My 2021 Word of the Year: Health

Written by Katie Steedly Curling, PhD, writer, and guest blogger for the Turner Syndrome Foundation (TSF). Katie writes monthly about her experiences living with Turner Syndrome. In this article, she shares the meaning behind her “word of the year.”

Health – 1. a: the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit. b: the general condition of the body. 2. a: a condition in which someone or something is thriving or doing well: well-being. b: general condition or state.

I have chosen a Word of the Year for the last few years. My Word of the Year is a word that I put front and center heading into the upcoming year. I always carefully consider what my word will be. This year, choosing was easy: in the midst of a pandemic that has caused more suffering than my heart can hold, after months of social isolation and little physical fitness success, as my 50th birthday approaches, there is no doubt about my word this year. My 2021 Word of the Year is health.


I am thinking about health this year because I am exhausted. I am exhausted from the emotional toll it has taken to live through the last few years. I am exhausted from the sadness and grief and anxiety that hangs in the air. So many have been deeply touched by this moment. I am exhausted as someone who cares. I am exhausted because the sea is so big and my boat is so small. From health, exhaustion abates and I remember to breathe. From health, exhaustion is part of a natural flow of falling apart and coming back together, rather than a permanent state of anger or paralysis. From health, gratitude gently hugs exhaustion and lets it rest.


I will turn 50 in October. Turning 50 gives me a reason to think about health. “Zero” birthdays – 30, 40, 50 … – always give me pause. As a result of living with Turner syndrome (TS), I do a better than average job keeping track of my health. When I turned 49, I started a program to learn new nutritional and fitness habits. That program will continue through my 50th birthday. The older I get the more I think about quality of life. I never got the opportunity to feel physically invincible like most young people (Thank you, TS). As time marches on, my health is even more fragile and in need of care. From health, I will have more years to enjoy. From health, my body, mind, and spirit can dance. From health, my years will pass more fully. 

A Good Foundation

Good health is the foundation from which we all thrive. That is why I chose health as my Word of the Year. I have registered for the 2021 Chicago marathon as a commitment to my health. This Moment has brought into focus the need to support and protect our health and the health of our communities and our world. Health is self-care. Health means caring for body, mind, and spirit. From health, we can learn we are steel. From health, we can do our work. From health, the health of our world can be restored. 

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