My Word for 2021: Surf

My word for this year, Surf, started off as a joke on social media, when I was commenting on the challenge of picking a word for a year that seems filled with unpredictability. Once I’d tossed it out there, though, the word kept coming back to me. And the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. That very unpredictability we’re facing makes me want a word that will help me do a better job of taking things as they come, riding whatever wave I’m on at the moment, and not taking a header every time a big one hits.

Last year’s word was Happy, and I thought about taking a do-over on 2020 and using the word again for 2021. But there have been plenty of times in 2020 when I was happy and–along with that–very aware of how my happiness was in direct contrast to the lives so many other people have been living. Happy has a weight for me right now that it didn’t at the beginning of the year. It has layers that are hard to deal with, layers that–when I am tired or stressed–I’m not up to looking at directly. So, while I expect and hope for more happiness in 2021, for everyone, Happy is a word with too many tangles for me to re-choose.

2021. I am fairly certain that we will have a new President & Vice-President on January 20th, and I am fairly certain that vaccines will continue to be distributed. But beyond that, I’m not making any guesses. 2020 has been a sharp reminder of how much I need to work on staying in the moment, because the rabbit holes I could, and did, go down were more dark and twisted than any I remember. For me staying in the moment means being staying flexible and looking just far enough ahead to make choices that will help me stay balanced. So…Surf.

In her post today, Erin Dionne broke out a few areas of her life where she wants to direct her word (Invest). I liked that a lot, so I’m stealing her idea for my post. In 2021, here are some of the waves I want to ride:

News and Politics

The past four years, I’ve been more aware and more involved than ever before. And, for all the stress, this has been a very good thing for me. It’s important to me that I don’t drop this engagement. I have all my fingers and toes crossed that Georgia will elect Warnock and Ossoff to the Senate but, even if they win, it’s going to be a hard, hard road. I want and need to stay on top of things, to step up whenever I can, to speak out and be heard. But this is also the wave that, more than any other, challenged me in 2020. I may not be able to hang 10 on this one, but I think I can keep from being bonked in the head with my own board.

Family and Friends

I have been incredibly lucky–my family and friends are staying healthy, and they’re staying financially stable. It has been hard not seeing them in person, but I am grateful that they are all taking this pandemic seriously and doing their very best to be safe. With the vaccines out there, I can feel my hopes rising–I’ll be able to visit my parents and sisters in 2021! And I can feel the hopes dip–maybe I will, maybe I won’t. We have Zoom, we have telephones. If/when the numbers decrease, I may feel comfortable doing socially distanced walks with a few friends. But this is a wave like no wave I’ve ever been on, and I need to ride it gently.


I know so many writers who have struggled with getting writing done this year. For me, after the first few months, my writing became the gentle wave that felt almost like standing on the sand. It gave me something to escape into, to spark my mind, and to feel hope about. I came up with ideas and stories that are stronger, in their foundations, than anything I’ve written before–it is so reassuring to know that I am actually learning and strengthening my craft. I’m staring 2021 off by paddling my writing board out to the bigger waves. Tomorrow is Day 1 of Storystorm, I’ll be signing up for my first year of 12 X 12, and I’m starting a multi-week picture book workshop in a couple of weeks. It’s going to be a windy ride, but it’s also a wave that, if I wipe out, I’ll know I’ll land in warm water and easily climb back on my board.


I was going pretty well with keeping up my yoga practice for most of 2020 (thanks in good part to Adriene), but–as usual–I’ve slipped a bit over the holidays. I learned long ago that if I tell myself I have to do any physical exercise on certain days at certain times, my brain basically says, “No, I don’t,” and the surfboard just stays in the closet. I am aiming for 2 or 3 days of yoga, more days of simple things like push-ups and squats, and as close to daily meditation as I can get. But each day will be a choice, based on how I feel and what sounds best.

I had a mini-scare a few months ago when I did some routine lab work and my sugar numbers came back too high. I found a dietician who I click with. She’s knocked me out of the certainty that I have to eat fewer and fewer calories to be “healthy.” She’s gotten me to add a LOT of fiber to my daily eating (now’s the time to buy stock in beans, folks!). She’s checking my progress with BMI (pinches, not math formula), and I’m not getting near a scale. I’m finding that each meal is its own wave–one on which I make food choices that feel right at that moment, rather than deciding ahead of time that I have to eat this way or that. So far, the results have been good, and I haven’t felt deprived once. I am determined to stay on this board.

My life has been a progress from holding tight to what “should” be happening to learning to loosen my grip and face changes as they came. I am freer and more relaxed now than I ever was as a teen or young adult. 2021 seems the right year to take that progress a step further, ease up even more on the control, and respond to each wave as it comes.

I wish you all the happiest of New Years, and share my hope that 2021 will be a year of release and relief.

1 Comment

  1. amandahoving says:

    I think “surf” is a great word and the visual of “gently riding” the waves of 2021 is both a hopeful and realistic stance. Happy New Year!


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