Bespoke

January 21, 2018Read More

The word of today is:
Bespoke: custom-made
This word pushed me to speak. I am still pondering my next steps on this website, and off. I am trying to formulate a bespoke plan. In the 16th century, this word meant “to order or arrange in advance.” Stay tuned!

Blogiversary

January 9, 2018Read More

A Year Of A Word-A-Day (or a word-a-day for a year)

I set off on a mission in 2017 with a new URL and a new name and a new quest to find meaning. I was feeling lost + I love vocabulary words = it seemed like the dictionary was a decent place to start to look up the answers. I had no idea where I was headed, so I checked the most popular dictionary daily words and I settled on Merriam-Webster’s. I had visions of learning latin roots, boning up on some trivia and sharpening my spelling skills. As I really should have known, reality didn’t entirely match the image in my head. As per usual, my eyes were bigger than my stomach, and I bit off a bit more than I could chew. The words were obscure, slightly irrelevant, though often strangely prophetic. I started off filled with hope and idealism, but slowly descended into frustration and self-doubt, which morphed into self-criticism and loathing. Concurrently, I joined a “words” coaching group. We all chose words to theme our year. I settled on “Resolve.” To me, this meant that I had to hold tightly to the things I set out to do and not abandon them when the going got too rough. I had to be tougher and keep at it….yet I kept getting the message that nothing was worth my peace of mind, so I had to release myself from the challenge and take a break. I also had started spinning too many simultaneous plates…I had been pairing my own images with the words (which was sometimes impossibly difficult to stage and select – how do you capture adjectives and gestures and moods?) My Mom had started Synonym doing a Bird A Day – which then became an added venue for me to continue to cultivate her incredible thirst for knowledge – but again was another daily creation that I had to orchestrate. I burnt out. I stepped away. I got more and more frustrated still because I didn’t know how to pick it back up again. I felt like I was saying the same thing over and over again and that I was talking to myself, and the common theme was that no one really knew what the origins of the words really actually were. This was disheartening. I wanted answers and results! What I came to see was that no one really knows what they are saying. We use dead words and I wonder what percentage of our conversations fly over the heads of those we are conversing with. Homonym didn’t quite understand me and my process. Why these words? Why don’t you pick your own? Why do you HAVE to do this?

I received countless spammy messages that content for my site could be provided for $1 an article. ??!! Really? I am the writer responsible for my own content. You are barking up the wrong tree! And even mores, how can you make a profit charging that?!

I would check the Word of the Day in my Merriam-Webster App as soon after midnight as I happened to be awake and kick off my pondering. If I was an easy one, my vision for the image I would create was ready to be searched for or created. The wording would take me longer. It wasn’t something I could just crank out quickly and be finished. It often took me until it was time for bed at 10:30 or 11 pm to get it finalized and posted. Some days that was burning my midnight oil and wearing me out. Who said I “HAD” to do it a certain way? No one but me. I wasn’t getting paid. I didn’t figure out how to monetize this. I am sure if someone was paying me, it would have taken on an even different life of its own. I censored myself, but then I would have had another set of edits to fit into someone else box of requirements and then the joy would be even more removed. I am nothing if I am not a woman of my word. HAHA! I set out by giving myself this assignment and I had to finish it, or I would be a failure and a fraud. So after the summer ended, I branched out and added a Twitter account, in the hopes of picking up more followers – not so much. I still have days when I barely reach 5 people. But I have to do it for me. Not for the world. This is a tough lesson to learn when you harbor dreams of going viral.

I finished out the year with 228/365 words posted. I panicked when I realized that was only 62% and I thought that wasn’t considered a passing grade. I may have worked for free, but I did it for myself. I sharpened my skills on my own. As a writer, I was always afraid to run out of ideas or words to say. I have seen that it is not possible. Some words and some days just didn’t do it for me, while others struck chords that opened the flood gates. Some days I felt like I was phoning it in, as I hummed Matchbox 20’s “Bent” and pressed Post. Other days I felt like I was rocking it.

So what did I learn? I learned that very little is certain. As the years go by and the words we use spread across cultures and get adopted into other languages, the exact points of origin become less and less known. Some meanings are pretty universal, while others are more specific. The one universal truth that remains is that we all seek ways to put our experiences into words and convey them to others…as a cautionary tale to avoid, or as an exemplary standard to emulate. We seek to rationalize and justify and prove we aren’t alone or crazy. We want to share our joys and halve our sorrows. To associate and disassociate. The dictionary of my own life has definitely grown this year.

Going forward I am going to explore topics of my own choosing at my own pace so I don’t feel the daily pressure to produce. Here’s to the next chapter. My 2018 word is going to be IGNITE! It was gifted to me by a very special mentor and friend. I have big plans to make her proud. I hope you will stay tuned and help me stoke the flames.

Nativity

December 24, 2017Read More

nativity
\nuh-TIH-vuh-tee\
noun

1 : the process or circumstances of being born ; especially, capitalized : the birth of Jesus

2 : a horoscope at or of the time of one’s birth

3 : the place of origin

Nativity was born from the Latin verb nasci, meaning “to be born.” Nasci grew in Latin into nativitas, meaning “birth,” which passed through Anglo-French as nativité before entering English in the 14th century. Nativity has many siblings and cousins including cognate, innate, nascent, native and renaissance.

We all have an entrance point into this world. We all have a starting point or a place of origin. When we meet other people, most of the colloquial questioning that we exchange when it comes to finding out about someone else centers around who they are and where they are from. Where did they grow up? What was their college major? Zodiac sign? It is even written into the lyrics of the Broadway smash hit Hamilton! Our horoscopes are astrological forecasts based upon “a diagram of the relative positions of planets and signs on the zodiac at a specific time of one’s birth for use by astrologers in inferring individual character and personality traits and in foretelling a person’s life.” They seem like generalities, but there are nuggets of universal truths to be found. The Universe works in mysterious ways to us, but there is a rhyme and a reason for it all. I firmly believe we are right where we are supposed to be. We join the story of another person when it is already in progress, but they may have gotten started sooner than we did.

My favorite photo quote that I have made is sitting on my desk: Don’t compare your beginning to anyone else’s middle. We are about to end the chapter of TRUTH that was 2017 and begin the chapter of ABUNDANCE that 2018 is supposed to be. Here’s hoping your origin story is a good one. Each year is a blank slate with 365 empty pages – write the best piece you possibly can! Be the best version of YOU that you possibly can be! Go forth and conquer! If anyone knows me, they know I play a game I like to call “Mama Tetris.” It is the method I use to sort and straighten the objects that clutter my orbit around the sun. I can level up, but it gets more complicated and moves quicker. Well, I am pleased to say that today I can totally crown myself a winner! MAJOR ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED (until tomorrow morning when more presents get opened…..but the new policy I am giving birth to is that if you take it out you have to put it back and if you can’t find a place for it – off it goes! Happy Holidays to you and yours whatever it is that you celebrate! SEVEN more posts to go this year! I got this!

Flamboyant

December 24, 2017Read More

flamboyant
\flam-BOY-ant\
adjective

: marked by or given to strikingly elaborate or colorful display or behavior

Flamboyant was borrowed from French in the 19th century, and can be traced back to Old French flambe, meaning “flame.” In its earliest recorded uses it described a style of architecture in the florid French Gothic style, which featured waving curves that suggested flames. Eventually, the word developed a more general sense for anything eye-catching or showy. And of course, Old French flambe is also the origin of the English adjective flambé.

As I believe I have talked about before, I was part of a “Word Group” in 2017. It was a circle of 8 women who all chose a word to theme their year. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started. I missed the first month, but, being Vocabulary Girl, I HAD to play along. I struggled to make my selection and ultimately chose “Resolve.” It was a hard word. I wrote it on a rock in February and it sat on my dresser for the duration of the year. At times I resented it. It would rattle each time I slammed my drawers shut….taunting me. In April I decided it was a mistake and I thought my word needed to be “Release,” as I gave myself permission to take a break from my daily posts. I regained my resolve in the fall and worked my way to finish out my year. It has been interesting to say the least. I don’t know how many people read these. I hope they are worthwhile to someone other than me….but even if they are just for me, I can definitely say that I have learned and grown a lot through this challenge. I always bite off more than I can chew. That is pretty much par for the course for me. I am not sure what my next chapter will bring. I will reflect on that over the next week. In my Words Circle, for our last meeting we all had to bring a gift that symbolized our word and we did some sacred ceremony, stated what we learned, thanked and released it and then burned our papers. We then randomly exchanged our word gifts with each other. The way it played out was incredible and couldn’t have been more perfect even if we had tried. The new word I received was IGNITE! I am already really liking it. It is perfectly paired with today’s flamboyant! My Dad would say, “Go big or go home!” Time to go all out because the time is now! Seize the day! I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas Eve Day!

Vespertine

December 23, 2017Read More

vespertine
\VESS-per-tyne\
adjective

1 : of, relating to, or occurring in the evening

2 : active, flowering, or flourishing in the evening : crepuscular

The evening star was once known as Vesper (Hesperus is from the Greek word for “evening star”); vespertilian means “batlike” (the Latin name for a bat is vespertilio); and a vesper bell calls evening worshipers to services.

There is an interesting reading passage that I use to teach my SAT students about the new essay on the test. Students are required to read a short article and write an essay about how the author carried out their argument and convinced their readers. This particular passage is about preserving natural darkness, which has been brightening over time. We like to think everyone goes to sleep when we do, but that isn’t the case. Some species of flowers only bloom at night. I have been fortunate enough to be able to attend some evening classes and experience Longwood Gardens After Hours. It is a totally different place after dark, let me tell you. They even have an entire staff of night gardeners, and since the new fountains have opened – night plumbers and electricians – whose job it is to tend to things overnight. There are lots of night shift workers as well. Pictured in today’s image is one of Longwood Gardens most famous night blooming waterlilies. It has the most intoxicating scent, and the most interesting fact about it is that it opens up the first night as a male and then the second night as a female. How cool is that?!

Another super cool mini reading passage I used to use in the last iteration of the SAT featured the work evening and its double pronunciation…..say it like this EVENing and it means to even out….or evening as the time of day. At night is when we rest and even out. And with that….Off to bed! Three more sleeps until Christmas Morning.

Boniface

December 22, 2017Read More


boniface
\BAH-nuh-fuss\
noun

: the proprietor of a hotel, nightclub or restaurant

Boniface has been the name of eight popes, one antipope, and one saint, but none of those had anything (directly) to do with the English word boniface, which doesn’t even spell check out. The word boniface comes from the name of the jovial innkeeper in George Farquhar’s 1707 play The Beaux’ Strategem, the story of two penniless rakes who determine that one of them must find and marry a wealthy lady. Farquhar’s play made more than one contribution to the English language. The name of the character Lady Bountiful is a byword for a generous (and often conspicuously so) philanthropist. Farquhar, incidentally, never got to see the influence his play had on the lexicon. He finished The Beaux’ Strategem on his deathbed, and died on the night of its third performance. Sad! We often don’t get to enjoy the fruits of our labors, or even know just how much we have affected someone else, unless they share with us about it. Share your positive reviews to their faces. You never know how much good it can do.

Recumbent

December 21, 2017Read More

recumbent
\rih-KUM-bunt\
adjective

1 a : suggestive of repose : leaning, resting

b : lying down

2 : representing a person lying down

3 : (of a bicycle) having the seat positioned so that the rider’s legs are extended horizontally forward to the pedals and the body is reclined

The Latin prefix re- and the verb cumbere meaning “to lie down.” This is a word I have heard before, but haven’t really used in regular discourse. I felt the need to look into the difference between laying and lying down. You lie down on the couch, but you lay something down. I got more confused than I was before and had to lie down…I am not lying! I swear! I don’t know whether a recumbent bike is better for your knees and joints than a regular one. In my tiredest moments when I have dragged myself to the gym, but was afraid to fall asleep on the treadmill and fall off, I contemplated what sorts of exercises one could do while sleeping. Deep! The doll pictured was a Hanukkah gift to Synonym. It has been a recumbent form on my dining room table for days and the first thing I thought of when I needed an image. haha! Off to get recumbent!

Stultify

December 20, 2017Read More

stultify
\STUL-tuh-fye\
verb

1 : to cause to appear or be stupid, foolish, or absurdly illogical

2 a : to impair, invalidate, or make ineffective : negate 

b : to have a dulling or inhibiting effect on

Stupid or absurd behavior can be almost laughable at times. That’s the kind of situation depicted in an 1871 London Daily News article, describing how a witness “stultified himself” by admitting that he was too far off to hear what he had claimed to have heard. But there is nothing funny about the now-archaic original usage of stultify. The word was first used in the mid-1700s in legal contexts, where if you stultified yourself, you claimed to be of unsound mind and thus not responsible for your acts. Nor is there humor in the most common meaning of stultify nowadays, that of rendering someone or something useless or ineffective.

We do a lot of things that stunt our growth and inhibit our progress. My vision was unsharp knives…which led me to Synonym’s kitchen tools. Dull knives do more harm than good. I made them look like the letter S, but then I worried that I would stultify it all and if someone missed the creation, they would misunderstand the word and I couldn’t afford that.

Don’t let anyone or anything steal your power or stultify your growth in this world. Surround yourself with those who raise you up and don’t stultify your sparkle.

Permeable

December 19, 2017Read More

permeable
\PER-mee-uh-bul\
adjective

: capable of being permeated : penetrable ; especially : having pores or openings that permit liquids or gasses to pass through

The Latin prefix per-, meaning “through” and the Latin verb meare, meaning “to go” or “to pass.” There is a connotation of “penetrating through” a susceptible mind, being pervious to reason.
What permeates? It is more than just liquids and solids and gasses and matter – it is light, sound, smells, thoughts, beliefs, energy and the like. We frown upon scar and cracks and chinks in our armor, but I believe it is a Japanese proverb that says, “Our cracks are where the light can shine through.” It is a magical new moon that is full of possibilities. I have had a long and inspirational day, so I will leave you with this:

“An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you.”

Let your dreams be bigger than your fears and make 2018 be your year!

Lothario

December 18, 2017Read More

Lothario

\loh-THAIR-ee-oh\
noun

: a man whose chief interest is seducing women

Lothario comes from The Fair Penitent (1703), a tragedy by Nicholas Rowe. In the play, Lothario is a notorious seducer, extremely attractive but a haughty and unfeeling scoundrel underneath a charming exterior. He seduces Calista, an unfaithful wife, and later the fair penitent of the title. After the play was published, the character of Lothario became a stock figure in English literature. For example, Samuel Richardson modeled the character of Lovelace on Lothario in his 1748 novel Clarissa. As the character became well known, his name became progressively more generic, and lothario (often capitalized) has since been used to describe a foppish, unscrupulous rake. I have never heard of this…so it was news to me. I was just thinking Trump-esque. I had to bust out the Legos for this one. My initial vision was a Dos Equis, most interesting man in the world, surrounded by a gaggle of girls….but as I started picking through our mini figure collection – which is quite vast, even though I swear I say NO to Synonym whenever she wants to make a pack of three at the Lego Store…I started gathering guys…guys that girls tend to crush on: men in uniform, athletes, army men, cops, bad boys, super heroes, wealthy businessmen,TR, Superman, Ironman, Batman! There you have it! Stay thirsty my friends!