Embracing 2018

Monday, January 1

alice popkornI have spent a lot of time thinking about this past year and trying to decide what my word for 2018 would be. That’s when I realized I never picked a word for 2017. I’m not sure I could have come up with a word that would have fully encompassed all that 2017 has held. It started with so much uncertainty: Physically—was I ever going to make significant progress in getting stronger and reclaiming some of the vitality I used to have? Professionally: Would I truly be able to write a full length book again? Did I even remember HOW to write a book? And then personally, was I ever going to stabilize and feel like ME again.I had no words, only questions. Maybe that was my word for 2017—simply a ?

The year held many things—some sad, some harrowing, some discouraging. But it also held great joy and progress and hope and lots and lots of baby steps.

My father in law passed away after a long struggle with Alzheimers.

My son got married to a wonderful girl whom we adore.

My other son found a job a career tailor made for him where he is happy and challenged and is able to make a contribution.

Not only did I remember how to write, but I wrote six drafts of the longest flippin’ book I have ever written.

Wildfires raged through the area, evacuating tens of thousands—including us—and came far, far closer to our house than we would have wished.

And then, on Winter Solstice, my stepfather of 35 years passed away.

So many goodbyes, but so many new beginnings as well, proving that life is nothing if not change.


Finally, just this morning I settled on my 2018 word: Embrace. Even as the word slipped into my consciousness, I saw all the ways it would apply. Embracing change was simply the beginning.

Embrace—to hold close, to pull towards oneself, to accept or support, to include.

As 2017 drew to a close, I found myself longing to do precisely those things.

Embrace myself. My weaknesses. And yes, my strengths.

Embrace my limitations, not as a way of giving up, but in an act of radical acceptance that will allow me to find ways to thrive in spite of those limitations.

Embrace my wildly disorganized and messy writing process.

Embrace others. Even those I disagree with or struggle to understand.

Embrace new experiences and challenges, something I have shied away from for the last couple of years.

I find I am even open to embracing conflict, not because I have suddenly changed into a combative person, but because I am beginning to see just how big an opportunity for growth it truly is.

I want to embrace even the ugly stuff—professional envy or personal resentments—and use them as opportunities to transform the way I think or approach those people or situations.

I want to embrace those I love and let them know how much they mean to me. I want to embrace and foster the friendships and connections that have languished the last few years while radical self care had to be my top priority.

The cool thing is, by embracing that self care and honoring my physical and emotional needs (aided by a body that wouldn’t let me do anything else) I have come full circle, back to where I am eager to embrace all the things I once had to jettison. I cannot tell you how much joy just typing that sentence brings me.

Embrace. The word conjures up love and nurturing and acceptance. It’s a big word for a big gesture—far more encompassing than a hug. And of longer duration.

It is a way to say yes to life in a way I have missed greatly.

So that is the true north I am setting this year’s compass to. What about you guys? Do you have words you have chosen for 2018? Is there anything you hope to embrace in the coming year?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Vaughn Roycroft January 1, 2018 at 4:41 pm

Robin, I LOVE your word, and it’s wonderful to read one of your essays today – a great way to start the year.

I’m normally not one for new year’s resolutions, but I decided about two weeks ago that I might need one. I will have been out on submission for exactly one year tomorrow, with hardly a nibble. Believe it or not, I’ve somehow managed to let go of the outcome. I’m working on the submitted work’s sequel, and I’ve decided that the work is important. Not important to the submissions process, or to my agent, or to anything other than myself. I *need* to finish this. And that’s damn-well good enough.

And so, this non-resolver has decided on a resolution for ’18. It’s simple, and much more succinct than I usually am, and it works on so many levels. My resolution is: “I won’t surrender.”

Here’s to embracing it all, and not surrendering in the process. Thanks, Robin!


Sheri January 1, 2018 at 6:50 pm

Robin—that really spoke to my heart. I have had lots of changes this past year as well and as I look towards the future I see a lot of uncertainty as well as a lot of hope. Fear of the unknown so often keeps us frozen in place, afraid to reach out and embrace the changes we know are coming but are afraid to really accept, even if those changes are for the better! I applaud your courage and your honesty and I too want to adopt the word EMBRACE for my motto this year…. It is truly a powerful word and a challenging concept. Thank you 🙂


Tina Hoggatt January 1, 2018 at 9:14 pm

Robin, I can’t tell you how this resonated with me. You may not remember, but you and I sat across from each other at dinner during an SCBWI Western Washington conference some years back. You were giving a keynote and teaching other sessions. You talked about how hard you’d worked and then, despite publication and success, you started working on this secret manuscript, a crazy thing about an assassin raised by nuns. You let me know what it had taken to not only reach publication but to reach the work of your heart and have it be viable. Thank you for that conversation, for your passion and for your work. That is my word for 2018: work. Because that is what it’s going to take. In your terms, I am going to embrace the work. Thank you!


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