Katy Hirschfeld, who has a really amazing Instagram. AND is from Austin.

I can’t remember exactly when this tradition started, but for the last five or six years, New Year’s has prompted me to do this funny thing.

It’s not that I’m bad at resolutions, per se. It’s just that historically, my resolutions have been less “Year of Magical Thinking” and more “A List of Things I Need To Get Done Anyway.” I resolve to finish my master’s thesis, for example. Or, I resolve to apply for a job. Kind of…uninspiring.

I fancy myself a dreamer, but really, I am almost unshakeably practical. These two sides bump up against each other on a near-daily basis, wrestling for central command, so that all thoughts of “Paris! Let’s just GO there!” are immediately followed by, “hey, you know what’s a BETTER idea is to to sit down and make sure you have all your 1099 forms.” Isn’t that sad? I contain multitudes.

Anyway, because of these battling sides, it’s never been ‘resolve’ that I need. I can get shit done. What I’ve needed, still need, is direction.

So in came “the New Year’s Word,” perhaps the most useful, as well as the most viral, (10 or 11 people!) thing I have ever created.

The New Year’s Word is a theme for the year, and acts as my anchor, psychic counterbalance, and cartoon arrow sign on a forked road. And while it’s personal, it’s also somewhat crowd-sourced, in that I choose something that feels like a collective theme for my people.

Because I began 2014 foggy with pregnancy hormones, I didn’t really choose or announce a New Year’s Word. BUT, over the course of the year, it became clear that the whole thing was about transition / clearing out / cleansing / burning down the fields to make way for new growth. Some of these shifts were lovely (Omar and I launched a podcast; other friends and I launched an aerial dance company), some of them were violent (a handful of break-ups, as well as a few deaths, among my friends), and some of them were violently lovely (like giving birth).

Because of all these shake-ups, I felt like everyone entered 2015 blinking away mortar dust. Not that it was all bad, it was just a lot to process. I was lucky: My year was about figuratively and literally giving birth to things I’m passionate about, but now, I feel like it’s time for something different. To not push so hard. To hang back a bit. To support other folks for a change, ya big egomaniac!

This is all a way of saying that I think it’s time for less doing on my part, and more listening, so that’s my word for 2015: “listen.” Listen to whom? Good question. Everybody!

Part of this has to do with being a rookie parent, part of it has to do with being a rookie podcaster, part of it has to do with wanting to be a better friend, part of it has to do with aerial training, and part of it has a spiritualish component that I don’t even quite know how to articulate.

A long time ago, I visited my friend David at his sweet little house in south Austin, where he pulled some tarot cards for me and told me what was what with my zodiac chart. At the time I was considering quitting my job, but was afraid to make the leap into freelancerdom. David pulled the Wheel of Fortune card, and explained to me that if I did in fact leap, there would be these little “filling stations” so to speak that would support me along the way. That I wouldn’t be all alone, hustling, but that there were already people and companies lined up to help me. Like everything in astrology and tarot, it sounded half believable, half “if you say so!”, but lo and behold, David was right. I found the people and the companies, I didn’t put Ross and I into debt, and everything turned out ok.

But the reason I went to David at all with those questions was because I sensed something was up. A big change was a-comin.’ And now, I feel like the same is happening with this “listen” thing. I’m not entirely sure what I’m supposed to be listening out for, exactly? Or who to listen to? Just that I need to…do it.

So that is my word, and in the spirit of listening, I’d love to hear what yours is.

Here’s to the new year, new words, and new ears to hear them.

  • Jessica Lonett

    “I fancy myself a dreamer, but really, I am almost unshakeably practical.” This is 100% how I feel about myself. Those two sides are no picnic to try to find balance between.

    My word for 2015 is create. I wanted something that could have a tangible element and more abstract side too. Create more, consume less. Create a routine. Create positive thoughts. I found this quote from funny lady, Kristin Wiig, “If you’re creating anything at all, it’s really dangerous to care about what people think.”

    It speaks nicely to both of those contrasting personality traits for me because usually my dreamer side gets quieted by the practical side caring too much about what other people think.

    • Tolly Moseley

      Jess, “create” was my word one year, too! 2013, actually – same year Omar and I started talking about our podcast idea, same year folks and I started dreaming about an aerial dance company, and same year that I, uh, made Nico. It’s a powerful word! Wield it wisely. ;) (And I know you will.)

      Solid advice from Kristin Wiig, too.

    • Rachael Genson

      This is actually my word for 2015 as well! I’ve realized that I have come to desire too many things, and instead should work to CREATE my own happiness, be it through artistic creations, professional ones, or abstract ones – I think it’s such a fantastic word to aspire to.

  • Lindsay Patterson

    Mine is “quality.” It’s about doing a few things, doing them well, and enjoying what I do. Having a baby is a good excuse to focus on the things that matter and try to set an example you’d want to follow for yourself.

    Re: “listening”: I’ve been re-reading “The Wind Up Bird Chronicle”by Haruki Murakami and it’s very much in tune with your spirit of listening. I recommend it!

    • Tolly Moseley

      Lindsay, I feel like you’ve long been a quality > quantity person! NPR, yo!

      But I know what you mean. Babies make you hyper-conscious of the way you spend your time, *and* (at least in my case) force a level of presence that I’m not sure I could have cultivated all by myself.

  • Belle

    My word this year is “Go”, to remind myself not to simply think my cool ideas, but to also do something about them. Love the New Year’s word btw m/

    • Tolly Moseley

      Love that, Belle! So simple and powerful.

  • js

    I feel like I know your answer. It’s a zen type of “listen.” Like, there’s a period at the end of the word. There’s nothing to figure out with it, or listen for anything specifically, or to try to form goals around, but I think more of a spiritual directive. Like a third eye thing, or like “tuning in.” Then, when you’re “listening” you will hear. That’s all there is to it. That’s what came to me when I read this.

    • Tolly Moseley


      You are so right. I am such a “goals” / checklist / accomplishments-driven person, and in some ways, my words in past years have reflected that…’openness’ (to doing new things), ‘create’ (to making new things). Not that goals are bad. It’s just that this year, I feel compelled to listen without the end result being accomplishment-oriented (like listen in order to be a better journalist, listen to in order to be a better mother or spouse, etc.) It IS a third eye thing, and I love you for making that connection.

  • Leigh Ann

    I didn’t officially pick a word for 2015. My 2014 word was DO, as in do all of the things i keep saying I want to do, like “submit an essay to that site!” or “create that piece of art that would be perfect for that wall!” or “vacuum!” But I didn’t do as much a I intended. Life and a debilitating injury got in the way of a lot of that. So if I had to choose a word for 2015, it would be DO-OVER.

    • Tolly Moseley

      Ha! Leigh Ann, you are one of the most industrious people I know – mother, writer/blogger, storytelling conference host – so, it’s funny that you get on yourself for not doing enough. ;)

      Still, I hear you! Sounds like 2014 was a lesson in acceptance/patience, so is 2015 ripe for your badassery?

  • layla guest

    Sometimes when there’s a new post, I purposely wait a week or two to read it, so that I can make it last a little longer. It’s my version of putting the brakes on like when I binge watch seasons of tv on Netflix.

    At any rate – my word(s) this year are patience and presence. Sometimes they go hand in hand with one another and I feel this symbiotic agreement and then other times it’s like I have to use one against the other and try to make a case for either.

    But interestingly, it sounds like listen is of the same ilk. It’s an active word, but requires passive activity, you know? Words of past years have had a sort of specific goal attached, but listen is so sophisticated and reciprocal. Amazing!

    • Tolly Moseley

      Layla, you are just the best. :)

      Listen is *totally* in the same family as patience/presence. Maybe because we both had big years in 2014? And are ready to let 2015 unfold in whatever serendipitous / surprising / thrilling / boring / whatever way it wants to?

  • steve eckelman

    I don’t have a word for the year, yet. Well maybe thats it. Yet. I guess I have a word now. Yet. Thanks.

    i go to for meditations that help with listening. Here is a talk she gave called The Art of Listening.

    • Tolly Moseley

      “Yet” is a great word, Steve. It implies anticipation, maybe? That you are in a constant state of openness / receptivity to whatever magic comes along?

      Thanks for the Tara Brach suggestion! I still need *so* much help listening, so I going to go watch that video.

  • Kellyopoly

    Hey T, I found this post today & wanted to share that I’ve had a word for *almost* every year since you uploaded your original blog post about choosing a word instead of a resolution. It totally has inspired me each year since & I’ve shared the idea with others. Some of mine haven’t been memorable, but many have been really meaningful to me & grounded me in moments when I needed a guiding thought.

    2013- just after my dad was diagnosed, not knowing if I would leave ATX or not, not knowing what that either decision would mean for me: faith.
    2014- moved home, knew time was limited: present (being present, seeing the present as a gift)
    2015- revel. An upswing after a difficult time, focusing on enjoyment, savoring every moment, especially the best ones, following happiness.
    2016- connect. Making sure I connect with my friends/family deeply. Help make connections for other people, connecting dots within my life, bringing ideas/people together.

    Just had to share how much that idea has meant to me, and it all started on your blog. <3 I really do reflect on my word year-round, especially when I need to make a decision. Wishing you a year with lots of active listening & good people to listen to.

    • Kellyopoly

      Haha, just noticing this is dated 2015. So I hope *last year* was full of good things to listen to.

    • Tolly Moseley

      Oh Kelly, this absolutely made my day. I know, I feel like the New Year’s word is very anchoring, and believe it or not, I’m *still* trying to figure out what mine is for 2016! So your post here inspires ME to listen a little more deeply (hey there, 2015!) and let it come to me. :) Thanks so much for sharing all this, Kelly.