A friend of mine introduced me to a New Year’s trend a few years ago. Instead of making a New Year’s Resolution you choose one word to focus your intentions for the year. I’ve always made the obligatory eat healthier, less screen time, move more resolutions and they usually go by the wayside around March. The resolutions I made were about performing an action, however, using one word to set intention is about exploring and practising a mindset.

I think this year, I’m a bit late on choosing a single word. Last year was a tough one filled with a lot of challenges, loss, and change for me. I wanted a word with an intention that may centre myself. One that could evoke emotions that would lead me to remember that challenging times are temporary. Last night, I finally decided on the word “Embrace”.

The word embrace brings me comfort. It’s like a hug for times that are emotional and challenging, both celebratory and in consolation. Embrace reminds me that I can embrace each moment, even when difficult and find a way to be present and at peace. I embrace where I am in my journey and where I am in my understanding of work and life balance. I embrace my imperfections with love and care and embrace my growth to become better, even while remaining imperfect.

Educators have so many responsibilities and so much of our day can be spent working while still feeling like the work is never done. We are pulled in so many different directions at work – planning, assessing, caring for children and each other, report card writing, professional learning, personal growth. Then we return home and fulfill many caregiving duties for our own families and ourselves. It’s hard to remember that it’s okay to do our best, even when imperfect, and to take the time we need to rest and recharge.

I think about these periods of high stress with impending report card deadlines, assessments, and term two beginning. For me, it’s important to embrace this moment in a way that I can lean in mentally and emotionally to hold space for myself and know that this stress is temporary and I can get through it all. I wonder what it would be like for educators to embrace themselves with as much compassion as they give to others. I know that this year I will be reminding myself to do exactly this and exploring ways to treat myself with kindness and humanity.

I also think about my own personal journey to decolonize my own identity, to reclaim and rebuild what education means to me, and to create new identity affirming and sustaining spaces. It seems so daunting at times to work in social justice and anti-racism and I often wonder about my own impact on systems of oppression. Embracing each small step of the journey in 2024 this year may be the way to find joy in the struggle and to find moments of celebration with friends and allies.

Finding the one word to centre my intentions for 2024 isn’t the easy answer to healthier habits or a ‘new year, new me’ philosophy. It is a journey of self-reflection and exploration. Some people I know chronicle their journey using photos or quotes or journaling. Others I know take mindful moments of affirmation and focus. For me, I look at intention as a way to make meaning of my own goals for exploring my humanity; there are no rules, no one right way. Perhaps instead it’s many different moments and ways of honouring each one as they occur.

If you could choose your one word for 2024, I wonder what it would be.


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