Three Words

A couple of years ago, I spotted a sign in the trash. It was the same day I was thinking of making New Year’s resolutions. Maybe some wise people and shepherds see signs in the sky. I see them in the trash.

My sign read, “Become Your Dream.” And I have done this – by pursuing teaching, coaching, and writing work.


I also have looked for and found signs on social media.

I love social media – I love the short expressive forms of WordPress, Twitter, and Facebook. Status updates guide and inspire me.

In 2012, social media marketing guru Chris Brogan chose three guiding words: Temple, Untangle, Practice.

He meant:

  1. Treat your body like a temple.
  2. Untangle yourself from distractions.
  3. Practice mindfulness.

I want to do those three things too.

And for this pre-Christian season I want these three words: Simplify, Joy, Kindness.

I want to:

  1. Simplify my holiday by focusing on the things and experiences I love, like light, music, creativity, and time with family. And jettison clutter and consumerism.
  2. Give and receive light and joy to and from everyone I meet. And let go of judging.
  3. Practice kindness. Know that the Christmas season is stressful and so I vow to perform daily acts of kindness.

Isaiah 7:14 says, “Therefore the Lord will give you a sign.” Look for your sign. Look for your three words. They may be in the trash, the sky, or on Twitter. Let three simple words guide you through the holiday season and then through the New Year.

What are your three words?

I wrote this today for an upcoming Advent Devotional for the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew United Methodist Church. 

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My 3 Words


On my walk to the subway this morning, I received this message. It was being thrown out with the Christmas trees on Amsterdam Ave.

I had been wondering What are my 3 inspiring words for 2011? Here they were: Become. Your. Dream.

Social media guru Chris Brogan suggests giving yourself 3 guiding words for the New Year.  (I love this guy’s blog. My Connected Life blog is my homage to Brogan.)


I decided to visit a church. The image on the sign seemed to be a helicopter. Move. Go. Do the thing you say you will do. For me that means Visit a church a day. I tried to go to St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University, but it was locked. Columbia U. must still be off for the New Year’s  holiday.

I wish church doors were never locked. The gates nearby were locked too.

So  I  wandered out of Columbia towards Morningside Drive. Morningside is such a great name for a street. Here it was morning and I was on Morningside. I remembered the ephiphany I had on Morningside last time I walked there — gratitude. My heart was full of gratitude for every single person I knew.

Yesterday was Epiphany Sunday. I thought of James Joyce’s epiphany in The Artist as a Young Man. I think it happened as Stephen Dedalus watched a flock of birds in the sky. I thought James Joyce is gone, but I am alive. Yes, that was my epiphany. I am alive. I looked up at the sky in honor of James Joyce. Because he could no longer look up. And I saw a hawk or eagle circling. It was my ephiphany. I took it in, the literalness and then the symbolism of it – to dream, to helicopter, to fly. I am alive.

I remembered another message from yesterday’s Epiphany Sunday at Rutgers Church —  love is hard.


I decided to go back to the Mary in a grotto church again.

Although I’ve said I will try to visit a new church everyday, maybe any old church is just as good. I had to get to work.

Since the Montreal Notre Dame Church, I’ve started to feel an affinity for any Mary or Notre Dame church. I love Mary. Maybe because my name is Mary or the idea of Mary reveals a softer side of God or religion.


The church doors facing Morningside were wide open. Two priests and a woman in a coat were saying prayers towards the altar. I marveled at how bright the church was. I love bright. But who pays the electric bill? (My mind leaps from epiphanal to logistical in a moment!) I sat in the last row. I remembered a dream I had last night about a woman holding a bird and a snake, laughing while her picture was being taken.

I could not understand a word the three at the front said. It was all a mumble until after about five minutes when they concluded, audibly saying, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Those were their three words.

I remembered to cross myself as I left. The holy water at the Church of Notre Dame is flown in from France.