Slice of Life: One Little Word


Does procrastinate have an antonym? If it does, that should be my OLW. Because although I’ve been thinking about my “one little word” for at least a week, and have made several attempts to write about a choice today, here it is 11:30 on Tuesday night and I’m still on the fence about my decision. (Maybe decisiveness should be my word.)

Choosing just one word seems like it should be such a simple task. Maybe part of my hesitation comes from the fact that last year’s word, balance, wasn’t such a  great choice. I often felt like one of those circus performers who balance plates on the end of a pole while riding a unicycle. Except in my case the plates were just about to drop and I was going to fall off the unicycle any minute. Why I never crashed is beyond me.

Yet last year was also one of accomplishment and adventure. I’m excited to find out what 2015 has in store, both personally and professionally. And so I’m choosing discover as my OLW for this year.

One thing I love about this word is that it implies or incorporates words I considered. For example, I rejected curious because it seemed like more of a personality trait than a guiding mantra, yet it’s essential when making discoveries.

I have a number of goals I’d like to accomplish this year, goals I’ll have to strive towards. Strive didn’t make the cut, however, because when I looked it up I found that it had many negative connotations. Which isn’t really surprising when you remember the fact that strive and strife are derived from the same word. Conflict is not what I was looking for. Aspire was a contender, as was persistence.

Search is another word I considered. I decided against this word because it sounds like you know what you’re searching for, whereas discoveries usually take you by surprise. This element of finding the unexpected was important to me. Over the past year, many of my happiest and most memorable moments occurred when I was specifically not striving or persisting or aspiring. I was just being in the moment, paying attention to the world around me. In her book Wanderlust: A History of Walking, Rebecca Solnit states that “the random, the unscreened, allows you to find what you don’t know you are looking for…”

I’ll keep you posted about what I discover, both in and out of the classroom.

Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna, and Beth for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

8 thoughts on “Slice of Life: One Little Word

  1. I had to chuckle at your opening… we’re all plagued with the guilt connected with procrastination. I’m new to the OWL (believe) and blogging ( Discover is an optimistic word that carries so many possibilities. Love your blog – good luck


  2. Catherine,
    I think the fact that any #OLW can encompass so many other meanings really adds depth to our selection process. I love your word discover and look forward to the adventures that you will discover in 2015!


  3. Actually, I don’t think that choosing an OLW is a simple task at all – there are so many dimensions to ones life after all. Take your time, Catherine – your OLW will come to you!


  4. Your post makes me laugh…and makes me think of a very uncharacteristic (and yet successful) teaching move I made yesterday. A. was absent on Monday when my students brainstormed and then chose their OLWs. A. is a gifted student who is very resistant to change, who struggles to get anything done because she wants perfection on the first try. Not surprisingly, she hemmed and hawed and could not/would not choose her word. I grabbed her pencil, looked her in the eye with what I hope she realized was honesty and compassion, and wrote DECIDE on her card. She looked at the word, looked at me, smiled, and said, “Yeah, that’s pretty perfect for me. I need to work on that. I have a really hard time deciding.” YAY! And proof that January is not too late to break through to a student and finally make a positive connection!


  5. I loved how you found your OLW through writing about the process of discovering what’s important to you. I have yet to write about my OLW but that will be my post for this week’s SOL. Keep us posted.


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