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When I penned this blog post introducing my students to the #onelittleword project for their New Year’s reflection, I didn’t think too long or too deeply about my own #onelittleword (which is actually a shocker if you know me. I can obsess over stuff like that for weeks!)

I landed on “choose” because it wasn’t as dour as “discipline” but still captured the core of how I wanted to shape 2015 and beyond. Those who know me well have heard me confess that although I am extremely driven, I don’t actually have a great will or self-control. I procrastinate, sleep in too late, and binge-watch my current TV obsessions. I dive into things without considering the big picture of my life, and I can become lost in the perfected visions of tomorrow while not taking one step in today.

Yeah, I need some discipline. But “choose” is more positive, don’t you think?

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Today my intention was tested. With subzero windchill and a to-do list a mile long, I wanted to stay home and bask in the glow of my computer screen with a furry cat on my lap. But it is also week 5 of my couch-to-5K commitment I made in January, and if I didn’t go today, I would likely not accomplish all 3 runs this week.

Warmth and comfort? Or a cold dash followed by 40 minutes of sweat and staring at Fox “News” in the gym? What to do, what to do….

Choose.

Tonight I chose my goal rather than my comfort. I chose my health rather than my work. I chose discipline rather than procrastination.

As I pounded the treadmill and avoided Bill O-Reilly’s ludicrous commentary, I thought about other choices I have made in this first month of 2015. The more I reflected, the happier I became. Without really trying, this word has come to roost within me during these first 30 days. It has made a home in my conscience, and is guiding me in ways I hadn’t recognized.

Here are some of the ways I’ve lived my #onelittleword in 2015:

I choose to stop my 3-year quest to mend a damaged friendship. I’ve learned that vulnerability has its limits, and relationships must be reciprocal to survive. My heart is at peace in this next layer of forgiveness and acceptance.

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I choose to make exercise a priority. I have accountability with women who inspire, a gym membership, and a plan for fitting a workout into my seemingly overflowing life. I’m feeling strong, successful, and proud of the progress I’ve made in just 30 days of living this choice.

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I chose to say no to some very cool leadership opportunities. For a number of years, I’ve been a “yes-women” to every opportunity that floated my way. That has served me well, but now is the time to be selective about where I can have the most impact and what aligns most closely to my passions.

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I choose to be intentional about planning time away from work. That may sound weird, but if I’m not planning outings, experiences, and events, I’m defaulting to my other passions: blogging, working on my next unit, participating in Twitter chats, reading educational literature. All of these are “fun” for me, but I need time away. So far I’ve chosen to re-start our Girls’ Night Outs every other week; attended my first Story Slam; venture to a conference by myself; returned to the farm show after a 3-year hiatus, and indulged in the decadence that is oyster happy hour at Rubicon. Up next? Trying Cork and Fork, laughing my ass off at Sky Zone, and attending a Poetry Slam close to home.

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I choose to practice gratitude. Recently, I was having a rough morning and realized that I had spiraled into a mood. A dark mood that overwhelmed, set-up camp, and consumed any happiness in my heart. Instead of trudging through work, I took an hour to go to my favorite coffee shop and write thank you cards to some people I love. Mood improved.

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Finally, I’m about to practice choosing in February. I’ve been pondering how to broach some difficult conversations in my classroom–conversations about white privilege, marginalized voices, and institutional racism. In my school district, these topics feel risky, scary, and unpredictable. But I’ve been challenged by some colleagues (mostly beyond my district) to recognize that my discomfort is, frankly, irrelevant. I have a responsibility to present my students with different perspectives, and challenge them to look beyond their bubble of privilege and comfort.

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So this week I will choose to be uncomfortable. Vulnerable. Risky. In my classroom, I will share my journey, and the experiences of those who I know personally, and who I only know from a distance.

Choices are in front of us every day, but sometimes it takes inviting a word into your life to help you see them. What word do you want to make a home in your heart and mind? What word already has?

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