When I was an undergraduate English major, some friends and I would play a game to help us recall words to broaden our vocabulary. Exciting, right? Ok, I’ll admit I might have been a bit of a nerd, but I loved words, writing and creating poems & stories. While I’ve never really put much stock into New Year’s resolutions, I do enjoy picking a group of words and building a conceptual picture of moving forward at any given time. This year, our new 2020 decade, seems like just the time for some positivity in moving forward and choosing words to live by.
Take a letter of the alphabet that allows you to think of specific words that are meaningful to you. I chose the letter “C”, the first letter of many words that can be useful in building a picture of how you’d like to proceed through the future, a kind of verbal tower that houses your “Words to Live By”.
Why spend time doing this, you might ask? It can be seen as a game to pass the time, but more importantly, it can enable us to consider powerful words and feelings upon which to build a new foundation, or construct a new set of goals as we contemplate the words.
Quickly, think of words that begin with “C” that are positive, and could be life-giving. How many can you name, and how might they be important as we embark on the 2020 journey? Perhaps some of these below would appeal to you.
1. Champion. Be a champion for an individual or for a cause, or hope for someone to be your champion, supportive and uplifting.
2. Celebrate. Embrace your good heart, your good deeds, and your substance, and celebrate them all.
3. Confess. Your confession of deep desires and long-time dreams can allow them to manifest over time. Once confessed, even if just to yourself, your inner wants become more achievable. And they can be very achievable!
4. Conjure. Imagine how you’d like some situation to go. This positive conjuring can be empowering.
5. Care. “Take care”, you may say to a friend as they leave, and that’s a sentiment you can say to yourself as a calming salve. Caring for others is vital for our own self-worth and our positive mental and emotional health. Your heart can do many things, one of which is to reach out and express that you care.
6. Calm. Staying calm can be powerful, distinctive, and strategic. If we proceed with a calm demeanor there may be no limit to our choices. A calm presence is usually appreciated, and can gain much ground. Learn to really breathe.
7. Connive. Learn how to spot a conniving individual, one who searches for your weak spots and vulnerabilities. Keep those individuals at arm’s length.
8. Cease. When negative or hateful messages enter your mind, use a mind-strength exercise, say “Cease”, and continue to whisper that word until you stop. Reframe that negativity to a more positive outlook so as to help yourself to shape your current and future attitude.
9. Centered. To be centered in your life is a gift, one that can be given to yourself. If you can find balance, some sort of wholeness in daily routine, you will become more centered. A positive self-concept, renewed self-confidence and lust for life, and a sense of well-being can all be linked to a feeling of centeredness. Once you are feeling centered, you will be able to model that gift and how to achieve it.
10. Captivate. Use your charm! Captivate those around you. Everyone has it, we just don’t always know it. Sometimes being captivating can be as simple as telling the truth to a person who has straight out asked you for your opinion. It can be a level of honesty and caring that simply cannot be denied. Stun those around you with your sense of style, your creativity, your sense of SELF!
11. Control. The concept of control can appear complicated. We often think of a person who wants his or her own way and verbalizes that, as someone with “control issues” which is taken in a negative tone. But control of your own behavior, addictions, your life plan, or your future is a necessary part of your life satisfaction. You do have control of most decisions, although at times, that control isn’t quite so clear. It takes strength to believe in your own ability to control your life. It can also be quite circular, the toss-up between taking control of your own life and behavior, as opposed to the energy spent attempting to control others. Concentrate on YOU!
12. Congratulate. Do you usually acknowledge when someone achieves a goal, like a graduation, a new job, or has made a beautiful dinner? Congratulating individuals you know, using the word, is important. “Congratulations” is a powerful, positive word that we all understand. I fear we simply don’t congratulate folks enough!
13. Connect. There are so many ways to connect with others in our LGBTQ+ community, and in our world. Connections can be intensely personal, as we are with our partners and lovers; connections can also be fleeting, perhaps occurring only on the basis of someone attending a monthly potluck, a chorus rehearsal, or a drag show downtown. It’s still a connection, and each holds potential for going a little deeper, and growing a little stronger over time. Gift yourself with new connections and new outreach.
14. Create. Do you enjoy doing things in an artistic way, like acting, painting, writing, photography, or designing fabric? You’re in the right place, being in the New Orleans area, if you have any interest in such creative endeavors. But there are other ways to be creative with your life. If you have a friend group you typically attend activities with, you could open it up, include a few others, therefore creating an entirely new energy for the group. For those who are a large part of the French Quarter scene, imagine reaching out to folks who seldom come to the Quarter, those who don’t frequent bars that hold shows and serve the community as gathering places. Broaden the scope of the activities to be more inclusive. Publicize it, issue invitations, use your charm, captivate!
15. Cats. I have to save this as the last word. Cats are calming, charming, and demand to control their situation. They create havoc at times, and help you to be centered at other times. The warmth and love coming from cats, if you allow it, can change your life, make you softer and instill a feeling of being loved, unconditionally. There are literally medicinal qualities that come from pets, and cats are spiritual, independent, and intuitive – fur balls of love and play.
This new decade has so much potential. We can best gain control of our lives if we concentrate on the issues before us, politically, socially and environmentally. If I think about it too long, read too much in detail on a daily basis, it can engender a feeling of helplessness. That feeling, however, quickly transforms into a quest for change. Words are power, language is the pathway to influence. Take a chance, don’t miss an opportunity to try out a few concepts listed here. Reach out, congratulate yourself when you do, and practice inclusion, openness and a real sense of yourself.
Dr. Catherine Roland, LPC, is a therapist in private practice, specializing in our LGBTQ+ community for 25 years. Catherine is a member of the Board of Directors of both CrescentCare-NO/AIDS Task Force, and NOAGE – New Orleans Advocates for LGBTQ+ Elders.