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this year's words I am not a Resolutions Girl. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I don't like setting myself up for failure. There is plenty of failure in every day and I don't need to add extra. Maybe it's because I like to be a wee bit different. The masses are making - and breaking - resolutions as I type this. Maybe it's because I think it's a bit arbitrary - and foolish - to choose to alter the essence of who we are, and what we eat, and what we look like, and what our closets look like, on the stroke of midnight on one winter night.

I don't know.

But I do like New Year's Day. I do. In part, in large part, because it is the day I became a mother. Yes, three years and six days ago, I welcomed Toddler on a bizarrely balmy day. And as they say, the rest was history. I was changed on that day. Meaning and purpose and humility and happiness filled me that day. (Stay tuned for my belated birthday letter to my big girl tomorrow. It might make you cry because just thinking about this letter makes me cry. And I am not a crier.)

I might not adore resolutions, but I do like fresh starts. I like the idea of change. I like the idea that we can make vows to ourselves to get better at things. I like freshness, novelty, seeds. I like starts, beginnings, first pages. And you know what? Each year is a fresh start.

And so.

I am six days into this fresh start. And you know what? I don't feel very fresh. I don't sense the beckoning of a blank slate. Things kind of feel the same. I sit here at my oversized and predictable Pottery Barn desk. I stare blankly and boldly into a screen that has become my partner in crime. In a fit of 2009-style abstraction, I scan my surroundings. My loyal distractions. The trappings of Me.

The rainbow of highlighters clustered in an old flower vase. The navy leather letter box that Husband gave me on our first anniversary chock full of thank-you notes I can't bring myself to write. The lonely bottle of unopened wine. Slim. Upstanding. Proud. Sporting a black label and a meaningful name: The Novelist. A treasured gift from Grammy and Dad-Dad, bequeathed when I signed my book deal. There are pictures of my girls at various stages. Newborn. Spry pigtails. My favorite: One of Toddler holding her week-old tiny doll of a sister. They are both smiling. I swear.

Next to a small stack of books are two small rocks. Each has a single word engraved on it.

One says wisdom.

One says luck.

I sit here. Alone. I stare out the window. At the city I love like a sister. The city that raised me along with Mom and Dad. A city that continues to raise me. I stare out. At a new year. A brand new year. Ideas come haltingly. And when they do, my eyes drop to the screen and my fingers dance across keys. And words appear. Black on white. One after another.

Words.

Words that are mine. From me. From the recesses of my mind. From the folds of my life. From the depths of my dreams.

Words that are yours. Because they are for you. And you see them. Then swallow them. Because you understand them. Alone and in combination. It is through these words, clumsy and ripe, that I tell my story here and see my life out there and find you wherever it is you are.

Words are bridges. Windows. Pillows. Drugs. Homes. Air. Energy. Clouds. Stars.

Words are everything.

In between words, I pick up my stones. I turn them over in my morning hands. I smile a smile no one will see.  I smile because I didn't choose these stones. They were gifts from Santa. Stocking stuffers from latter day. But I smile now because I have held on to them all these years. Without knowing why. And now. Now these words mean something. Wisdom. Luck. I am here, in this very spot, in this very moment because of some glorious combination of these two things.

These are good words.

And so, almost a week into this shiny new year, I am here, in my own tiny corner of the world, thinking of words. Not long ago, a friend asked me what my words for 2010 were. And I thought about it a little. And then I answered. Like she did, I picked three words that tied together to form a tiny poem.

Hers was Pure Love Innovates.

Mine was Whatever Happens Rocks.

Whatever? Happens? Rocks? Goodness, Aidan. Those are your words? Of all the wonderful words in the world?

Yes. Those are mine.

Whatever. I used to say this word all the time. I associate it with my youth. With a sillier time. Once upon a time, before bellies and babies and books, I had a little (pretentious) punk in me. A little (faux) freshness. When faced with confusion or disappointment or insecurity, I would utter this one word. Often under my breath. To myself. "Whatever." When I said this word, I felt an immediate punch of power. The world could - and would - shift about me and sometimes cruelly, but my reaction was up to me. I was judge.

Happens. This year things are going to happen. We are moving to a brand new home. And moving might be a tremendous headache. But this is the home in which we will raise our family. Memories will be lived and logged there. And my first book is being published in just a few months. And it might be a dismal failure. It might be. But it will sit on bookshelves at Barnes & Noble. My book. There is immense victory in mere happening. In not standing still.

Rocks. I love this word. As a verb, it's a favorite of mine. It is a fun word. Unpretentious. Young. A bit rebellious. And as a noun? Rocks are sturdy and strong and natural. We all want to be rocks. We all need rocks in our lives.

And I have two.

They are next to me now. Wisdom and Luck. I look at them and can't help but smile again. These are my Whatever Happens rocks. Trinkets to hold on to. When I am at a loss for words. When I am full of words. And when I am somewhere in between. I will grip them tightly until May 18th. The day we move into our new home if all goes well. The day my book comes out no matter what. The day I will finally crack open that gorgeous bottle of wine that watches me now as I scramble for words and pretend at wisdom and wish myself luck while rubbing my silly little Santa stones.

Whatever Happens Rocks.

Who would we be without our words?

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Have you made any resolutions this year? If so, what are they? Like Danielle, I will bounce that proverbial ball into your cyber-court and ask: What are your words for this new year? At a minimum, type your three words for 2010 before 11pm EST today (1/7/10) and give yourself the chance to win Gretchen Rubin's #2 New York Times Bestseller THE HAPPINESS PROJECT. Yesterday's lucky winner was...Allison!

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