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.