December 23, 2017

One Little Word Can Make a Big Difference

Ali Edwards shares how one word can transform your entire year.

Ali Edwards_Carrie Colbert

Editor’s Note

Thinking ahead to the new year, I thought it was a great time to introduce you to my dear friend Ali Edwards… It’s hard to believe, but Ali and I have been friends for 15 years now!

Shortly after having her son Simon, Ali began searching out ways to capture her memories with him in a modern way. She found me on a scrapbooking website and sent me a private message saying she liked my work. And at that moment, a long distance friendship was born.

(Did you know I was a professional scrapbooker? Yep – but that’s a story for another time.)

And as they say, the rest is history. Ali not only found a way to preserve memories of her son, but launched herself a career. Ali’s passion resides in that very special place where the stories and images of life intersect. At, her blog, workshops and memory keeping projects have inspired tens of thousands of people to share their own stories and enrich their own lives through the process.

Ali is as authentic as can be. Her approach to life is both honest and real.

Today, I hope you are inspired by her simple but profound One Little Word concept. It’s a concept of hers that I have personally embraced for many years… enjoy!

One Little Word

One Little Word

By Ali Edwards

Since 2006 I’ve been choosing a single word to live by each year.

So why just one word?

For me, selecting a single word began alternative to a list of resolutions. It gave me the opportunity to (1) identify and focus on what I wanted to invite into my life and (2) set specific intentions for the year to come that were in alignment with this one particular word.

My words have included: play, peace, vitality, nurture, story, light, up, open, thrive, give, whole, and connect. You can read more about my experiences with these words on my blog via my One Little Word® archives here.

Some words have been really powerful and others have been like a casual friend.

Words are Powerful

I’ve learned over the years that I love having a word that I journey with for this 12 month timespan. It’s not a lifetime commitment and there’s a specific beginning and an end (which I welcome). It’s also made me more aware of the cycles and seasons of our lives and has helped me understand that people make it through things.

Words are powerful things. They can uplift and they can burn. They can cause confusion and they can create clarity. What I’ve loved most is the simplicity inherent in focusing on just one word for a 12-month period. I love getting curious about each word and investigating the ways in which I want to invite it into my life.

In determining a word for yourself, think about what you need most in the upcoming year. Is it rest or peace or action or friendship or space or calm or adventure? Some words have come to me easily and in other years I’ve really needed to listen to my own life to find a word. There’s no perfect word – the reality is that any number of words could lead you to a deeper relationship with yourself.

In 2011 I began offering a year-long workshop with the goal of giving myself and my community an opportunity to reconnect with our words at the beginning of each month via a simple creative prompt. These prompts act as lenses – allowing each one of us the chance to make our words visible through words, photography and collage. Each month I send out an email welcoming the community back to the classroom where they are greeted with a welcome message, monthly thoughts, and directions on how to approach and tackle the monthly prompt. These prompts are not meant to take up a ton of time – the main goal is to simply encourage a reconnection with our words each month.

As I’ve reviewed my past project album it’s been so cool to see, literally see via my words and photos, my own personal growth in those pages. Like many people, I’ve experienced challenges in my life and the pages in my One Little Word® albums document a lot of the struggles and successes as I’ve worked my way through (and continue to work my way through) the changes in my life.

One Little Word® has a vibrant community supporting one another. Here is some feedback from past workshop members:

Wendy | This is my third year. OLW has been amazing. The monthly prompts provided the opportunity for self reflection and an outlet for creativity through some very difficult times. Ali, your gentle persistent guidance to live the length and width of life has been so supportive and amazing. I recommend this project to every one I can.

Diana | I learned to be kinder to myself and to be more empathetic to others…that we each have our own journey and to honor that. I also learned to breathe…which is really nice. I learned that I CAN accomplish things and make progress forward to the woman I want to be while still taking care of the woman I am. I also learned that it does not always go as planned and that it is ok. The last few months have been more challenging and nothing has gone as planned…nothing has felt right…I have felt completely off track and that is ok…I can breathe, focus on my word, and regroup. I love having a word of the year. My word is like my own personal lighthouse…it helps me find my way. This process is incredible, Ali, and I am so grateful to you for leading us on this journey… how open you are about your story is so inspiring and encouraging…thank you!!

Amanda | After taking the One Little Word class for three years, I have come to realize that learning alongside Ali and the rest of the community goes beyond documenting a word for the year. Instead, it links to something much bigger – to better understanding myself, my story, and my journey. It helps me look within and beyond myself, providing a means to continually reflect on where I am and where I want to go as I work toward goals in life and celebrate. Ali’s monthly support has helped shape my perspective on life with an emphasis on – capturing what is real, celebrating what is real, thinking about implications, and recognizing that it is a work in progress. This class has complemented other aspects of my life and has been a perfect fit. I am so very grateful for the One Little Word journey. This is my 5th year of choosing a word, and I noticed a significant difference of the impact of my words once I started taking the class.

Dawn | At its most basic, setting goals & intentions, monitoring them throughout the year, reflecting on the monthly, evaluating progress, making changes as needed, and year-end summary, all while linking everything to one specific word. But… oh so much more! Life-altering personal growth that is beyond measure.

Many people participate in the workshop for the community and for the simple monthly messages and don’t undertake the actual process of building an album. Some people use a journal while others just listen and take action in their own lives.

Early-bird registration for the year long workshop is $26 before December 31, 2017, and you can register here.

A couple years ago I started offering a selection of intentional products to help you connect with your word throughout the year. I offer project albums, paper crafting kits, acrylic stamps, custom acrylic words, custom necklaces and other products to help make your word visible. You can see the full collection here.

Consider yourself invited to join me in selecting a word for yourself this year. My hope is that it makes a difference in your life and helps you connect with your most authentic self.

You can read more about the One Little Word® project and the products here.

Your Word

A huge thank you to Ali for sharing all about One Little Word. Are you going to choose a word for 2018? Words truly can be so impactful. Let us know if you plan to!

Have a great rest of your day whatever you’re up to and we’ll see you back here tomorrow, on Christmas Eve!



Photos c/o Ali Edwards

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