Learning to Lean

My one little word for 2017 is Lean.

It’s not a word that is commonly considered beautiful, and I would have never even considered it until I heard it this summer on a raft, dodging rapids down a feisty river in Colorado.

The truth of the matter is, I am terrified of large, ominous bodies of water. Even so, I married a guy who loves the adventures they contain. Since I’ve proven myself a less-than-exciting partner to him on more than one occasion when it comes to exploring the water, I was determined to take on white water rafting when we were celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary.

It was exhilarating, and I’m so glad I let go of my reservations and took the plunge, but you can be assured that I meticulously filed away every word of the guide’s instructions before boarding the raft. As they explained how to move the paddles in certain situations, I tried not to think about the chunk of my knee I left in a much calmer river when my canoe capsized 15 years before.

I was determined to do everything in my power to stay. in. the. raft.

So when I felt my body jostling and all of the forces of nature taunting the threat of tossing me right on out of that bloated piece of plastic, I followed the adamant command of my guide, “Lean! Lean! Lean!”

What he meant by that was, draw in your paddle and lean your head into the middle.

And thus began my appreciation for the word lean. I was able to see first-hand that it’s pointless to try taking control of life’s unpredictable challenges. No amount of paddling would save me; leaning was my only hope. Ever since, I’ve begun to appreciate the beauty of the word lean and the depth that comes with living it out.

I’ve subconsciously begun incorporating the charge to “Lean” into conversations. Sometimes those conversations are with students or family, but often it’s with myself.

Lean, Kelly, Lean!

Whatever you do, don’t back down. Don’t fall out of the raft. Finish the course. It will be worth it, difficult and exhausting as it most definitely will be.

My current plan is to add a different direction to the end of the word lean each month, thus requiring me to explore the various aspects of how I should lean to accomplish my goals and improve myself.

January’s “lean” phrase is lean in.

I wrote a bit more about my thoughts on “leaning in” through the post I’ll be sharing on a blog to which I contribute, Raising Generations Today, in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, you don’t need to be quite so weirded out if you see me chanting, “Lean in! Lean in!” to myself as I go about my day.

What is your one little word for 2017? I always love to hear what words people choose to set their perspective and priorities for the year.

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