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Do you choose a word for the year? Have you chosen your word for 2013?

This has been a New Year’s ritual for me for for over 15 years. Last year, my word was “fearless.” This word was a touchstone throughout the year, and helped me to find the courage to step up and transform. The question I asked myself over and over again in 2012 was “what would a fearless woman do?” At every turning point, I asked myself, how would I face this life passage if fear and shame were not factors? “Fearless” served me well through a year of transformation.

Through November and December I remained open, waiting for my 2013 word to come to me. This is how it always works. I wait, open, and the right word reveals itself. Somewhere in mid-December, my 2013 word came:

No doubt you’ve heard this wonderful quote from Marianne Williamson:

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of {the universe} that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Generally I have been quiet, modest, and deferential about my skills and accomplishments. When others have sung my praises I have been ready with phrases like “it was easy,” “it’s not a big deal,” “anyone can learn to to do that.” As I log years of experience and accomplishment, however, these phrases have started to sound disingenuous and, actually, silly and inappropriate.

Over the past year I have been practicing using a simple and powerful “thank you.” Last night, with my new word in mind, I took it a step further. Over a beautiful dinner table with new friends, my sister-in-law said quite loudly “and Bronwyn is an extremely talented artist.” The hostess turned to me with interest and said “really?” giving me a perfect opening for one of my awkward and deferential comments. Instead I smiled and said simply “yes.”

And you know what? The sky didn’t fall. The conversation continued naturally. No one slapped me. And you know what else? I felt I was being honest and true to myself. I’ve supported myself as an artist for almost 25 years now. I have skills. And I do have talent. And I’m proud of it.

But shining isn’t just about learning to accept a compliment and own your accomplishments. It’s also about stepping out of your comfort zone and proudly sharing your gifts. It’s about jumping into the conversation when you have something to contribute. It’s about standing up for yourself and advocating for yourself when necessary. It’s about ditching false modesty, claiming your space, and holding your chin up. And it’s about leaving behind useless fears, like the fear of standing out, the fear of appearing arrogant, the fear of being wrong. It’s about being your own authority.

It’s about welcoming gifts, abundance, and good experiences without a feeling of undeserving. It’s about charging what you’re worth and not apologizing for it. It’s about saying thank you, and saying yes.

And I am sure looking forward to living each day of the year with the question “how can I shine today?”

And how will you shine in 2013?

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Stacy - I love the image and the word!

One of my goals last year was to graciously accept compliments and say “Thank you,” instead of brushing it off. The other half was replying to thanks with “You’re welcome” as opposed to “no problem” or something similar.

admin - Ah I like the “you’re welcome.” Thanks for that reminder! xo Bronwyn