One Little Word: January Check-In

So, earlier this month, I chose a One Little Word for 2014.  I chose MARGIN, because that’s what I sense I need most this year, a chance to make some space in my days and in my heart to have a little extra room for the unexpected and the unplanned and the hoped for and the wonderful things that come when you have a buffer around you.
margin cross stitch
I spent some time stitching up a little something to hang on the wall, a visual reminder of the space I’m craving.  At first, I figured I’d just slap the word on some Aida cloth, and that would be that.  But then the idea of margin called to mind the margin of a sheet of paper, and what’s more iconic than notebook paper, that signifier of every year we all spent in school?  Back in the days when we had discretionary time out the wahzoo and totally didn’t appreciate what we had.  Ah, youth.
margin cross stitch thoreau quote
And then I discovered a quote from Henry David Thoreau, who himself sought great margin, on the shores of an isolated lake, where he knew beans and studied ants.
zoom margin cross stitch
Something about this really struck me, these words: the idea of Thoreau sitting on his doorstep, considering the hours and days stretching ahead of him, and realizing how it was that very stretch of time that he most valued.  Now, I totally get that Thoreau was in a social and economic position to leave his life and head out into the woods and ruminate on ants and beans ad nauseum–the original First World Problem guy.  I also get that he understood something almost 200 years ago that meets me where I am right now, and I’m grateful for the words he left behind for us to find.
thoreau broad margin to my life
Along the same lines, I thought it might help keep me focused and make the whole process of even choosing a word more meaningful and lasting to maybe check in a little bit each month, to record what I’ve noticed and remembered about these days of trying to look for margin and make room for margin and to allow my hopes that I didn’t know I was hoping to be met in the margins.

This is the first of those, right here at the end of the first month of 2014.  We’re 1/12th of the way through this year, people–and ain’t much point to pacing ourselves as we move through the calendar if we aren’t going to remember it when we look back later.

What about you?  Did you choose a word?  What are you doing to keep it present in your mind and your days this year?

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  • Brooke
    January 31, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    First off I love the tee :). Secondly, I really loved your video. Such good points and reminders for all of us!

    • Deborah
      February 1, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      Haha! Thanks for noticing that I was wearing the tee! And I’m glad you liked the video–I’ve actually thought of a bunch of ways I’m noticing margin more just since having recorded that, so I can tell it’s a useful way to keep me more intentional about looking for and guarding that margin. Here’s hoping it’s a good year! 🙂

  • Sabrina B.
    February 3, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    I loved this post and video — I think it speaks to so many of us. Ever since I had kids (only 2), I’ve tried to maintain perspective with margin (though I didn’t think of it in that way, exactly). My advice to my professional-mom friends has always been: lower your standards! Margin sounds a lot nicer, but what I really mean about lowering standards is just to be realistic and give oneself a break!

    • Deborah
      February 3, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      Exactly! We don’t have to do EVERYthing, and it certainly doesn’t all have to be RIGHT NOW. I’m really working to remember what stuff will last, and to be more honest about what stuff I do just to feed my ego, versus to invest in the future. Tough to be that humble and honest, but it makes me feel lighter, if that makes sense. Glad it spoke to you–thanks so much for watching! 🙂

  • Shalini
    February 4, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    WOW !!! That was so lovely. So honest, humble and very Inspiring. You are so funny and amazing. I had to laugh at your nor remembering the word from 2012. I am lucky if I remember my previous thought sometimes !!! 😉

    I love the word “Margin”. When you create space intentionally you allow as you say the space to receive more or give more or whatever you need or want. Its so important.

    I am doing a wonderful course called Replenish 365 (a year long, self-care an self development program by Lisa Grace Bryne at the

    My words this year are SLOW and EASE also to bring in more space and time for self-care so and fill my own tank, so that I can let the overflow flow towards my family and community.

    Very excited for you and will think more about Margin as i find myself squeezed and tight and its a wonderful word to help bring more of what you want with clarity and ease.

    • Deborah
      February 5, 2014 at 9:57 am

      Oh, I love the idea of EASE. What a great word! That whole concept of really taking time and not rushing or forcing or demanding, but doing things with grace and room to breathe. How wonderful! I hope you’re feeling well, and so excited to see you do her online course this year–sounds like it’s exactly what you needed at just the right time.

      I’ll keep doing videos as the year goes along and let you know how my MARGIN is doing–I hope you’ll keep me updated, as well!


  • Jaye
    February 10, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    What a great word! Of course, it is one that I use frequently, but it is also one that I would not consider for a ‘Word of the Year’ project, however, I find it strangely fitting. Thanks for sharing!

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