Happy New Year! A new year means new beginnings, fresh starts, and for the Scroggins Clan, new words. Every year instead of making a list of goals, we pick one word that defines how we should focus our energy in work, play, relationships, spirituality, and ultimately, ourselves.

This year marks the sixth toast to our new words, and looking back, I love how it’s shaped our family. We discuss our words almost weekly throughout the year, and with the help of www.myintent.org, we read our words on our wrists daily.

Whenever one of us stumbles or celebrates, we look at our word to see if we were indeed working toward that better Self. Our words make for interesting family conversations, and pointed parental discussions. Somehow, these single words provide a skeleton to build on our year, and it’s become my favorite tradition.

An Update:

 Last year, my oldest child chose self-care as she approached her senior year, and made plans for her class schedule, part-time work, and college applications. I was impressed how she attacked each new challenge, making time for rest, family, and friends, while also managing the advanced coursework of a senior in high school.

I feel confident she knows how to take care of herself as she embarks on the new challenges of leaving home, enrolling at Texas A&M, and becoming a real adult.

My middle child chose tenacity because he wanted to be more aggressive in his chosen sports. I’m proud to say, he sunk his teeth into every letter of this word. He took risks, trying out for baseball, and tennis. While he didn’t find a spot on the baseball team, he found his footing on the tennis team, and loved every practice and match. He surprised himself by earning a place on Varsity, and was rewarded with a Letter Jacket.

In addition, he poured his heart into every football practice this fall. He woke at 4:30 every morning without complaint, and invested in every practice, play, conditioning exercise, game, rivalry, and team building activity. He loves the game, and becoming part of the varsity playoff team was an experience he will never forget. It’s spurred him to work even harder, to fuel his body to rise to the challenge, and to build a focused, determined team.

My youngest child chose niche because, as a middle schooler, he’s still finding his place. He also took a risk, and joined the cross country team this fall, and while he didn’t love the workouts, he did find a place. He too awoke for early morning runs without complaint, looked forward to meets, and made plans to run again next year.

He aims to playing football as an eighth grader, and now knowing what athletics entails, he’s ready to take another risk. In some ways, athletics has been a word for my two youngest children, and being a part of that organization has taught them work ethic, grit, and perseverance.

As an educator, I’ve always championed academics, and still do, but this year, as a parent, I must tip my hat to athletics. Well done. Family was the word we chose for my husband. Between work, charity obligations, and our family calendar, his schedule was always stretched thin, and we simply missed our time with him.

While it’s still a challenge to meet the demands of our busy life, we did create time for more family meals, more time on the patio, and more time away from home, mostly in our camper. Something magical happens when we leave our home. Work emails still chime. Game notifications still ding, but the further away we get from everyday, the more we fall into our family culture. That’s my favorite part: our family culture—the silly, disorganized, sarcastic, interesting, nerdy culture we call Scroggins Five.

Lastly, my family chose authenticity for me. The last few years have brought many changes, heartbreaks, and opportunities for me personally and professionally. I chose to resign my teaching post to focus on our family, and during that time was inspired to write more.

Writing has always been home for me, and it has become increasingly more the passion that drives my work. I created a website, www.danirhea.com, as a platform to write people’s stories, and as Karma would dictate, I’ve actually earned some clients. I’ve been blessed to tell stories about family heritage, and humbled to tell a cancer battle success story.

And, perhaps the most poignant was reconnecting with a dear friend to help her create a legacy for her children, her family, and her friends as she succumbed to ALS. As an empath, I know I’m meant to be the pen for many more stories, and I’m looking forward to creating graduation, engagement, and baby book stories. I’m eager to hear more from families about the people that create their own family culture.

 This is exactly who I am, and because my family spurred me to mediate on authenticity, I found my voice, or rather, my pen.

For 2019:

Brave: My oldest child chose brave as her word for 2019, and it is absolutely perfect. As she’s moved through her senior year in high school, I’ve watched her adapt to academic challenges, social changes, and work schedules. She’s always been a little timid with strangers, and we’ve nurtured her theater soul to allow her voice to be heard.

As she takes these next steps through high school graduation, she will have to be very brave as she embarks on her new student conference in college and moves into her dorm next fall. We’ve coached her on meeting the world head-on, and tackling each and every opportunity, but her introvert might try to win. Being brave will push her to squeeze every ounce of Life out of Living, and I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happens.

Open-Minded: My 15 year-old middle child chose open-mnded, which honestly makes me laugh out loud. All three of my children are old souls, but in some ways, my oldest son is an old man. He is extremely routine-oriented, organized, and (I hate to say this) sometimes rigid.

His closet is color coded. He wants meat in every meal, and his bedtime is usually before 8:30 p.m. He could use a little spontaneity in his life, and I’m thrilled that he recognizes that fact. Cheers to him as he breaks out of his comfort zone this year, experiences new things, and sees the world from different perspectives.

Joy. As a family, we chose joy for my youngest son. He teases himself that he lives the true life of Charlie Brown, and we believe some of that is in his perception of how the world works. He is a deep feeler, just like his Mom, and the negative images, news stories, peer interactions, and lessons he encounters everyday find their way into his heart.

Our hope for him is to find joy in the same everyday events that sometimes weigh him down. Look for a smile in the hallway. Find the heartwarming stories in the news. Feel the love from our furry family greetings. Know love is everywhere, and take time to push through the weeds to find it.

Punctual. My husband chose punctual for himself, and I think I can hear some of you laughing. It’s true, he’s always a day late and a dollar short, and when his boss reads this article I’m sure he will do a dance of joy.

The problem for my husband is that he thinks he can squeeze just one more thing into any given amount of time, and the result of that philosophy is tardiness. He’s late to meetings. He’s late for dinner. He forgets to text. By choosing punctual, he’s planning on being aware of time. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to this change.

Healthy. It was a collaborative effort by my family for my word to be healthy. My children wanted me to choose personal space, as sometimes I’m a little too involved in their studies, social calendars, and personal style. My husband wishes everyday for my feelings not to be at the forefront of our conversations about our own relationship, our work, our kids…basically, our life.

For me, I want balance, and perhaps that’s a better word, but by choosing healthy I’m meaning to focus on my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I want to find a balance in my diet and exercise. I want to maintain equilibrium with my Feelings, and I want to feel the grace that spirituality brings me. I want to feel that more and more.

There you have it 2019: Brave, Open-Minded, Joy, Punctual, and Healthy. The Scroggins Five will tackle each word one letter at a time, and hopefully as we toast 2020 (gasp!) we will find improved versions of ourselves, but in the same silly, nerdy Family where it’s always safe to be ourselves.

Danielle Scroggins of Decatur is founder of DaniRhea.com, a platform to connect, celebrate and write our life stories. She is a mother of three, wife, friend, sister and listener. Danielle sees the daily life stories – and their uplifting lessons – that connect us and tells those stories to unite us. Her column appears every month; contact her through her website.


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