My 2017 Word of the Year

Last year at this time, I chose my Word of the Year.  It was balanceI chose the word because I knew what 2016 had in store for me, and though most of it would be good, it would be a lot. I mean, a lot-a lot. I needed to edit one chapter book and write two more, I needed to finish research and draft a middle-grade biography. My first picture book was releasing in September, and, though I had no idea last January, my first grandbaby would make his debut in October. I had author events scheduled in Orlando, Missouri, and Kentucky, as well as in Ohio. And, all this while still working three days a week as a speech therapist. THAT’S why I needed balance.

THIS is what I imaged balance to be:


Beautiful, isn’t it?

THIS is what I forgot about balance:


Achieving it can be terrifying. Watching someone try to achieve it can be unpleasant. The moment when everything is balanced is often fleeting, and suddenly you’re back into the scary part again.

Balance isn’t harmony. It’s a moment in which all things are equal, but it doesn’t mean all things are good.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a great year. Any year in which THIS happens is a great year.


But looking back, there were days-or weeks even- when I was on the brink of toppling, and I’m sure those around me were holding their collective breath and maybe even covering their eyes. To those who had to watch me walk the 2016 tightrope, you can open your eyes and breathe now. I’ve got both feet firmly on 2017.

So, what’s my word for 2017? It’s depth.

I love the pictures that appeared when I did an image search for depth. They were as varied as they could possibly be. A yellow leaf on a park bench. An old key. Theater seats. A long road. A narrow hall. Paintbrushes. A coffee cup. In end, I’ve chosen THIS:



Yes, it’s a stump. But instead of just saying it’s a stump and moving on, I want to study it. Look at those lines. It’s old. It has stories. It has lived. And died. It has weathered time. Where is the rest of it? What did it become? Is it useful? Beautiful?

I want to take time to ask deeper questions this year. I want to take my writing to new depths. I want to question my world and ask “Why?” more often. I want to experience each day instead of balancing a list of “musts.”

My goal for 2017 is to approach the year in search of deeper meaning, deeper appreciation, deeper understanding, and deeper love.  I hope I’m not writing to you a year from now with THIS image of depth:


Or you may have to pull me out to welcome 2018.

What’s your Word for 2017? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy New Year! 

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15 comments on “My 2017 Word of the Year”

  1. Amy Coombs


    Dreams come true, what dreams may come, accept the nightmares, creativity though dream.

    But not live the dream because that’s a pipe dream.

  2. Cathy Lentes

    You always inspire me, Michelle. I’m still looking for my word.
    May your journey deeper bring the treasures you seek.

  3. Susan Callaway

    My word is LISTEN. It is also all the forms of listen. Listener, listened, to listen, listening for even the smallest whisper of a falling leaf, a flowing stream, and ultimately the voice of God. It is becoming more aware of what is going on around me, in me and through me. It is listening to other’s speak and really hearing what they are saying. Listen for understanding, not replying. Listen because I don’t want to miss a thing that might move me, teach me and challenge me to understand more, love more and appreciate more.

    • Michelle

      Great word in our noisy world, Susan! Thanks for sharing it!

  4. Margo Lacy Thomas

    My 2017 Word of the Year is Reflecting.
    As we all grow older, there are so many reflections and grateful memories to think back on. In my case, our wonderful August 1960 wedding day, the blessings of our three precious daughters, Sheri, Michelle, & Lisa, born in Wisc. and Pa., moving back to our home state of O-H-I-O, sharing the excitement of the births of our eight grandchildren, and our first great-grandson! So many other memories……..The blessings in the future will all-too-soon become yesterday’s reflections.

    • Michelle

      Thanks for sharing your word! I hope I reflect all that you’ve taught me!

  5. Kathy Cannon Wiechman

    My word for the year is Words. As a writer, words are my medium, but words also have power. They can inflict pain, but they can offer comfort and hope. They can anger us, or they can teach, inform, and inspire. They can reach across great distances and bring people closer together. They can help us get to know one another. They can take us on flights of fantasy or transport us into the past. Here’s wishing us all only good words in 2017.

    • Michelle

      Words! What a great word for 2017! Thanks for sharing, Kathy.

  6. carol calladine

    My word for 2017 is Re-Vision. I gave my writing friends pink erasures for a holiday gift. This is the year of reading, renewal, and revision. I’ll let you know how I do.

    • Michelle

      I love the pink eraser gifts! And, yes, keep in touch and let me know how it goes, Carol!

  7. Kathy Halsey

    I love your word, Michelle, and the images, too. I think you know mine is FOCUS. I like how you really thought this out. It shows you are already using your word! BRAVO.

    • Michelle

      Focus is huge, Kathy! Nice word. I think it goes well with depth! Happy 2017!

  8. Lana Koehler

    My word for this year is CONNECT. I want to really connect with the people in my life. I also want to connect with what I write so that others will connect with it, too.
    Thank you for this challenge, Michelle!

    • Michelle

      Great word, Lana! The children’s lit world is so good at connecting! I’m looking forward to connecting with you more often in this new year.

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