Tuesday, December 28, 2021

What's the Word (of the Year)?

Julia Spencer-Fleming: In past years, the Reds have chosen a Word for the year to come; a sort of aspirational, less restrictive version of resolutions. But of course, every December since 2008, there's been a word for the year in the rear-view mirror: The Merriam-Webster Word of the Year


The word of the year is the one most frequently searched online, which, you know, is not fair to those of us who still use the paper-and-cloth-bound version. But it's always an interesting look into the zeitgeist of the year. There are also words of the month, but those tend to be more anchored to one single event. This year includes "Guardian" in September (the Cleveland baseball team finally changed their name,) "Cicada" in June (if you were living in Brood X's stomping grounds, you won't have forgotten them,) and "Nomad" in April, when the film Nomadland won Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Directing at the Oscars. 

Take in these previous Words of the Year and see if they don't cast you back in time:

2008 - Bailout. The start of the Great Recession.


2009 - Admonish. This was tied to a single event, when a House Republican yelled, "You lie!" at President Obama when he was delivering the State of the Union address. 

2010 - Austerity. You don't need me to remind you of this...

2011 - Pragmatic. Truly, the mood of a generation of people switching their majors to coding or accepting that boring job because it included health insurance.

2012 -  Socialism and Capitalism, riding the wave of political speech in an election year.


2013 - Science. Maybe tied to climate change?

2014 - Culture. Pretty sure this was closely followed by "wars," and not by people looking for museum info.

2015 - -ism. Yes, the suffix. English teachers everywhere who said you needed to know them rejoiced. Why? Because the most searched words, collectively, had the prefixes "social," "feminine" "capital" "fasces" "race" "social" and "community." (Yes, that is the root word of "communism." I looked it up.)

2016 - Surreal. You lived through 2016. You know what they mean.


2017 - Feminism. The Women's March on Washington and the #MeToo movement, The Handmaid's Tale and Wonder Woman

2018 - Justice. The DOJ investigations, the Kavanaugh hearings, and the nebulous, lovely idea that's part of the American fabric.

2019 - They. I admit, it's taken me a while to stop writing "he or she" and just use "they," but once you dive in, the water's fine.

2020 - Pandemic. Please insert your own "whaa whaa" trombone noise here.


And finally, coming in as the 2021 Word of the Year:

Vaccine. 


I've gotten mine, plus my booster, and I hope you've gotten yours! 

Dear readers, what would you nominate as the Word of the Year? And what was your personal word of the year? (I think mine is nurturing, because I was called on to do a lot of it this past year.) 


104 comments:

  1. This is tough; there are lots of really good candidates. However, I think I’d suggest “enduring” . . . and for my own personal word, it’s definitely “daunting” . . . .

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    1. I think we could ALL claim "daunting" at one point or another this year, Joan!

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  2. I'll pick "careful," because that's how we and you and many of us have been living. Am I tired of it? You bet. Maybe I should pick "tired" instead.

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    1. Sorry for being such a Doris Downer. I'm not usually that way, but it's how I'm feeling right now.

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    2. I'm with you Edith, it's very hard to keep that stiff upper lip right now...

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    3. OMG, everyone, Irwin has Covid and is really sick. Nurse Judy, here doesn't feel so great. Feeling down before this and now just terrified. Sorry.

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    4. Judy, how can we help?

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    5. Moral support! Just moral support from my pals will help. (Unless you can get him to drink more fluids.)

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    6. Oh my golly, I am so sorry you are going through this! Please keep us posted…xxxxxxx

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    7. Hang in there, Judy! We're all pulling for both of you. Here's to quickly improving health for him and staying COVID-negative for you.

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    8. Judy, prayers, hugs, so sorry about Irwin. And don't be sorry! XXOOOOO We hear you.

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    9. Judy, the two of you are in my thoughts and prayers. I wish I lived closer to you so I could do more.
      XOXOX

      DebRo

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    10. keeping you in my thoughts

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    11. JUDY: Hang in there! You and Irwin are in my thoughts and prayers.
      XOXOXO

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    12. Thank you, all!! My spirits lifted so high when I read your messages just now. Now, I'm going to push another cup of tea at him!! OOXX

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    13. Oh, Judy, how scary. I'm so sorry this has happened to the two of you, and I hope Irwin sails through with just a nasty flu-like illness.

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    14. Thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery . . . . hang in there!

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    15. Sending healing thoughts your way, Judy. I have three people in my circle who have recently tested positive, and I think we'll all have more in the coming weeks. Omicron is so contagious that few of us will escape it entirely, in my opinion, and no shame can be attached to anyone felled by it. It is the new normal in our Covid times, I fear.

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    16. AMANDA: The Ontario COVID science table released its new modelling results yesterday which showed a dramatic drop in protection against catching COVID (from 80% to less than 15%) with omicron. But the good news is that the 2 vaccines do still protect us against ICU and hospitalization (so far). Getting a booster shot increases your antibodies, not as high as before but back up to 70%.

      https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-covid19-dec-27-1.6298799

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    17. Judy, sending hugs and prayers to you and Irwin! Please keep us posted on how you are both doing!! xoxox

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    18. Good news, he just ate something and he's drinking, too. Your thoughts and prayers are very powerful! Thank you all!

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    19. Glad to hear it, Judy! Keep us updated.

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    20. Thank you, Julia. It was a terrifying weekend, he was so sick. I think it's turning around, and I am sure all the prayers this morning helped!

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    21. Sending virtual chicken soup to you and Irwin, Judy!

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    22. Sorry to hear this Judy. I join my prayers and positive thoughts.

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    23. Yes, tired and disillusioned by so many behaving so selfishly. Hugs and much love and sympathy as we muddle through. <3

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  3. My choice for 2021 word is: roller coaster.
    We went through multiple lockdowns and (too) quick reopenings this year in Ottawa.

    My personal word is: survivor. I survived 15 months of LONG-COVID, months of blurry vision, and losing my dad this year.

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    1. On a positive note, I exceeded my 2021 step count goal of 2.6 million steps = 1979 km or 1230 mi and I reached my (lowered) 2021 Goodreads challenge of 110 books read in October.

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    2. GRACE: What a difficult year you've been through. Survivor is apt, indeed. Let's hope 2022 brings with it some light and joy for you!

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    3. AMANDA: Thanks. My reading mojo (and ability to read) has slowly returned. And my joy in cooking (and eating) is also back after a tough September/October.

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    4. You are definitely a survivor, Grace!

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    5. Hear, hear Grace! That's an astonishing list and we're glad you came through it.

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    6. Grace, so glad your life is getting better. You lift everyone up all the time.

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    7. I would pick “brave” for you, Grace! Xxxxxx and maybe rockstar. Xx

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    8. JUDY: Thanks, so kind.
      HANK: So sweet, thanks. I will take BRAVE (and stubborn).

      Visiting JRW lifts me up. Thanks to all of you for helping me during the darkest days this year. XOXOXO

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    9. Grace, I'd add VICTORIOUS to Survivor!

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    10. All of that walking, you’ve made a great recovery, Grace!

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    11. LISA: I walked about 1 million steps LESS this year than in 2019 but it is still an acceptable milestone for 2021 :-)

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    12. Grace, I’m glad you’re coming through.

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  4. "DUMBASS" should be the word of the year because it seems to be the prevailing description for everyone that refuses to do their part in making 2020's word of the year "pandemic" go away.

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    1. Jay, I admire your restraint! So tired of the dumbasses of this world.

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    2. I hear you loud and clear, Jay!

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    3. Good word, Jay. But I will stay with terrified until Irwin begins to noticeable improve.

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    4. Oh, we had our shots and our boosters. Very frustrating. There's another word for 2021, frustration.

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    5. Jay, dumbass is both accurate and remarkably restrained, considering.

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    6. Ann - Restraint is a pretty good way to describe my response.

      Judi - Thank you!

      Flora - Apparently the word isn't said loud and clear enough because we are entering Year 3 of this crap. :D

      Judy - I can only offer my wishes for a quick, full and strong recovery for Irwin and that you avoid becoming sick yourself. Like you I've had my intial vaccines. I haven't been able to get my booster yet because my doctor didn't want to give it to me while I was still sick/recovering from pneumonia. However, I'm calling after the 1st of the year to get it.

      Edith - That's for sure. The last two reported weeks in my town, we've set a new record each time for the number of new cases in town. Not just for recent times but since the pandemic started! DUMBASSES GALORE!

      Dru - I do try to speak coherently and loudly enough so I'm glad you heard me. LOL

      Grace - Well, my Twitter handle is TheOneTrueJay, so I can't be untruthful now can I? HA!

      Julia - I strive for accuracy. As for being remarkably restrained, as someone who comes from the George Carlin school of language (and a believer in what former Georgetown coach John Thompson said about being fluent in two languages, English and Profanity), I just didn't want to turn anyone's ears red with a viciously voracious violation of verbose discourse OR I didn't want to chance blowing up any preset censors on Blogger. HA!

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    7. Jay, I hope you're able to get your booster in the new year. I breathed a big sigh of relief when I was finally able to get mine.

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  5. I offer "pivot" as the word of the year. In Manitoba, we have used it a lot as we've navigated our way through changing public health orders in response to Covid and its variants.

    Personally, I choose "beginning", as I left full-time teaching work for the much more balanced and enjoyable life of a retiree.

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    1. Pivot. I like that. Twisting and turning but never really leaving the spot we are in?

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    2. AMANDA: I hope the (continued) beginning of your retirement journey is filled with exploration, wonder, joy and fulfillment.

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    3. Thank you, GRACE. '

      ANN: Yes, exactly. Switch and change, but don't get too hopeful that any real distance will be achieved. Coz if omicron appeared (as it has), who knows what tomorrow will bring. Sigh. Which brings Edith's word to mind: Tired. Yup. So tired of it all.

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    4. I like "pivot" as a personal word as well, Amanda. It implies the ability to recognize the need for a new action and the flexibility to change the old one, which is a skill we can all use!

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    5. Brava! Pivot and enjoy retirement. <3

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  6. May I have a two word phrase? Are there rules preventing this?

    Because what comes to mind is Groundhog Day.

    No explanation needed.

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    1. Julia's Rules of Order?

      Groundhog Day is perfect, Ann.

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    2. ANN: There are rules? Maybe for the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, but you're safe here.
      I also like Groundhog Day.

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    3. I'm fine with a two-word phrase - I just want to know why I can't play the piano or chainsaw ice sculptures.

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    4. Julia, have you tried? I suspect you could learn to play the piano. However making ice sculptures with a chainsaw might be self-defeating. You need this fingers.

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  7. This is giving me food for thought as every word offered has some relevance to how I’m living. But Cautious seems to fit for us. Back in March there was certain exhilaration on getting our shots and lunching in a restaurant but that has changed. Caution it is for us.

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  8. Patience. Fifteen mature pine and spruce trees died of a virus/infestation. The ash tree died (emerald ash borers). The knockout roses have a blight and will die. However, the daffodils last spring were spectacular, COVID's gift to the planet. And hope for the future.

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    1. Oh, no, Margaret! As I sloooowly pick up the gardening chores that Ross used to do, I'm learning that patience is the word for anyone working with plants.

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    2. Oh, no, Margaret. Not the dreaded rose rosette?

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    3. So sorry Margaret. Too many dead trees! As the world turns towards spring, I hope more signs of hope appear in your garden.

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  9. All of these are excellent choices! Groundhog Day indeed! Because of dumbasses. Patience. Cautious. Tired of pivoting. But the word I feel is: trudging. I may not be getting very far, but I'm surprised by any forward movement at all. I got my booster! Youngest got vaccinated!

    And, sort of off subject, Hallie, thank you for your wonderful tomato soup recipe. Canned tomato soup is horrible and I've been craving simple tomato soup. An immersion blender was under the Christmas tree with my name on it, and the first thing I made was your tomato soup. Comfort food for trying times!

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    1. "Comfort" would be a great word of the year as well, Flora, as we're all trying to engender some!

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  10. The best word I can think of is Static! For at least 2 reasons.

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  11. Time. Because all sense of it has gone away. Because it’s what we need more of. it’s what it’s going to take. It’s one step at a ______.

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    1. Oh, yes, Hank. I wake up every day and tell myself what day it is before I get out of bed. That is DEFINITELY something I didn't do in the Before Times.

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    2. Julia, I do exactly the same. Before I get out of bed, what day is it?

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  12. My word is “resilience.” I’ve been through a lot this year, personally, and as part of a family that has experienced losses of various kinds, including three deaths in the first two weeks of November. For Christmas one of my sisters gave me a Thirty Day Resilience Journal, containing quotations and writing prompts. I started writing in it on Christmas Day. Resilience will also be my word for 2022, as I continue dealing with some things. (Interesting fact: the book was written by a childhood friend of my late youngest sister.)

    DebRo

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    1. Hang in there, Deb. We will still grab that cup of coffee together, maybe next summer!

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    2. "Resilience" is a great word, Deb, and a trait I suspect many of us didn't think much about until the last few years.

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    3. Great choice! Resilience is something we’ll all need in 2022.

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  13. Survivor is my personal word

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    1. ((Hugs)) Dru! The past two years have taught all of us that sometimes just getting out of bed and making it through the day is a victory.

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  14. My word would be " wasted". Wasted time, wasted energy, wasted resources, wasted knowledge.

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    1. So much more depressing than the way we used the term "wasted" in college, Deana!

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  15. I think mine has been survive. Just get through this and everything will go back to normal. But another word is exhausted. We’ve been so good for so long and every time we breathe a sigh of relief something new and scary comes along. But I’ll start the year with believe: that the pandemic will finally be over, that people are basically good and decent

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  16. Fascinating post! And who knew community was the root of communism. I wonder how Solzhenitsyn would feel about that!

    My personal word for 2021? Pivot. there have been so many changes in this year that would have steamrolled me if I hadn't decided to pivot. Sometimes the best road is not the straightest. Let's raise a glass and toast the passing of 2021 and the hope of 2022.

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  17. Persist would be my word of the year because even when it all felt impossible, the only acceptable option seemed to be to persist. I’m hoping 2022 is less arduous!

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    1. We need to get you a "Nevertheless, she persisted" shirt, Jenn!

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  18. "Dogged" was the first word that popped into my mind. That's somewhere between persist and trudge with a side of disappointment. Every time we thing we're making progress we go backward again. So we just have to keep on. I'm certainly hoping that 2022 gets us back to "energy" and "enthusiasm!"

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    1. Some days it feels like "dog-tired" should be the word of the year here...

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  19. I guess my 2021 word would be “hunker” as in hunker down. It’s what I’ve been doing unceasingly since March 2020, and it doesn’t look to be stopping soon. Sigh. But the already proposed “persist” is excellent. Other, less honorable thoughts included “big lie” (okay 2 words, sorry), “cult (as in Trumpism), and “democracy” (because half of Congress seems to have forgotten what it is and how it works).

    In another way, and in a once popular phrase, “keep on truckin’” seems appropriate, as that’s kind of what we’re all trying to do, in spite of the pandemic. My hat’s off to all of you who continue to write wonderful books for us.

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  20. And here’s hoping Twenty-Two will be better to all of us.

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  21. The word I pick for this past year is "waiting." Waiting for the vaccine to be distributed, waiting for my appointment to get the two doses of vaccine, waiting for the booster to be available, waiting to get my booster, waiting for the Covid numbers to go down, waiting for variants to stop popping up, waiting for anti-vaxxers to wake up and get the shots, waiting to feel comfortable traveling (even across the state), waiting for justice to be served in so many cases and instances, waiting for women to have autonomy over our own bodies, waiting for hate to lose its hold over so many people in this country, waiting for truth and what's right to be our guiding principles once more.

    I am unable to think about a word for 2022 yet. I usually have an optimistic choice I'd like to see happen, but the past two years have, unfortunately, made me skeptical of planning on something.

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    1. What a good list for 'waiting', Kathy. So much waiting...

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  22. Miracles. I experienced several. An IVF grandbaby. Final child married, finally. A son who nearly died from COVID, but didn't. A mother-in-law who outlived a short cancer prognosis by 6 months. And my husband cleaned old clothes out of his closet. Truly a miracle.

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  23. Prayers for Judy and Irwin. Most of my people are sick from things like cancer and heart problems. I hope the "Dumbasses" don't clog up the hospitals so my friends and family can't get treated. My word is "enough". Happy New Year to all!

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  24. My nominee for Word of the Year 2021: Resilience. And my hope for Word of the Year 2022: Kindness.

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  25. My word is perseverance. No matter what the future brings, I need to just keep on keeping on.

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