For the last few years, instead of adopting resolutions, I pick a word of the year. In 2012, I chose compassion. In 2013, I focused on gratitude. Last year I shifted my intent toward laughter.

This year I struggled to find the right word. I contemplated abandoning my annual tradition, but then when I least expected it, a word popped in my head while running in my neighborhood. For a brief second, as I finished my regular route, I could only hear the rhythm of my breath. The calmness of the moment served as a catalyst for welcoming this word into my space: quiet.

Quiet. I prefer the quiet. My morning serenade. Early to rise, I brew my coffee in silence. For one second, I hear the drip of the liquid goodness hitting my cup.  My fingers embrace my coffee mug. Warm and comforting, the car that roars on the street betrays the silence. It is still too early to compromise on the quiet.

When this ritual slips out of my routine, my day unravels with a twinge of irritation. Quiet is not only a want in my life, but a need. Without it, my cadence slurs as if my feet are traveling on terrain that they don’t recognize. In the last 5 years in this space, there are themes that keep repeating themselves. One of the places I struggle the most is trying to calm my restlessness. The need to do is not sustainable over a lifetime. Staying still, appreciating the present and understanding that the flicker of now is what should thread my moments is a concept I need to actively work toward.

Quiet can serve as a steady companion instead of a place of fear. If I allow it. Sometimes we engage in our own self-sabatoge, knowing that we are undermining our efforts, but not taking the steps to excavate the subterfuge under these repetitive cycles.

I asked one important question as I reflected on the definition of quiet: How many times do I sit still?

I realized that my answer is not acceptable. I listen to music while I run and in those moments when I have a spare second, my mind is aimlessly pushing buttons on my iPhone. The chance to sit still requires conscious effort and part of the reason I adopted the word quiet is to carve out a pathway toward meditation.

This year I choose quiet because I want to listen and really hear my own silence.

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”  — Norton Juster