My 2020 word for the year is “Aloha”. I’ll admit, it’s an unexpected choice. It’s not even technically an English word. I’ve searched several of the One Word 365 sites I’ve followed, and I don’t see that it’s ever been used in this manner, which makes me even more insecure about my decision. It’s not even the word I was planning to embrace, but here I sit on the dawn of new a year and new decade embracing aloha for many reasons.     

2019 was my “relentless” year. I was also afraid of that word when it was whispered in my heart. I was concerned it was too negative or maybe even too big for me. But I was learning to be ok with never giving up on those things that mattered the most, no matter the cost, no matter what people thought. That word gave me the courage for many things in 2019, not the least of which was stepping onto an airplane in March bound for Virginia Beach that led me towards a new job, which led to many blessings for me and my family.  

I’ve thought since this summer my word for 2020 was going to be “freedom”. For months now I loved how freedom fit so nicely with relentless. My words have always seemed to dovetail into each other since I started the one word practice in 2015. All of my other words have always been so sure and clear, well ahead of the new year’s arrival. But as December rolled around, I’ve sensed freedom wasn’t the right choice. 

This week Tim and I were running some errands together and I started talking about how I’ve been feeling about this new year and where I was with my word for 2020. I’ll admit, this is not normally his type of thing, so I more or less was just processing out loud (something I’m known to do!). All of a sudden he said to me, “Dawn, your word is aloha because it’s everything positive and the opposite of everything you are feeling.” The minute he said it I was filled with such peace and freedom and joy – all of the things I’ve been seeking all wrapped up into one beautiful word.

Five letters with such a powerful meaning. Here’s what I’ve already learned about aloha:

Aloha is directly translated from Hawaiian to English as, “the presence of divine breath.” Scripture begins with God’s breath bringing order to the chaos (Gen 1), then He breathed into man and gave us life (Gen 2). We exist because God breathed life into us. Simply, God’s breath speaks order into the chaos of our lives and brings us purpose!  

Aloha is a hello and a goodbye. Aloha helps me acknowledge the tension at this moment of time, the goodbye of one decade and the hello to a new one. It’s both a sense of welcome to what’s ahead and a farewell to what’s behind – the beautiful and the broken. 

Aloha is the Hawaiian word for love, affection, peace, compassion, and mercy. While used as a simple greeting, this word has a much deeper significance. It’s a complex state of mind that is often described as a sense of care and hospitality to those around, even in the face of stressful environments, occasions, and people.  

Aloha is a beautiful, positive word that fills my mind with sweet memories of our honeymoon, many airline adventures with family and friends on flight #1, dreams coming true, the smell of a plumeria lei, the sounds of whales singing underwater, and everything that is perfection about the Hawaiian Islands. This simple word conjures up my senses and memories in an almost unexplainable way.  

Aloha is a rich word with so many different expressions, it reminds me of the Hebrew word Shalom. It’s a state of mind and a way of life. It’s exactly the complex word I need to begin a new decade, filled with so many meanings that are precisely what I need right now. It’s not the obvious choice, but it’s the right choice. The only thing that would make this word more perfect is if Tim and I were heading back to Hawaii for our 35thanniversary this summer, but I suppose we can bring a “spirit of aloha” with us to Puerto Rico instead!