New Year, New Meanings: A 2013 #oneword Reflection

In thinking about the holiday season and the associated celebrations from November to January, one thing that stands out as a common theme is the opportunity to reflect and start anew. To see this concept across religions, peoples, and time really demonstrates the significance of creating space for ourselves to do both of these things. How powerful these two concepts can be when we think about how fast the world moves and how quickly life changes.

However, I am challenging myself to think slightly different about this time of the year. Instead of seeing it as an end and beginning, I want to view it as an on-going. As a way to feel the strength from the wisdom gained and set my sights forward on making use of that wisdom and strength to continue my process of becoming.

On that note, here is the wisdom that joy has brought me over the last year. As I think back, I am amazed yet again that I picked the perfect one word to serve as a guiding light.

joy

You can read more about my rationale for selecting the word joy here. I wanted to create well-being for myself and others, be more present in the moment, seek out the good, and take care of myself and those I cherish most through mental and physical activity.

So, how did I do?

Well, overall, I am feeling pretty good about nurturing joy in my life this past year. Despite facing some very difficult moments, I am ending this year filled with joy. In seeking out the good and positive, I was able to let go of emotions or things that would drag me down. I started running, completing two 5K races! I also started monitoring my overall physical health using my Jawbone UP to track my sleep and activity each day. I tried to worry less and decrease anxiety by living in the present moment. I didn’t compare myself to others, but focused on a becoming a better “me.” This allowed me to appreciate the little things that bring me joy: coffee in the morning, purring cats, hugs from my husband, laughter, friendship, flowers in my yard, little ones giggling, runs on the trail, sunshine, meaningful work. My heart is happier, my outlook is brighter.

Did I have set backs? Oh my goodness, YES. There were so many times that seemed uncertain and I questioned my strength and ability to make it through. But the joy in the setbacks was that I had amazing friends and family to lean on. It was hard to reach out, to accept help, to be vulnerable, to let others down, and to accept that I might fail. But the beauty is that no one turned me away. No one criticized or made me feel lesser. They loved me with grace and I am forever grateful for these gifts. They helped me see and feel joy, where in the past I would have filled that space with despair.

The biggest lesson that a focus on joy taught me is that the journey is most beautiful when looked at though the lens of joy. I have renewed strength and wisdom through joy that will sustain me on this on-going journey.

Joy in the Flight

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Pantene Commercial Challenges Labels against Women

This Pantene commercial from the Philippines provides a visual display of the different labels assigned to women and men for the same behavior. It is being shared over and over by friends on Facebook and Twitter. It is worth the minute it takes to watch.

I also appreciate the message in this Salon article about the role of feminism in marketing. I saw the commercial and thought “YES!!” This is so familiar to me and what I have experienced as a woman leader. And then I thought, let’s be clear, Pantene is still trying to sell me something. While messages like this are empowering and put gender discrimination in the spotlight, it is also important to check our actions. Seeing this message in media is important, but buying Pantene doesn’t change anything for women.

I think the author sums it up well at the end of her article:

“I’m OK with being marketed to on the basis of my feminism, as long as I don’t fool myself into imagining that my purchase stands in for meaningful activism (and as long as the company doesn’t try to fool me into thinking that). I appreciate smart advertising. I am willing to support brands whose business strategies suggest to me that feminism matters. Most of all, I’m glad to see the message out there, getting more exposure than it would if companies stuck to eternally draping their products in naked ladies.”

So my friends, I do want to say thank you to Pantene for providing a powerful visual display of what women leaders experience. I want to say to my fellow female colleagues to be strong. And, I do want to say go shine. But I don’t think you need a hair product to empower you to do those things.