My Word of the Year {And Why I Almost Chose "Frog." Seriously.}

Do you do the whole “Word of the Year” thing? It’s kind of an anti-resolution meme ~ rather than make a long list of pounds to lose, exercises to do, novels to write, and organic, free-range, sustainable, and vegan foods to eat, you simply choose one word. You envision who and where you want to be in a year, distill it down to one word, and let that word guide you. People choose words likebrave, peaceful, joy, contented, determined, or breathe {which was mine last year}.

I’ll share my word for 2014 with you in a moment. First, I’ll tell you the word I really wanted to pick: Frog.

Yep, frog.

That doesn’t seem to fit with the above examples of inspirational or life-improving or empowering words.

As I pondered the changes I wanted to bring to my life this year, the words that came to mind were… well… not very inspirational. They were words likeroutine, structure, discipline, and focus. Exciting words for me, being the left-brain, organized, rational type that I am, but not really words that would catapult me out of bed in the morning to embrace the craziness and beauty of life.

But those were the words I felt I needed. I’m still navigating the paths of blogging, teaching, parenting, and living, and figuring out how and where they intersect. I’m searching for the elusive and magical thing we call balance. I haven’t been making enough time for yoga, for meditation, for my self-care, for the book proposal I want to write, or even the sleep that I need to be able to do all of the above! In the last few months, I’ve felt a bit paralyzed ~ so overwhelmed with so much to do that I don’t know where to start, so I just play Candy Crush and then watch Homeland and then stress out the next day because even more is left undone!

I know that the solution is in creating a new routine, new habits to stop procrastinating and start writing and meditating and playing and cleaning and cooking and sleeping. I need to follow Nike’s advice and Just Do It!

Which led me to frogs.

I haven’t actually read the book, but I’ve seen many people reference the anti-procrastination book Eat That Frog! The entire premise is that if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a frog, well, that’s likely the worst thing you’ll have to do, and the rest of the day will be easy. So do your biggest, most challenging, most undesirable task right away, and you’ll set the stage for productivity. The word “frog” will remind me to make the most of my mornings and tackle the big tasks.

And then yesterday I was reading The Antidote: Happiness For People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, by Oliver Burkeman. The book is, as the title implies, an alternative to the positive thinking movement {think The Secret, et. al.}. Burkeman says we should instead embrace uncertainty and imperfection, consider the worst-case scenarios, practice non-attachment, and above all, notset goals! I came upon the following passage, which resonated with me because I was already thinking about frogs:

“What made the difference, in the end [for business consultant Steve Shapiro], was a conversation with a friend who told him he spent too much energy thinking about his future. He should think of himself more ‘like a frog,’ she said…. [S]he explained, ‘You should sun yourself on a lily-pad until you get bored; then, when the time is right, you should jump to a new lily-pad and hang out there for a while. Continue this over and over, moving in whatever direction feels right.’ The imagery of sunbathing on lily-pads should not be taken to imply laziness…. In fact, it promised to help him achieve more, by permitting him to enjoy his work in the present, rather than postponing his happiness to a point five years in the future…”

This time, the frog is a reminder to enjoy the present moment; and if, because I am busy with other obligations, I don’t make it to my yoga mat or my meditation cushion that day, I need to be content with the lily-pad I am on, realizing that it is where I need to be. And I can breathe and sunbathe there, too. {This reminded me of the recently released book on mindfulness for children entitledSitting Still Like a Frog.}

I wondered, what else could “frog” represent for me this year? I did some Googling research on the symbolic meaning of frogs. So interesting!

Frogs are common symbols of transformation ~ think of all the fairy tales in which a frog becomes a prince. They represent kindness and plainness, but also our hidden potential and talents.

The word “frog” likely derives from the Proto-Indo-European word for “jump.” Frogs are associated with movement and change, but also with sunbathing on their yoga mat lily-pad.

frog-lily-pad

{photo credit: Jason Paluck via photopin cc}

In yoga, frog pose is a hip opener, and our hips are fundamental to movement. The pose represents the constant change and transformation in the world.

Recent Posts by Sarah Rudell Beach

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