a place where I felt like I fit. So I worked at it. It was uncomfortable, painful even… as it turns out I’m an extremely awkward person and I still don’t think I’ve actually found my “place” in the world. But the year 2001 taught me a lot about my ability to reach out beyond myself and challenge my own discomfort until settings felt more natural and connection really did take hold. It’s a word that I still practice daily because it turns out that without connection I’m less able to overcome challenges or bring the hope and inspiration to the world that I believe I was created to bring.
Man this year was so long ago! Odd to think I’ve been picking a word to live by for 20 years. And I thought I couldn’t feel any older… sigh. 2000 was a unique year for me. I was finishing high school, taking classes at community college and making a lot of decisions that I would eventually regret. Being that this was my first year picking a word to live by I didn’t really go for anything dramatic or challenging. I remember putting a lot of pressure on myself to pick a really epic word but I couldn’t seem to settle on one that really felt right. Then up at my youth groups Winter Retreat getting ready to ring in the new decade (we totally partied like it was 1999… because it was…) I was doing the Hustle with my youth group and watching the sparkle from the disco ball dance around the room… then it hit me. I wanted to Sparkle. I wanted to bring life and light and hope to the world around me. So I spent a year trying to do just that. I think I was successful but I also think I could have approached so many situations differently and made a lot of better choices. But hey, hindsight is 2020… right?
I’m working on choosing my word to live by for 2021 and wanted to share the story I wrote that started it all… in the next few weeks I’ll share the words and tales of years gone by since I started choosing a word of the year in 2000. I hope this inspires you to live the journey you are on…
Life is a Journey.
Spending your days in the city morgue can be very depressing and rather monotonous… But on one hot summer day, the monotony turned into a lesson that should be shared.
People die. Its a fact. And in the morgue, all the bodies can run together in your mind. But this woman will forever stick out boldly in my memory. Opening the body bag and seeing her tiny wrinkled body covered by the bright floral moo-moo so often worn by women her age, I didn’t expect to find anything unusual about this woman. She was old, fragile, found in her bed after not waking from her sleep, nothing extraordinary there.
Imagine my surprise as I began to carefully undress her and prepare her for burial… I cut that bright floral moo-moo from her and I found that her body was riddled with scars, sunspots, other signs of age and a life well-lived. But turning her over I discovered every inch of her thin and frail-looking back was covered in tattoos. Not the kind you see in today’s youth and know they will regret it as the years go by. Her tattoos were words. That’s it. Nothing fancy about them, they were not pretty or decorated. Just words.
Epic. Truth. Love. Passion. Awesome. Inspire. Intentional. Mercy. Grace. Faith. Time. Peace. Share. Know. Learn. Do. Journey. Unstoppable. Compassion. Hope.
And the words went on…
I began to wonder more and more what these words meant. Why so random? Not a poem or a scripture. So why? For the next couple days, I spent time pondering this and many other questions as I impatiently waited for this tiny and frail woman to get picked up for her burial. Finally, the day came that she was claimed and without thinking I blurted out my questions to the family that had come from out of town to confirm that she was indeed their loved one.
Each one looked at me surprised as so many questions flew from my mouth but then they smiled and laughed before answering…
“She lived her life. Each year from the time she was 30 our Mother spent hours, days, sometimes weeks asking God for a word. That word was what she lived by each year. If the word was Grace, she spent the year learning of God’s grace and all 365 days SHOWING God’s grace to the world around her. This was true for each word you see on her. At the end of that year, she had the word tattooed on her back as a memento, a testimony, and a reminder. Never was she afraid to show her words, they were her life, her journey, and over the years there were many many people that asked what they meant. She never shied away from answering but rather encouraged each person who did ask to live their lives as just as intentionally. To spend each year learning and each moment growing. 48 years later, her last word has yet to be tattooed… Family. She somehow knew that this was her last year to live… so she lived it for and with her FAMILY. “
Holding back my tears as they turned to leave was impossible… on each of their shoulders was the word FAMILY.
-Sarah Mastin Deats-
I’m starting on a few new journeys… one of which involves a giant cheese ball tub filled with almost 1000 prompts, quotes and challenges to spark my personal development and writing catharsis. I’ve discovered that seeking answers from within myself is a wonderful form of self care and one that is much needed amidst my chaotic schedule. My goal here is to dig out a bit of paper from the tub a few times a week, write and see what I discover. I hope you enjoy the journey with me!