What’s in a Word?

 November and December were tough on me. Despite good intentions and a true attempt at planning, my holiday efforts were hurried and sloppy and I won’t bore you with details. I know I’m not alone. As Allison Carter so perfectly wrote about in her blog, I Failed at Christmas, the holiday is no longer about me. My responsibility now is to be the person who’s creating memories for my family and I’m honored to do it – even if it literally kicks me in the ass. On December 26th, I woke up a new person. Quite literally, I felt lighter.

We took a mini road trip over the New Year’s holiday to Charlotte, Asheville, and Chattanooga. It was fun and gave me some time (while R. was driving) to catch-up on my blog reading. I got a little pumped after reading posts about New Year’s resolutions and wrote a blog post in my head for the New Year. I should have written it right then, because within a few days the gremlins got into my head.

I’m friends with a lot of writers on Facebook. I primarily use FB for connections to blogs and writing websites, and as a result my newsfeed is usually populated with writer updates. Consequently, January brought many notifications of lofty goals. Big ones. I panicked, because so many of us want the same things. I know, I know. We’re writers, why wouldn’t every writer want to write a book? And get published by sites that would make our friends and families sit up and take notice. Yet, everyone’s burst of ambition hit me hard. I compared my goals and writing ability to my fellow bloggers and came up short. I fear I’m not good enough.

Still, it could happen…

But probably not for me…

Unless I work really hard….

But I do work hard….

But really, not hard enough…

Rather than feel inspired by all the enthusiastic optimism of my fellow writers, I became intimidated. I was overcome with a massive wave of insecurity and I’m still not over it. I’m questioning whether or not I can write material that’s worthy of being published by the same venues as writers X, Y, Z. There are some incredibly good ******* writers out there. I swear I’m not looking for complements or platitudes. I’m not even sure why I’m sharing this here, other than one resolution I did make this year was to be more authentic with this blog. To be the real me, not the me I want to be. And the truth is, I’m sacred. I’m scared that all my “faking it till I make it” is just that – fake. Delusional. Unrealistic. And I’m wasting my time. I think that “Writer Allie” may be a wee bit bi-polar.

This year I’m going to finish a manuscript. Get an agent. Get published. I’m going to have bylines that are HUGE. I’m going to break out of the mommy/autism blogger label. This year I will make money that is more than pocket change. This will be my year! Wait a minute. I’m a small blogger. I ramble on too much. I have a love-hate relationship with commas. I’m terrible with imagery. I constantly submit comments on blogs that have typos and it makes me look incompetent. I’ve never written a viral post. I have a small email list. My numbers on social media are pathetic. Most of my real-life friends don’t even read my blog, why would anyone else? I had a book party for writing a chapter of a book. Who does that? Someone who knows she’s hit her peak that’s who. Quit dreaming and get real. You have accounting degrees, you can get a job and stop stressing about getting published and feeling guilty about not making enough money to cover things like your road trips and college funds.

And on and on it goes. I constantly struggle with organization and time management. The kid’s schedules put me in a snappy mood every day. Every day. Lately, I’m no fun to live with. I beat myself up for not making exercise a priority. I used to be so disciplined and once upon a time, I had fantastic legs. I used to be soooo good about monitoring what goes into my mouth, and come to think about it, I used to be better about what comes out of my mouth too. Damn, I’ve gotten grumpy. And don’t even get me started on the anxieties I battle about being middle-aged. I don’t want to be middle aged. And I call bullsh** on the people who say the forties are the best time of your life.

I think I’m a happy person, I really do. And yet, I seem so unhappy. Maybe it’s hormones, or the diminishment of hormones. (Damn! What’s up with that?) I look to the past for the answers and to the future for solutions. I do believe in the “this too shall pass” philosophy. But now I worry about the time wasted waiting for my gremlins to chill. I don’t have much time to waste. For crying out loud, I’m forty-six. I’ll be old by next week. You know what? I used to laugh at the term, mid-life crisis. Hello? Clearly I’m having one. Yes?

SO as you can read, I’m really not in a good place to write an inspirational word-of-the year post. And that sucks.

In what I can only assume was one of my manic writing periods, I volunteered to co-host Finish the Sentence Friday this week. What in the world was I thinking? To prepare, I read last year’s “Word of the Year” post and was pleasantly surprised by how I rocked my essay and equally disheartened by how the word I chose did not represent how I lived 2015. I chose “better.” Here’s an excerpt from that essay:


I still want to be a better person, I do. I’m just not there yet. Not even close.

I don’t know what got into me when we put away the Christmas decorations this year, but I went a little mad. After everything was wrapped up, packed away, and ushered to the basement, I decided to do some furniture and picture rearranging. I moved every piece of furniture in three rooms and strangley, it did wonders for me. It was like I’d moved into a new home. When I was girl, I used to rearrange my room every few months. Throughout my twenties and thirties, I moved so often, that there was no need to change things. I knew there’d be a new abode in the not too distant future to cheer me up. I guess I’ve always needed to spice things up.

That fact that moving my furniture around made me instantly happy led me to conclude that I’m in a rut. I’m stuck. If all I had to do was rearrange some furniture to improve my mood, perhaps we don’t have to move out west after all (although, really, I’d love to do that – it’s a long story). Could it be that simple? No, of course not. But maybe if I can start making small little changes in all areas of my life: motherhood, marriage, household, exercise, diet, writing. I don’t know, I just wish I had more conviction about what it is I want to do with my life. I need a sign!


I want clarity. I want contentment. I want joy. Blah, blah, blah. I want all the words that have been beautifully and eloquently written about. But first I need to get unstuck. I want to be unmoored. So, that is the word I’ve chosen. Unmoored. From what? Once I know, I’ll be free to fly.

Happy New Year, friends.

This post was cobbled together for Finish the Sentence Friday. This week is I’m co-hosting with our lovely leader, Kristi Campbell of FInding Ninnee and Mardra Sikora, who came up with this weeks prompt. “My 2016 word of the year is…”.


If you’re on WP.com:

51 thoughts on “What’s in a Word?”

  1. Well, I chose Joy and then spent a good portion of this week battling a low grade fever and cough and now will have both my girls home sick tomorrow as they started both running fevers after school today. So trust me, I am hoping for joy, but right about now, I would settle for a small break or a tiny light at the end of this so-called tunnel. Happy anew Year and truly wishing you only the best, as you most definitely deserve it!

  2. I have always loved it when you keep it real Allie! For years I have believed you keep it real better than anyone I know. I love it when you keep it real in your writing and you just did that!

    Here’s a thought/story/motivation for you… around Thanksgiving I was fretting about expectations from family – in-laws mostly… Someone gave me the advice to screw expectations and to “just do you”. I don’t have a word for the year, but I have a phrase… I’m just going to do me. Be me. I’m going to be the best me I can be. But even when it’s not the best, it will just be me. It’s all I’ve got. You be you too. I love the real you!

    1. Thank you Paula! I was very nervous about this one. I prefer to write happy and hopeful posts, but I’m hoping for a catharsis with this one. Once I finish all my comments. I’m going to shut down the internet for the weekend. Focus on family and football and ME. And I like your motto. I think I’ll adopt it! And I love the real you, too. I really do. Thank you.

  3. Allie Allie Allie unmoored is a perfect word and beautiful and all any of us want is to write and to be and to be and to have a freaking midlife if that’s what it is and my period is 10 days late now for the FIRST TIME EVER well not ever because duh but OMG what is happening with the lines and the wrinkles and the life???? This is perfect. I adore you. That’s enough. We are. We are enough.

    1. I adore you too momma. And don’t even get me started about the wrinkles. I went to the derm for my semi annual skin screening and oh, the suggestions they had for me – regards to treatments. What happened to aging (gulp) gracefully?

  4. Either you and I have A LOT in common or we are just COMMON. Except I don’t have accounting degrees because I suck at math. But ALL of the above – THIS is the stuff that I don’t want to think about in my one hour of peace.

    Last year was my worst stuck year ever. I’m trying to make peace with that – that another year has gone by and I am another year older with the same notches in my belt.

    I’m a re-arranger too. I’ve got stacks of those moving men things for bare floors and rugs so that I can do it all by myself. Unfortunately or fortunately most things here can only go in one place. I have even thought of the impossible like – if that door could just be moved over 2 more inches…

    1. Kenya, I think it’s both – in regards to commonality. I used to be good at math, but according to the Core curriculum, I’m now math deficient. And I hate accounting, but have been blessed/cursed with a talent for it. And I have the wheely/dollies to move furniture (or more accurately, my husband does). That’s how I moved the boys room on my own a few weeks ago. And the room I really want to tackle, the master bedroom, but it has limited space. The bed will only fit in one spot and that’s very frustrating.

      1. Our bedroom is the same. I am able to move the bed another way but it’s by a double window and that makes for cold heads in the winter and cricket hearing in the summer. Sooooo the other wall it is.

  5. I. Love. Your. Word. And this whole post, really. So much of what you say here about Christmas and about seeing the writing goals and successes bursting about blogland is exactly how I’ve been thinking and feeling these last couple of months. I could’ve written the very same words and just kept thinking “oh my gosh someone else feels like I do!” And that’s a lot of what I love about blogging – the connections that are there to be made.
    I’m so glad you shared this because it spoke straight to my heart and mind.

    1. Thank you Lisa – I was so nervous about this post. Really nervous. I agree, the connection are amazing. I had no idea that I’d “meet” and get so close to so many other people on-line. In some ways, I feel as though some of my blogging friends know me better than life-long friends. And I really appreciate you taking the time to share your similar feelings. It really helps.

  6. Allie, that’s such a beautiful word, with so many possibilities. That you’re prepared to let go and float away and see what happens is wonderful. And all those things you can let go of – unreasonable expectations; the idea that everyone who makes a writing goal will keep it; that you’re not good enough (I dare you to let go of that one)…and just pootle through life, not letting the waves get you down.

    I wish you much happiness, sun on your deck, wind in your sails, and buoyancy for navigating the waters of life. This is a brilliant word and a great (very relatable) post.

    1. Thank you Lizzie – and I love your comment. Honored that you find my words beautiful (especially after reading your post). And I adore the image you paint of me floating way. I’d love that, preferably with some warm sun! And, I’m honestly going to try and take up your scary dare. For real, I am.

  7. Such a beautiful post, Ali.
    Honestly we all are in that rut…atleast I am. But in the end, doing what makes you happy is what life is about..
    May this year bring you detachment as you continue to work on your goals!

  8. Allie, I would say you are off to a great start on the “real” posts — thank you for sharing your honest and raw feelings. I know they echo many of mine when it comes to writing and career and just life in general, so trust you are not alone! For what it’s worth, your blog has been a great inspiration to me as I’ve crept into the blogging world. I’m always excited to see one of your posts pop up in my inbox and appreciate the way you interact with your readers. So thank you! Enjoy your weekend and your foray into unmoored-ment (not a word, don’t care). :)

    1. Caryn, your words are worth a lot to me, thank you so much. And I guess being real shouldn’t be so scary, because I’ve been humbled by the responses, and gratified to know I’m not alone. Thank you for your support, truly.

  9. First, thank you for sharing my post – xo but MORE IMPORTANTLY what a wonderful word! I know how you feel, all of it, and you are not alone. But what I love so much about the word is that, well, who knows where we will go when we are unmoored? I appreciate that you didn’t create a destination but, more, a journey. And it will happen, I can tell. Can’t wait to enjoy 2016 with you, friend.

    1. You’re welcome for the share, your Christmas post really resonated with me. And thank you for the comment. As scary as it sounds, I’m also excited at the prospect of finding out where I may end up?! You know? I had a good weekend – I completely stayed off the internet (because my computer was down, due to the fact that I completely disassembled my office on Friday, when rearranging the furniture) and it was liberating. I think the first thing I need to explore is setting limits on my computer time. More on this later…I promise.

  10. Well, this hit home for me, Allie – and clearly it did for others too. I totally feel like I’m in a rut, but I’m not sure what it is I’m stuck in, or how to get out, or what I even WANT when I do get out.

    I think it’s midlife for me. I’m happy to share the bumpy ride with you; I’ll read no matter how many commas you use.

    1. Thanks Dana – I nodded my head as I read your comment. We are in the same mid-life place. And I get nervous thinking about the fact I have a second grader – I’m really going to be exhausted by the time he gets through school. I need energy!

      By the way? When does “who I Am?” start? I signed up, but haven’t heard anything…

  11. Unmoored is such a beautiful word. I don’t know if you are religious in the traditional sense but when I read unmoored the first image that came to mind was Paul’s word talking about passing from this world to the next. Like a ship unmoored and sailing on. Life on earth being compared to a ship tied to a dock. What an incredible way to think of the New Year. No doubt if you are a writer. The problem with writing something much longer (at least for me) is that writing is such a solitary game. With blogging there is immediate conversation and community. The blah, blah, blahs probably are do to hormones and exhaustion more than anything else. Happy New Year and hope you soar!

    1. I love you comment Jamie. I’m religious in all kinds of senses – I’m all over the map, ha! It depends on the day of the week (or the time of the month). But oh, I love your thoughts. And I agree about the writing being a solitary game. Love the immediate gratification of blogging, and the ability to di it in increments. I deal with so many life interruptions, that it’s hard to sit down for hours at a time and write something BIG.

  12. I chose consistency. So far I’ve been consistently stressed, but also consistently exercising that stress off!
    Who knows.. I may even develop some leg muscles in the process.
    And Athena is loving it too.
    Also, you’re lucky you can read in the car!

    1. Ah, consistency is a good one. But I already think of you as being consistent. I depend on you for your regular posts, and being such a loyal supporter! I can read in the front seat only, and the terrain has to be flat and straight. If there are curves – my head is out the window pretty quickly!

  13. So as I was reading along, I was nodding and at times literally laughed out loud, because the way you wrote this was just SO authentic- and relatable- and there were some moments I could just picture you and I talking like this to each other, when one of us was in a slump- or stuck- or pissy at life.

    I’ve been there. STUCK. Pissy at all the parenting. Not feeling worthy at all amongst the amazing writers on FB and surely not feeling like I could dream those lofty dreams of publishing a book or getting on Washington Post or anywhere only brilliant or hilarious or snarky writers get on…

    I have felt old and ugly and fat and lazy too…

    I think I need to go move my own furniture, lol

    Buthonestly, that’s why I wrote my “Worthy” post- for these reasons and SO many more that I find many women struggle with all these throes of passionate self defeat on some level of their life- at certain times. And uh yeah!! HELLO ESTROGEN!!! WHERE ARE YOU??? Girl- I understand. A LOT of it is the hormonal changes. And the crash of holiday craziness and on to the pressure of setting up goals for the new year, while we are still wiping the sweat off our brow from all the Christmas shenanigans…

    It’s too much. When it gets too much or I ‘make’ too much of stuff- I really need to breathe and pray and find my center again. Search hard for Perspective.

    BTW-You cracked me UP on so many of the things you wrote-“You know what? I used to laugh at the term, mid-life crisis. Hello? Clearly I’m having one. Yes?” And—> “I call bullsh** on the people who say the forties are the best time of your life.”

    OH Allie- do you even know how YOUNG and GORGEOUS you look? I mean, come ON!! And please oh please take a good hard look at the woman you are- because if you pull back far enough from the angst and overwhelming place you’re in- you will get a much bigger view of ALL the amazing things you have done- such incredibly valuable and significant things. If you can’t see it, you are in the muck too deep. Keep stepping back farther… and farther… pull it back…. widen the lens girl…

    Do you see it? Do you see you?

    You are beautiful. <3

    1. Christine! Thank you so much for taking the time to respond so warmly, with such empathy, and at such length. I will return the compliment – your response does make me feel as though we are having a conversation. How cool is that? The best part of blogging is the friendships that have developed. It has been such a pleasant surprise and I am very grateful for your words. You always “say” the perfect thing. I mean that. Thank you.

  14. Well, unmoored is a word that I didn’t see coming for you. You seem to have everything working so well for you family and you that I thought that the “moored” Allie was in pretty good shape. I guess that making small changes in one’s life keeps everything fresh and interesting. I wrote about a similar idea, but termed it “adventure”. Perhaps we’ll meet along the way, once you’ve unmoored and I’m on my adventure! Sending you hugs and best wishes in 2016!

    1. Thanks Anna. And for the most part, the family is working well. It’s momma that’s struggling. I’m just so tired, too many commitments, and not enough down time. And I LOVE adventure = great word.

  15. Well, for starters, we’re exactly the same age, so I feel every word here. I admire your brevity in sharing so authentically like this. Helps those of us who read it take a big sigh of relief, knowing we’re not the only ones. We’re all a little bipolar. I relate to every single doubt you’re experiencing, so thank you being so honest.

    1. Thanks Julie. I’ve been overwhelmed by all the commenters who’ve admitted they feel the same way. What a relief – not that we’re all “bi-polar”:) , but that I’m not alone.

  16. Oh MAN, do I hear YOU. I am really struggling with the comparison game, too. The only potential good of that is that, this year, it’s kind of pushing my hand. Do I really WANT those spots, numbers, followers, whatever that other writers have? Suddenly, I’m not as sure anymore. And maybe that will be enough to free me to write and be who/what I should write/be… We’ll see. BUT BACK TOU YOU – Thank you for co-hosting and writing through the stress and, truly, that is often the best way to move around your priorities and find the unstuck. Keep Going. :)

    1. Mardra – you know, I’m not so sure anymore, either. Isn’t that weird? I think that’s the scariest part, I’m really not sure this is what I want. And if it’s not, why do it? And where does that leave me? These questions make my head hurt!

  17. Loved this so much Allie! It was such a raw, brave, beautiful post. I always enjoy your words, but the authenticity of this post seems to be exactly what you write about what you are looking for. I think you may already be on the path to being unmoored. If nothing else, your wonderful words will get you there. And I can relate to so much of what you write here. I think a lot of us can. Thank you for being the courageous voice we all need. xoxo

    1. Isn’t it crazy that cleaning and organizing will “make” us content? Apparently it’s true, because there’s no shortage of books about it. It’s become a cottage industry!

  18. I cannot tell you how much I adored this post, Allie. So honest and so relatable. Yes, I too, get absolutely overwhelmed by what comes at me on FB. My confidence plummets and I think “Seriously. You think you can stand tall with these gifted writers?” And then I read a post like this. Thank you, Allie. I’m not alone. The best part that truly resonated with me? Your magical typo: “And the truth is, I’m sacred.” You are sacred. Bless you.

  19. Allie, you made me laugh – “I had a book party for writing a chapter of a book. Who does that?” I think we have similar goals and similar feelings of letdown…keep writing. keep mothering the best you know how. It’s the only thing to do :)

    p.s. and I love your writing!

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