My One Little Word : Story

Lovely word of the year necklace from Lisa Leonard Designs. Look for a giveaway from Lisa this weekend.

For 2010 I have chosen the word STORY.

Ever since I started scrapbooking back in 2002 I have been capturing life and telling stories. Over the years I have learned that for me, it is the words and the photos that are the most important parts of gathering and documenting our lives (vs. the products that make the albums pretty and the process visually creative).

The Yesterday & Today workshop I have been leading at Big Picture Scrapbooking for the last three months really solidified and increased my specific desire to get the most meaningful stories told. The preparations for that class and the resulting pages I created left a lasting impact on me.

One of the things I realized through the duration of that class is that I have so many stories I want to tell from the past and the present. Some are big and some are small; some detailed and some only faint memories. I don't feel anything but excitement when I think about working through the process of telling them. I am not upset that I haven't told them yet or worried that there are too many. I just want to make it a priority to get them recorded.

With all that in mind I am giving myself an assignment this year. I am going to aim for one layout (one story) told per week in 2010. Some stories will be long and some will be shorter but I am going to make the time to go through my list and proactively tell those stories that are most meaningful to me. I will be posting my layouts here weekly and will be inviting you to tell your meaningful stories along the way.


The other inspiration for my word this year are two books I have been reading over the last few months: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life
by Donald Miller and Storycatcher: Making Sense of Our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story
by Christina Baldwin.

Both are all about stories: telling, listening, characters, sharing, living. 

Both have inspired me to focus more on the concept of story and what that means in the context of my work and my life.

The Storycatcher book has a really nice companion website here. This is a good initial read: Becoming A Storycatcher. You can find excerpts from the book here

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years has inspired me to look at my life differently. To literally see myself as a character in the story I am living and that I can make changes to impact the outcome of my own personal narrative. I think in some way or another I have always known this and lived this way at some level, but something in Donald's words solidified and clarified some things for me and has given me a new path forward - a new way to think about myself and my story.

One of the biggest things is that I have a couple threads in my own story that I would like to weave in a different direction. I hope to talk more about these storylines in the coming months as I begin writing & living new chapters for myself.

Story is a powerful word and concept. I am excited to continue investigating it throughout this year and throughout the rest of my life.


One of the thoughts I had as I read the list of words (and the wonderful reasons and stories) over the last couple of days is that it's really not enough to just choose a word. Some sort of action is required to really make a difference. That action may be simply thinking about your word every couple of days. What sort of thing can you make or buy that will serve as a reminder to you? Here's a post from 2008 with a few simple ideas to get you started. I invite you to consider one action you will take related to your word: one little action to go along with your one little word.

EDITED: I just came across this really nice free download "Word of the Year Discovery Tool" from blogger Christine Kane. It's a worksheet for thinking through your word and essentially telling the story of your word. Totally recommended. This is a great action step.

Happy New Year! Peace and blessings to you and yours!

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  1. Rebecca

    2010-01-01 19:23:42 -0500

    Thanks so much for introducing me to my new favorite New Year's tradition! My 2008 word was ACTION, my 2009 word was CALM and now my 2010 word is LOVE.
    Happy New Year!

  2. whollyjeanne

    2010-01-01 23:10:34 -0500

    found you via note to self: leave them a thank you note. was doing a collage (it's been so long), then when that got too hard, i switched to a list (did i seriously think that would be easier? duh.) then bailed to one word: JustBecause. should give me plenty of space and motivation to mindfully romp in 2010.

  3. Laura Lee

    2010-01-02 08:34:49 -0500

    My One Little word this year is CREATE. Last year was appreciate. The year before was LIVE. I need to CREATE a happy place for me, without too much stress and negativity. I need to create an environment where my students with autism reach their fullest potential and I need to CREATE a place for me to get away from them. I can't think of them all the time or I will make myself crazy! (I really want my word to be CREATE, not CRAZY!) LOL
    Have a Happy New Year Ali...keep sharing those stories!

  4. Cyndi

    2010-01-02 08:52:51 -0500

    Great giveaways! My word for 2010 is "simplify."

  5. Patricia Hildreth

    2010-01-02 09:02:55 -0500

    that's my word, for this year. What does the Lord want me to have faith to believe for. Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see. I still am not sure what I have faith for yet, guess that is a story that will unfold, but I am asking for an abundant gift of Faith.

  6. Susanne

    2010-01-02 10:28:44 -0500

    Thanks for sharing your story about your word with us!
    My "word" for 2010 is M.I.L.K. -actually it is not a real word, but a project '(you can read more about that here: inspired me in two ways:
    - I want to pay more attention to those special moments in my everyday life
    - I want to focus more on photography. It was the reason why I started scrapping, it is my main voice and most of the time the starting point for telling my stories.

  7. Kim Hacking

    2010-01-02 12:23:42 -0500

    My one little word is PHOTOGRAPHY! Thank you for your inspiration.

  8. telisj

    2010-01-02 13:53:59 -0500

    I loved reading your reasons for choosing STORY as your word.
    I just spent 10 hours in the car these past few days, going back and forth to my in-lawa in NJ and I had my binder from your BPS class in the car and I was mulling my word around too, ESSENTIAL and I realized it really does capture all that I want for 2010. I want to surround my home with the ESSENTIALS (minus all the clutter!), I want to eat the ESSENTIAL foods for my body (health) and move more (exercise), I want to focus on the ESSENTIAL people in my life (family + friends) and I want to get back to the ESSENTIALS of scrapbooking: words+photos +story!
    Thanks for inspiring me Ali!

  9. TammyL

    2010-01-02 14:46:12 -0500

    I bought Donald Miller's book yesterday at Barnes and Noble. I am half way through it and don't want to put it down. It reminds me of a book I read, "Write It Down, Make It Happen". Somehow, by writing down what you want or would like to happen, where you want to go, etc... and placing it where you see it often, it will come to be. Like you/Don are saying, to set a specific course for your life. A specific story you would like to live. I am inspired by this book, as I was with that one. Thank you for the recommendation. I love books of this nature.

  10. darrah

    2010-01-02 16:02:37 -0500

    I'm a few days behind, but it took a while for me to come up with my word: BELIEVE. I'm jumping into uncharted territory this year and doing many things I've never done before. I chose this word as a little life vest to keep me above water.
    Thanks for all the inspiration and for providing a platform for us to share our words!

  11. Rachel

    2010-01-02 16:51:43 -0500

    I think my word for the year will be action will be to spend time working on making a wonderful new blog that I will want to post on often to balance my work/life!!

  12. Mandy

    2010-01-03 07:52:09 -0500

    I love Donald Miller's book. It's incredible. The word "story" couldn't fit you any better. You are undoubtedly a storyteller at heart.
    Also, I just wanted to say thank you for doing this whole little one word thing. It will be my third year at doing it, and it has been the catalyst for so much needed change and focus in my life. So very grateful! My word this year is "childlike."

  13. kelly

    2010-01-03 10:36:20 -0500

    Ali, thanks for the inspiration. Last year I scrapped less than 10 layouts...I wonder how many stories I lost in the process of just being so busy? What a wake up call! I had already made a resolution to dedicate time each week/month for me to scrapbook, this has just further reinforced it. Thank you! I ordered the books off of your recommendation as well.

  14. Pascale

    2010-01-04 02:15:46 -0500

    Thanks for this wonderfully inspiring post, Ali. Happy New Year to you and your family!

  15. The Garden Bell - Kate

    2010-01-04 06:58:03 -0500

    What a great idea. Mine came to me quickly. This year it will be BRIGHTEN... I need to add some more color and cheerfulness to my life.
    Off to share all these wonderful links.


    2010-01-05 05:06:48 -0500

    My one little word is "Mommy" I plan to be a better more there Mommy this year. I am involved in all the kids do, they are 8,7, & 5, however there are times when I just want to step away from that word (Mommy). So I am working on being more there for my kids and with that for my spouse.

  17. Janie

    2010-01-05 05:42:20 -0500

    Ali- I just came across your blog from the typepad dashboard. Your title caught me because last night I finished reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and have been thinking of my life as a story. And then to get down to this post and read that his words have inspired you was really affirming. What a creative blogger you are! I am a photographer and love capturing precious moments too. Good luck this year. May we all live more beautiful stories!

  18. Ali Edwards

    2010-01-05 10:46:16 -0500

    Hey D'Nese - just going back through comments - I have a small black notebook from Moleskina and a story folder on my computer desktop. These two things together work pretty well for when an idea/story comes to mind.

  19. Ali Edwards

    2010-01-05 10:48:52 -0500

    Maybe "breathe"?

  20. Ali Edwards

    2010-01-05 10:52:44 -0500

    Thanks for the note Janie and for stopping by :).

  21. Lisa

    2010-01-05 16:06:16 -0500

    Hi Ali,
    I think my word for this year will be "Time". My friend/neighbor passed away right before Christmas. It really hit home that we don't know how much time we have left in this life, so this year I plan to be more deliberate with my time and manage it better. Time is a gift and I will treasure it more carefully.

  22. Lara

    2010-01-05 22:34:46 -0500

    Thanks for this post Ali and the link to Christine's Discovery Tool. I've made a layout with my word, 'create' as the focus, and I intend to frame it and place it over the kitchen table - my usual crafting spot. I want to be able to see it every day, as a little prompt.

  23. Joyce

    2010-01-06 15:43:33 -0500

    Thanks for sharing the link to Christine Kane's Word tool. It helped a lot to identify potential pitfalls for my year's goals! Very valuable to use each year, too! My word this year is INTENTIONAL.
    Happy New Year! Thanks for all the great motivation you post week after week!

  24. ErinLeigh

    2010-01-08 16:55:16 -0500

    Love Donald Miller. can't wait to read this book.

  25. Terri

    2010-01-13 13:29:46 -0500

    Thank you for introducing these books. They are transformative!

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