It’s that time of year again: time to choose A Word. My Word. The One Word for 2012. I struggle with this.

I long.
I wrestle.
I yearn.
I resist.
And then ultimately, I avoid.

I pick up The Call by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, and about 3/4 of the way through wouldn’t you just know I get to a chapter called “Word”. My heart quickens. Oriah says “Look at what does not come easily to you, what you long for but find elusive. Think about what gets you into trouble, what gets you way down the road of doing something you don’t really want to do at a very high price. What internal habit or attitude or tendency repeatedly robs your life of joy?”

Look at what gets me into trouble? Oh, where do I begin? How shall I ever choose?

It can’t be something that comes naturally or easy to us, she says, and I’m fine with that. There are many things I want to learn. Like drumming, for example. And to dance with my entire body instead of just my shoulders and legs. And to sing without emptying a room.

I’m feeling better about this. Smiling. Even feeling a touch of – dare I say it – excitement.

Oriah continues: “Your word, embodying it in your life, in how you are with yourself and the world, is never about doing. It is always about not-doing, about being with what is. Your word is your key to stopping your war with reality.”

I slump again.

Oriah suggests we meditate on it, and since it’s dark thirty and I’d love to go back to sleep before dawn, I find this a fine idea. Staying in bed, I turn and lay on my back, take my three deep cleansing breaths, and before I can even chase away the first stray, unrelated thought, the word “stay” appears. Right out of nowhere it comes.

Fighting the urge to begin a sentence with the word “no,” I thank the sweet spirit of surprise that sent the word then add that I don’t mean to be difficult, but I’m really looking for something a bit jazzier. Something fun, with a kick. Let’s start over, I suggest, and this time how ’bout a word I can really sink my teeth into, eh?

Before the third breath is completely exhaled, the word “stay” makes a repeat appearance. Dammit, I say before I can curb my tongue, I’ve been married 38 years. That’s staying. Now give me something sassy, something sexy. Three more breaths and I hear a voice say with gusto “You’re supposed to be running for office” which I naturally interpret as the word “lead.” I’m encouraged to have another word make an appearance, but I find it pretty boring, and besides, I’ve had my fill of leadership positions, thank you very much. Another three breaths and I hear “Cheetos you have there,” and I think it fairly obvious how that translate into “open.”

But since I’m more than fairly porous, I toss “open,” and by comparison and by amassing points for tenacity, my word for 2012 word becomes “stay.” Once decided, in a rush I remember all the projects, blog posts, and journal entries I’ve started with great enthusiasm then left unfinished in my wake.

I could be onto something.

It’s still quite a boring word, though if you ask me, and even though I know that ego is bad and all, I still desperately want something I can sink my teeth into, something I might be able to teach or write about one day. Something people will find fascinating enough to ask me to find their word next year.

Not likely now.

I think of stay and how it’s synonymous with “remaining” – sticking to it – and how I’ve long yearned to do something every single day. Something like write a blog posts daily and number them so I can see and chart my tenacity. Or maybe fold an origami swan – 1000 of them seems about right. Or meditate daily and enjoy the benefits of having a windshield wiper run over my soul. Hey, do you know how slim and flexible I’d be if I’d stuck to a daily routine of yoga or walking or any other kind of exercise? If I’d gotten my money’s worth from all those gym memberships?

Not nearly the show-stopper I was looking for, but I sense possibility. I think beyond “remaining” and an image of a collar stay comes to mind. Stiffening. Holding in place. Straightening. Stays in girdles and corsets. Could I stretch this into history?

I stayed home. Stayed close to the family.

But I didn’t stick to traditions, and I’ve long felt guilty about that.

I stay stuck in the muck and mire of my relationship with organized religion.

Maybe I can do something with this word after all.

I google “stay” and oh my goodness: the first entry is a movie titled “Stay” about “the attempts of a psychiatrist to prevent one of his patients from committing suicide while trying to maintain his own grip on reality.” Wow. Now we’re getting somewhere.

There’s also a dog hotel, people hotels, so we could venture into stay as hospitality.

Stay safe. There’s safety. Or, more to the point, perceived safety. Physical safety. Emotional safety.

Stay calm.
stay quiet.
stay strong.
stay still.
Stay by my side.
stay home.
stay another day.

The dictionary defines stay as a large strong rope used to support a mast. Sails. Support. Movement. Water. Freedom. Boats. Breezes. Direction.

Thesaurus.com mentions change, divergent, trouble, lucky happening.

abide (I like that word: abide),
tarry (another good and pleasing word).


hold and be held securely


Over at Dictionary.com we find: to spend some time in a place or in a group and to persevere to completion.

The origin of the word “stay” has something to do with “to remain” (I find etymology most intriguing, but I sure do have trouble translating all the abbreviations and all) and “Stem. To stand. To be.”

So yes:
“stay” could work.
Stay I will do.
Stay it is.