Freedom: 2018 Word of the Year


My husband and I have been focusing our intentions by choosing a ‘Word of the Year’ for many years now. I’ve blogged about the Year of Less (2015), Year of Quality (2016), and Year of Clean (2017).

Bikurgurl 2018

As I’ve noted, when we consider all the seemingly little decisions we make in a year, it helps to tie those decisions back to our bigger goals. Our goals are often varied, but as a family, by using an over-arching theme, a simple mantra, that changes over time as we change and evolve, has proved to be helpful in keeping us tracking toward our goals. When we think about decisions we make, how we spend our resources, and the direction we want our family to move, we like to have a simple mantra to guide our path. For our family, having a key word or phrase that will direct us back to accomplishing our goals and objectives as a family, but also as individuals within our family.


This year, 2018, my husband and I actually have different key words, but they point to the same objective. I really deliberated with my choice on my word of the year. I created a two-page Bullet Journal spread on a few ideas of what I wanted to center myself on. Particularly, as you’ll read below, how 2017 really didn’t turn out the way I’d imagined, I was at a loss as to what my intentions should be. How can I continue learning and growing as a human being if I can’t even really stay on track? What are my backups if I get derailed?

For me, the answer was to give myself grace and space: Freedom

Freedom to be mindful, travel, have fun, take a breath, wander, try new things, be adventurous, be myself, be the best me I can be! After our year of Clean, my husband was ready for FUN!

My Family

He really wanted us to move beyond the necessary day-to-day functions of our lives and towards creating the life we have worked hard to have. By mindfully creating space in our home, minds, and lives, the purge of our old lives is over and now we can move on to the good stuff. The good stuff is the fun part of life where we could enjoy our family being together, happy and healthy. We’ve focused so long on my cancer diagnosis and recovery, on our missing our extended family and friends across the country, on jobs, schooling, and putting our resources in programs that, ultimately, did not support our family as we supported them, we are ready to move beyond those boundaries.

For me: The fun is in the freedom.

So, you’ll notice some changes. Changes in my writing, blogging, and communicating with not only my writing community, but the direction of my blog. I’ll be making more changes to my blog, creating the kind of experience better reflecting who I am now.

Planning 2017

By shedding the cloak of cancer, I feel full of hope and happiness to break out of this narrow mold I’ve artificially created from a warped sense of my perfectionism and focus on who I am now. Who I am becoming. I’ll be finally begin editing my work to get novels completed. I look forward to sharing them. I started writing children’s books and am excited to delve deeper into those ventures. I did not realize, but clearing the physical and emotional clutter from my life last year gives me the space and freedom to be the woman I want to be.

I cannot tell you how exciting, scary, and fulfilling it is to type those words. Literally: butterflies in my stomach.

All of my shared anger and defeats, on multiple planes of my life, demanded I reflect on my path of life. All of those old feelings of not reaching perfection, feelings of inadequacy, and allowing others to demean or defame me were stirred in the Hollywood #MeToo movement which has finally helped me to say no. I didn’t realize I had become such a pushover, but I was saying yes to many people and experiences, for myself and my family, that didn’t align with our goals, hopes, and dreams. We walked away from several friendships, activities, and people who were draining our lifeblood. I also am facing my own personal past experiences and really am leaving the past behind. It’s been a painful process in which I have only now realized I can move forward through. I’m so happy now that I’m nearing the other side. I’ve been focusing on gratitude, grace and space, and mindfulness which is preparing me for this new chapter.

It’s still a process, but I feel a weight has been lifted and I can finally be FREE.



2017 was The Year Of Clean, which originally was to be both clean and lean — eat and live cleanly, become more lean in the process. While it didn’t exactly end with my have rock hard abs, I did make significant progress towards clearing the clutter and junk, both physical and mental, out of my life. For me, this was well worth the effort and was where I needed to start in my journey towards those rock hard abs.

No more messy desk!

had a huge clean out of my home – from homeschool supplies to childrens toys – and literally tried to start from the clean slate: my children are now Teens and Tweens! Thatis whole change should not have surprised me, but somehow it mysteriously did. I was shocked to find I was clinging to the past, my children’s childhood past, when my heart really wanted to move forward. My goals is to give my children the grace and space they need to become the amazing adults they are becoming. Because it’s easy to live in the fairytale of retouched, stylized pictures, I enjoy posting images to Instagram of our uncurated happy life. Life is much more messy than is often on social medias of Pintrest, Instagram, and Facebook: some of the mess we can clean up and some of it is just the loveliness that is life with children ❤

Thank you LMB for reminding me of that so many years ago!

I needed to get out of the way of my children so they can be the people they need to become. Being a mother, a eclectic-unschooly, homeschooling mother, nonetheless, I didn’t see the proverbial forest for the trees. At times, I didn’t see I was in the way of my children moving beyond me.

We also hadn’t, as a family, really dealt with our feelings, particularly those of my boys, about my cancer diagnosis. So many unresolved feelings and role changes we have undergone. It sounds trite, but I honestly believe that the cancer diagnosis saved not only me, but my marriage and my family. The bickering and pickering became secondary to ensuring my health was intact. From doctors appointments, to medicines, to tests, and more procedures, we didn’t discuss how the uncertainty – from their fear I was going to get sick again to unrealized anger at my being sick at all – had taken a toll on each of us. It took a lot of discussions, hugs, and love to get to the other side of who we are as a family — and we are so much stronger for it.


Seattle, Bikurgurl 2017
View from Smith Tower, Seattle, Bikurgurl 2016

2016 we focused on The Year Of Quality. This was a year of major construction in our home. We had held off for so long, debating on what changes needed to be made, what changes we wanted to make given the resources we were willing to allocate, and ultimately, having nearly all our remodeling — while living in our home — completed during this year. I was the on-site foreman managing the renovation circus which included a few fantastic contractors, coupled with a few horrid human beings.

On the outside, I also made significant progress on my passion project: my garden!

From purchasing plants to trading them at Green Elephants, I was thrilled to dig up as much grass as my husband would tolerate {actually much more than he liked!} and transform our yard into a mostly-native, organic garden with room for both edibles and natural delights. Though my education is in Biology and Environmental Studies, it’s only in our present home that I’ve been able to act on my deep passion for preserving native species and living, in part, off our small city plot of land.


2015 was The Year Of Less. We really focused on getting rid of the superfluous and unnecessary, creating Margin. However, we had no idea when we set this as our ‘Word of the Year’ I’d be diagnosed only a few days later with my cancer diagnosis. However, as a result of necessity, we were able to get started on our remodeling projects when in the summer our refrigerator hoses failed and we had major water damage to our floors. This enabled us to implement more minimalism in our lives, including ridding ourselves of carpet, which allows us to live more simply {and for my allergies, it’s been a blessing}. Simplification, for our family, has happened in waves. Giving, taking, and ultimately finding new normals along the way.

2015 - Handley Family 2
My Family 2015, 4 weeks post surgery

The-Year-Of-Less began to allow us Margin to live life more fully. Oftentimes, I thought about how much there was less of me physically with the removal of my cancer and affected tissues during my surgeries. It became a joke. Well, it was a joke that was really only funny when I shared it with my husband, who until recently, didn’t really see the humor. I wasn’t willing to allow that joke to define me, but I inadvertently did. Not all of our circle was at as much ease as we were in joking about the cancer, and I found I wasn’t okay with them joking about it either. Of course, that self-deprecating humor was exactly what I wasn’t willing to share. The implications of who I was now {was I still a woman?} hung heavy around my heart.


Unintentionally, with my cancer diagnosis and recovery, I needed a place to focus my need for positive energy. I wasn’t comfortable talking to anyone about how displaced I felt and decided to restart my blog. I tried to only portray the happy parts of my life and pushed myself hard to focus on only positive feelings. I wasn’t always feeling positive inside, but felt that I could ‘fake it ’til I made it’. I am thankful I had a place to dump positive thoughts and readers, really a community, who wanted to cheer me on. With my now clearing the halfway mark in my five year wait to be deemed ‘cancer free’, I’ve used this blog to write much less about the process of my sudden cancer diagnosis and treatment through surgeries than I’d originally intended.

I had planned to share much more of my cancer diagnosis experience and struggles to understand what was happening to my body, as well as where I dug around to find information, to help others find strength if they, too, were confronted with an Ovarian Cancer diagnosis. However, I found the feelings and experiences  of my day-to-day recovery and realizations too much and too raw to articulate at all, let alone well. I have had some very bright days and, conversely, some very dark days.

Bikurgurl 2018, Julep Nail Bar
Catching up on some writing and garden planning while waiting for my pedicure — just a little me time!

These fluctuations in my moods and attitudes, based on hormone fluctuations through my recovery treatment, and getting back to my ‘normal’ life, was more than I could bear to share. I was, and am still, unwilling to write in-depth about my experience and have others to weigh-in, judge, or scrutinize me or my raw feelings on my blog. Even writing this post is a huge step for me: to admit it was much harder than I wanted anyone to know. I wanted to be strong, not only for myself, but for everyone around me. Thankfully, I didn’t continue to keep it buried deep down inside, choosing instead to write. Constantly.

I have written down many of my thoughts and experiences, feelings and fears, but they are all written, scribbled in some cases, in long hand. Articulated in my journals, stories, and idea books, I find as I move closer to feeling more of myself, being healthier, as well as being a better person in 2018.

Thank you for being here to walk with me on my journey!


What is your word of the year?



7 thoughts on “Freedom: 2018 Word of the Year

  1. Cancer is a very hard road to travel. I am so glad for you that it is now in your past although I know from my own Mother that it has a habit of popping up when ever you feel off colour. My word for this year is balance but I am having a lot of trouble with that lately.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I do have increased risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer as it is so closely linked with ovarian cancer. Coupled with my family history of both breast and ovarian cancer, I’m vigilant about testing {though it was a surprise when I was diagnosed as I presented as having endometriosis}. I love your Word of the Year: Balance! I can understand how it can be difficult to ‘balance’ it all and thought about that as my key word as well. I’m journaling on creating more balance this week – how serendipitous! Thank you so much for stopping by 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful and very personal post! Over the past year I can really see how your words of the year are shaping and changing your life. It makes me happy. And I much enjoy being included in your new outlook on the friends who surround you. Thank you my friend for sticking with me.

    As for my 2018 word of the year, I think I have already completely fallen off. And it’s only March! Maybe it was a little too ambitious a word. It is too late to pick a new one?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww 😘 Thank you, my friend! Thank you for sticking with me – life’s too short to not spend it with good people! We never did touch base on why you picked your word…I think coffee’s in our future!!! ☕️🖤✔️


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