Zest: Adding flavor in 2024

I have been thinking about the One Little Word that would guide me in 2024. This is my 10th year selecting a word and my third year selecting a poem that I can return to throughout the year when I need a reset or course correction. Check out Nine Years, Nine Words, Four Poems for my one little word and one poem journey and learn more about where my one little word journey began.

For quite a while I considered joy because I do embrace the Marie Kondo rule in so much of my life, but my 2022 word was spark and so joy felt repetitive. Then I listened to the Pantsuit Politics end-of-the-year episode where Beth and Sarah share their One Little Words and Beth’s discussion of her word (Citrus) hit me just right. I love how her choice was simultaneously perfect and surprising. Beth explains: “whatever it is, okay, where’s my zest? Where’s my juice? What is the thing that I am just putting into this to take it in a little distinctive, uplifted direction?”

And that is when I knew that Zest would be my word. I love a word that works on multiple levels and zest’s multiple definitions meet me where I want to be in 2024. The Cambridge Dictionary defines zest as enthusiasm, eagerness, energy, and interest. That is how I want to live my life. It is not always easy to choose enthusiasm. I’m in the waning years of my teaching career and the current moment in education has made this time even more fraught. You do not know teacher tired unless you are teaching in this moment. I want to maintain my zest for writing with and teaching writers until I retire. I want to bring enough zest to my classroom that my students are similarly interested and energized by our work. I also want to add more zest to my life outside the classroom. I am largely content with my daily life but everyone can benefit from an uplifting of brightness. Also, I need to open myself up to more zest. Teacher tired too often means choosing the bland and familiar in the evening and weekend. However, adding some zest does not mean overhauling the whole recipe of my life. When you add zest to a dish you do not need much to enhance the flavor, a little bit of zest can go a long way and that feels like a perfect guide for 2024.

Selecting a poem work with this theme was both easier and more challenging than in previous years. Often my One Little Word process comes out of poetry and so there is already a poem on the tip of my tongue. However, this year I have been seeking out so many more poems to mix into my classroom (see High Voltage Warning) that I was overwhelmed. Flicking through my collection of poems that speak to me (and so might be used for teaching and/or writing inspiration) I identified eight poems that might serve as my poetic guide for 2024:

I was drawn to poems about discovering joy, locating hope, and adding zest by living, loving, and learning – hopefully some combination of all three as those are the essential elements of my life. I adore Make No Apologies for Yourself and The Weavers Were the First to Know, but eventually managed to whittle my list down to three. I have written before about how much I struggle to locate one poem to rule them all!

Ultimately, I decided that as I’d already chosen two poems in previous years there was no reason to push myself that hard this year to do more narrowing. In my mind, A Portable Paradise is more of a poem about the idea of the one little word itself rather than my word for 2024, Zest, while I did not notice the birds and Stone Duplex, 2022 offer strategies for adding zest without overpowering the flavor of my life and so those became my guiding poems for 2024.

I love the process of choosing a one little word each year and the more recent addition of matching poems to provide further guidance has made the experience even richer. How do you reflect and look ahead during this liminal time of year?

Image by Bek Greenwood from Pixabay

Author: Deanna Mascle
#TeachingWriting and leading #NWP site @ Morehead State (KY): Passionate about #AuthenticWriting, #DeeperLearning, #PBL, #Ungrading, and #HyperDocs.

1 thought on “Zest: Adding flavor in 2024

  1. Oh, Deanna! So lovely. Zest is the perfect word — that little extra brightness. I love both of these poems, as well. I believe you are going to have a bright and beautiful year. I’m glad to be along for the ride. Thank you!

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