ISO: A Porous Life


I originally passed on the idea of choosing a single word I wanted to embrace for 2018 when my life guru Lisa Richardson first put it out there.

word of the year

Nope – not now. Too busy, not feeling introspective enough.

But this idea of a “word” to guide me for the coming months kept swirling in my head like a back eddy.

Was it permeable? Pervious? Impervious?

Porous? Yes.


Yes – that was it. Porous. As in – letting things easily pass through, like course sand at low tide, a piece of pumice floating in a lake. Porous, but the opposite of a sponge that soaks things up and absorbs them.

sand at beach dawn johnson

The “things” being both the good and the bad. Those things that I purposefully hold on to too tightly, for fear that they will not come again. Like when you have the best vacation ever in some exotic location and jump on the plane salty and sandy because you want to hang onto whatever scrap you have of that beach (ummmmm… maybe just me). Or clinging onto love, scared that it might fade. Hang onto the stages of my kids, whose life I am here to guide and nurture, be a guardian of, but soon set free.

dawn and girls 2012

Then there are the bad things that I try to let go of as soon as they happen, but they want to stick anyways. Negative things that I have no control over, or screwing up a work presentation, unintentionally hurting a friend, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. They haunt me and keep me up at night. But mistakes happen. I constantly tell myself, sit with it, accept responsibility if that is what is needed, and move on. But I have a hard time with that. I feel bad way longer than I need to – and for what purpose? Who am I serving by holding onto these negative emotions? Not myself, not those I love, even those who I feel I may have wronged are likely served.

So, that is my word. Some people may think of this as being indifferent, but it’s actually the opposite. It’s a definite conscious decision.

Being able to be porous allows me to live more fully and in the present. To make space for a more fulsome life, unclogged, where things can reside but the things that are not serving me are flushed out with the next tide.

And when I think about it, my striving to be porous has been with me for a while. Looking back over the loss of my mother, I realize that this is, for me, where this life philosophy, more than a word for 2018, began.

This week, we’ll run a three-part series from Dawn, exploring the idea of being porous, in the face of love, loss and gut-wrenching grief. Watch for the next two posts coming this weekend.

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