My One Word for 2012

“And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again”

- The Cave, Mumford & Sons

Few song lyrics have ever spoken to me like those words. But I’ve listened to this song over and over lately as I’ve thought about my life as a whole… and my life this past month. The death of my father punched me in the gut. In fact, it punches me in the gut everyday. I can’t really conceive that he’s no longer on this earth. And each time I try to wrap my head around it, my heart starts pounding and I feel like I’m gonna hyperventilate.

But I still have children to care for, a husband to spend time with and clients to help so I trudge on and try to sort through my emotions in the little moments I’ve had to myself. Don’t worry about me, though. I’m working through it.

But because of all that had happened since Thanksgiving, I pretty much shut down my blogs for a month. And it gave me time to reflect on who I am and how I’m spending my life.

I’ve always been a person of moderation. Of reason. Of work-life balance. But 2011 caught me in a swirl. Aside from this past month, it was a swirl of unemployment, trying to build a consulting career, blogging, caring for two little dudes and on and on it goes. I’m often met with “I don’t know how you do it all.”

Honestly, I didn’t know how I did it all. I just did.

I stayed up late to finish what “needed” to be done. I turned down blog opportunities, thinking I was being wise with my time. I planned our family’s meals 1-2 weeks ahead. I only blogged a few days a week on each blog. I thought I was living life in moderation. In balance.

But truthfully, all I ever did was blog or do consulting work.

Scrapbooking? No. Reading a book? Rarely. Watching TV? Rarely. Working out? Only when I taught aerobics (um, that is to say NOT MUCH).

So while I wasn’t ticked off about my Klout score or blogging seven days a week, I WAS spending too much time online doing things that weren’t productive or leading me towards my goals. It was taking away from other enjoyable parts of my life, even though I thought I was doing things in moderation.

In 2012, I’ll try to find balance. Real-life balance. The balance that means, yes, sometimes I will stay up late to finish a post or polish a client’s proposal. But that also means I’ll be sure to finish some of my much-neglected scrapbooks and other things I’ve been wanting to do.

Working from home and caring for two kiddos is no walk in the park. But I know I can make changes that will have an impact.

Which leads me to my word…

Each year I pick a single word to focus on. To me, it’s easier than remembering a list of resolutions. This word is like my mantra. The decisions I make and the things I do throughout the year should revolve around this one word.

My word for 2012 was so obvious to me:


Ahhhh, just saying the word out loud gives me a boost in motivation.

Because it doesn’t mean I necessarily have to give up things I love. It means I just need to be smarter about how I do things. So, I’m focusing on simplifying my life in three areas:

1. My Blogging Life

I adore blogging. And I don’t wanna stop. But I do want to be smarter about it. So, I’m not committing myself to any certain number of posts a week on Adventuroo. If you haven’t heard, I’m retiring the Capture the Everyday meme too (that was a hard decision but I know it’s for the best).

On Momcomm, I plan to leave Thursdays for guest posts and Mashups and stick with Monday and Wednesday for my content and blog critiques. Also, I’m consolidating two Twitter accounts into one. I plan to delete my @momcommblog account and change my @adventuroo account handle to @mel_culbertson. I admit the Twitter handle name “@adventuroo” is much cooler but I’ve already seen my Twitter time almost cut in half from using just one account this past week. Don’t have to manage two sets of lists, of followers and so on.

I’m sure I’ll do some more simplifying as the year progresses but those are the major things.

2. My Work Life

Honestly, there isn’t much to simplify at the moment other than creating a few templates for some of the repeated things I do (like social media strategy documents). And yes. Email. Need to tame that beast. I’ve already started adding rules to Mac Mail. BOOM.

I think with my work life it’s more about building a nice structure and organization system to what I’m already doing with my clients. Dorky things like sticking to my naming structure so it’s easy to find a client’s files. It’s dorky things like that which save my ass from spending half an hour for a file that was named untitled3.doc.

3. My Personal Life

You know, the one I’ve been neglecting? Well, I want to scrapbook. I want to read, like, actual books. And after spending so much time in Costa Rica this past December with family, I’m more determined than ever to become fluent in Spanish. I understand a good bit but my siblings and I are the only ones – of our 50+ member family – that aren’t fluent. I’ve studied it enough to be fluent (I won’t tell you how many years or I’ll embarrass myself) but seriously, if you don’t speak it, you don’t learn it. There’s only so much you can learn in a textbook. I’m already practicing with a cousin of mine.

I’m also teaching the kids Spanish. After a short whining period (haha), Big Roo is totally digging it now. He and my cousin’s son counted to each other on Skype the other day. Big Roo in Spanish and he in English. Totally cute.

Also, I decided a couple of months ago to give up teaching aerobics… after 11 years. For the amount I was teaching, I couldn’t justify spending about $300 by the time I renew my cert and pay for all my continuing education credits. So, it’ll be the first time in 11 years I’ll have to pay for a gym membership. Which means I’m skipping the gym. Haha. Instead, I’m trying out my nemesis: running. My Nike + GPS app is pretty slick though so let’s see if I stick with it.

So, that’s what’s in my head. Well, now in a blog post too. SIMPLIFY. My blogs. My work. My life.

Of course, there are a gazillion ways to simplify our lives. I plan to start with this and see where it leads me.

I want to live up to those lyrics.

Do you focus on a word for the year, make resolutions or neither?


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  1. says

    That could be my mantra this year too! I realized a few months ago that I was getting caught up in things that were not truly important to me and I needed to slow down and prioritize and then focus. I have made a good start and hope to get further in 2012 :) I pray that your goals to simplify are met and you feel better soon.
    Stephanie recently posted..Mid-week ramblings

    • melissa says

      Exactly! Seems to be the nature of blogging and being a parent– always needed to slow down and reevaluate. Good luck on your goals too!

    • melissa says

      Yep, NaBloPoMo has never interested me for that very reason! You’re right– the WHY definitely helps gain perspective.

  2. says

    I totally admire you for stepping back from some of your commitments to focus on the things that truly matter. I can only imagine how hard it was to let go but it’s so reassuring for new bloggers like me as I try to find some balance in blogging and doing everything else.
    Kacey recently posted..Happy Christmas and Merry New Year

    • melissa says

      Thanks Kacey. It’s funny because I see the “i’m overwhelmed from blogging” posts all the time and always thought I was on top of it. But lo and behold, I need to step back too so I can focus on other important things. That being said, I’ll still be blogging here and on Momcomm. Just trying to simplify how I do it all so I spend less time doing it!

  3. says

    These are great goals– realistic ones that are valuable and come from a place inside –that at least for me–when I come up with similar things after a long reflection, tend to stick easier. And as far as your structure & organization system….I suppose I am a dork too. I desperately need to be more efficient.
    Elena @CiaoMom recently posted..What I Learned about Blogging in 2011

    • melissa says

      I think so too. I have a fire in my belly so I hope it sticks.

      And dorks unite! Having structure is our friend! Haha.

  4. says

    What a great mantra, and I like that your goals are spread around to emcompass all of the different areas of your life. I hope that simplifying brings balance and beauty to your life this year.

  5. says

    I really love this post. I think simplify is a great word to live by. Sounds like you have some awesome goals for 2012, good luck! And I am so sorry to hear about your dad, hand in there.

    • melissa says

      Thanks Natalia. I hope I can continue with the same fire in my belly as I have right now!

  6. says

    I love this post. I blogged yesterday about how I’m not a resolution maker either. But this year I just have a few things I’d like to be. Like more patient, more productive. I lose a lot of time online as well – hazard of a blogger (a term I use loosely for myself). But no hard and fast goals here, either. Just a promise to learn from last year and make this one just a little better.

    I’ve missed you. I’m glad you’re back, and you’re healing and reflecting and taking time for you. Happy New Year, friend.
    Andrea recently posted..In 2012 I Wish To…

    • melissa says

      Ahhh yes. Patience is my nemesis.

      I missed you all too! Glad to be back into the swing of things.

    • melissa says

      Ahhh good for you! That’s awesome. That’s the stuff I miss. Really watching a show without a laptop in my lap. Now that’s good stuff!

      And wishing you a kick a** year too!

  7. says

    Beautiful post, Melissa. Thank you for sharing so candidly about the challenges of late 2011. I applaud your clear-headed look ahead, and join you in SIMPLIFY as a beautiful mantra for the New Year.

    • melissa says

      Thanks so much, Cindy. Yes my head feels SO clear right now. Let’s hope it stays that way!

  8. says

    You know, I actually love it when I see people like you posting stuff like this. You do seem to be able to do it all, but none of us is superwoman. Being able to acknowledge that you want to focus on other things is so inspiring.

    I came across the one word concept last year. My word for 2011 was seek. And wow, did it ever turn out to be perfect. I want to choose a word for this year as well but I haven’t come across it yet.
    Robin | Farewell, Stranger recently posted..One Year Later

    • melissa says

      Thanks for saying that! Yes, none of us are superwoman like you said! Just wish I had known that sooner in the year. Haha!

      SEEK is an awesome one and glad it worked for you last year. You should check out Ali Edwards’ blog: I haven’t been over there recently but I imagine lots of people have chosen words that may inspire you to pick one that fits you best for 2012!

    • melissa says

      Great word! And I think with hope, many other things you are seeking/wanting will fall into place. Happy New Year!

  9. says

    Ah, Mel. I am once again weirded out by our similar paths. I, too, opt for a yearly mantra & while it has been “heal” for the past two years, I am finally finding the strength to become me again. This year’s mantra? Simplify. Honestly! Life is too short to not be doing something every day that brings you happiness. The rest is just a distraction. Best to you in 2012!
    Debi recently posted..12 Resolutions for Getting Outside You Can Keep

    • melissa says

      That’s totally awesome! I love how similar we are. Distraction– that’s so true. I thought I was doing such a great job by mostly staying off social media on the weekends and things like that, but looking back, I was distracted by many other things.

      I hope that simplify brings us both some awesomeness in 2012!

  10. says

    Simplify – what a terrific word! It really does encompass so many areas of life.

    My motto this year is “Life’s Too Short” – for worry, for stress, for toxic people, for wasting time.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your dad. I lost mine in October and I can relate to your first paragraph, wholeheartedly. My thoughts are with you.
    Mrs. Jen B recently posted..My 2012 Philosophy

    • melissa says

      I love that motto! I hope that simplifying helps me live life to the fullest!

      I’m so sorry about your loss as well. So sad to lose our dads. My thoughts are with you too. Here’s to a better 2012.

  11. says

    I love it! I think my word would be Eliminate. As in stuff, as in complications, as in things that are doing me no good.

    Simplify is great!

  12. says

    I really love your word. After reading your post I’m thinking of taking a page from your book and focusing on a word for 2012. I don’t make resolutions because I forget them by January 5th, I’m just not motivated like that. A word though, to strive towards throughout the year, yes.

    A few words are bubbling in my mind for consideration right now, going through a slideshow of fonts…I’d like to place “the” word in certain spaces as reminders….

    Happy 2012!
    Mandi @ Smile and Mama With Me recently posted..Mama’s 2011 Year in Review

    • melissa says

      I like the idea of placing that word in places as reminders! I’ll have to do that. And good luck finding the perfect word for you for 2012!

  13. says

    What a perfect word to live by. My word this year is “Growth” and most importantly I want to grown personally. Take care of myself and like you said get back to doing things for me and what makes me happy. I think we all need to slow down and bit and cherish what’s in front of us :)

  14. says

    I read this earlier today and thought it was a great word for 2012. I was sitting here cleaning the millions of apps off of my iPhone and was thinking that I need this to be my word too. I have a lot I would like to accomplish this year, but I don’t want to spin my wheels either and want to be as effective as possible. Good luck to both of us!!!
    Laura recently posted..Happy New Year!!

    • melissa says

      You summed it up perfectly! It’s those small changes that remove the clutter so we see and enjoy the bigger things! Yes, good luck to us both!

  15. says

    I love your word!

    I thought of several words before I decided on mine for this year. I chose focus this year along the same line as you. I start many things but finish less. Here’s to a wonderful 2012.

    • melissa says

      Brooklyn– yes, I felt so scattered last year most of the time. Determined now to feel that way as much this year!

    • melissa says

      Efficient is perfect… and along the same lines as simplifying! Here’s to a simple, efficient year!

  16. says

    So glad to see you back, Melissa. As my kids say, I hope 2012 is the “Best Year Ever” (from Phineis and Ferb).

    After a couple months, I have finally updated my blog based on your blog critique recommendations. You give such great advice, it takes a while to implement it all. I still have a few more things to update. Thanks for all you do!

    I love your take on resolutions. One word- I love that. Now, I just have to come up with my own word. Thanks for being an inspiration to us all. When you get low, remember all the people you have inspired.
    Tiffany recently posted..Trailblazer Tuesday-Adam From Hiking The Trail On Hiking, Scouts, Family And More

  17. says

    I’m not a resolution-maker but feeling the need to get organized this new year. I feel like my life is running me instead of the other way around. Hope your fresh start is just what you need!

  18. says

    That’s a good word when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. My word this year (although I’ve also made resolutions) is “willpower.” I need to stop wussing out of everything and FOLLOW THROUGH – weight loss, Bible reading and blogging. Willpower is the key to it all.
    Lindsay recently posted..Buddy and Angel Got New Treats!

  19. says

    My word is strength – I plan to strengthen relationships, faith, health, etc. But after last year (in a way, I lost my dad, not to death, but painful and grief causing nonetheless), I have a strong need to simplify my life, and focus on what’s most important – our family. And I’m being drawn back to writing…
    Audra Marie recently posted..Are You a Subtle Nagging/Complaining Wife?

  20. says

    That’s my word for this year, too. It was my word last year, too, when I quit my job. I think it’s easy to take on more than we can handle and not realize that we’ve done so until something happens that makes us reflect on what all we’ve been doing with our lives (if that makes sense). In choosing to simplify, I’m choosing to let go of negative, barely thriving, and time consuming relationships with people and things, online and otherwise. I’m choosing to take my time seriously and be careful in choosing the things I spend time doing. I hope 2012 brings you all the best. :)
    Jessica recently posted..An Honest Take on Motherhood

  21. Karen (Tricia's mom) says

    Hi Mel,

    That’s a perfect word. I think I’ll borrow it from you.

    Hugs to you and the fam and here’s to a simplified 2012.

  22. says

    Great word for the new year, Mel!
    You’re off to a great start by setting a plan!
    I can’t tell you how much I recommend running! It will enrich your life in so many ways beyond physical fitness! It helps me be a better mother, a better wife and it helps me be a better woman of God.
    For me, the challenge in 2012 will be making writing as big as a priority as running. I feel like there needs to be a support group for running bloggers – those who run regularly but need to make more time for blogging and those who blog regularly but need to make more time for running – can get together and help one another.
    Brianna recently posted..Wishing Everyone A …

  23. says

    Just wanted to say again that I am so sorry for your loss, I didn’t get a chance to comment on those posts but I have been thinking about you and hope you are healing.

    I think your word for 2012 is perfect, lots of luck ;)
    Yuliya recently posted..Bloggy Botox

  24. says

    Oh how I love this post! I am also working on simplying my life this year! I am taking your advice and getting rid of a Twitter handle, which quite frankly has been a waste of time. Time to focus on the Twitter handle that has created REAL relationships!
    Mimi recently posted..Weight Watchers Food Journal for 1-25-12