Skip to content


2012 January 23

This past summer I attended a weekend-long wild plant workshop with herbalist Doug Simons. Doug is a trippy and endearing character who spent 20 years living primitively in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. He knows the local plants like family, cheerily greeting a valerian plant and then settling in its diminutive shadow to gossip about its characteristics and attributes for the next hour. On the end of our last day together, Doug led us to a patch of yellow arnica flowers and advised us to get comfortable.

“We’re going on a plant journey,” Doug announced, “to meet and connect with your plant guide.”

Meeting our plant guide? I thought, while my skeptic-o-meter raised just a bit.

I had also been on several plant walks that summer hosted by the local Native Plant Society, which included a lot of the nerdiness I love—addressing plants by their latin names and cataloging them into genus and family—but these walks often felt dry, lacking the spontaneous love-jams to a wild strawberry or even acknowledgement of the plants’ uses. I was trying to reconcile these different styles and figure out where my path lay.

“Lie down, close your eyes and relax your body and mind” Doug instructed us from against a spruce trunk. He explained, with absolutely no irony, how we’d journey through a dark underground tunnel at the end of which we’d meet our plant guide.

I flicked a deer fly off my face. Adjusted position. Scratched my knee. Everyone was very quiet. Someone yawned. I might have heard snoring. I imagined walking through this dark underground tunnel. And walking. In the darkness.

Right into the arms of the aspen tree.

Oh, hello aspen.

We chatted, aspen and I. We talked about how, in loving plants, some people are scientific, others more esoteric. The approach doesn’t matter, the aspen said, what matters is your love. This is true of many things. I received the word trust. Everything about the aspen embodied trust: being the lone deciduous tree in a forest of conifers (be yourself!); bearing leaves through which the mountain winds comb furiously (be flexible!); growing and then shedding volumes of leaves annually (let go, courageously!).

Later, Doug asked a few of us to share our experiences. It’s more concrete, he said, when you tell someone. So, I’m telling you all. My word for 2012 is trust. Trust!

Only one month into 2012, trusting has been a powerful practice. It feels like the answer to a dozen multiple choice questions my mind serves up daily. How am I going to write this book? What are we going to do all day cooped up in the house? May I suggest the special of the house: trust?

Trust grew up in the same neighborhood as it’s all good, as the wise elder mentoring all the young upstart slogans. Trust is the bucket of water I throw on the hot flames of my worrying mind. The more I practice trusting, the better I get at it, which looks something like this: trust → gratitude → generosity → happiness →  trust → gratitude…

Trusting hushes my mental feedback so I can clearly see what needs to be done; sometimes nothing needs to be done except leaning into the luckiness of this life.

Do you have a word for the new year? Sharing is powerful. Tell me your word in a comment, and on Friday I’ll pick something lovely and delicious and handmade to send off to one of you.



51 Responses leave one →
  1. abozza permalink
    January 23, 2012

    Love the word “trust” for your 2012. Such a powerful word. I think my word for the year would have to be “live.” As in, really live. 4 kids, full time job, teaching piano after school, writing…I can easily get bogged down in ticking things off of my to-do list and forget to actually do things that make me feel alive. Things like running around, unabashedly, in the backyard with the kids and catching snowflakes on my tongue, or carving out an hour for myself and just writing and writing and writing, or listening to a really great piece of music over and over again and finding the subtle nuances that speak to my soul. These are the things that I long to do, and find myself, at the end of the day, while I lay in bed, thinking “Ah…I meant to do that today.” So, this year, I want to really live and enjoy and find some self-fulfillment, wherever that might be.

  2. barefootnmama permalink
    January 23, 2012

    “Trust is the bucket of water I throw on the hot flames of my worrying mind” wow, I wish I could stay here all day and read through your old posts. I really enjoy my time here…..

    My word is Simplify….There are so many areas in my life that could use a little simplifying.

    Thank you for sharing your heart and thoughts with us!!!

  3. January 23, 2012

    Ooh, I love this. Though I think I need to lie in a meadow of wildflowers to think up my word…or perhaps I could settle for a snowbank. My word for last year was “free,” which didn’t work out so well. I could try it again, or borrow “trust,” which is completely alien to my personality, from you for a while and see if I can grow into it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. woowoomama permalink
    January 23, 2012

    love this post!
    are you familiar with perelandra and machaelle small wright? i am not sure if it would jive for you or not but i find her work fascinating and i am hoping to completely start over using her garden workbook this year. anyway, that was a side note sorry…

    i don’t quite have the word for this year but i know what the feeling is. stillness. the moment of quiet when you chose not to speak. the time when you pause between a deep inhale and letting it go. there is something about the focused present being combined with space and expansiveness and yes, even trust that you already are where you need to be that comes in this feeling moment and that is what i am leaning into this year.

    you are a great writer thanks for being out here.
    robin (woowoomama)

  5. Shelley W permalink
    January 23, 2012

    PERHAPS my word for 2012 :)

  6. January 23, 2012

    I enjoyed reading each sentence (as usual!) but it was this sentence that moved me – read it three times! “Trusting hushes my mental feedback so I can clearly see what needs to be done; sometimes nothing needs to be done except leaning into the luckiness of this life.” Indeed, friend.

    My word for 2012: Go!

  7. January 23, 2012

    My word this year: Connect. New location, new garden, new animals, new friends. I did it all last year as well (in a different location), so gearing up to do it again is painful (I’m an introvert) and exciting (because I know I can do it, but don’t know where it will lead). LOVE the idea of a word for the year, rather than a resolution. I think last year, without knowing it, trust was my word. XOXO

  8. January 23, 2012

    Like MilesAwayFarm, my word is connect. A deeper connection to my community, to my family, me. I need to take some wider steps to meet people in my community for my children and for myself. I wish for a deeper connection with the plants in my yard…even the ones people call “weeds”.

  9. mwieser permalink
    January 23, 2012

    “Maybe.” As in, maybe that event was good, maybe not. There’s no telling ’til it’s done, and there’s no telling when it’s done. So, maybe.

  10. Nana Judy permalink
    January 23, 2012

    Love the idea of word for the year. I choose SIMPLICITY. My family quoted me endlessly for saying once as a child, “I like to do it the hard way.” hmm still work to do…

    Perhaps you could remind us, Rachel, at the end of the year (possibly mid-course?) to share how we’ve been doing with our word.

    Loving the blog!

  11. January 23, 2012

    I was reluctant to dive in to your post as I thought I would be “wasting my time surfing the internet” when I “should” be doing more important things. Like what? Maybe walking through the dark tunnel, I could use a word too. OK, lets see what I get.
    So maybe this means that I’m on the right path, heading in the right general direction, I just need to “adjust,” or fine tune step left, step right, align myself.

  12. rose permalink
    January 23, 2012

    amen sister! trust is my mantra, the word for my life, repeated daily, silently and aloud, to myself and others. it’s my practice that i fall short of regularly, but always return to. i hope it’s the legacy i leave for my children. trust your body. trust your intuition. trust your dreams. pushing through fear always lands me in the light of trust, an ever expanding circle of peace and inner knowing that all that i need is there waiting to be received. always.

  13. January 23, 2012

    My word is {hug}. I’m breaking the barriers of my own personal space, leaving the habitual high five and stepping a tad closer. It’s been a great change for the new year so far.

  14. January 23, 2012

    LAUGH or maybe HUMOR…as in laugh often and find the humor in things. Laughing helps me get a grasp on perspective when I most need it.

  15. ike permalink
    January 23, 2012

    This is a wonderful blog and I enjoyed reading all the thoughtful comments. Trust is a good one although, i am not clear on its meaning for me. thanks for your reminders! My word, or practice, has been grtitude. It often works as an antidote for the complaining mind,

  16. January 23, 2012

    And the “I Wish I’d Said That” Award goes to Rachel Turiel for “Trust is the bucket of water I throw on the hot flames of my worrying mind.”

  17. January 23, 2012

    I think the word I would choose for this year is passionate. To live life seriously having the best out of each moment.

  18. January 23, 2012

    Regular read, commenting in disguise. Oh how I wish I could embrace the idea of trusting. One day.

  19. Erin Jeansonne permalink
    January 23, 2012

    I have been reading your musings for a month or so and you are a masterfully gifted artist! I am enjoying it so very much. I have been wanting to write a comment, and it seems as though I was simply waiting for today.

    I believe 2012 is a year of personal growth for each and every one of us and anything less will not suffice. It is a time to trust our inner spirit in order to connect with our true self. Stepping into our personal power is the only requirement. So many words could be used on this beautiful journey, although I have come to resonate most with one: ALIGN

    Align with my true self. Not only do I owe it to myself, I owe it to the world. We all do!

    Thank you Rachel!

  20. Bree permalink
    January 23, 2012

    Peace is my word every year and it always will be. :-)

  21. January 23, 2012

    I love this post. I love how you trace trust to gratitude, happiness and back again. I struggle with trust on a very basic level and in the last few years, I’ve worked to just let go and trust.

    My word for the year is “Creative”.

  22. January 23, 2012

    i would have guessed that you had already earned your badge of trust, but i understand that just when you can pat yourself on the back for having ‘gotten’ something, the descent to the next level begins. i love hearing your heart through these words, and your blog always reminds me to rest in the goodness of now.

    my word for 2012 is inter-personal. working it out with others, and loving myself enough for when it goes all wonky. xo

  23. January 23, 2012

    Lovely post and comment thread. I like hearing all different words people have chosen, it’s like fingering beads in a ‘make your own’ jewelry shop. I’ve chosen words this year, too, for the first time – first time for everything, right? Because I’m greedy about words, I’ve got one for each hand: trust and pace. Your pictures and story make me homesick.

  24. January 23, 2012

    I like this part of your post the best: ” How am I going to write this book? ”

    I’ve been thinking about my WORD all day. Last year it was definitely along the lines of “purposeful thought” or “choice” and I’m still holding strong to that theme – that one is a lifelong commitment. But surprisingly, as I went through my day I realized that this year’s additional word is ACTION. Hmm. I don’t think I’ve ever had that theme before since I sit more on my heals and observe most of the time. But just today I got word that my friend’s dog died. I had *thought* about going to say goodbye to him this weekend but didn’t do it, didn’t *act*. I’m tired of that. It’s time to let my mind do all of it’s impressive work, and then let my courage step out and act on those thoughts. Feels exciting and scary and all that good stuff.

    Thanks for asking!

  25. January 23, 2012

    Great comments above! (And genius post, as always, my dear Rachel). I’ve been thinking about this all day and there is a theme to the words that pop into my head: Lightness. Not only do I want to chase my daughters around the house without worrying that there are dishes in the sink, I want to take everything less seriously and enjoy the gorgeousness that is my life… Your blog certainly helps me to do that. XO

  26. Ruth permalink
    January 23, 2012

    Oh, wow, what a beautiful reading. Thank you Rachel.

    Maybe my word for the year can be “mistakes”. Like, “Yahoo, I made a mistake!” And another, and another and I am not going to kick myself for making mistakes this year. That is what I would like to work on this year. : – )

  27. Amy McGregor permalink
    January 23, 2012

    My word for 2012 is “release.” I am working towards releasing negative thoughts and feelings and releasing expectations of how things “should” be to make space for gratitude and growth. I want to release the feelings of inadequacy and insecurity that settled in permanently (so they thought) with teen motherhood and the endless days I’ve spent managing single motherhood and poverty. I want to release all of the wanting to be “as good as.” Logistically, things are looking up. Now I need to make space for all of that goodness. Release.

    p.s. I’ve seen you in our local mag, Mamalode, recently! That’s so exciting that there is such a strong connection through all of this mama-talk. Ever since I saw that Natalie’s sweet family made a detour to visit your sweet family, it’s been blowing my mind how strong this connection is.

  28. January 23, 2012

    “will.” as in, “i will,” rather than “I might.”

  29. January 23, 2012

    My word is give. Which in my mind includes trust, a word I considered, plus something else that I keep forgetting, which probably means that I probably need it.

    To give is to trust and …? I just don’t remember.

    And so far this year, it’s been really, really hard.

  30. January 24, 2012

    I like *trust*.

    My word’d be “glibb”. By that I mean, “trusting in the future in a sense that (I can make) good things happen, combined with a sense of wonder and joy”. And yes, I made that word up, it’s mostly the result of by pouncing on the keyboard – but I hope it still counts.

    Cheers, K.

  31. RAchel permalink
    January 24, 2012

    My word for this year would have to be appreciate…sounds a little trite, but I need to work on finding the grace in all moments, not just the good ones. When I’m licking water off my hand in the shower because my morning sickness is so bad, I will appreciate that my body can grow another little being to be in our family…when the broken-glass-on-my-nipples feeling of nursing while pregnant kicks in (ouch!) I will savor my daughter’s little warm self against me and appreciate this ritual of ours that won’t last much longer…when I’m slogging through January, the longest, coldest month of the year, I will remind myself to pause and admire the quiet majesty of the trees, and the hush that snow and fog lay over everything. It’s not always easy to appreciate the not so great stuff when you’re in the thick of it, but I can always appreciate my sense of humor and know that I’ll at least have a good laugh about it later!
    Thanks for your inspiring (and honest and hilarious…) words. They are also appreciated!

  32. Melissa permalink
    January 24, 2012

    This is my favorite kind of post–insightful with a real roadmap of how you got from skeptical to aspen to trust (with the help of a good guide!).

    I don’t have a word but I do know that the more I practice mindfulness (whether sitting in meditation or walking to the bart station or riding on bart amidst a sea of people glued to mobile devices, not to mention when im hanging with my delicious children), the more gratitude and trust I feel.

    You will write your book . . . soon, I think! How exciting!

  33. Melomel permalink
    January 24, 2012

    I love this post – so masterful and raw and eloquent. Your writing is always a treat…

    I have been trying to think of my 3 words for 2012 – Chris Brogan-style for the last three weeks (, but keep getting stuck… Perhaps, it is better to just think of one.

    My word for 2012 is RISE… as in rise to the challenge, rise up, rise above, rise early, and rise with my heart and spirit into my highest place of resonance with my path, the people I meet, my purpose for being here.. Also, to RISE out of the muck of parenting and my sometimes crappy moods. No excuses. I have more of me happily, gracefully, and thankfully to give.

  34. Anonymous permalink
    January 24, 2012

    “trust” thank you for your post, Rachel. I, too, am going to borrow this word for this year. I have been thinking about being open…open to loving and being loved. Trust is such an important fundamental starting point for this opening. I tend to be a trusting person and a loving person, but I do not always appreciate the foundation of this ability. It seems that being conscious of the role that trust plays can help me to appreciate the whole process of opening up and loving- as well as something to fall back on when I need to fall back and be caught. Remembering that we all work from different vantage points and compassion for others for where they are is true kindness and caring.

  35. Chris permalink
    January 24, 2012

    I think, reluctantly, my word is grief – mostly, to stop keeping it at bay. Allowing grief to claim a place for a year, or more or less, feels honest and oddly, hopeful.

    I love aspen – the golden glow in late fall, the summer sound of their leaves stirring in even the slightest of lakeside breezes. Aspens do remind me of you/your writing – exquisitely attuned, sometimes chatty, sometimes spare (letting the images speak for themselves), always generous and often joyful under the blue, blue sky. And they probably have a thousand practical uses, too!

  36. Christy permalink
    January 24, 2012

    Lovely as always! My word for this year is *present* with my goal being to be present in all aspects of my life. To be where I am at each moment and not wish away time or letting my monkey mind take me away from the moment I am in. So much easier to write about, but I am working on it. And I even have a talisman or touchstone to remind me. My christmas present to myself (haha). (A family charm necklace from Silver Sparrow that I LOVE. Thank you for introducing her beautiful work to us.) I do look forward to reading your book one day!

  37. January 24, 2012

    I went with three words this year and they just came to me yesterday. . .

    nourish ~ sustain ~ prosper

    Yep. Those are the biggies for me this year. (With plenty of trust threaded in, around and through.)



  38. January 24, 2012

    my word for 2012 is whole. i like trust a whole lot though, too. :) love your aspen journey experience. i also dig your flow chart or trust and gratitude… really resonating for me at the moment.

  39. amma permalink
    January 24, 2012

    Someone once said to me, “don’t hesitate…” Normally, i would not respond to a group gathering such as your lovely one here around the trust table. i would be afraid to contribute, concern of what i might share, how it might be interpret, if i misspelled a word. However, i’m trusting that this is actually what i need, in this moment, so i’m not
    going to hesitate. SERENITY! That is my word for the year. Actually more like, The Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

  40. January 24, 2012

    my word is care…it came about when i relaized that it could hold and attune to so many places, beginning with self and rippling outwards. when i write it out, i love the expansiveness of printing the “c”, “a” and the “e”, i love how they curve and expand and extend outwards, just like caring in its’ energetic state does. so that’s my word!

    i really loved your writing in this post, so lovely rachel, sooo good :)

    ~erin xo

  41. January 25, 2012

    Well, I dig the woo-woo. :)

    I just shared about my word on my blog, though it is not really a word — it was more like a few experiences came swirling around and coalesced into an idea, a vision, a practice.

    But it’s all about Love.


  42. January 25, 2012

    “…sometimes nothing needs to be done except leaning into the luckiness of this life.” I just love what you said here because it’s something that I don’t do often enough and yet I should. Perhaps it would still the noises in my head and the worry in my heart.

    Trust is a powerful, wonderful word. I don’t have one yet for 2012 but do you mind if I borrow yours? I need to trust that all the changes that is taking place in the coming months are for the better. And that we will work through everything as a family. As well as come out ahead. I need to trust that more than anything right now so I can have a peace of mind to forge ahead with a little less urgency and uncertainty.

  43. January 25, 2012

    Stepping in a bit late, catching up which is always fun here.

    Grace is my word this year. To lean into whatever my path, my encounter, my breeze with openness, sincerity and grace.

  44. January 26, 2012

    Oh, Trust is a great one.Trust seems right there at the core of it all, right next to Love. I like them next to each other, Trust Love. However, this year my word is Expanding, as in- Expanding into the artist, mother, friend, teacher, helper, person I can become- I am. Expanding into places I was too afraid to go or didn’t think I deserved to be. Or, taking a moment and Expanding my lungs when dealing with a very obstinate and demanding toddler. Thanks for this opportunity. It’s just what the doctor ordered.

  45. January 26, 2012

    My word for the year is “content” as in learning to be content….or contentment. This is something I have struggled with my whole life………….learning to be content with who I am, where I am going, where I have been, the place I am in. It is something I think God wants me to learn this year……………a biggie when life is hard…………Love your writing and love to hear about your life and your family! Your kids sound awesome!

  46. Emily J. permalink
    January 26, 2012

    My word for this year is ….. Gratitude! Man, I’m thankful for soooooo many things that when things go wrong I just have to list off in my mind all the things that go right that I’m grateful for and then it puts things into perspective.

  47. January 30, 2012

    I loved every bit of this, but got distracted at the mention of writing a book. Are you writing a book this year!?

    My word for the year is prioritize, as in giving myself permission to *not* do all manner of things, so that I can focus on fully enjoying the things I do choose.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. homestead happenings: play « 6512 and growing
  2. this moment (and giveaway winner) « 6512 and growing
  3. Trust

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: