Personal, Religious, Spiritual Journey Thursday


By now you’ve probably switched calendars, thought about—maybe even listed—a few resolutions and goals for the year, and caught yourself writing 2016 instead of 2017 a time or two. Plus, you may have chosen your one-word for 2017.

The custom of choosing a word for the year has been around for a while. I’m not sure whose idea it was to begin with but memory and scrapbooking enthusiast Ali Edwards has been choosing a yearly word since 2006 and has even developed a One Little Word business, offering prompts and scrapbooking products to members. I like her definition of “one word”:

“… a word to focus on, to live with, to investigate, to write about, to craft with, and to reflect upon…”

My word for 2017 came to me in the early hours of December 18. I had just written a blog post about my 2016 word (“mindfulness”) and choosing a word for 2017 was on my mind as I snuggled under the covers for a few more winks.

Also around that time I had been noticing that many of the big-name bloggers and productivity specialists I sometimes read were trying to convince me that I needed to be more focused to accomplish more and thus make more money in 2017. To do that I would want to sign up for their webinars and courses, but hurry because the special price would go away soon. I felt so bombarded by voices, it was becoming hard to hear the voice I really wanted to hear. How could I listen above the noise?

That word LISTEN sparked a frisson of recognition in me. You could say that morning it woke me up. LISTEN would be my one-word for 2017!

Because I always choose a scripture to go along with my word, I knew just what that would be too—Jesus’ words from John 10:

“To him (the Good Shepherd) the doorkeeper opens and the sheep hear his voice and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him for they know his voice” – John 10:3,4 (emphasis added).

I want 2017 to be a year of listening for, recognizing, and hearing to the extent of obeying the voice of my Shepherd above all other voices.

During 2017 I’ll explore many other facets of the word as well, such as listening to nature, to people, and to all the ways one hears and listens metaphorically—by reading, tuning in to my intuition, visually observing and hearing the unspoken communication of those around me—that sort of thing.

I’m planning to try some activities this year related to my word. You may want to join me:

  1. Find and collect quotes with 2017’s one-word in them.
  2. Find, collect, and memorize Bible verses that relate to my word.
  3. Make a playlist with songs that relate to my word.
  4. Look for and watch TED Talks about my word.
  5. Journal / blog about my word.
  6. Collect objects with my word on them to display around the house.
  7. Make a collage or other art project relating to my word.
  8. Write a creed or manifesto as an ideal for how attending to my word will affect my behavior.

And now to prove that hearing and listening have been on my mind for a long time, here’s a poem from my files. It’s one I wrote in 1980 when I was taking a summer writing course.  (In it you’ll hear sounds that you probably haven’t since that era of wooden clogs that we wore for a while).

A Western Meadowlark–a frequent sight on the Canadian prairies but rarely seen here on Canada’s southwest coast. I photographed this one one January morning at Blackie Spit, Surrey, B.C.


A foghorn groaning his pain in the bay,
Liquid notes of the lark on a new spring day
The gleeful ring of the telephone
Cutting the still of an evening alone
The tock, tock, Tock, TOCK, TOCK, Tock, tock, tock of feet
In wooden clogs on the concrete street
The fiendish howl of the winter wind
When I’m warm inside, and so is my friend
The raucous cawing of crows in spring
And the gentle plop, plop of the snow, melting
The hiccupy laugh of Brita at play
When she catches her ball, then flings it away
Crystal chimes in December, buzzing crickets in June
The shrill school bell—so welcome at noon…
Sounds there are without measure to feed our ears
To sharpen our pleasure and soothe our fears
To add to the riches of all our years
Wealthy the one who truly hears.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Do you choose a word for the year? Does your word choice have a story behind it? What ideas for activities could you add to the list above? I’d love to read your responses. Leave them in the comments, below.



This post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, the first Thursday of each month. Today it’s hosted by Carol Varsalona at her blog Beyond LiteracyLink.


12 thoughts on “Sounds”

  1. Violet, listen is a strong word to live by. I claimed that one two years ago but I see that I could still take a cue from what you are attempting to do. I think some of our poetry friends are hearing the howl of the winter wind as evidenced by the poetry that is passing through. I have been collecting any tweets with thoughts and images that come my way with words validating my one word for this year. I have a separate collection column for that on my Tweetdeck. There are so many ideas. 2017 should be a year for all of us to remember.


    1. Violet, the bird in the photo seems as though he is listening to his surroundings. His stance is reflective-a perfect model for what you will be doing throughout this year. Perhaps, you would like to offer this photo for the winter gallery I will design. To me this bird stands as a representative of our small community of believers who are contemplative and committed to our practice of being positive throughout this year.


      1. Sure, Carol, I will keep your request in mind when you give your shout-out for contributions. (The song of those little Western Meadow Larks were the sign of spring for me all my growing up years on the Saskatchewan prairies. It was such a delight to come across one in January in B.C.!)



  2. Violet, I love how rich your poem is and esp. the last line about how wealthy the one who hears. And what a wonderful list of ways to incorporate and really practice your word this year! I hope you will share with us your adventures! Thank you. xo


    1. Thank you, Irene! I hope I don’t let myself down… one always starts with such good intentions. So far, it seems I’m finding references to listening and hearing popping up all over. Love that kind of serendipity.


  3. Listen is a wonderful word. Your list of ideas around the OLW is great! I’d love to save this and try to do some of them. Lovely poem. Love the last line, “Wealthy the one who truly hears.”


  4. I had to laugh at your description of all the people trying to make our life better by purchasing their product of whatever service they are offering. Because you are so right! And yes, it is noise. Listen is a gift of a word – when someone takes the time to listen, we receive so much more. I love your list and I have already written a manifesto. I will keep this in my notebook and start the collection process with you. I look forward to sharing these with you!.


    1. Thanks, Leigh Anne. I love what you say: “Listen is a gift of a word—when someone takes the time to listen, we receive so much more.”

      Very true! Maybe it’s because I need to become a better listener the word LISTEN is on my mind a lot these days. Hopefully it becomes a habit!



  5. Your poem is a delight – it brings to mind so many wonderful sounds. And I love these lines:

    “Sounds there are without measure to feed our ears
    To sharpen our pleasure and soothe our fears
    To add to the riches of all our years…”

    It would be interesting to decide which sounds do each of the things mentioned in your lines.

    Listen was my first OLW, but I didn’t figure out a way to keep it in my focus that year. I think your list of activities is a great idea and a wonderful way to keep our words in the forefront of our consciousness. Happy New Year, Violet!


    1. Thanks, Ramona! I know whereof you speak when you talk about how easy it is to lose that OLW focus. That happened with my last year’s word (Mindfulness). I’m hoping the variety of ways to engage with it help. And it was through our little SPT community that I got the idea of doing various things. So happy you’ve joined us!



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