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Curate | One Little Word 2014

Wordle One Little Word 2014 Curate

Anyone who is a bookworm knows that words have power. Words matter and the words we choose in our lives can make such a difference in how we see the world.

This year I decided to try a new way of inspiring change in my own life by joining One Little Word 2014, a year-long workshop hosted by designer/blogger/author Ali Edwards. In One Little Word, participant choose, well, one little word to focus on for the upcoming year. As Ali explains, “You live with it. You invite it into you life. You let it speak to you. You might even follow where it leads. There are so many possibilities.”

It took me a little while to get to the word I chose to invite into my life in 2014. For a long time I was going to choose the word “less” because I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately, by stuff, by projects, by the feeling that there is so much more out there I could read, watch, craft, cook, listen to, and experience.

But I didn’t like the negative connotation of less. I wasn’t thinking of embracing less in negative way, but I think when you say you want less it feels a little like giving up. I thought about “simplify” or “reduce” or “abandon” or “declutter” or “purge” but none of them felt quite right. I wanted a word that would remind me to choose things deliberately so the things that I choose would have value.

I was skimming through the list of 2013 words on Ali’s blog and came across “curate,” which felt like it had possibility. Since I started investigating and using the word, it’s begun to feel perfectly right.

“Curate” is a bit of a tough word to work with because most uses have to do with the word as a noun, a clergy member. Wikipedia describes a curate as “a person who is invested with the care or cure of souls of a parish.” It’s not quite what I’m doing, but I love the sentiment — of being tasked with caring for the soul. Isn’t that what we all try to do every day in our own ways?

“Curate” as a verb began to make sense to me after I read an article from NPR that, rather ironically, criticized the trend of making “curate” a common word, pulling it away from the traditional use in museums or art galleries. In the article, two curators described their work this way:

  • choose, present and preserve items of value
  • truly taking care of, and taking stock of, something original or valuable

Reading those ideas crystallized the word for me. I chose this word because this is what I want to do in my life — choose the things I allow into my mental and physical space, present (or share) those things to others in a meaningful way, and preserve the things that are important to me. I want to take care of myself  — something that is original and valuable — and take stock of where I am and where I want to go.

Curate. That’s my one little word for 2014.

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  • Sandy January 4, 2014, 6:59 am

    I’m really really fascinated by this. It’s simple but powerful. I’ve got a word in my head but I need to read more…

  • Belle January 4, 2014, 7:32 am

    That is one giant little word and I love it. Thanks for sharing. It will be worth some of my time today pondering this idea.

    • Kim January 5, 2014, 9:59 am

      It is kind of a big word. It seems straightforward, but I think it’ll end up being more complicated than it seems now. But that’s a good thing; it’s worth spending time thinking about.

  • Shannon @ River City Reading January 4, 2014, 8:52 am

    I really love this idea, but love your word even more. What a perfect way to think about scaling things down without making it a negative thing.

    • Kim January 5, 2014, 10:00 am

      I hope so! I considered a lot of words that mean similar things, but none of them felt quite right (or quite broad enough) until I found curate. I hope it works for me.

  • Sheila (Book JOurney) January 4, 2014, 9:12 am

    What a wonderful idea and great word choice… I may need to check out that post!

  • Kailana January 4, 2014, 10:20 am

    Oh, cool. I have never heard of this before. I will have to look into it more. 🙂

  • Jennine G. January 4, 2014, 11:30 am

    This is really cool! I just posted about my word yesterday and didn’t realize it was an official thing!

    • Kim January 5, 2014, 10:02 am

      I don’t know if it has to be an official thing, but I signed up for the workshop because I’m the kind of person that needs gentle reminders to come back to things I want to do. The reflections for January that I’ve been working on have really helped focus the word for me.

      • Jennine G. January 6, 2014, 11:20 pm

        I saw two other bloggers posting on FB about their word for the new year and asking others theirs. I thought maybe there was a post everyone had read in common that I’d missed! (I don’t think the other two were connected to this workshop though.)

        • Kim January 7, 2014, 7:42 pm

          Interesting! I have seen a lot of people talking about one word resolutions. Maybe I just got in on the idea in a popular year 🙂

  • Rory January 4, 2014, 11:53 am

    I think it’s a great choice for 2014. It’s something that I would like to work on this year. I (too) have been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff in my life right now – it’s just too much and I get stressed thinking about it. So now I hope to methodically go through the areas of my life and pick and choose the things I really want to have around me. We’ll see how it goes…

    Good luck!

    • Kim January 5, 2014, 10:03 am

      Yes, that’s exactly it — looking at the unread books and piles of clothes and stuffed drawers of STUFF is starting to make me feel anxious. So there needs to be some trimming in my life or I can’t really enjoy it.

  • Jess - A Book Hoarder January 4, 2014, 12:10 pm

    I love this idea and I think you chose a fantastic word. I’ll haveto think about this whole word possability myself.

  • Natalie ~ the Coffee and a Book Chick January 4, 2014, 12:25 pm

    And that is an excellent word to choose. The project sounds wonderful, throwing focus into a chaotic and full year.

  • Beth Holmes January 4, 2014, 4:59 pm

    Terrific word. I totally relate to what you are talking about — I’m librarian so I curate the collection of information resources both in print and online at the law firm where I work. I love how you are using this in the sense of curating what you have and keep in your life — both people, things and experiences. Best of luck. I have yet to blog about my word, but hope to do so soon. I chose RECHARGE — I want to focus on taking stock, resting and recharging my self and my life for the next phase. I turn 50 in a couple of months and really feel that this is a year to take it easy a bit and re-group, but also recharge myself with meditation, yoga and also rest.

    • Kim January 5, 2014, 10:05 am

      I love that word too. It’s such a positive word int he sense that it gives you things to do now in preparation for something more later. That’s sort of what curate means to me, but in a difference sense.

  • Monika January 4, 2014, 5:40 pm

    LOVE this. What a great post, thanks for sharing!

  • Allison @ The Book Wheel January 4, 2014, 7:10 pm

    What a cool challenge! I love the word curate. Off the top of my head, the word that comes to mind for me is “streamline” as in… focus more, stop redundancy, and streamline my life. But, there’s probably a better word 🙂

    Good luck getting your curate on!

  • Jenny @ Reading the End January 4, 2014, 7:46 pm

    I love that word. I love the way you’re choosing to use it for 2014. Good choice! For the first year in I don’t know how long, my word wouldn’t be in the genre of “declutter/purge” — I’d love for this year to be in the genre of “discover/add”. I have a nice new apartment that I want to decorate, and I want to discover all sorts of new authors this year, and so forth.

    • Kim January 5, 2014, 10:33 am

      I really want to be in a place that I can be in a “discover/add” mode, but I don’t think I can do that without being in “cut back” mode first. I think long term I’m hoping curating this year puts me in a place next year where I can really try to spread my wings in some big ways.

  • Katie @ Doing Dewey January 4, 2014, 10:53 pm

    Wow, I love how thoughtfully you’re approaching this! I hope this project helps you feel less overwhelmed in the coming year 🙂

  • Laurie C January 5, 2014, 7:20 am

    A great choice of a word! I usually don’t have the stamina or long-term memory for annual goals like this, but I’m joining in on a read-along of The Happiness Project with Joy Weese Moll and maybe I’ll get inspired to become more organized and aware about how I use my time!

    • Kim January 5, 2014, 10:35 am

      I don’t have stamina for really specific goals, I’ve found. But I’m hoping this idea will stick because, to me, it’s more about using a word to guide your choices throughout the year towards some broader goals.

      So, for me, a goal like “Buy less than 50 books” is hard. But thinking about whether a book purchase fits into my idea to curate a collection that reflects what I love seems easier.

      At least that’s the thought at this point 🙂

  • Andi (@estellasrevenge) January 5, 2014, 10:20 am

    Curate is a great word, and one that I found popping up in my own life more often in 2013. I hope it continues in 2014!

  • Lu January 5, 2014, 3:12 pm

    Ever sine we talked about this, I’ve been trying to think about what my word would be for 2014. It hasn’t found its way to me yet. Maybe for 2015? Or maybe I will have an arbitrary restart to the year in June and join in then!

    But these definitions of curate (choose, present and preserve items of value and truly taking care of, and taking stock of, something original or valuable) really make sense and I think it’s going to be an interesting year. I can’t wait to read more about your one little word through 2014!

    • Kim January 6, 2014, 5:34 pm

      I feel like any time of the year is good for picking some intentions — January is just convenient. It took me awhile to find my word. I love those descriptions, they make so much sense to me.

  • Wendy @ Wensend January 5, 2014, 3:37 pm

    What a beautiful word. I’m thinking about doing the same, but I just want to watch what you’re doing with your word this year, so I can maybe do the same next year. Good luck 🙂 And please keep us updated!

    • Kim January 6, 2014, 5:35 pm

      I’ll be mostly following the prompts in the workshop I joined for writing.thinking about the word. I’m in the process of coming up with my big list of intentions (for me, projects) that I’ll be trying to tackle this year. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s a process.

  • Vasilly January 6, 2014, 9:23 am

    It sounds like you choose the perfect word. When I read “curate”, I instantly thought of it as a verb instead of a noun. Good luck.

    • Kim January 6, 2014, 5:37 pm

      I wasn’t familiar with the noun version until I started looking for stuff on the the word. The noun form is more common in, like, quotes and things, even though I think the verb form is more common in general usage.

  • Savvy Working Gal January 6, 2014, 12:40 pm

    What a wonderful word and it sounds perfect for you.

    • Kim January 6, 2014, 5:38 pm

      I hope it will be!

  • Cindie @ Nonfictionado January 7, 2014, 1:00 pm

    I’ve only ever seen the “one little word” being used (very effectively, might I add) in scrapbooking communities, so of course it is meant to be used in a broader context!

    I really like your word choice. I feel like “curate” gets used frequently in fashion (curating the perfect closet, curating the ideal shoe collection, etc), but it can really apply to anything. I didn’t really think of doing one little word, but my theme for this year is #Minimalism2014. I want to get rid of things in my life that I don’t need, whether it’s tangible possessions or time-sucks like rude comment sections on news articles.

    • Kim January 7, 2014, 7:43 pm

      I think it did start in scrapbooking. I found Ali’s blog while looking through craft blogs, anyway. I like the idea of minimalism too. It’s the very same idea as how I’m thinking of curate, just a different angle at it 🙂

  • Joanna January 11, 2014, 7:21 am

    I LOVE your word! I had a word last year and loved the experience. I wasn’t part of the same project as you, but that doesn’t matter. I didn’t know the religious meaning of curate and absolutely love the taking care of the soul bit. It matches the other meaning so well, you’re taking care of your deepest, truest self and that’s the most valuable thing you have. Have a great 2014 exploring this!

  • Emily January 14, 2014, 8:41 am

    You commented on my blog (I chose cultivate) and I like the direction you are taking with your word – many fantastic possibilities. I also didn’t like the negative connotation surrounding ‘less’ so I went with simplicity two years ago. Have you come up with a symbol for your word, yet? Just curious 🙂

    • Kim January 14, 2014, 8:30 pm

      In my head, cultivate and curate go together — that’s why I was drawn to your post! I thought about simplicity too, but that didn’t feel quite right. I don’t have a symbol yet… that one is totally stumping me.

  • Jennifer January 19, 2014, 2:30 pm

    First I love the idea of picking a word to guide the year. I know that we’re over halfway through January but I’m going to start trying to find a word for my year.

    And second, I love the word that you’ve chosen. I look forward to seeing what you do to curate more actively in 2014.

    Best of luck!