An unusually well-dressed me.

It’s a personal tradition I do every year: Name a New Year’s Word. Not a resolution — but a word.

I’ve found this method to be extremely useful, because these words are kind of like my theme for the year. If I’m facing some sort of big decision — “should I quit my job?” for example — I ask myself what year it is. “Oh, it’s the Year of Evolution,” I’ll say, and that answers the question for me.

It’s an effective weather vane for small decisions, too. In 2009, I was going out a lot. Too much. So I made 2010 the Year of Balance, and when I faced a Friday night of, say, going to the Mohawk for the third time that week or staying home and making soup with Ross, I cried, “Year of Balance!” And later that evening, you’d find me hovering peacefully above a bowl of stew.

Here are the words I’ve chosen for the past three years:

2012: Evolution

2011: Openness

2010: Balance

They have all paid off in interesting ways.

You’ve heard about 2012 and 2010′s words, but in 2011, The Year of Openness, I discovered aerial silks, a practice that’s now become so sacred and special to me I have a hard time talking about it. I also tried other first-time novelties that year, because hey — I was open! Samba dance? OK. Apply to SXSW? You betcha. Buy a house? Well, why not.

The New Year’s Word is, in some ways, a way to avoid resolutions, which I love, but am bad at keeping. My goals only seem to exist in extremes, expressing themselves either in tiny, quotidian to-do lists, or writ large in the form of “big, vague, happy dreams” — to quote one of you.

But I suppose that’s enough pussyfooting around. What is my word for 2013?

2013: Create

I think it must be in the air, this urge to create. My pal Lauren wrote about a similar resolutionary thrust yesterday on CultureMap, and I’ve heard others echo it, too.

I’ll tell you the specific, personal forms this word is taking:

1. Build a private yoga studio at my house. Holy shit. I’m being serious! We’re straight up remodeling a portion of our house to be a wood-floored, many-windowed, peaceful little yoga sanctuary where I can teach private classes. Did I mention that we’re not rich? We’re not, but I had a few freelance gigs this year that allowed me to sock away some savings for it. And now we’re assembling a crew and pulling permits and BUILDING A FREAKING STUDIO.

2. To that end, I start yoga teacher certification training in a week and a half. Yay!

3. Write good stuff. I’m freelance writing full-time right now, and you guys. Whoa. I love it. I may be singing a different tune come tax time, but for the time being, I feel so utterly connected to my work in a way I hadn’t at any other job. Yes, I talk like a neanderthal sometimes when I go for whole days without leaving the house, but I get to choose my clients and work at my own pace and name my hourly rate and basically not hate myself. I’m still working on administrative things like, for instance, an invoicing system, but look — I have a website!

Anyway, in the creative aspect of writing, I want to keep on submitting my stories. To outlets I myself read, respect, and believe in. This time last year, I submitted my naked yoga story to Salon, and right now, I’m working on one about high school that I’m about to submit somewhere. At this rate, I’ll complete one story a year! Ha. Maybe in 2013, I’ll double my output to a whole two stories.

4. Aerial silks — perform. Like I said earlier, I have a hard time writing about aerial silks here on this blog. I’m not sure why, but Gabi suggested that perhaps it’s become a meditation. It’s taken on spiritual dimensions. Does this sound weird? Probably, but, I think she’s right.

I’ve danced intermittently since high school, but these past two years I’ve attempted to do it regularly, a few times each week: Mostly through silks, but also through other little groups and workshops — a little samba here, a little jazz or hip-hop there. Truth be told, I guess I don’t talk about it much here on the blog because performing, the chief expression of dance, still feels deeply personal/vulnerable/SCARY to me.

But, also sublime.

I had a silks performance a few weeks ago, and it was one of the most heart-burstingly beautiful experiences I’ve had in a while. This probably sounds so corny to any of you who perform on a regular basis — hello there, Austin musicians! — but for a lone writer/blogger person like me, who practices her craft in private with the assistance of a delete key, doing “live art” is a pretty big deal, I guess.

So what I’m saying is, I want more of that. To do silks in public. I am hooked! And while I’m still young(ish) and able, I’d like to keep climbing up cloths in front of you, because I sense something is being healed. Not a history of abuse or anything like that, but maybe just fear. Ah, our old friend — fear.

5. Family? Yow, I can’t believe I’m saying this here on the Internet, but we are kinda sorta maybe thinking about expanding our two to three (or rather, three to four, if you count Claudia).

Which is so awkward, right? Like, whenever any couple says, “we’re trying!” what they literally mean is: “we’re having sex!” And while all couples do that, it’s awkward for the listener to then go and think about it. That couple “trying.”

So, don’t think about it too much, but Ross and I are “considering” “trying.” By which I mean, Ross is ready, and I am neurotically holding things up until a magical genie visits me in my dreams and tells me that I am definitively ready and that yes, I will love pregnancy. In truth I am scared, physically, of pregnancy — and while that’s another post for another time, I’m also at the age now where a handful of my friends have been pregnant, and assure me it’s nothing to worry about. That in fact, it’s the most natural thing in the world.


There you have it! 2013, you are my Year of Create. Creating. Creation. I look forward to you so tremendously!

What’s your New Year’s Word, Reader?

  • Katie

    I’ve been patiently waiting for you to reveal your word of the year. Yay, for you and all of your accomplishments. Create was my word last year, but guess what I noticed I suck at keeping my word in mind when making decisions. I chose build for this year with the goal of using it instead of hoping the magic fairy takes care of it for me.

    I’m super stoked about your yoga studio. Remember I totally want to take classes. I want my whole body in shape this year.

    Also, I’d love to pick your brain someday about freelance writing. Writing is on my brain lately.

    Cheers to 2013!

    • Tolly Moseley

      Katie! I LOVE ‘build.’ Not only because it makes me envision you as an adorably petite construction worker, but because it does feel tangible and solid — like you’ve got the blocks in your hand, ready to assemble. I can’t wait to see what you do with them.

      Yoga studio — word up. I’ll let you know when it’s finished. We’re breaking ground in February (just waiting for the city to release our permits) and hope to be finished by the end of March. I’m probably being overly optimistic but that’s our current timeframe, anyway.

      Writing — sure! Tweet DM me when you’re in the ‘hood (Burnet/Anderson area) and we’ll rendezvous.

  • ChelleLynn


  • Rachael Genson

    Not only have you gotten me in the personal habit of creating a New Year’s Word for myself, which I think is so much more attainable than my constantly failing resolutions, but my office is now doing it too! This is such a great idea, Tolly! Love your word, by the way. This year, my word is Smile (i.e. Stop doing things that make me stressed so that I can focus on my own personal happiness).

    On another note, I’ve been patiently waiting to begin taking yoga when you begin teaching, so I’m super excited to hear about your progress!

    • Tolly Moseley

      Aw, your office makes me happy Rachael. I think ‘smile’ is a great word/mantra for 2013 — I can’t wait to read your blog, and see what that manifests.

      And you can totally come take yoga with me when I’m all trained! In the meantime, I’m not sure if it’s near you, but Dharma Yoga (where I’m training) is a really wonderful place for beginners. It’s on Guadalupe, across the street from Wheatsville. If you’re at all curious about yoga right now, I encourage you to try out a class there!

  • Anslee

    Biggest. Smile. Ever. On my face! Can’t wait to hear more about your exciting year!

    • Tolly Moseley

      Ditto, Anslee — and PS, saw you Tweeting about Bikram this morning! Where do you take it?

  • slavetofashion

    Last year I picked a word, but this year I just decided to bask in my blessings. That being said I believe my word of the year is going to be queso – I’m going to find and consume queso as often as possible. So I might need some yoga classes…….

    Congrats on the amazing things happening – I look forward to hearing about all of them, and I am so happy for you!!

    • Tolly Moseley

      Hey, I think that’s awesome Cathy. Not to put a word in your mouth (har) but maybe your overall sentiment is ‘gratitude?’ (Though ‘bask in my blessings’ is an infinitely more soulful, lovely way of putting it).

      Ummm also, ‘queso’ is an excellent (and attainable!) vision for 2013. ;)

  • Leigh Ann

    Looks like 2013 is set to be an exciting year for you! Congrats on the full time freelancing. I think making the decision to start a family is say scarier than the actual act of starting it. We got 3 kids from 2 pregnancies, 1 of which was unplanned, and I think if we had to make the conscious decision to have another after twins, we never would have. But she’s completely awesome (they all are), so it worked out.

    That being said, my word for 2013 is “emerge.” I’ve been living in a kid fog for almost 5 years, and I have a lot of opportunities and things I want to do that require me to get my shit together. I will emerge from this fog and reclaim a little more of my life!

    • Tolly Moseley

      YEAH!!! Oh, ‘emerge’ might be my favorite NY Word that I’ve heard so far, Leigh Ann (though Cathy’s ‘queso’ is a close second).

      I think it’s common (at least, it appears to be common) to immerse yourself in kid stuff when you’re a new mom. When they’re all teeny tiny, they just have so many…needs. Like, survival needs. So good for you for turning the lens inward just a bit, and calling forth all that native talent and nascent morsels of identity. (PS — I’m reading your blog post about it right now and fist-pumping)

  • stacey higgins

    I love this pic Tolly!!

    • Tolly Moseley

      Thank you, kitten. xx

  • Callie McLean

    This is such a great way of looking at things! The word I want my year to embody is “embrace”. I really want to be present and actively taking advantage of all that 2013 is bringing my way (big move, a new city). I don’t want to anything to pass me by. I am not usually good with change, but I really would like to get better at accepting it since I have a lot of it coming my way, and I think this word/attitude will really help.

    Thank you for your post!

    • Tolly Moseley

      Callie! “Embrace” is such a good word…it implies that you are going to “feel it all” as that Feist song says. The good, the bad, the uncomfortable, the scary, the yummy, the thrilling. As I was writing about today, I’m coming to understand that there’s really not any one emotion that’s better than the rest; you need them ALL to have a rich, whole, deep life.

      (And PS, you will love Austin. ;)

  • Amy

    my word in 2011 was “moving”, 2012 was “implementation”. this year it’s “purpose” … I love looking at the world this way. And I love your practical applications of it! Good luck!

    • Tolly Moseley

      Oooh, these are so, so great Amy. I love your words! Do you have a blog where I can read about them, and how they manifested in your life? (Totally OK if you don’t — I shouldn’t go around assuming that everyone has a blog. ;)

      Anyway, “purpose.” Very cool. Any concrete visions so far of how purpose is going to shape your year?

      • Amy

        I do indeed have a blog, as many of us do. Interpret As You May, …. the post about my 2013 word is being posted tomorrow actually :)

  • Lindsay

    This year is Transition. Thinking about the last item on your list and the things we need to make it happen! (in terms of stability not… you know… don’t think about it too hard.)

    • Tolly Moseley

      ;) Heh! Well, let’s trade daycare tips one of these days, eh Lindsay? Or at least line up some Central Market, babies-in-strollers play dates.

  • metropochris

    Love this post and your New Year’s word concept. Is it ok if I adopt yours? I feel like this too is the year for me to really do what has been running through my veins since my very first childhood memory – that of building a Voltron figure, with friends in kindergarten, using large primary colored Lego blocks. From this point forward I’ll be calling this year, my year to Create. I’ll try and let that word guide me like it has guided you in the past, and maybe somehow at the end of the year I’ll have something to show for it.

    Thanks for always providing inspiration.

    • Tolly Moseley

      You are more than welcome to adopt “create,” Chris…the New Year’s Word is communal and meant for sharing. I know you are in the middle of your own crazy sparkly beautiful creation process right now, and I am cheering you on 100%!

  • Liz

    Brilliant post! Love the concept behind a New Year’s word! Making it a new tradition for me and my hubby :) Thanks for sharing!

    • Tolly Moseley

      What did you and your husband come up with, Liz? I’m always so curious to hear how people translate this concept!

  • Austinot

    Could you be any more adorable? Brit and I were sitting at Mozarts and scanning through some Austin blogs.. saw your photo and Brit exclaimed, “She’s so cute” haha. Happy New Year Tolly!

    • Tolly Moseley

      You and Brit are always too kind to me, Eric! Here’s to continued success with your blog baby in the new year. xx

  • Laura

    You are so freaking cute in that photo. Happy new year and congrats on the upcoming yoga teacher training. I did one in 2009 and it was a life changing amazing experience.

    • Tolly Moseley

      Thank you, Laura! What program did you enroll in? I would love to hear more about your experience if you feel like sharing here.

      I am so, SO looking forward to yoga teacher training that I can hardly stand it! These past few days I’ve actually gotten obsessed with bikram…something I thought I would NEVER say, as bikram and I have traditionally had a chilly (har) relationship. But my program, Dharma Yoga, is more Buddhist-based and spiritual than bikram…and what can I say, I’m a touchy feely spiritual kinda gal.

  • Dad

    Want to know how many Tolly Moseleys there are in America? Go to JUST ONE. YOU! You are unique, special, one of a kind.

    • Tolly Moseley

      ;) Thanks Daddy.

  • MamanVerdant

    First off. . . this music is amazing, quite possibly heading to Waterloo after work to grab an LP or CD, thanks for sharing. Second, I LOVE this post and idea, I might borrow Balance for this year as I’m having a tough time balancing work, my one year old, my husband, and myself! I need to find a routine that works, that doesn’t feel like I’m leaving someone in the dust, un-loved. I hope your heart aches are eased, and that 2013 is everything you want it to be. (And I’ve started sharing my birth story, thanks to your encouragement. I’ll be tuning in and taking note, following your foot steps, first stop dance class, it’s been two years and my soul is aching for it!) And best of luck on your Yoga endeavor as well, so inspiring! Thank you, thank you, thank you!