• Josette Abruzzini

My Special Words for 2020... and 2021!


Each December I choose a word-of-the-new-year that resonates with me; a word I think will have significance for me in the year ahead. Today I’m looking back at my special word for 2020 - breathe. Could I have picked a better word to get me through this year of the pandemic?



Here’s a poem I wrote a year ago. It’s from a blog post celebrating that word choice…


Breathing into 2020


In 2020 I will b r e a t h e m o r e d e e p l y .

In winter we’ll w a l k in the snow.

Later I’ll s i t in my wingchair,

the one between the piano and the bookcase

with a pole lamp hanging over its shoulder.


I’ll r e a d a book or w r i t e in a journal.

I’ll s i p a cup of herbal tea.

Sometimes I’ll m e d i t a t e.

I may even s o a k my feet in lavender-infused water.


In springtime I’ll t r a v e l to favorite haunts

and e x p l o r e new curiosities.

In summer I’ll f l o a t and p a d d l e on this lake and that one.

In the autumn I’ll c h e r i s h the colors

and b r e a t h e in the crisp fall air,

all the while b r e a t h i n g d e e p l y

and t r y i n g to make the most of each day.


Of all the words in this poem, I would’ve said that “trying”, on the last line, was the weakest, except that 2020 is the year that “trying” meant putting one foot in front of the other and simply doing my best. I dare say that’s true for a few of us.

There are only a few aspirations in the poem that didn’t come true – the springtime travel, and the floating in my “other” lake, Badger Lake. Instead of my annual return to Newfoundland I revisited my favorite childhood memories and shared them in a series of blog posts. (Click to read.) It wasn’t the same as putting my arms around my siblings and watching my fiftieth summer of Badger Lake rainbows and sunsets, but it brought so many special responses from old friends and new. My writing project renewed my spirit.


Throughout the year my love and gratitude for family and friends grew to new heights. Thankfully I visited many of them virtually, which brings me to another special word - technology. What kind of year would we have had without it?


Technology also brought me together with a group of women I’d only met once. My Birdshot Uveitis friends and I joined forces via Zoom and managed to form a not-for-profit for our rare auto-immune disease. Birdshot Uveitis Society of North America is already helping other “birdies” and contributing to research efforts. Thankfully, my situation is well under control!

Additionally, technology connected me to a community of writers, both local and distant. A multitude of authors, editors and agents shared their writing expertise via offerings of on-line workshops. Other writers partnered with me in critique groups. They helped me hone my craft and encouraged me at every turn. Their generosity surely made a difference.


Indulge me one more gratitude - fresh air. It allowed me to walk (at a distance) with my local friends, and we managed to stay connected. We did our best and stayed safe!


It’s obvious that all these special words have been overshadowed by Coronavirus & Covid-19, which have, in turn, spilled into other unwelcome words – loss, fear, inequality and blame. Neither our work nor our pain are complete.


Another of my poems, Breathe with Me, was inspired by Covid-19 and the lake on which I live.


I won’t attempt to describe the risks and losses of so many of us, but neither will I ignore one additional word – respect. Consider these current aspects of this powerful word…

· Respect for a disease that shakes us out of our modern complacency and entitlement.

· Respect for medical professionals and other front-line workers who risk their lives to save and sustain others.

· Respect for medical researchers around the globe whose brilliance and diligence is starting to bring us out of this.


Some of our worries will continue into 2021. Such is this unpredictable life. But is that a ray of sunshine I see breaking through the clouds? Is that a smile where there was none? Here I am, ending the year with a glimmer of hope for next year!


I won’t be wrapping up 2020 with a tidy bow.


Like one word that spills into another, so will this year spill into 2021. The next few months will be an extension of this year’s challenges, but Covid-19 won’t last forever. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel.


What’s my word for 2021? Dare I choose… hope?

· Hope for an end to the pandemic

· Hope for a kinder, more compassionate world

· Hope for a return to a normalcy that is sustainable for all

· Hope for more gratitude.

· Hope for joy.

· Hope that my 2021 word will be as spot-on as my 2020 word was.


Stay tuned.


P.S. I am fortunate to have what I need. I hope you do as well. Not everybody does. The longer this goes on, the more difficult the financial situation will be for so many. Please remember to let your gratitude grow into generosity and hope for those in need.