The Word for 2017

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When you see the light stop and take another deep breath.

When you see the light, stop and take another deep brea

Wow, Happy New Year!  Where does the time go?

We’ve all had people tell us, “Life ain’t easy.” And all of us would like to escape the pain and anxiety brought on by that thing called life, especially those things that we have no control over. We constantly struggle to set things straight and keep our hearts from aching. We cling to the past, take revenge, utter nasty words, give those who disparage us the finger, and maybe worse. Loss, illness, rejection,the political situation in our country and the world, can send of us off into a state of rage, depression, and angst that keeps chewing at us until there is little of us left. We give up, slam a door behind us, climb into our caves, and rant to ourselves and anyone else who will listen.

One of those things I have always struggled with, especially in the last couple of months, is my reactivity. Like when someone says something nasty or critical to me or someone I care about. Or when another driver parks his or her car in the spot I’ve been trying to get into for the last 15 minutes. Or when I’m on a six hour flight and am seated next to a screaming toddler and a parent who doesn’t know how to handle her child. I can also be triggered by certain words, people who look like other people who have been abusive, and certain public figures.

Too often I embarrass myself with snide remarks, critical push back,  nasty looks, or sighs that can only mean I’m pissed off. While I experience brief satisfaction in doing those things, it never lasts. I break down in tears because I’ve made such an ass of myself, along with feeling a deep sense of shame. None of that does anything for my sense of self-esteem.

You’d think that after living with my mother for seven years and writing a book about it, that I’d be an expert at pausing before putting my foot in my mouth. But being as human as anyone else, I tend to forget what I’ve learned. I’m always amazed  how certain issues we thought we were done with rear their ugly heads somewhere down the road, reminding us that we’re truly never done.

So once again I’m planning to seriously work on this problem by relearning to PAUSE before I react.  If I can count to ten, take several deep breaths before I say a word, or take a quick time out, perhaps I can tame my wild feelings.

So I’m saying,“whoa,” to myself. I’ve chosen PAUSE as my word for 2017, in hopes of leaving that ugly part of myself behind. I’ve made little signs as reminders to stop and breathe. I’ve taped them in places where I’ll see them every day. There is one at the bottom of my computer screen, and one on the mirror in my bathroom.

I also plan to take time to pause in other areas of my life. It will help  me to stop and rest when I’m feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
And perhaps the PAUSE sign on the refrigerator help tame my appetite after having spent the last two months overindulging in the season’s fabulous food.

Do you take time to pause before reacting to a difficult situation?

Have you chosen a word for this New Year?


  1. i love it PAUSE is a very good word to reflex, ponder, do action with.. need to pause myself thank you blessings

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks, Donna. Yes, it’s great word for me right now. I hope your New Year will be a great one!

  2. Wise choice for a year following your book launch and all the frenetic activity that involves, Joan. I definitely need a pause sign on the refrigerator (and on a few cupboard doors!) to remind me to tame my appetite. “Whoa” would work too: 🙂

    I’m revealing my focus word on tomorrow’s blog post. Stay tuned!

    • Joan Rough says:

      It is a great choice for me. 2016 wore me out and now I’m taking some time to rejuvenate. I just signed up for a 6 week restorative yoga class and can’t wait for it to get started.

      I’m looking forward to learning about your focus word!

  3. Great reminder, Joan. An Indian scripture names four “gatekeepers” to speech, we can ask ourselves before opening mouth and inserting foot: is it true? is it necessary? is it kind? is it the right time? So when I see my note reminding me to “pause,” I’ll remember the gatekeepers. THANK YOU!

    • Joan Rough says:

      I love those four “gatekeepers.” They set an important goal to live by, especially in our world at this moment. I hope you have a wonderful year ahead.

      Thanks so much for coming by and hope you’ll return often.

  4. patti stark says:

    Years ago I learned “the 5 second pause” – but I needed you to remind me! Thanks and Happy New Year! Love to you and Bill

    • Joan Rough says:

      I glad I could remind you, Patti! Love and happy New Year right back at you from both of us!

  5. Having just come off my own “sacred pause” over the holidays, I can relate to your words of wisdom and humor, Joan. In fact, I’m taking my time re-entering, hoping to avoid the chaos as much as I can. Recalibrating for the new year. Pause and whoa are perfect words, especially when I stand in front of the refrigerator. Welcome back and Happy New Year, dear friend!

    • Joan Rough says:

      I’m taking my time re-entering too, Kathy, but it feels good to be back and am hoping I will catch myself before I get too involved in the chaos that surrounds us. One of the benefits of aging is being able to stand back and allow myself to take care of me without feeling I need to change the world. Of course it would be great if I could change things, but I have finally realized I cannot continue in my role as Super Woman!!

  6. Joan — I love that you’re not going to react. Rather, you’re going to PAUSE before you respond. Fantastic focus word!

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks, Laurie. I love it too. Now I just have to keep my promise to myself :-). I hope you have a wonderful time on your writing adventure and look forward to hearing all about it when you return home!

  7. Fantastic post Joan, and thanks for sharing your honesty. I tend to get upset at annoying things too, then let it go just as quick. I love your word for the year, I just may have to share it with you.
    Happy New Year to you. And just to let you know, 2016 was just crazy and I plan on taking your book on my winter vacation with me next month! I’m looking forward to both. 🙂

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks, Debbie. It sounds like you had a crazy year, too. Your welcome to use my word as yours as well. It’s already helping me to slow my words.

      I hope you have a wonderful vacation and I hope you enjoy the book! Happy New Year!

  8. Happy New Year Joan. New Year, new word, new way of thinking. PAUSE,; Pause, Attend, Understand, Sense, Experience. Putting new words into practice, making them an everyday part of our lives, doing the things that help us to grow, mature, and improve ourselves. I have heard it said, to create a new pattern in your life, you need to do it for 14 days, once you have done it for 14 days it will become more natural and a part of the rhythm of your life.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks for stopping by, June. I’m thinking of calling this next year a “remake year,” as I check through my list of things I need to change about myself and the way I do things. I’m already having fun with it. The 14 day habit change thing is true. I haven’t always wanted to change much, but this year is different.

      Happy New Year!