Fetch Me A Thesaurus, Lad – It’s Time For The Word Of The Year


I'd give my right eye for a succulent word this year.
I’d give my right eye for a succulent, vivacious word this year.

I don’t make new year’s resolutions.  And perhaps outside of some running targets I have in mind, I also don’t have goals.  I don’t do vision boards, and I don’t write down any sort of plans or schemes.  Perhaps I should, but for the most part I don’t like attaching myself to things like that.  But the one thing I do enjoy is what Mish from Mished Up has done the last few years – having a word of the year.  In her latest post, she discusses her challenges in coming up with the word, and what it means to her.  I have ripped her off been greatly inspired by that, and this is my second year in doing the word of the year.

I tend to look at the word of the year (WOY) as a sort of mantra for me.  While I have many spiritual principles guiding me, I do like the idea of having one word that will take the helm, that will be a compass for me, that will navigate me both consciously and unconsciously.  Last year’s WOY was “patience”.  And it suited me – I was struggling with many things, internally and externally, and I required myself to wait things out.  To let things settle into their own ways.  To allow myself to step back and allow things to unfold as Creator would have it.  And while I crumbled at times, I found that being patient brought me more serenity and a deeper understanding of myself.

There ain’t nothing more spiritually sexy than a 70 lb draw-weight on a compound magnesium alloy nestled in your prison-sculpted lap, bae.


This year, after reading Mish’s post, I started to think about what word I wanted to use. Let me rephrase that.  I opened myself up to what word wanted to use me.  As I sat for a few moments and thought up some typical words – hope, dreams, forgiveness, etc. I found myself not feeling anything towards them.  Noble words and intentions they are, but they did not capture my imagination.  But one word jumped on me like a gorilla on banana bread (note – there is no scientific evidence that gorillas enjoy banana bread. Especially if it has walnuts in it.  Ewwwww.)  I tried to push the word away, but it was insistent.  I went to bed, hoping to sleep on it.  When I woke up the next day, that word was tattooed across my mind in capital letters.  Again, I tried to ignore it.

I went skating that same morning with my oldest.  He is a late bloomer like me, so it’s only now as a 7-year-old is he interested in skating.  We had the rink to ourselves and I watched him as he puttered about for one lap, tripping and slipping, but smiling as he fell.  He then began to balance himself more, and before we both knew it, he had done two laps without stumbling.  And as I watched him, that word hit me one final time.  I was watching it in action.  Creator was smacking me in the head with this one.


That is my WOY for 2015.  Ironic that the word wouldn’t let go of me.  Whereas I thought it a negative word, or a plodding and uninspiring one, I now see the nobility in it.  I can see how this can play out in this new year.  For example, in my running, I have hit a sort of plateau.  Winter training is often tough, as there are no races or clear cut goals until spring.  It’s dark and cold.  It doesn’t feel like any progress is being made.  It’s mentally and physically draining.  But this is where I need to persevere, like my boy on his skates.  And the small victories will start to add up.  Before I know it I will be racing 10, 30 and 42.2 km courses and this will all pay off.  I have to keep my mind on track.

You must be tired, Mr. Wiggles, because you’ve been racing through my mind all day.


Being perseverant in my recovery is important too.  I have rested on my laurels way too often this past year, and realize that I need to continue doing what has worked for me thus far.  Letting that go to the way side is dangerous for this dude.  Keeping in contact with other alcoholics and getting outside my comfort zone and reaching out and working my program is paramount to everything else.  I need to remind myself that this whole recovery thing doesn’t have a destination. The journey itself is the destination.  As it’s written – we “trudge the road of Happy Destiny”.  It’s not trudge to Happy Destiny.  We walk with purpose.  And that is what perseverance allows me – to trudge without distraction.

Perseverance has never been my strong suit, to be honest.  So this is going to be a tough one to follow through on.  I was a notorious quitter (except booze, of course).  If something had a whiff of being “too hard” then I shut that baby down before it even got started.  My tolerance for pain is lower than a snakes’s belly (I seem to have a thing for animal analogies today).  My ability to see something through is not second nature.  Giving up has always been Plan A.  In 20 years, I have never worked at a job for more than 2 1/2 years.  I was always on the go, one eye on the exit. Until this current job.  I have my eye on one particular job that may or may not be available right now, but other than that, I am very content with where I am at, and have mentally adjusted to the fact that I may even retire there.  We’ll see. But that is very unlike the old me to stick through something.

This baby will never shut down, ladies. It’ll suck all day if you let it.


I would also mention that the opposite of perseverance, letting go, is also an important lesson.  I think of the Serenity Prayer here – learning to accept things as they are, to change them as needed and having the wisdom to know the difference. So sometimes I know I will need to back off.  To see that perhaps what I am persevering in isn’t a healthy thing.  I learned this very lesson just a few days ago.

I was on a vegetarian diet for the last 4 1/2 months.  No reason why I swore off, other than I thought I might get healthier.  I didn’t make the switch as a forever type oath.  I just wanted to see how my body would react.  Things were seemingly going well until a few weeks ago.  I found my energy waning.  I couldn’t focus on anything.  My mind felt foggy.  The best way I could describe it was how it felt when I went off anti-depressants – it was like my brain was heavy.  I was getting headaches.  No matter how much I slept, I felt exhausted. Always.  I had troubles completing work outs.  I even bailed on one.  During this time, my wife would say that perhaps the vegetarian diet wasn’t for me.  I persevered in staying away from meat, fish and chicken, even though I was lethargic and felt off.

It got to the point where two days ago, my wife had had it with me.  She told me I was always grumpy and complaining about being tired and told me “go eat a burger!”.  I did some online sleuthing and confirmed what she had been saying – I was iron deficient.  My vegetarian diet was more of a carb diet for me.  I was a vegetarian who wasn’t eating vegetables.  Or much protein.  So my stores of iron were diminishing until I had the tell-tale signs of iron depletion – lethargy, inability to focus, increased lactic acid (which would explain my muscles always sore).  So my perseverance was being channeled in the wrong way.  It morphed into unhealthy persistence. My ego got in the way, and I suffered for it.  And my family did.  (I am back on meat now and I already feel better).

So not only do I want to practice perseverance, but I also need the wisdom to know where to apply it.  And that is going to be the challenge.

Whether I am on a snow-dusted track on a freezing day, in a lull in my professional life, or struggling in some other aspect of my life, I will persevere.

I will persevere to greatness.

Happy New Year to all.




57 Comments Add yours

    1. Thanks Judith! Hope you are having a great new year, bum calf and all. Sending healing vibes your way!


  1. mishedup says:

    I LOVE it!!!

    Great word, and your writing is so beautiful and clear that I just felt it all opening up for you!
    here’s to a great year Paul!

    1. Thanks Mish and thanks for the inspiration! I love how others have latched onto this as well. Here’s to a great year for us all…no matter what life throws at us 🙂

  2. jamilynaz says:

    Great choice. Makes me think that I should choose a word of the year… Hmm….

    1. It’s never too late! I started last year as sort of a lark, and it really stuck. No need to force it, but it’s served me well. Hope you are doing well, my friend (I owe you a comment on your last post!)


  3. stacilys says:

    Oh yeah! Word of the year. Like you, I’m not one for resolutions. However, this year I do have a word of the year. I just posted about it today on my blog too. My word is ‘CREATE’
    “I opened myself up to what word wanted to use me.”
    –I love that Paul. Soooo true. Because even though we focus on that word, it’s really that word that drives us. So then, it ends up using us.
    @ perseverance. Great word Paul. And remember also, you will never reach perfection. Remember one of my posts in December that mentioned that doing our best is all that’s required. That’s it my friend. Your perseverance becomes perfection, because you don’t give up, but keep going on and striving for the better.
    @ winter running. Uck! I used to run. I still run, but only about 10 minutes after my exercise regime to finish it off. However, I used to run in Ottawa winter weather. Eek. I’m sure you can empathize. I would wear one of those fleecy over-th-heat type of head coverings that left only a space for the eyes and mouth and had a draw string. I also used long johns over my sweats and two pairs of runners. Whew! Those were cold times.
    Happy new year to you, my fellow canuck.
    Hugs and blessings.

    1. Create? I love it! Fitting for you (will be jumping over to comment properly on it!)

      I don’t expect perfection of any kind of course…just the ability to stay on course and not get distracted or taken by old ways of thinking…or just plain laziness.

      As for the running, I wear swanky running type material that isn’t heavy, but wicks away sweat and keeps ya warm. I wear the balaclava (the one you described) when riding my bike.

      Hope you doing well!! Thanks for commenting 🙂


  4. jenkirk72 says:

    Last year, our Sunday school class did that, but I never settled on a word. This is the year! Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Oh that’s cool that the Sunday school class did it! I hope that you have a wonderful year – last year was pretty darned good and all, eh? First marathon, etc. 🙂

  5. I think that to let go is a part of perseverance…one must be prepared to let go of things that get in the way of your persevering.

    The opposite of perseverance is indifference.

    As per usual, you rock, Paul!

    1. Ah…you’re really making me think here…I like this. Indifference. They say that indifference is the opposite of love, not hate. You bring up a great point about letting go as being a part of perseverance. Knowing when to hold then and when to fold them sort of idea.

      Dang…do I have to rewrite the post?? lol.

      Love comments like this because it deepens my understanding of things.

      YOU rock 🙂


  6. I loved everything about this post…the title, the message, the awesomely awkward photos and the word. Oh, the irony/metaphor that the perseverant word wouldn’t leave you alone. The poetry of it grabs me by the belt straps.
    Bravo, Paul. I have no doubt you’ll persevere this year. xoxoxo

    1. Aw thank you Michelle. I am good at awkward, so the photos are a snap…lol. anyway, thanks for the kind comments. I will persevere even when i don’t want to (like doing this winter running – we have -25C expected tomorrow!)

      Hope you’re doing well 🙂


      1. YIKES!
        We are way below freezing with a 20 mph North wind coming in all the way from your neck of the woods. I despise treadmills, but I may have to just suck it up 🙂

  7. I love this idea of having a WOY! What a brilliant approach to the year ahead. I really identified with your reasons behind choosing it as well as also the difficulties around knowing when perseverance is not actually a positive attribute. That’s something I have found really difficult in early recovery; knowing when I’m listening to the good voice in me as opposed to the sick one. I thought the post was really engaging and well written too – thanks for posting 🙂

    1. Well, as I said, credit goes to Mish (I don’t know if she got if from someone else, but you she’s my contact on this one!)

      As for the voice…well, that has taken me time to tune into. I still waver from it, believe me, but I know that voice is there. Conscious contact…and for years that voice was drowned by the white noise of my illness and poor judgement from booze. My advice is to heed that little voice…and it will get stronger. 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words and hope you are well!

  8. Bea says:

    Oh Paul. Perseverance, yes. Many of our comments to each other embrace this word without ever using it. It’s about waiting, not giving up, holding tight without looking for the next exit. Doing stuff despite. Doing it anyway. And doing our best at it. Holding faith that it will yield something. What? Don’t know. But there’s a quiet majesty to it. Bravo my friend.

    1. Very true, Bea. We do often talk about pushing through or “keep coming back” and all that, and that does come down to some kind of perseverance. Fake it until you make it, etc. Good call on that one!

      Sometimes we do it because we need to.

      thank you for this…you added a wonderful layer to this all 🙂


  9. ainsobriety says:

    I loved the pictures.
    I think perserverance is an excellent word. And i also dont’t think the opposite is letting go. I think the opposite is indifference.

    Being open to new information (ie low iron resulting from a vegetarian die) is helpful information.

    I hope the burger was good!


    1. You’re the second to go with indifference! I like this. I think I was thinking of letting go in terms of disinterest. Perhaps Letting Go was the wrong word. I may have to amend my post with your wonderful insight, Anne. Thank you for this.

      And while I didn’t have a burger (YET)- I did have prime rib, and it was rather yummy, yet my stomach protested. Someone said that we have to slowly get back to meat eating, so to start with chicken and pork, so that is what I have been doing!

      I always look forward to your comments here and on the other blogs…lots of insight and wisdom.


  10. I love the point you make about needing to know the difference between when to persevere and when to let go. Or when to shake things up like you did with your diet. I guess the key lies in remembering what the point is. You were trying to be healthier, not the best vegetarian. By changing your diet in an effort to stay healthy, you actually persevered. Happy persevering and Happy New Year Paul!

    1. Thanks Karen! You are right – it wasn’t about being the best veggie out there. Lord knows I am not. Frankly i didn’t know what to expect, and while I did do healthy reading on the topic (no pun intended), when it came down to it, I didn’t have the time to pull it off. Veggie diet is a lot of work and requires foresight and forethought, which I don’t have much of! So it was sort of doomed to fail, but I am glad I did it, just to learn something. A few things.

      Happy new year to you too and hope you are keeping warm!


  11. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Love this post, except that one picture. Neither the man or woman are wearing blaze orange, a hunting hazard in the making.

    1. Ha ha..love it – no orange eh? You should see some of the pics that I dare not post here…holy crow they are funny and VERY disturbing!

      Hope you’re doing well, J! Love having ya here as always 🙂


  12. Dede says:

    My word is Mindfulness. Working on being present. Sooooo hard! Good luck in the new year Paul.

    1. Mindfulness. LOVE that one. Didn’t think of that one. Dang. May have to tap that root in future. (Funnily enough, I am reading a book on mindfulness. I just have to remember to carry that message over into my day-to-day rather than in those sacred moments of reading!) I would love to read something of yours discussing how you use this in your life. A blog maybe 😉

      Blessings and happy new year!!

  13. What a great word, and I am in awe of your courage in selecting it. Perseverence is a word that frightens me to death. As we’ve already determined that you and I were conjoined twins in a past life, it will come as no surprise to discover that I share your tendency to give up when the going gets rough.

    I eagerly anticipate future posts to see how this works out. You are my role model, Paul!

    1. Not sure courage is it, but thank you. Some fear? yup, indeed. I think it will help with my inherent laziness and ability to ditch when the going gets rough (or not – I have the ability to ditch when things are going quite well!).

      thanks for being here, twinsy! lol


  14. REDdog says:

    May this may year bring you all you desire, not just what you deserve, Paul. Respect REDdog

    1. Whenever you comment REDdog, I feel like I am getting a brotherly hug. Thank you. And the same to you, kind sir. I am so very blessed to have run into you out here. Hope the Black Dog is on a leash these days.


      1. REDdog says:

        Its been a bit of a long haul this time mate, but Im finally starting to feel like Im surfacing properly…Im actually writing again which is always an indicator. Much respect Brother

        1. glad to hear, especially about the writing. I promise to hit the blog there and see what’s going on. Miss your words.

          Cheers mate.

  15. Love the word choice and where do you get those photos, always so entertaining. We go veggie for the month of January every year, but we eat lots of tofu (must disguise with lots of flavors and textures) and since I’m naturally bitchy I never noticed a change in temperament. Happy New Year, Paul.

    1. Hi Sharon! The photos? Oh jeez…you know, I start digging in one corner and all of a sudden stuff starts shooting out of the ground in another and I dig there and it just erupts from there. Some of the pics I have an idea what I want, but most are surprises to me too. Love it! And glad that you enjoy them. Sometimes I take longer playing with photos than I do the actual post!

      “Naturally bitchy”…lol. I am sure you’re not as bad as you make yourself sound…lol. I do love tofu – always have and yes, you need to flavour it.

      Glad you’re here and have a wonderful new year!!

  16. ksdays100 says:

    I love the word! And I love the mental image I got from the part you wrote about your 7 year old perservering on skates 🙂

    1. Aw thank you! yeah, I actually taped him skating around, and you can see that goofy grin popping up now and then. It’s awesome.

      Thanks for being here 🙂


  17. Such a strong word. Looking forward to hearing about how you entertwine with one another this year.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I too look forward in seeing how this plays out. I know tomorrow I have a tough workout in frigid conditions so that will be one stark example of sticking to things!


  18. primrose says:

    how can one post be simultaneously meaningful AND hilarious? it’s as if Mother Teresa had turned out to be excellent at tapdancing… thank you for both aspects of this mind bending post.

    love your WOY. and love that it has such a great adjective, too – why does the ‘t’ make ‘perseverant’ particularly cool?

    1. Ha ha…thanks for that wonderful image of Mother T tapdancing..lol. wonderful! And you know, I had to look at that word “perseverant” over and over again, and look it up online to make sure it was right…it seems awkward yet powerful eh? Thanks for picking up on that, prim!

      Hope you are doing great and have a wonderful happy new year my friend!


  19. rivieradinah says:

    We shall persevere! I love your photos…made me smile today. ❤

    1. Glad I elicited a smile there! The pics are always fun. I often spend way too much time playing with them online, but it’s a blast! You should see the ones that don’t make the cut…lol.

      Blessings and thanks for being here!


  20. Another post I love in its richness, Paul. I so appreciate the reminder:

    “that I need to continue doing what has worked for me thus far.”

    If I may, a (long) word of encouragement. I’m copying over a part of a recent thread with a reader who speaks of himself as a cheating vegan. For whatever you can take away:

    My response(s):
    The human body was not designed for food fads. Yes, there is overwhelming research supporting the benefits of a vegan diet but you do well to listen to your body. Every body is unique, has its own constitution. No book or theory can tell me what I should be eating without understanding the complexities and vicissitudes of this body and the constitution I inherited. Those who stake their ground on the nutritional landscape also often neglect to factor in the dynamics of our environment and their impact on us. We need, and therefore crave, more warming foods in the winter, for instance. Hence the attraction to roasting and to foods like stews. If anything, I have found great wisdom in the truism of Traditional Chinese Medicine, that any extreme becomes its reverse.

    Rather than consider it cheating, perhaps you can be fairer to yourself and decide it’s honoring your body’s call for balance esp in the seasonal shifts. It’s what your post was about, in fact – that you should observe and heed your own messages (empirical discovery) to test and prove the theory (of nutritional -isms and dictum) rather than impose the theory on yourself. Animal protein and spices (like those in curry) are warming. Raw foodists do themselves a disservice in their die-hard allegiance to what they don’t realize is cold food (raw = cold, cooked = warmer), too much of which actually weakens the G.I.

    It’s a revised relationship with your self/body I am encouraging, where the concept of cheating becomes instead conscious choosing and honoring – and enjoying. At least in the area of food.

    1. I read this over a few times, Diana, and I have to say that I am in complete agreement. Lots to mine there. As a chef, I run into tons of folks with countless allergies (real and imagined), sensitivities, dietary restrictions, illnesses and diets based on religion, culture and/or ethics. My dad was a vegetarian before it was “cool”. But I never bothered to restrict myself for the sake of restriction. I love all food and have been blessed to not have any allergies (except Brazil nuts).

      So in going vegetarian, the thought was that perhaps I could get leaner for my running while still getting the nutrients I needed. Problem I ran into (in hindsight) is that I didn’t plan well for this. Vegetarian cooking is more labour intensive and frankly, I don’t have that time. It also requires more planning than just picking up a steak or chicken breast. I was substituting carbs and fat in place of protein and in the end it hurt me. I agree about the unique needs we may have. Some people adapt quite well to some diets, and others struggle. I believe that for the most part we know what we want. When I crave salad it’s because my body craves vegetables or some lightness. When I crave a chicken curry it’s because I am looking for some tasty protein.

      “It’s a revised relationship with your self/body I am encouraging, where the concept of cheating becomes instead conscious choosing and honoring – and enjoying. At least in the area of food.” I love these closing statements. Very true and I certainly do not feel that I am “dirty” or cheating, but just saw that it wasn’t for me, this veggie diet.

      Now, let me dig into some pulled pork 🙂

      Thank you for your rich comments and thoughtful insights, as usual.


      1. The curry chkn might also be a call for more warming food in cooler season, the spices and animal protein being warming (as opposed to say, raw veggies). And no, you certainly need your protein. It’s PROtein bc it cannot be replaced by fat and carb – does its own thing, right? =) You need it as a runner.

        Glad I provided some FooD for thought.


  21. Art Mowle says:

    Thank you for a great post. I love the WOY which I really need to work on. I have always been a planner/starter but not a finisher. 🙂


    1. thank you Art! I too am a wonderful starter of things and just horrible finisher (I can’t count how many books I have on the go – can’t finish one of them!)

      Hope you are having a great new year so far. And thank you for being here 🙂


  22. sherryd32148 says:

    I can’t add anything here except to say that I love the way your Creator slapped you upside the head with a brick on this one. Makes me not feel so alone. You’re a little slow too! 🙂


    1. I am totally slow! I don’t make that a secret, Sherry! lol. I have always meant to write a post about how I am a late bloomer and a late starter to things. I am not sharp to notice certain things and especially when it comes to things like this. God isn’t too subtle with me as I don’t pick up on subtle…lol.

      So glad you’re here…so excited about your new journey on the 54 🙂


  23. Tracy says:

    Happy New Year Paul!!! Perseverance and patience:-) I’ll take last year’s and this year’s!!!!

    1. Happy New Year, Tracy! I certainly can use both in spades…especially last year’s. I needed to work on that while the kids were on the long Christmas break!! ha ha.

      So happy to see you here 🙂


  24. byebyebeer says:

    Sounds like your word really persevered (harhar). I love it. It piggybacks perfectly on patience, I think. And it’s so so true that staying with something good – like sobriety or running – can feel inexplicably hard at times, especially when we’ve plateaued or aren’t feeling the highs. And yet the only way out is through. Someone wrote in a comment (somewhere) recently that they don’t ever know when they’re in a tough spot until after it’s done. Being in the middle of one is the most dangerous part, and where perseverance as a mantra would really come in handy. I like this word a lot and will keep it close by too. Thanks for the awesome post. Happy running and new year too!

  25. k2running says:

    Great word for 2015!! I truly love this word, and had never given it much thought before sobriety. In fact I even carry perseverance around my neck in the form of a necklace. Consider it an adjective and a verb, I think each one of us on our sober journey perseveres every day we don’t pick up a. Drink… That same perseverance helps us make amends with others and with ourselves, forgiving ourselves. Perseverance also gives us hope, especially to the newly sober or those struggling with addiction that life will get better in sobriety, the promises that AA discusses will happen if we persevere. Stay the course, one day, or one moment at a time!
    Thank you Paul for another amazing post

  26. Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon says:

    OK Paul. . . Now this eye ball thing just has to stop!! LOL. My word for the year? Recovery . . .Of course!! Another awesome post my friend. 🙂 *Cat*

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