Every Word Needs a Friend








My husband tells me I “double up” on words. I often have an extra qualifier in my sentences, like, “an extra qualifier.” It finally dawned on me why. “Every word needs a friend,” I told him. “Just like we each need someone at our back.”

Words are like stuffing. They fill me. (I left off the “up” at the end of “fill me” because I was feeling full in the moment.)

What does it mean to be full? Our stomachs lie if we’re feeling anxious or worried. For example, I ate too much over the holidays, even though I had a good time. Anticipation and habits die hard.

I can convince myself that I’m still hungry when my conscience is telling me I should have written that letter, or prepared better for the tough conversation with a family member. Yet, when I get to the ocean and smell the balsam firs, I feel full even if I haven’t eaten for seven hours.

To be full is to feel we have enough, that we are enough, and that in this present moment we lack for nothing.

At the end of each year I like to think of a word that will be my focus or theme for the next 365 days. This year, my word is “presence;” not the kind that I tear the paper off of, or write a thank you letter for. Presence with a “c” is the kind that stops me in my tracks with wonder, calm, or stillness.

I will practice presence every day. Perhaps I will even learn how to spell it correctly! (I usually put an “s” where the second “c” goes.) Despite this simple theme, I will occasionally let a small, extra word tag along, for good company. You never know when you’ll need a qualifier.









Here’s wishing each of you a very happy and healthy New Year.

What’s your word for 2015?

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13 Responses to Every Word Needs a Friend

  1. John Killacky says:

    I love your doubling up!

  2. Thanks John! I love that you read my blog! Happy New Year!

  3. Hi Eileen, HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2015 ! Thank you for writing about words, word games, feelings,
    the smell of the sea and fir balsam and your 2015 “presence” theme. My 2015 word is “visit”. I think it will take me far and near in thought and travel. By the way I ate lots of granola, using your recipe
    word for word and measure for measure, along with variations which included dried apricots, applesauce, substituting for oil, etc..– delicious. My best to Paul for a continued recovery.

  4. Happy New Year to you Elaine. I look forward to hearing where you visit! All the best to you, Eileen

  5. Phyll says:

    Wonderful blog. Gets us thinking about the new year and how we might like to greet 2015. Two words tie for my choice of themes for the new year: “Mindful” and “Inspiration”.

    Like “presence”, being mindful is trying to be more centered, focused and having more clarity when responding or making choices. In the past, I’ve sometimes felt like a Whirling Dervish, spinning my wheels and/or reacting in a way that may not have been in accordance with my true nature.

    In the coming year, I hope to meditate more often and connect with people, places, causes, and ideas that inspire me. Inspiration that comes from my heart; that may lead to helping animals and people live happier, healthier lives of authenticity, well-being and contentment.

    Here’s a poem I hope you’ll enjoy:

    “Yesterday is History,
    Tomorrow a Mystery,
    Today is a Gift,
    That’s why it’s called the Present!”

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      I like that poem Phyll. And I am inspired by your words! You can’t go wrong with those.

  6. Darrel says:

    The word of guidance for me is “Focus”. Focus on the important things in life, while maintaining the necessary tasks. Smell the roses, but pay the bills!

  7. eileenrockefeller says:

    That’s a good one too Darrel. May your year bring you balance.

  8. Ellicott McConnell says:

    At this point, having nine decades to look back upon, I will resist choosing “confusion” for my word of the coming year, and settle for “contemplation”. So much has occurred during my lifetime, and I have seen so much of it, that it is a joy just to sit back and try to put it all in perspective, not as an exercise in itself, but as a guide as to what might truly be useful to pass along to my children.

  9. eileenrockefeller says:

    Contemplation seems like a beautiful word for the time in our life when we want to balance, which is after all the direction of wholeness. Good to hear from you!

  10. Richard Trenner says:

    Dear Eileen,

    The short description below (from Wikipedia, I confess) of Henry James’s famous “late style” will, I hope, amuse you as well as a throw a bowline to your observation—” I will occasionally let a small, extra word tag along, for good company. You never know when you’ll need a qualifier.”

    On HJ’s late style:
    “Single paragraphs began to run for page after page, in which an initial noun would be succeeded by pronouns surrounded by clouds of adjectives and prepositional clauses, far from their original referents, and verbs would be deferred and then preceded by a series of adverbs. The overall effect could be a vivid evocation of a scene as perceived by a sensitive observer.”

    This stylistic period in James’s career has been likened to Impressionism in words. This is a statement that I’d qualify with—”well, sort of. Maybe.”

    As for my favorite word for 2015: polyphilomorphoprogenitive. I can’t find it in the dictionary, but as I recall (or have I just dreamt this?), it’s a word that T. S. Eliot concocted to describe the human love of inventing new words. In honor of which, I’ll cook up a nicely ambiguous (but, I hope, useful) new word for 2015: “loveworks.”

    Best wishes,


  11. eileenrockefeller says:

    I like the “loveworks” Richard! And thanks for reminding me of Henry James. I love the quote.
    Loveworks! — Eileen

  12. Richard Trenner says:

    Thank you, Eileen. And thank you for all your “loveworks” as a writer, philanthropist… and a person. Reading in the Times the other day about global warning and the destruction of the oceans, I realized that the old line—”Time is short and the water’s rising”—is LITERALLY true. In an epoch when many people are connecting more and more via “communication devices” but less and less across political, religious, economic, and “environmental” lines, your message of “we’re all in this together so lets all PULL together” is essential.—Richard

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