I swore I wasn’t going to do this.

I was not going to write an end of the year wrap-up post, or a list of my favorite books, or favorite moments of the year. I was not going to make any New Year’s resolutions (aside from the perennial one I make to stop swearing) or post any goals related to weight, writing, water consumption, or anything else. I find the whole concept – much like all of January – just…ugh.


But I have done the word of the year thing for the last few and I definitely liked it. I suppose I didn’t do much with my 2015 word, Progress – at least not here on the blog – so I figured picking a word for 2016 was probably a wasted effort. But it’s not.
Just because I didn’t actively or regularly report on my word doesn’t mean I did not make Progress in many ways throughout the year. And as I recall, I chose Progress as a theme for me, the Hub, and Zilla – whether they liked it or not. In many ways we have all made significant progress in the last year. I’m calling all of that success.

But I’m kind of done with 2015 so let’s move forward, shall we?

See? Progress…

Despite my original protestations about this sort of thing, I’ve decided to go ahead and follow Thoreau’s advice to be comfortable with changing my mind. Admitting and accepting a change in opinion or belief is a sign of growth and, well, progress.

“Speak what you think today in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today.”

All that said, I’m doing the over-achiever thing and opting to carry a heavier load by choosing two words for 2016 – Calm and Control.

Calm is a simple choice for me. You see, calm is something I very much am not. I have developed an annoying little anxiety thing over the last few years. I am certain that it is a by-product of my husband’s job loss in June of 2012 and all the things that have happened since as a result of that event. OK, in truth I’ve never been what anyone would call a calm human being, but I find myself even less so in the last several years for so many reasons. I know I need to find a better sense of inner and outer calm and I suppose I owe my Husband a bit of thanks for pointing it out to me several weeks ago. It’s OK; I needed to hear it out loud. So Calm is my primary word for the year.


But let’s talk about Control. Control is such a dangerous word, isn’t it? I’ve been accused of being a “control freak” more than once in my life. I’ve come to accept that this is pretty much true, even if not very complimentary. The word control has so much negative connotation associated with it but I’m taking it on as my secondary word anyway. Why? Because I know that in order for me to actually be calm, I need to feel that I have control over my life, my decisions, my emotions, and my reactions. If I can gain control, I can find that much-needed calm.

But being in control of all these things is an unrealistic endeavor at best. I realize that. And I accept that there are circumstances in life that are simply beyond my control. I can not control events or other people or the weather. Hell, I can’t even control my cats. However, I can take control of how I react to the world around me and that is how I am going to approach the whole concept of Calm and In Control for the year ahead.


Yup, it’s a challenge. A big one. I’m equal to the task, though, and it’s about time I started to actually believe that. To draw upon last year’s word, I am a work in progress; there is much I still need to do to reach the place and the person I want to be. There is much all three of us can do to continue to work toward our family goals. But I also secretly think there’s some uncomplimentary truth to the line “if mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” When I step back and look around me at my family and even my pets, I realize that my mood and demeanor have great power to affect the overall balance of things in this home. So that’s where I’m operating from – the realization that this calm starts with me.

Wish me luck.


Finish-the-Sentence-Friday-150x150This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday prompt.

This week’s sentence is “My 2016 Word of the Year is…”
Our host is Kristi Campbell, and co-hosts are Mardra Sikora – this week’s sentence thinker-upper – and Allison McGrath Smith.

Mama KatAlso joining Kat Bouska’s link-up this week which I haven’t done in forever!

Kat’s prompts this week also included an option to talk about a word of the year.


Lisa A. Listwa is a self-employed writer with experience in education, publishing, and the martial arts. Believing there was more to life than punching someone else’s time clock and inspired by the words of Henry David Thoreau, she traded her life as a high school educator for a life as a writer and hasn’t looked back. She is mother to one glorious handful of a daughter, wife to the nicest guy on the planet, and reluctant but devoted owner of three Rotten Cats. You can find her adventures and thoughts on living life deliberately here on the blog.

43 thoughts on “Calm and In Control

  1. I always start out a new year afraid I won’t make any progress by the time one more year passes, but life moves ahead regardless.
    I am glad to see you here again, but even if you feel like you haven’t blogged much, you do realize all the progress you’ve made in so many ways.
    I liked my year enough to write the dreaded year summary post for 2015 and now I am working on achievming calm so I can move forward.
    My mind rarely stays calm for long.
    I like your two words for 2016. Some have a word and others have a phrase. My word is “adventure”. I hope to go on one, this year and for the rest of my life. I know that my life, up to this point, it has been a wild one.

    1. Life definitely moves ahead, Kerry, whether we like it or not, so we may as well make it a good ride.
      Thanks for saying you’re glad to see words in this space. Sometimes when you step back for a bit, it can quickly feel like no one notices or misses you.
      Looking back at 2015 there are definite positives for me – it’s not like it was total crap. But there are also elements I am really just ready to be done with so I’m happy to move forward.
      My mind never stays calm, which is why I really need to work on that. I think a greater sense of calm will go a long way toward tackling the goals I have right now. Probably be good for my blood pressure, too! 😀 I think adventure is a great word and I hope that your days ahead are filled with many wonderful ones – I’ll be looking forward to reading about them!

  2. Good Luck Lisa! I am with you in regards to id “momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” That’s the mantra in my house. My mood so controls everyone else. And if you find success with your calm and control (and I truly hope you do), please blog about it and share your tips. I need them!

  3. I can tell you that I am anything, but calm at times here either and try so hard to keep it all in control, but you read me at my worst in my own post, so you get that I very much have my own moments. Still though love your choose of words and am wishing you so much luck for 2016 on this now. Have a great year now, Lisa!! 🙂

    1. I can’t believe the things you shared in your post – crazy! I don’t think I would have held it together very well. 😀 I think with kids there is a certain element of un-calm always present but I find when that gets too big the trouble starts. Have a great year, too, Janine!

  4. I wish you luck, Lisa. Yoga has helped me a lot. There is even chair yoga if you are unable. The meditative and relaxation part of it helps with the calm and honoring yourself. Namaste.

    1. You know, I’ve tried yoga – I don’t know that it’s for me. I think it’s a little too quiet for my personality. 😀 I do like the meditative but I got that more actively from my karate training in big ways many years ago. I’ll find the right thing, I’m sure. I have lots of ideas!

  5. Two words! Good for you and honestly, I think you’ve made a lot of progress this past year. Truly. I am most definitely not a control freak over some of the things I need to be – like organizing my office and turning the downstairs den into more of a play area/ rec room. It’s just so ugh! But calm – yes, I can work on that too. So glad you linked up with your words of the year!

    1. Yeah, I picked two because I’m so bad at decisions and favorites, I think. 😀 But the two definitely can work together. I do think I’ve made a lot of progress and thanks for saying so – it means a lot. I think with kids like ours calm is probably a very good thing – I know when I’m out of sorts she gets that way, too. I’m happy to be back in the FTSF roundup. I need to make sure I get words on page more often as I move forward.

  6. I love your words…I too have had anxiety creep into my life these past few years (for various reasons) and I used to be the most laid back person I know. I hate feeling anxious (who doesn’t, right?) and wish I could snap my fingers and make it go away. You are right about control too – we can’t control everyone or everything, but we can control how we react. That’s something I need to work on too. Here’s to a serene 2016!

  7. You know I saw the FTSF and said I wasn’t going to do it either and then the word came to me just like that. I didn’t want to be held accountable to my post, but I felt peace with the word peace and that was the one.

    Like your calm or not calm effects your family I think my quiet time or lack of effects mine. So cheers to 2016 and getting in peace and calm where we can fit it in 😉

  8. Oh dear friend, you write so well- do you know that? You do.

    I LOVE this post. Your authenticity and your words- both resonate with me deeply. Calm- ah that elusive word is so hard to grasp, isn’t it?

    I get anxiety. I love how you said that when you feel like your world can be in control, calmness comes. SO TRUE.

    But oh so daringly incomprehensible. I rarely feel like there is any control in many parts of my life… that’s when I grab hold HARD of the things I CAN control. And much like you said so beautifully here- it’s how you perceive it all- how you handle the throws of life and what I do best is dig deep to find those things I DO have control over.

    My outlook. My faith. My strength. My willingness to LET. GO. And then I land on all the things in my life I am truly grateful for- the areas that seem “calm” or stable or secure.

    You got this, girl. You got this…

    Here’s to a work in progress!

    1. Chris Carter is on my blog!!! 😀
      I’ll be honest – I wish I could tell you that I believe I write well all the time. I want to believe it all the time. But I doubt myself. All the time. 🙂 So thank you for your words – they just made my night (and it’s been a pretty great night all around)! I’ll tell you this, though. I’ve decided to stop being afraid of putting my words out there and plan to hit the publish button a lot more.
      Calm is elusive, at least for me. I think I’ve always tried so hard to control the things, events, and people around me and maybe now at this semi-ripe age I’m starting to realize that it’s simply not possible. The only thing I can do is control how I react to things and how I handle what life hurls in my direction. Like you said – it’s all about that.
      It’s been a wild ride these past few years, hasn’t it? I know you’ve been around for much of it. I believe that despite many stumbling blocks, many good things have happened in that time. And I also believe that there is much more greatness ahead.
      SO glad to see you here – I’ll be visiting more often. Promise! xo

  9. Good luck with your words! I did a roundup of “best posts” sort of at the last minute, My word is intentional so maybe I REALLY need to work on things. I also really struggle to stay calm. Most of the time I appear collected on the outside by beneath the surface? No.

    Happy New Year to You!

  10. I think I’ve been thinking about those two words, Calm and Control, a lot, too, without realizing it. I’ve been placing myself in a few more adventurous situations lately to get out of my comfort zone, situations that I’ve dreaded or have caused me anxiety in anticipation of them because I would have no control over them. I’ve been able to persevere through them and come out in one piece by focusing on being calm. I can do this. Just keep going. Breathe. And, then, suddenly, I’m on the other side of the tightrope, realizing it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be.

    I hope focusing on Calm and Control brings you peace in 2016. All the best Lisa.

    1. That’s often true, isn’t it, Julie? Anxiety and fear are so tied together and sometimes we make things seem worse than they end up being in reality. Breathe is a very good word to remember, too! Best to you as well!

  11. You just reframed something for me. I have always hated that If Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy thing. Found it a sexist insult. But….how you said it, that is different. There is truth that our frame of mind does influence those around us. If we want to engender contentment in others, we need to be content. Or happy, or kind, or so many other things. Thank you, Lisa. I love your mind. It helps to clear mine!

    1. Hi, May! Happy new year!
      Yes, that saying can definitely be taken that way. I’m looking at it as a way to be more mindful of how my actions, thoughts, words, ripple outward. Thanks for your really awesome words – I feel so influential now! 😀

  12. So I respectfully disagree with the idea that you didn’t make progress in 2015. I remember reading about the writing gigs that you started reeling in. I see that as real progress! So Calm and Control: I see you owning that completely in 2016!! Best of luck, with some hugs and high 5s thrown in for good measure!

    1. Oh you’re absolutely right, Anna. I DID make progress…I just didn’t do much reporting here in this space. Maybe I did via the TToTs, though… There is still progress I want to make so I’m going to keep on it. Thanks for the luck and the high 5s. Are we still playing that game???

  13. A great word. There is really nothing we can control but our actions, thoughts, emotions, etc. It will make us crazy trying to control other — something we can never do. Here’s to more calm moments in 2016.

  14. Good luck! I think this may be my favorite word of the year (or duo) – this pair would be great for me too. You are so right – we can’t control everyone or everything else; we can only control our reaction. That ties into my word (embrace) – I want to embrace the fact that I can’t control it all, and that’s okay

    1. Thanks, Dana. I think so often that we might like to control everything but that’s not possible. I kind of think that if we could, perhaps we wouldn’t be as happy with it as we imagine. I hope by this time next year to find myself a much more calmer person!
      I loved your word – such a good choice!

  15. Those are great words and it’s so true that we (the women) set the mood for the entire household. What you said about control reminded me of the old Serenity prayer – accept the things you can’t change, change the things you can, and have wisdom to know the difference. Great advice.

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