[01 one word]

This year I’m taking part in #reverb11, an online initiative that’s all about reflecting on 2011 and looking ahead to 2012. Each day in December will bring a new prompt to reflect on. You can find out more here.

Day 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2011 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word.  Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2012 for you?

I lay in the bath last night and tried hard to think of a good word that sums up the year, something that was a little more eloquent than ‘bloody awful’, which was the first one that sprang to mind and technically doesn’t count,what with it being two words and all that. I settled on arduous, although it felt a bit dramatic and not entirely accurate. There are lots of positive things that have happened in the past year, and I don’t even have to think that hard to remember them: I’ve met new friends, went to a brilliant festival with my son and acquired the world’s naughtiest kitten, but despite that it feels like it’s mostly been one long slog.

I put out the call on my Facebook wall, to see if my friends had any good ideas, only to find them posting words like challenging and harrowing and sisyphean. I think 2011 has been a difficult year for a lot of people. Amongst my close friends there has been illness, bereavement, financial worries, job problems and a whole host of other things which just tend to make life crap. Some of these things are ongoing, without there being any sense of a light at the end of the tunnel.

Despite that, we’re all still here. I’m still here, a fact which surprises me, sometimes. It’s easy to forget that while you’re thinking you’re weak, and that you can’t cope, the non-thinking bits of your body are soldiering on, fighting all those pesky infections that gang up and pick on you when you’re run down.

Your body keeps blinking, keeps breathing: somehow you keep going.

My word for 2010 was perseverance – I acknowledged my inner strength, and tenacity. I like the word tenacious, it literally means ‘not easily pulled apart.’ I know I started off saying that my word for 2011 was ‘arduous’, but I’m going to scrap that.Every time I say it to myself I’m seeing myself in a theatrically tragic, woe-is-me pose, complete with back of the hand wafting my fringe of my forehead, so it has to go. Tenacity is a much better word.


This time last year, my word for the year ahead was embrace. I said, “I want to swim hard against the tide and jump into waves instead of treading water and slowly getting water-logged and heavier.” I think I squeezed every last drip out of that metaphor, didn’t I? Flowery prose aside, I can put my hand on my heart and say I really pushed myself to take risks, and embrace new opportunities this year. I reached out of my comfort zone and did things that were unimaginable a year ago, but if I tell you what they were you might not come back and read any more, which would be very sad indeed because I’ve spent all morning when I should have done the laundry grappling with graphics and layouts and buying a domain name. See – I am tenacious to the core!


Edit: I’m trying not to read anything Freudian or symbolic into the fact that in my original draft of this post I completely failed to choose my word for 2012. I’m not sure I can pull one out of the hat at this stage, but I promise I will revisit this as and when one comes along. It needs to be a good word, a word that encompass change, and freedom, and movement – I’m sure it probably exists in some other, more ambiguous language. When I find it, you’ll be the first to know.

Leave a comment


  1. Loving your word choice, both for 2011 and for this post! Your prose is lovely. I agree with you wholeheartedly — I think many found this year to be a huge struggle. I noticed Christmas decorations going up earlier than ever before, and I think it’s just because we’re all needing a little hope, glow and sparkle right about now.

    Looking forward to reading more of your prompts and to seeing what word you land on! 🙂

    • Thank you for your kind words – I think you’re right about everyone needing some signs of hope and sparkle around them. Here’s to a 2012 that’s challenging for all the right reasons, and a slew of positive words this time next year.

  2. What a great word. I could definitely use a little tenacity myself. It’s really challenging to choose a word, isn’t it? I did not really enjoy the word I chose for 2011 (participate) leading me to spend far too long thinking about a word for this year. It might work, it might not. Time will tell.

    Looking forward to when you find your word. Happing reverbing!

    • I agree, choosing a word is a nightmare! There are just so many of them, and it’s very easy to end up using one with negative connotations and then forgetting all the good stuff. Thanks for your comment.


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