The Color and the Word: My New Year Intentions

An orange among green leaves and an orange panel with yellow behind the text The Color and the Word

Welcome to 2024, in which the tinsel of the holidays cascades down to the less sparkly reality that a new year unrolls before us. We can look at it with trepidation, with purpose, with indifference, or with intention. None of this is wrong, but perhaps we can also choose to think about our approach to this world a bit differently. I do not make New Year resolutions. I am a list-making queen who updates my to-do list sometimes twice a week, and I keep that rolling no matter the date on the calendar. That being said, I have chosen to approach the new year with intentions, and I have chosen a color and a word for 2024.

The Color

For 2024, I have chosen orange to be my color of the year. We have had, collectively, a quite dark and challenging set of years. For me personally, I’ve been through nearly five years of loss and drastic change, cross country moves, and continual upheaval. Seeking color and light seems the right choice. For me, the color orange signifies that.  

Orange, being a combination of the primary colors red and yellow, suggests the fruit which bears its name, as well as fire. And even for Chinese New Year, the dragon is the animal for 2024. The mythological dragon breathes fire. I also think of sunrise, and to me orange encapsulates the sunrise after a long, arduous, shadowy night from the past several years.

Orange makes me feel uplifted, energized, and optimistic: just right for a new year and a new phase in my life.

The Word

I follow artist Sam Marshall on Instagram, and I recommend everyone do that for her beautiful art, her remarkable work ethic, and her radiantly positive attitude. If there is a problem, Sam knows how to approach it. She’s inspirational that way. Also, her wee, chocolate-colored dachshund, Marple, brings even more joy to following Sam and her stories.

For New Year’s Day, Sam asked all of us who follow her what our word of the year should be. She gave some criteria for how to choose the word, if we wanted that inspiration. I thought long and hard about mine. Last year, mine was determination. That panned out and got me through some truly devastating life events. This year? I’ll be honest, I struggled a bit to find the word. I took a good thirty minutes of working through what I wanted more and less of, and how I wanted things to go this year. And then I had it.


Establish is my word for 2024. Why? Because it symbolizes exactly how I want this year to go. Let me explain.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists some of these definitions for the transitive verb ESTABLISH:

  • to institute (something, such as a law) permanently by enactment or agreement
  • to make firm or stable
  • to introduce and cause to grow and multiply (establish grass on pasturelands)
  • to bring into existence: (established a republic)
  • BRING ABOUT, EFFECT (established friendly relations)
  • to put on a firm basis: SET UP (establish his son in business)
  • to put into a favorable position
  • to gain full recognition or acceptance 

Now, I have a degree in ecology, so I wanted a word that symbolized the act of putting down roots and making a habitat for myself. As you can see, one of the definitions listed says to introduce and cause to multiply. In other words…to put down roots, to thrive.

But also, having just become a traditionally published author and having increased my business of art commissions, I really like the definition that says to gain full recognition or acceptance. And what I mean by this is: I want to be an established author and an established artist. The introductory phase, the impostor syndrome, the respective industries’ opinions…these don’t matter now. I am and shall be established in my careers.

The Color and the Word As Intention

Rather than choosing a set of resolutions, choosing my color and word signify to the world that I have intentions for this year. I will lean into vibrancy, possibility, and putting down roots. I will maintain a positive attitude while I expand in my community and grow. These are all intentions. There is a lot of power in putting one’s intentions out into the world. Let’s make our intentions good ones, so they may take root and bear fruit for us in the coming year.

Write on!