What’s in a Word?

As a speech language pathologist, I spend a lot of time thinking about words.  What words will open the door of communication for a toddler with an expressive language delay?  (“Open,” “More,” “Help,” and “All Done” are my standard initial set of toddler power words.) What words would be most meaningful to a non-verbal child?  What words do parents need from their child?  Exactly which word precisely expresses the nuance I am trying to communicate?  Words are the embodiment of our thoughts, emotions and ideas.  Powerful!

As the New Year has dawned, I have been contemplating words.  Guilt is a word…. I have been behind on my blogging, internet exploration, projects and to-do lists.  December was a crazy month… my father had hip replacement surgery; my son, “Hurricane Jimmie” was home from college and I felt like “Tropical Storm Chaser Elizabeth”; HOLIDAYS (plus, THREE December birthdays!); and the chest cold that has been pursuing me since Thanksgiving finally landed!  But GUILT is not a productive word.  I am intimately acquainted with this word but feel it is time to let this one go…it is over used and worn out! Buh-bye!

My friend, Alessandra, author of Tribal Times, embraces her word, SHINE, as she dances in the snow! 

I kicked off the year very differently!  No RESOLUTIONS! Instead, I took a lovely yoga workshop New Year’s Day.  During the workshop, we were encouraged to choose a few powerful WORDS to define ourselves for the New Year.  Wordsmith that I am, I loved  this idea!  I chose COURAGE, ACTION and VULNERABILITY.  The first two are pretty self-explanatory.  When I get to vulnerability, people tend to squinch up their nose and ask, “really, that is how you want to define yourself??”  Dictionaries do not paint a kind picture of the word vulnerability – using terms such as “weakness,” “open to damage,” “susceptible to injury.”  Ick, doesn’t sound too powerful!  However, in defining vulnerability, I am not reading from printed dictionaries, instead I am consulting my internal dictionary… the semantics based from experience which is how we truly define words.  To me, vulnerability means being open to new ideas and new things; surrendering control; not having to be superwoman, right, or flawless.  It means asking for help when I need it; looking to the experience of others; and fully experiencing failures along with successes.  Hmmm… a little scary… but that is where courage and action come into play!

For the many parents, educators, and speech pathologists who read this blog, we think so carefully about the words we teach and use around our children with communication impairments.  I encourage you to take a minute and think about the words that you want to define yourself as you move forward into 2012!  While you are at it, determine which words are no longer serving you and bid them farewell!  I would love to hear your powerful words!

Need a little inspiration????  Here are some strong words to consider!

Abundance, Acceptance, Action, Adventure, Attention, Awareness, AweChange, Choice, Clarity, Commitment, Compassion, Confidence, Courage, Creativity, Deliberateness, Delight, Discipline, Energy, Focus, Forgiveness, Freedom, Friendship, Fun, Expansion, Exploration, Generosity, Gentleness, Grace, Gratitude, Growth, Health, Integrity, Joy, Kindness, Knowing, Laughter, Love, Mastery, Openness, Patience, Peace, Perseverance, Playfulness, Presence, Risk, Self-love, Shine, Spirit, Trust, Wealth, Willingness….

For more inspiration, check out Alessandra’s blog, Tribal Times, and watch her SHINE!


9 thoughts on “What’s in a Word?

  1. Focus! Too many choices and places to get involved….this year the goal is to choose from the many great options. And patience….always patience.
    Love your blog!

  2. Thank you for providing the inspiration to spend time with my thoughts. The words I have chosen to guide my growth are creativity, focus and organization.
    Creativity is as much about having the courage and confidence to go forward with my ideas as it is about forming the ideas themselves. Focus, will help me finish projects as well as keeping me in tune with my growth. Organization is needed throughout my life.
    I am excited about moving forward with these words fostering new strengths and possibilities.

    • Robin, thank you so much for sharing your powerful words and your thoughts behind your choices! I have come to a point in my life where I prefer to focus on actions rather than results (the results will be what they will be and I rarely have control over them). Creativity, focus and organization are words that will surely lead to some mighty actions!

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