What My One Word Taught Me This Year


My One Word adventure for 2016 has been a maze-like journey. Lots of winding and weaving my way through a year full of surprises! The treasure at the end: a host of cherished lessons that have changed my life for the better.

This year reminds me of a birthday party activity my mom rigged up when we were kids. She had a knack for finding clever ways to make birthdays and holidays special. She a treasure hunt by stringing yards and yards of yarn from one end of the house to the other that ultimately lead to a treasure. There wasn’t just one treasure – there was a different color of yarn for each party guest with their own treasure at the end. It was quite a web of fun!

When I picture me, and the many others who participate in the One Word concept, our collective journey looks like my house did before the string adventure. A wild web of string!

If my party guests and I had not carefully followed our strings to the end and allowed it to be our guide, there would have been no treasure! And without my One Word guiding me this year, I would have missed out on an invaluable experience!

You never know what a year will bring! I wasn’t confused about the fact that this year would include some things, like a fabulous trip to the Bahamas to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, getting HBDI certified, and my son marrying the woman of his dreams. What I had no way of knowing is that our amazing trip to the Bahamas would lead to several months of being mysteriously sick, a sickness that  was eventually diagnosed as Lyme Disease.

Each year I prayerfully select my One Word. You can learn more about that process here. My One Word and tagline for 2016: Receive – Even what seems less than desirable at first may be a gift.

When I chose my One Word, I had no inkling how it would apply to my life! In my mind, I was anticipating new coaching clients or a hoard of new customers to my publishing business. Or maybe God had some other exciting something in mind for me to receive.

It never crossed my mind that battling Lyme would be the gift – after all, battling Lyme is no easy task! Lyme has many symptoms and is tricky to treat. It leaves you exhausted in a ways I’ve never previously experienced that made it impossible to do even simple tasks! For weeks and weeks I got two hours of sleep and continue to enjoy painfully tingling feet. How is that something to receive?

And what was I thinking when I came up with the tag line “Even what seems less than desirable at first may be a gift?” That turned out to be prophetic! I might want to think twice before settling on my next tagline!

Yet, in spite of the wild journey, I truly do see this past year as a gift. While I am not anxious to live it all over again, I am ever so grateful for the lessons I’ve learned from my One Word.

Here’s what my word “receive” taught me to:

1. Accept help

I am naturally a very independent gal, yet my independence can send a very loud message to the people around me that I don‘t need them when I really do. And when I do it all myself, others don’t have the opportunity to shine and use their gifts to bless me, not to mention how I wear myself out attempting to do it all.

I know that without Lyme seriously limiting what I was able to do and my One Word: receive, I would never have taken steps to delegate and accept help. I would have missed out on experiencing how wonderful it is to not have to do it all.

So this year I learned to gladly let my husband help with the chores around the house and even do a little cooking, along with a lot of picking up take out. And for the first time ever (and it won’t be the last) to delegate dishes at Thanksgiving just in case I wasn’t up to it (Lyme is very unpredictable!).

2. Appreciate what’s really important

When life as usual comes to a screeching halt, you are forced to figure out what’s really important. It doesn’t take long for your priorities to get shaken up like Yahtzee dice and be tossed out in a whole new way! While relationships have always been one of my top five values, the people in my life took on whole new level of importance to me and material stuff became a whole lot less important. I learned to view life with an eye towards the eternal. Little things like sunshine on my face, a moment with someone I treasure, or a quiet moment to just reflect on my many blessings – those things took on new meaning!

3. Slow down and savor life

Being a driven person seems to go hand in hand with being independent. While I have been working hard to alter my level of busyness even prior to this past year, focusing on receive taught me that slowing down and savoring life is a gift from God that is brimming with benefits if I am willing to receive that gift.

I am now multitasking less, taking more breaks, and enjoying the fruit of a slower paced life!

4. See the bright side

I confess that looking at the positive side of whatever comes my way has not always been my first inclination. I am quite good at seeing the negative, the problems, and coming up with solutions. In the thick of my Lyme battle, something changed. I was able to see more clearly what God was up to and the very personal ways He was demonstrating His love to me. Focusing on receiving what He had for me and trusting that in His lovingkindness He had my best in mind changed my perspective for the better.

5. Reconnect with my purpose

It isn’t that I had not previously embraced my purpose, I had. However, I connected with my purpose in a fresh way. Rather than working harder and viewing more Facebook likes, newsletter subscribers, or coaching clients as evidence that I am dutifully walking in my purpose, I am being an obedient steward and allowing God the space to work on my behalf. I am actively looking for and receiving the opportunities God is bringing my way to use my strengths, skills, and experiences to make a difference in the lives of others without striving.

6. Depend on God more

I just don’t know how people navigate tricky years like this past year without God! The journey through 2016 has made me realize once again just how blessed I am to be able to lean on God and seek His help when life is hard and to receive His help when He hears my cries.

Each year my One Word adventure becomes more meaningful. This past year has topped them all. While I still have a ways to go to fully recover from Lyme, I have come so very far! And the lessons I’ve learned I want to linger and continue to make me more of the woman, the wife, the mother, the coach, the writer, the friend, etc. that He created me to be!

What’s your One Word adventure been like?

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.


  1. Angela Edwards on December 7, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    So sorry to learn of your battle with Lyme Disease. My prayers are with you for a continuous and speedy recovery! For me, my One Word Adventure for 2016 has been ‘CHANGE’. Time and time again, just when I thought I had a grasp on this thing called ‘life’, God would redirect me from a potentially pothole-ridden path to smooth “pavement” (if you will). 2016 did not come without its challenges, but remaining obedient to and being ever-mindful of God’s perfect will kept me smiling through it all – and the devil underfoot!

    My BIG THING for 2017 is to move my home office into an office space locally. Please keep me in prayer as God provides the perfect space just for me! I can’t wait to learn what my 2017 One Word Adventure will be!

    God bless you, Sis! Sending love and (((HUGS)))!

    • Marvae on December 7, 2016 at 9:16 pm

      Happy to hear about your One Word experience Angela and that you kept on smiling in spite of the challenges!

      How exciting to be considering office space outside your home! It has been a beautiful thing to see how your business has evolved and grown! What a blessing! I will be lifting you up as you prayerfully consider that space.

      And I can’t wait to hear what your One Word for 2017 will be!

      Hugs & Blessings to you my friend!

  2. April on December 8, 2016 at 9:37 am

    “Faithfulness” was my word for the year–a deliberate focus away from measureable goals to the less tangible goal of perseverance. From the time I learned how to write, I’ve been a “list” person who takes great delight in graphs, star stickers and check marks, so this was a stretch for me, but a good one! I’m no longer keyed into the number of music students I have or haven’t, how many women attend my Bible study, how many books I sell…

    I already have my word picked out for 2017–and God brought it to me, I didn’t have to go looking for it! I look forward to sharing it when you open up the discussion!

    • Marvae on December 8, 2016 at 9:58 am

      So pleased to hear your 2016 One Word adventure has been been both a stretch (that means growth!) and a good one! That you are letting go of the tangible measures and instead focused on persevering. What a powerful perspective to have!

      I can’t wait to hear what your 2017 One Word is!

  3. Patti Harris on December 8, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    So good to see you today! I have missed your sweet spirit! I am so sorry at all you have had to endure this year. I will certainly be praying for you!

    • Marvae on December 8, 2016 at 9:51 pm

      It was wonderful to be there again and to see you as well! Thanks so much for the prayers! I appreciate them!

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