Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

December 31, 2009

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!


  • 1.
    amy tangerine said…

    inspiring. as always. thank you.

  • 2.
    Julie said…

    Funny to read this post today. My daughter just sent in her final college application essay ~ the topic was Stories. It was so heartening to me that she seems to understand the power of story at a relatively young age, while I tend to take stories for granted. I’m thinking I may have to adopt STORY as my word for the year too. It is certainly a word which deserves some in depth reflection! Thanks for continuing to share your stories – both written and scrapped – with your blog readers!

  • 3.

    Sigh. I saw Donald Miller last month at a conference and picked up his new book. I’ve been a fan for several years, but this book really hit a nerve in me. So I sent it to a friend for Christmas. I hope she loved it as much as I did.

  • 4.
    Honore Francois said…

    On the subject of action for our OLW, readers may want to look at Leo Babauta’s new blog:
    It deals with the practice of making or breaking habits, aka as ” automatic actions.”
    Leo is the author of Power of Less and Zen Habits blog:
    Thanks Ali for your continued inspiration in helping us all lead more authentic lives.

  • 5.
    Ali Edwards said…

    I love Leo – thanks for those links Honore.

  • 6.
    Monica said…

    I decide to join you this year in embracing a word. I’ve picked “clean” as my word. As in a clean house and eating clean. Clean out the negative to make room for the positive. I’m looking forward to seeing were this will lead me. My small action was to get a magazine subscription to Clean Eating and getting some cookbooks with clean recipes.
    Have a wonderful New Year and I look forward to seeing your stories unfold!

  • 7.
    Nicky from Canada said…

    Ali I must tell you your class was life changing for me – just being able to get started and the writing has brought me so much more depth – or maybe it is just getting the depths written. The writing seems so much easier now that I have started and your class was what I needed.
    Thank you so much for helping me with this process and always encouraging to go forward.
    All the best to you and your wonderful family in 2010.

  • 8.
    pidgen said…

    I love that this has come at the end of your YT class. I really thought it would be fun to do a layout (class layout) using my word/phrase. So my “little action” was a natual extention of your class. Wow!
    I’m going to see about trying to find a why to condense my prase so that I can make a piece of jewelry (because my chances of winning are nil! LOL!)
    I’ve found to be a daily reminder of my phrase (graceful productivity).

  • 9.
    Sharon F "Fletch" said…

    yes, I too, found your class part of my daily life. I thought about my stories in a whole new way as if they were really mine, not just a story to tell about someone else – disconnected emotionally. This was huge for me. Thank you for your inspiration. I feel honored to have been your virtual friend here and on FB and look forward to learning more from you and all the folks who comment and share. Cheers to a new bright and “clean” (love that Monica) year!

  • 10.
    christine said…

    This post could not have come at a better time, I have been doing a lot of soul searching the last few weeks and this post really solidifies that I am on the right path. Thank you for sharing all your stories and for being such an inspiration.

  • 11.
    Allison Kimball said…

    Ali, I can hardly believe how this has grown. Everywhere I look (online) there you are and the “word of the year”. It’s wonderful!!! What an inspiration.

  • 12.
    Jeni Barbas said…

    I also loved your YT class. I found that writing out stories was much easier than I thought it would be. I think the journaling on my older layouts was much less in depth because I was afraid to write more. Now I will have no fear! So looking forward to following along with you this year and see all the stories you document!

  • 13.
    tracey said…

    brilliant ali, just like you. xo

  • 14.
    christy a said…

    Story has always been important to me – especially to leave my girls. So I started about 3 years ago, at the end of each day (hopefully) i write a little story (keep a word document on my computer for the current month) about what we did that day, funny things said, new accomplishments. And at the end of the month – print it out and place it in a box for each child. This helps me go back and scrapbook things that have already happened (to remember the specifics of the story) and to remember my girls at each age. It works well for me. Thanks as always for the inspiration!

  • 15.
    Solgunn said…

    On the subject of action – My word (focus) will be in my blog header, and serve as a constant reminder to live every day focused on my projects :)
    Happy New Year Ali!

  • 16.
    Susie said…

    I’ve had it in the back of my mind (for nearly a year now) to write down all those old stories. Both those that belong to me and older generations. I’ve just been overwhelmed at bit as to where I should start.
    Thank you for sharing your plan. I’m going to join you in simply telling one story…big or small…a week.

  • 17.
    Geralyn Gray said…

    I woke up this morning thinking how I was going to start focusing on using my word AGAIN for 2010…..I really can’t wait. I love how blogging really lets you take action and lets you work at your own rate and you have something to show for all your thoughts because it it documented.

  • 18.
    Bethany said…

    i havent picked my work yet — but WOW!!! I LOVE urs! & i love all ur reasoning! i love ur goal of ‘telling’ 1 story per week via LO – how neat!!!! i love it! i havent yet prioritized what my scrappy goals are gonna be this year — but i sure hope i can do this right along with you!!! i think its a wonderful idea!!!
    thank u for all of your inspiration this year! u are so talented & I love reading ur blog & seeing ur beautiful creations!
    have a wonderful & safe new year celebration tonight!
    take care♥

  • 19.
    Katie said…

    Wonderful post, Ali. I can’t wait to see how “story” plays itself out in your life this year. I loved A Million Miles, and may have to check out Storycatcher!
    Happy New Year to you and yours!

  • 20.
    Ali said…

    I love that and think I will do that too :) .

  • 21.
    Michele H. said…

    I love your word Ali!
    You’re class at BPS has really inspired me to look at documenting my life differently as well! In the last month in a half, I have become overwhelmed with the amount of “stuff” that I have accumulated and as much as I love the products, I’ve truly loved the process of photo and words. I’m looking forward to seeing how this evolves for me creatively as well as following along with you weekly.
    Here is to wonderful happenings in 2010. Happy New Year to you, Chris, Simon and Anna!

  • 22.
    Judith Kirk said…

    Happy New Year Ali! I woke early this morning and my first thought was new year new word. Last year I chose consolidate so I could build on the achievements of the previous year including improved health. This year I want to choose resilience. I need thicker skin sometimes and the courage to believe in myself and to keep going. So reslience is my word.
    thanks for sharing your story as always.
    Judith (Adelaide)

  • 23.
    Karen said…

    I am looking forward to learning the role {story} has to play out in your coming year. Its interesting that you posted about action that must go with our one little words. The action is a good part of what I toyed with in my mind as I selected my word. And while I did not post specifics today when I shared my word and photo, I did solidify a couple of actions that I will be working on throughout the year. I have not done this before and thank you for sharing this. :>

  • 24.
    peg risley said…

    Hey Ali! Have been thinking about my word for a few weeks…was going o choose control,, cuz I really need to get some control over most-if not all areas of my lif – house, clutter, weight, feelings… read Monica’s msg – her word is clean….hmmm, maybe I need to rethink my word!

  • 25.

    Thank you Ali for the continued inspiration!!!!!! Yesterday and Today workshop was amazing. Such gratitude for the creative growth. I wish you and your family a wonderful New Year!!!!!!

  • 26.
    Linn said…

    I just finished my blog post about my word-SLOW- and it’s so interesting to read why each of us choose the word we do. It sounds like your word will suit the life you want to lead this year. Those two books sound good…I’ll have to check them out. And I LOVE the necklace!

  • 27.
    Wendy said…

    Wow! A layout a week from you. Such wonderful inspiration! And I can’t wait to see them here. Best wishes for a story-filled and incredible year.

  • 28.
    Gknutson6 said…

    Oh I love this pretty necklace-Thanks for the chance to win and have a happy New Year!!

  • 29.

    Thanks for the link to LL’s site, I gave myself a late X-mas present with my word “health” on a wishing star. Since it can be two sided, I added another that I need to remember…”live”. I rush through my life just to get to the next great thing, and it’s time to slow down and take care of myself, my son, my husband, and my career. Here’s to 2010 being a year of health and living in the now! Great post, as ususal!

  • 30.
    DawnS said…

    LOL…I just printed out the worksheet by Christine Kane earlier today! I haven’t started filling it out yet, but it looks awesome :)

  • 31.
    Allison M. said…

    Such inspiring thoughts Ali! All the best to you and yours for a wonderful 2010.

  • 32.
    Elyse said…

    I am so glad to have found your blog!! This is my first year picking a word, and I chose “release”. I cant wait to read more of your blog and see how your word unfolds this year!

  • 33.
    Kim T. said…

    I have chosen my 2010 word. It will be “faith.” I love that you reminded us that it’s more than just choosing the word, we need to act upon it as well. My family has found a church and I bought myself a new bible in order to be able to spend more time exploring my faith this year.
    Thanks for the gentle reminders and inspiration.

  • 34.
    Cary said…

    So inspiring! Thank you and Happy New Year!

  • 35.
    Jocelyne Hayes said…

    I have been going around and around with a few words. I think I have finally landed on the word HAPPINESS. All I want out of 2010 is to be happy. Life has been hard for me emotionally the past couple years as things I really wanted to happen didn’t. I just need to take the life I am blessed with. The one kiddo I am blessed with. And just find that happiness again.

  • 36.
    Barb M. said…

    Thanks for the call to action. I needed the kick in the butt. Tomorrow my word and I become one as I create reminders of it to motivate me around my home.

  • 37.
    Jacqueline Diamond said…

    I was surprised to see the word you chose this year, Story, because believe it or not I chose that word also. (Before I read that you chose it) It made me feel that I chose well this year, plus I can get ideas from you! Last year my granddaughter chose “Imagine” for me, and I used that word to guide me in resuming the writing career I had once abandoned. So I chose “story” this year to inspire me to finish the stories in my life. Thanks, Ali, for all of your inspiration. You have a lovely family.

  • 38.
    Susi said…

    I look forward to watching the stories unfold and see how your layout style has always been more about the story. My word for 2010 is going to be Live. I have been struggling with depression and become a bit reclusive. I want to live from the small actions to the big adventures. I am going to also add my word to my banner, scrap a layout to frame and hang where I will see it often and ask some close friends to encourage me if they see me back sliding. The necklace is beautiful and would be a great reminder to me to live every second. Happy New Year to you, Chris, Simon and Anna.

  • 39.
    Karin Podolski said…

    Thanks for the inspiration — just what I needed for today!

  • 40.
    Erin said…

    Ali, Thank you so much for all of the inspiration that you bring to us all. I love your word and the idea of creating a lo a week that captures our stories. I am still working on my word of the year…I am thinking it is action. I am on my way downstairs to print out the worksheet you recommended. I need to take action in so many areas in my life that this seems like a good fit, but I guess time will tell. I hope that you and your family have a wonderful new year. Thank you again for all that you do for all of us.

  • 41.
    tallyscrapper said…

    Story is a great word for 2010. It makes such sense after taking the YT class. I was so very inspired by
    your YT class and am shifting my focus in my scrapbooking
    to really include meaningful stories. Stories are really
    the glue for the photos. I am lucky, in a way, that I
    had gotten behind in your YT class because I am still working on it. I do not want it to end. Please consider
    teaching more classes.

  • 42.
    Carolyn HP said…

    What a great word Ali, and so eloquently put… happy new year to you & your family, keep on inspiring :) here’s to good health, laughter and happiness in 2010!

  • 43.
    NancyLee said…

    Ali, this is the best gift ever for this year 2010 and thank you so much for sharing the links to us. We can’t thank you enough for sharing anything that’s valuable in your life except to pass it on to others and I will do just that on my blog. Thank you again and all the best this 2010.

  • 44.
    Deb J said…

    I’m excited about the coming year and what you will be sharing with us. Thanks for the link to the Word of the Year Worksheet. I went right away to the site, signed up for it and received it. I am excited to work with it. Of your 2008 suggestions I am going to make the Card and also make the painting. I will share them with you when I have them done. Happy New Year and many blessings in 2010.

  • 45.
    Mary Rogers said…

    Happy New Year Ali!
    thanks for all your inspiration. May your new year be filled with health and happiness ::

  • 46.
    Jackie said…

    Okay Ali…you may think i am crazy because i posted the other day that my word for 2010 would be “cherish”. i changed my mind…good thing i decided before tomorrow, right? my word for 2010 is “beauty”. i need to see the beauty in life, in my family, and in myself especially. thanks ali! you always inspire me. i can’t wait to see your story every week.

  • 47.
    D'Nese said…

    I’m curious on how you document your thoughts, things you want to do/say/plan and so forth? Do you keep a journal and then put it all together later or jot them down in various places?
    I’m making it my goal to get order back into my life (My word was restore) for several reasons. I’m not much of a journal person so I’d love to hear how you or anyone else documents the things for a very quick and handy guide/reference that is looked at often.

  • 48.
    Kbscraps21 said…

    one little word…
    1. to take or clasp in the arms; hug.
    2. to take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly: to embrace an idea.
    3. to avail oneself of: to embrace an opportunity.
    Every year you inspires me to chose a word to live by…
    This year my word it “EMBRACE”…I chose to embrace life, my family, my photography, my travels, my work and my friends….Start living the life I have always imagined! It’s never too late. xo
    Happy New Year…
    Kim Bolyard

  • 49.
    kris said…

    Thank you for sharing these books. I always look for a great read and recomendation. Happy New Year.

  • 50.
    Jo said…

    THANK YOU for sharing the WOTY Discovery Tool. I never would have discovered Christine Kane. I love her and just scooped up two of her cd’s. My word for 2010 is pursue.

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