I don’t doubt for a minute that you’ve all been waiting breathlessly to see what is my Word for 2016. And here you Strength 2go: STRENGTH.

Yup – Strength. Being strong. Resilient. Keep trying. “Nanakorobi yaoki” (not quite literal translation – “To fall Seven is to rise Eight.”)

You see the necklace to the right, there’s an interesting story behind that. The little disk with the Japanese kanji is the symbol for “strength.” That disk was originally attached to a thin leather cord and it came out of a 25 cent gumball machine. It was my son Tom’s (but hey, I gave him the quarter, so…).

At some point, I inherited that necklace, still on the leather cord.I asked Tom if he minded if I wore it, and he was fine with it. I wore it all the time, and at the same time I had been taking karate classes. Yes,  many times I wore it to train, and eventually, it was time for my black belt test. Tom told me that I really should wear it for the test, and agreed.

Belt and Mat 2

Belt and Mat 2

I passed the test on my own merit, and it had nothing to do with necklaces or anything else but my hundreds of hours of practice and quick thinking, and most likely some grace from God. Still as these things become, the necklace was a symbol of perseverance.

Over time, the leather wore out, and I had to retire the necklace, at least temporarily. Eventually I found a new piece of leather at a craft fair – Yay- but by now I had misplaced the disk.

Time went on. Years went by and by 2007, life was a mess – Tom was getting sick. Eventually, and so slowly, things evened out, a bit of normalcy returned, and I think about two or three years ago, I came across the disk, but had now misplaced the new bit of leather. Oy!!!

However, I had the silver chain tucked away for some reason, and I thought it would be nice new look. I mused to myself that it was kind of funny that the disk was missing the whole time we were going through the worst with Tom, but of course, it’s just a symbol. I knew I had found more strength than I had ever anticipated, that meant more than a rank test.

So, now I’ve got a pretty silver chain, a worn but special disk, and the addition of a piece of my mother’s jewelry. I always loved this stone of hers, and coveted it hotly when I was a kid. She’s been gone for quite a while now, but man, talk about strength. She overcame some crazy stuff and even though I know her failings, I still celebrate her amazing spirit of tenacity.

Altogether, this necklace reminds me to keep moving, no matter how many times I fall or get stuck.