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Word of the Year Reflections and Intentions for 2024

A year ago, I chose to enter into 2023 with the word "re-write" as my anchor. After my previous years ("Listen" in 2022 & "Forge" in 2021) it felt right to continue the momentum forward and with purpose.

"forge" - word of the year 2021

I had hunkered down and gritted my teeth through 2021 - a year that from the start I knew would bring challenges, largely due to the shift in developmental stages that my 1 year old was verging on and how that would impact my life and business - but a year that also brought an unforeseen and monumental blow to my life as I knew it, when my marriage fell apart quite spectacularly in the Spring, and the word "forge" took on additional power and meaning.

That had been my first year of choosing a word of the year, and it brought me unexpected clarity and reassurance. An anchor through storms that reminded me that steel is forged in fire, and that this tremendous traumatic life event would, in time, galvanise me and bring me back to myself.

"listen" - word of the year 2022

The following year in 2022, I began the slow and painful process of taking stock of everything that had come before and how I could move forward in this new & unfamiliar world. I learnt to pause and to listen. To listen to all the quiet, hidden parts of me that needed tending to. An invitation to hear (and heed) the wilting needs and dreams of the meek, overly-compliant 'good girl' I had so efficiently learnt to be. I learnt instead to listen to what my body and spirit was telling me, to listen to my fears and shortcomings without judgement and instead with curiosity. I listened, and I learnt. I discovered so much of myself and began a deeply transformative unravelling that still continues.

Cat Stacey wearing her brass and pearl handmade jewellery at swanpool beach in falmouth cornwall, looking foward and feeling positive
credit: Suzanne Johnson photography

"re-write" - word of the year 2023

In 2023 I took "re-write" into the year, along with everything I'd learnt about myself and my new world, and with a solid, deep drive to change those stories I'd become so accustomed to, but that were no longer reflecting my truth and integrity. It had become quite apparent that these stories were well-trod paths of familiarity but ones that kept me small, quiet and frozen, circling round and round, repeating the same patterns and paths.

I began to re-write my future, breaking away from the confines I found myself in, uncovering parts of me I never knew existed. I discovered a latent joy and freedom in writing, and words escaped from my pen that a past iteration of me would never have believed to be possible. I learnt to embrace the conflicting emotions of disbelief and fear of the unknown and what-if's as they sat alongside awe and wonder and possibility. I began to return to myself for the first time, and despite the discomfort of not truly knowing who I was anymore, I learnt to lean into the endless realms of possibility and potential and excitement that it also brought.

It was as if I had a second chance at my teen years - ones which, the first time round, were dominated by powerlessness under the iron expectations and control of others. It now felt like a rare and beautiful opportunity to explore my sense of self, from a place of perspective, experience and hindsight. I started to pave my own paths. I found where I wanted to divert from the main thoroughfare, and I found people that were walking their paths alongside me too. Comrades and cheerleaders like I'd never known before.

It's not an easy path, but an aligned one. One that brings agency, freedom, and choice. A sense of belonging to myself, no longer bound by the expectations and limits of others, and there's no other path I'd rather be on.

Cat Stacey sitting in the sand dunes, writing and journaling, at Holywell Bay, Newquay in Cornwall UK
credit: Suzanne Johnson photography

"embrace" - word of the year 2024

So as we enter into 2024 I am bringing with me an intention to embrace. A close contender was 'galvanise' but I purposefully want to step away from hardening and strengthening this year. I've done so much of that already; and while it will be a necessity this year to navigate the challenges that I will inevitably face, I want my focus to be on softening, on opening up and on wholeheartedness. I got a taste of life's vitality & potential last year and it's an elixir I want to savour.

A conscious step away from surviving being my (necessary) focus, and moving towards thriving. Of tending to the joy and fulfilment that can sit aside challenge and heartbreak. I embrace the complexity of it all, and the fullness of it all. I don't deny graft or grief, it is part of this complex life and often it points us towards the things we are passionate about and where our love lies. I want to celebrate all the grit as well as the gloss as every part will keep moving me forward and toward a life that is mine and aligned with my values.

I embrace the inevitable anguish that will come with the legal dissolution of a 20 year relationship, as it will take me another step forward towards my freedom and independence. I embrace the challenge and pressure of relaunching my business at the same time (not to mention during economic uncertainty) to move me toward a business that thrives off my passion and energy and rather than consuming it. And I embrace all the joy and glimmers and magic that my gratitude practice has opened up for me, and to remind me of what hope and wonder there is in this world that must be preserved and tasted no matter what.

I embrace it all this year; for better or worse, in abundance and challenge... I make that vow to myself. I hope you will join me on what will no doubt be a wild ride, but where would vitality be in a predictable and pre-determined life?

Lets go...

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