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.


  1. Julie Daley

    Word. Love this one.

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you, dear friend – for this comment and for holding me as I waged battle against my Word.

      • Julie Daley

        it’s such a lovely word. really.

  2. Meredith

    Stay suits you. Somehow, it just does. You’ve stayed in my virtual life, encouraging me louder and louder. And I highly doubt I could have stayed with my “silly” thoughts of steering this reverb-less Reverb 11 into my chance to lead the way with my own project. You stay and read, and you tell me to stay with it.

    • whollyjeanne

      thank you, sugar, and i surely will tell you to stay with it. i am so proud of you.

  3. QuinnCreative

    “Stay” is so breath-takingly chewy, I may borrow it from you. When I feel fear, stay and face it instead of running off. When someone says something damaging, stay and exchange words of kindness instead of telling Facebook how I was wronged. When something is emotionally painful, stay with it and work through it instead of avoiding it. It’s a very big word with very big expectations. But a wonderful words. And “A windshield wiper running over my soul” is a wonderful image. Particularly here in the desert, where we don’t use them that often.

    • whollyjeanne

      Oh my goodness: I’d love to have a stay-ing partner! I love your application of staying in a difficult exchange when it would be easier – and perhaps more enjoyable – and if you worded it just right, more validating from a foot stomp on facebook. Love that. So true.
      Maybe you’ll want to join me on my application of stay. I’ll be posting more about it later today. (Probably like yesterday: squeaking in with the send button just before pumpkin hour.)
      I just dropped by what I think is your e-nest, and I’m smitten. Going back now to drop off a note or five.

      • QuinnCreative

        That sounds wonderful. We can explore “stay” together. I think it has a lot to say. I also posted a blog article on choosing a word, and some readers added their own interesting choices.http://wp.me/p2H1i-1Ym (If I’m not allowed to post a link, just spike it.)

        • whollyjeanne

          it’s fine with me if you post a link – being a WWBW, i’m all about linking and spotlighting. always. the more i stay with it (couldn’t help myself), i find “stay” richer and filled with possibility. so glad our paths have crossed. thank you for taking the time.

  4. Liz

    Seems quite perfect to me. I would like to stay still, stay strong. Stay connected with you. Stay breathing.

    • whollyjeanne

      still is a word that i’ve longed for, lusted after for years. i think by staying with the things i will stay with next year, i will finally experience that stillness. (it’s kinda’ a clunky sentence – does that even make sense?) staying connected with you is definitely at the top of my list, sugar. definitely.

  5. Anonymous

    CONGRATS on finding your word! And then for the lovely, close-text analysis … this is why I always preferred words to numbers. They can just go in so many lovely directions. 🙂

    • whollyjeanne

      yes, agreed – though sometimes i wonder if i wouldn’t find numbers easier, soothing, something. it’s a wondering i’ve never tested. probably never will, leaving that to my engineer husband who goes all glazey-eyed over my words;)

  6. Anonymous

    Also, when I was reading this post, I kept thinking of “stay” in terms of yoga poses, especially balancing series stuff like bow and half moon. In those moments, stay is where all the strength is! Can’t wait to see/read where this goes in 2012. 🙂

    • whollyjeanne

      ah, yoga. it’s a new language for me, so thank you for this. if all goes according to plan, i’ll be much more fluent in yoga this time next year!

  7. ☆little light☆

    I thought of this immediately 

    Will you stay in our lovers story?
    If you stay you won’t be sorry
    because we believe in you…

    • wholly jeanne hewell- chambers

      sugar, for reasons only the ether goddes can explain, i am just now seeing this, and it makes me smile. so perfect. thank you. (i ‘specially love this line: And if you ever have to go to school/Remember how they messed up this old fool . . . xoxo

  8. Angela

    I love this word, Jeanne.  It’s actually even pretty sexy, if you ask me. Looking forward to its unfolding in 2012.

    • whollyjeanne

      it’s growing on me, sug. xo

  9. Maeve Stuart

    Oh, what a beautiful, strong, hope-filled word. To be steadfast … yes, a great desire for any person, for any year. For me, 2012 is about facing down my fears finally, and living life gallantly. I chose an adjective rather than a noun because this is something I want to be, not do. My word is “valiant” – but I will tuck “stay” away in my memory for consideration next year.

    • whollyjeanne

      i love the word valiant! and gallantly – i love that word, too. i’m seeing stay as more than a verb – seeing it as a support, for example. it’s definitely growing on me (thank goodness). i’ll enjoy watching you living into and with your word. a word ripe with possibilities.

Pull up a chair why don't you, and let's talk . . .

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Where in the world is The 70273 Project? Please add a pin to show us where you are in the world. (1) Click the + sign in upper righthand corner of map. (2) Enter your first name only. (3) Enter your city/state. (4) Using the pins at the bottom of the map, select a marker based on how you are involved. (5) Select preview to see before posting. (6) Select submit to post. Please add a marker for each role you serve in The 70273 Project.

Support The 70273 Project

Allow me to introduce myself . . .

Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

special delivery: get blog posts hot off the press


© 2024 Jeanne Hewell-Chambers’ Barefoot Heart

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑