Floating to find a word for my new decade

Many of you know that each year around January 1st I choose a word for my year. I was inspired by the Abbey of the Arts and the process suggested here.

A former student who has made it a practice to choose a word for her year in January asked via Facebook message if I was planning on choosing a word for my new decade. If you read my last post, you know I just turned 60.

I thought that was a great idea, and as I considered it I realized that I had already scheduled the perfect experience to help me choose a word.

You see, I had scheduled a “float” on my birthday.

What, you may ask, is a “float”?

I’m going to let the website of Lucidity, where I went, tell you:


The Float Tank contains 10 inches of water with a high density of epsom salt, allowing you to safely and effortlessly float, giving your entire body a sense of weightlessness. Once the tank door is closed, it prevents any light or sound from disturbing you. This sensory deprivation allows your mind to enter a meditative and dream-like state that is both profoundly relaxing and re-energizing.

I don’t use the tank, though, because I’m so claustrophobic. Instead, I use their “open” room that has a small pool. It is still dark and soundless once you get in and turn off the lights.

I had floated once before through the kindness of another former student, current friend. That 90-minute float experience was very profound, and I came out feeling much as I would several days into a week-long centering prayer retreat – except that my body was much more relaxed.

During both my first and second floats I was amazed at how my back felt as if it were completely supported by a comfortable cushion. Even though it was only water!

And during both, at first I had trouble letting go of the tension in my body. The first time I felt it took about 30 minutes. The second it felt more like 10. 

Not that I let go of all of the tension. But I did let go of a lot.

In the first float, I had several of what I think were deep, way-back memories. 

But the second float was very different. Most of the 90 minutes was a blank. No real thought, no memories.

A blank slate.

I did open my mind to receive a word for my new decade. At first a few words “floated” through my mind but didn’t stick.

Later a word came . . . and it didn’t float away. 

That word was gentle.

It came very lightly, almost tenderly. 

And it felt “right.” Just as the clean slate of the float also felt “right” for this new decade.

I like the word gentle for my 60s. It feels appropriate. 

After decades of striving, of trying hard, it feels “right” to be gentle. 

With myself. 

With others.

With the world in general.

I’m going to try to re-mind myself of that word when I need to. I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunities.

A decade’s worth!

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, Tybee Island, GA, about a decade ago. Calm water like this is good for floating in the ocean.

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