Authors work hard to find the right names for characters. Renaming the challenges in our lives could be just as vital!

In this world of marketing and other fake news, I think most of us are aware that what things are called influences how we respond to them. People in the advertising industry have known this and used it against us for centuries, as have politicians. In those contexts it’s annoying: someone is trying to manipulate us into doing what they want! But what if, instead of getting angry with them, we steal their concept and use it to our own benefit? Let’s have a bit of fun today with renaming!


This concept occurred to me in the wee hours of yesterday morning, when I was once more trying to get back to sleep after waking up at 2 AM. You know that feeling, right? You’re on your back or side, stiff as a board and gritting your teeth, with everything that’s gone wrong in your past, present and future racing through your brain. It’s no wonder this activity is called trying to get back to sleep!


But what about this: we’ll call it getting comfy with relaxation exercises while in bed, with no particular outcome attached. Wiggle your fingers, wiggle your toes, move your head gently from side to side. Rotate your ankles and wrists. Take a big full-body stretch and a bunch of deep breaths. Feels good, right? Fiddle around with this kind of stuff for a while, and maybe you’ll just. . .drift. Suddenly you open your eyes and it’s three hours later.


Sure, as long as you don’t share a bed with someone.


Yeah! They’d probably wake up, too, while you’re doing all that stuff.


Fine, Lily and 9. Let’s think of an example for people who don’t have a bed all to themselves (plus a 14-pound cat). What’s something you really hate to do?


That’s easy. P. E.



Ah yes, the bane of our junior high years, physical education every day of the school week. Now that I’m an adult and can choose my own physical activities, I actually like working out.


Lots of people don’t, though.


Good observation, 9. So instead of working out, we’ll call it wellness. Instead of focusing on how hard it is and how sweaty and worn out you’ll get, enjoy the feeling of movement, strength and flexibility! Pay attention to incremental improvements in what you can do and take a moment to think Wow, I am making progress!


Is there a point hiding in there somewhere?


There is, Lily. What we call things colors our perception of those things. If you can find joy in the everyday, even when you’re doing something boring or frustrating, it makes you feel better.


Recently, I’d become highly upset because it’s been so hard lately to find people to do things with. Not big things, like concerts or festivals where I’ll see several people I know, but the any-old-day kinds of things, like meeting for coffee or taking a walk together. It seemed like everyone I know had too full a schedule, with work and family and their own projects, to take an hour for some simple friend time.


This week, I was lucky enough to meet up with one friend for coffee and another for a walk. It is absolutely ridiculous how happy I felt afterwards, just spending time with someone doing something that had no big consequences. I got all “Yay! I have friends!”


Well of course you have friends! You have us.


And I’m grateful for you both, Lily. But I think part of the struggle I was having was focusing too hard on the word “friend.” Rationally, I know I have a lot of friends, and all the stuff that keeps them busy is part of why I like them, part of what makes them unique. What I was really missing was in-person connection.


So if you think about it as making connections instead of- –




Words count. Renaming something that’s hard to deal with can lend just the right nuance to transform the seemingly impossible into the entirely possible. Fewer hours of daylight and cooling weather have a way of making me stop trying sometimes. Renaming, plus last week’s Goddess Hack, just might get me through to the spring.

The renaming game: dictionaries are a dandy resource for finding new words!

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