What's in a Word?

January 23, 2019

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.”

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (II, ii,1-2)


So, what has an old English bard got to do with 2019 and our yearning for direction and meaning in our lives?


Well, in this quote, Shakespeare’s Juliet tells Romeo that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention, and that she loves the person who is called “Montague”, not the Montague name and not the Montague family. Romeo, out of his passion for Juliet, rejects his family name. 


But is a name, or a word for that matter, an artificial and meaningless convention? That is for you to decide. I shall share with you my experience of the power of a word.


I expect you will be surprised at how realistic and relevant, versus artificial and meaningless, a word can be when applied consciously, and then by-and-by, subconsciously. 


Having signed up to attend the ‘Your Guiding Intention’ or in my words ‘the word workshop’ last year, I began to brainstorm aloud (with my far-more-creative-than-me thirdborn) and when alone quietly (in my mind) what word I was going to choose as my guide word for the year ahead.


Before I arrived at the workshop, I had my word. I am one of those organised types. I like to have my ducks in rows so-to-speak. The ‘Your Guiding Intention’ workshop really became a nice-to-do, an add-on. I had my word. I was good to go! Beforehand!


Not so fast. This is not how my 2018 guiding word was born. What transpired was that during the unfolding of the workshop, I must have experienced some internal shift of sorts.


When the time came during the workshop for our ‘word’ to be identified and adopted, mine made a sudden and inexplicable change. I had pre-chosen my word. But now I had a new one in my mind which held so much more gravitas. I had to adopt the new one. I felt compelled.


This was not easy for one who is very much in control of things; I let go and this other word, became my word for 2018.



My word was ‘REVEL’.



And, boy did I revel. My year was a year of highlights interspersed with normality, not a rollercoaster year; there was too much revelling going on for troughs to gain traction.  


So, how did this happen? Let’s get practical. As one ought to do.


My guiding word was stuck on my fridge, on my wall at work, on my screensaver on my mobile ‘phone … it was strategically placed all over the place until it became top-of-mind. I consciously applied my word to decision-making, to idea generation, to day-to-day activities. It became part of me.


This does of course sound melodramatic but if you know me you would know that I am no drama queen. I come from a long line of A-type professionals and have birthed two chartered accountants so far.


This word adoption was a conscious process at the outset. It then became automatic. And the magic continued to manifest.


Revelling was not all about parties, champagne and international travel, although to be honest that did come into it.


No, revelling also included revelling in the delights of the likes of work. “Work?!” you cry, “Impossible!” Actually, not. One can revel in the most mundane of activities and create an enormous number of positive outcomes from a shift in mindset. This shift means that the everyday chores also became more of a pleasure, think washing dishes, think sweeping the veranda. There was much calm contentment which was derived from a seemingly wild word when applied widely and creatively.


Let us not forget the revelling that took place on a yoga retreat in Tulbagh, white water rafting on the River Ganges in India, boogie boarding (I am 52) in Pringle Bay with my teen, reinventing myself in the work space and letting go of preconceived notions in the relationship arena. 


On a more micro level when evaluating several options, I would say to myself: “Self, which of these options would facilitate your revelling?” or “Self, will option A allow you to revel?” or “Self, can I revel if I choose option B?” or “Self, which option will be most appropriate given my need to revel?”


This may seem contrived or like a whole lot of extra work. But, believe me it becomes automatic, instinctive, involuntary. Like breathing really. And it happens fast.



It is instructive how broadly applicable a word can be. The word will not be restrictive. It will stretch one in a plethora of directions. It is just a matter of allowing the process to flow.


I urge anyone wishing to take their new year by the horns, to direct their year to where they want it to go rather than to allow the year to happen to them to join a ‘Your Guiding Intention’ workshop, to choose your word and then to walk the walk to magical outcomes. And then to do it again and again.





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