Each year I choose a word to serve as my mantra and my aspiration for the upcoming year. I’ve never been much of a “resolution” person. I used to write myself letters every year on New Year’s Day. These letters summarized my accomplishments over the past year as well as the things I had hoped to do but didn’t. I encouraged myself to move towards the goals (sometimes new ones, sometimes carry-overs from the past year) I set for the following year. I still have some of those letters, and it is always interesting to see what a 15 or 20 year younger self wanted in life!

My New Year’s word tend to be more relational and broad, rather than “exercise more” or “eat healthier” (which honestly, are my all-year round, every week type of goals!). When I choose a word, the purpose is to be able to ask myself throughout the year how my actions or thoughts fill this question: “Am I doing this [choice, activity, task, project] with __________?”

Past years words have included empathy, intention, compassion, and integrity. My word for 2015 is COURAGE.

This year will mark a very significant year for me. In addition to completing my doctoral degree, I will be undertaking a move that will take a lot of courage – a literal move that is. I have accepted a job as an Assistant Professor and will be moving halfway across the country and I will be doing it largely by myself. Because I have one child who has one year left of high school, I will be moving alone and the rest of my family will hold things down at home until my son is securely settled post-graduation. This will not be the first time I’ve spent a year apart from my family but the last time, it was my husband who commuted and I had my family and community at home for support. Moving to a new community at this stage in my life is a little bit daunting but this job and the opportunities ahead are so exciting and I feel ready for this new phase and new career.

I’ve thought about this idea of courage over the past few years. In a way I’ve been working toward this step for a long time and made small steps along the way. I was going to blog about this in November but I was so busy working on my dissertation that I didn’t have time. My birthday this past November marked my 10th anniversary of my name change. Changing my name to incorporate my Korean name was a huge decision and signaled a new path for my life. It was a decision that took a lot of courage as I knew many people in my life would not understand. Yet, it was the decision that was right for me, and now even all the people who at first were upset about this change have come to understand and respect that decision.

There are many opportunities this next year when I will need to be courageous. I looked at a lot of quotes about courage in preparation for this blog post. Some quotes are about triumphing in the face of adversity, others talk about courage as being the opposite of fear. To me, courage is recognizing that trying to do something that seems scary and outside of my comfort zone that matters more than worrying about whether or not I might actually fail. Because I might actually fail, but I will have learned a lot about what I am capable of in the process.

When I think about all of the people who have managed to find peace through the most difficult circumstances, circumstances that have been much more difficult than anything that I would ever experience – those who have the courage to stand up and advocate, at person cost, for equality and justice – my own personal failures pale in comparison.

My lovely colleagues gave me the card that I posted above as a congratulations for a recent award I received and it was such a wonderful reminder to be true to who I am and what I want to be in this life. The quote by Leigh Standley:

Have only one rule: Be your wild, courageous, brilliant self every single day. No matter what. May you never fail to express all the wild and wonderful things you are.

With those words, I wish all of you a COURAGEOUS and Happy 2015.

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