Word of the year

“there was such a moon”

I cheated. This year, I’ve claimed two words. My word-of-the-year friends were skeptical at first, but I swear I saw this online somewhere and it’s allowed. (Are there actual formal rules and guidelines for word-of-the-year? I suppose it is right there in the title, singular, not plural).


My word of the year is work/play.

It was going to be work. Work grabbed me and shook me and said, hey you, this year, you’re going to focus on me. And I replied, sounds good, I’d like that. So I walked around with Work for a week or more, quietly testing it out and accepting it as my word. Except it didn’t seem complete all by its rigorous demanding lonesome. That’s when Play jumped into the mix. Hi there, remember me?

Here’s the thing: in my world, in my being, Work comes naturally. Work is Play. I am easily obsessed by the completion of goals. I like to do things. I throw myself in really deep and sometimes get lost inside of Work. Yes, I want this year to be about Work–about Working, to be precise. But I need to strive for some balance. I need to seek out Play, too, accept it when it comes knocking at my door.

For me, Play is sometimes more like Work. Not always, not precisely, but let me put it this way: I will beeline for my office at the mere suggestion that there’s work to be done; it takes more effort, more convincing, to call me outside to play. Sad but true. It is also true that I could not create what I do without going outside to play. So my work stands to suffer and stagnate without making room, taking time, clearing space, to leap into the spontaneous, the adventuresome, the just plain fun.

One of my word-of-the-year friends told me I should make a “Playlist” (nice!). On the spot, I couldn’t come up with much. Ask me for a Worklist and I’ll get down to business. But what’s on my Playlist? Truthfully, I don’t know yet. Surprise me, Playlist. (For some reason, horseback riding was the one thing that leapt immediately to mind).

I also aim to combine Work and Play this year. They don’t have to stand in opposition to one another. Where do these words align, in my life and yours?

Yesterday held a satisfying mix of work/play. I ran with a friend before dawn; served breakfast, plus made supper in the crockpot; got everyone out the door; napped for 20 minutes; worked on a new song at the piano for half the morning and worked at my desk for the other half; picked up my youngest from nursery school; ran errands; ate lunch; squeezed in a little more writing time while he watched a movie (and no, I won’t apologize for the tactic); picked up the girls early from school for their piano lessons; visited with a friend who works at the same place the girls have their lessons; arrived home to finish making supper and hang laundry; parented some bad meal-time behavior; headed out for supper with my siblings, within walking distance; picked up Albus and walked him (almost all the way) home from his piano lesson; walked to meet with friends over tea to talk about word-of-the-year; and finally, at the end of the day, spent time with Kevin.

I was going to try to categorize each item above as either work or play or work/play, but realized I’m not sure where everything falls. Serving breakfast to my kids can be really fun when we’re all talking together; or it can be a real chore when I’m hungry too and everyone’s grumpy and wants something different and we discover homework that still needs doing, etc. I also realized that there isn’t really room for the critical element of “rest” within work/play. I’m not going to add a third word. But it’s there, lurking behind the scenes. The lack of it gets in the way of both work and play. I don’t care to focus on it, but hope to get enough of it, both mental and physical, this year. (Play seems like mental rest, though, doesn’t it?).

Hope for the best (the meltdown version)
Window on writing


  1. m

    I like it! I’m glad you added the ‘play’. I was worried for you with all that work. 😉 And you’re right work/play can be hard to differentiate. My writing time is technically ‘work’, but because it is a break from my SAH parenting time, it feels like play.

  2. sheree

    I cannot believe what you do! Makes me happy to visit. Some day, — if you have not –read Homo Ludens. Very good book on play. Basis of my Thesis really, bu also very philosophic look at play.

    “If a serious statement is defined as one that may be made in terms of waking life, poetry will never rise to the level of seriousness. It lies beyond seriousness, on that more primitive and original level where the child, the animal, the savage, and the seer belong, in the region of dream, enchantment, ecstasy, laughter. To understand poetry we must be capable of donning the child’s soul like a magic cloak and of forsaking man’s wisdom for the child’s.”

  3. Ellen

    I like your word..work/play…I mean we know it’s two but with them together harmony merged. Balance is what I thought because to have those two as one would take balance and harmony.

    Okay I’m going to get all mixed up but life is to short to not love what you do or find a way with the stuff you may not enjoy but has to be done (like cleaning house…hey it’s wonderful when it’s clean and finished!).

  4. Margo

    I’m beginning to think we are very similar. I am a MUCH better worker than player. . . .and you said it’s sad. Now I’m wondering why. . .? Work and play are both good, both needed. I think I do play, but I know my definition of play doesn’t always fit other people’s.
    Your post is giving me food for thought.

  5. Carrie Snyder

    Margo, I think it’s sad because when I think of play, I think of playing–with others. Whereas my work is often, though not always, solitary. However, there is a lot of overlap between work and play when it comes to parenting. In my mind, play is also more spontaneous somehow than work, and I tend to prefer and seek out routine, which is the opposite of spontaneity. Not that that’s a bad thing–I’m efficient and organized and productive, all good things–just that I envy those who can drop everything–all of the must-dos and should-dos–and embrace whatever’s landed on their doorstep. I don’t really do that.

  6. Carrie Snyder

    There is a kind of awe in poetry, I think, Sheree. When I feel a poem landing, really connecting, speaking to me, it’s hit me somewhere I can’t explain in simple terms. Accepting a poem often means turning off my critical self and just taking it in. There is something childlike in it.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *