Sunday, March 24, 2024

Words Matter #SOLC #SOL24

I am feeling some words today, and it has me thinking about the denotations and connotations of those words.

See, my daughter is on her way to spend part of her spring break with my parents in Florida.  The spring semester is usually a hard one for me because we do not get to see Ashley for a long stretch of time.  

Since starting college, she has spent her spring break with her friend's family in Florida.  This year, their spring break was pushed a week later, and the parents did not book their stay for the same week.  That meant the girls would be staying with my parents for the week.

My first thought was I am so jealous of them, but as I thought more on the word, I realized that it had a negative connotation to it.  It did not sit right with me.  I looked it up, and I was right.  According to Merriam Webster, it means hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy and advantage.  Yikes!  I am not hostile about it.  My parents are not my rivals.

I decided to look up envious.  I like to work on word continuums with my students and look at the strength of words and the connotations associated with them.  I felt sure I would find a fitting word.  Merriam Webster defines envy as painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.  This was a bit closer, but I am not resentful or in pain per se.   

I went to the thesaurus to see if I could find another word. I found possessive, intolerant, resentful, anxious, skeptical, begrudging, covetous.  Nothing fit, and they just made me feel worse.

Then, I thought I am not naming this feeling correctly.  I know that words matter, and I certainly did not want to say something to Ashley or my parents that would make them feel bad about this time they were about to spend together.  I know that I tend to think about words too much, but it was not worth the risk. 

I also knew that I might find peace and gratitude if I could acknowledge my true feelings. I went back to the dictionary to do some more searching.  I looked up longing and then landed on yearning.  Yearning means a tender or urgent longing.  Tender felt right.  Urgent fit, too.  

It has been a while since I have spent time with Ashley.  However, I will see her in three weeks when I fly out for her sorority's Mother's Weekend.  I am excited, and since it is so close, it feels more urgent. I will have my time with her just like my parent's will have this next week with her - we will all get to make memories with her. 

Now, instead of focusing on the fact that I am not there with them, I am grateful that she will have some quality time with her grandparents.  

Words matter, not only to those they are spoken to, but also to the one who is thinking about speaking them. I feel better acknowledging the correct feeling and not making my loved ones feel bad.   


  1. Wow, I love how you process your emotions and share such a wise point about words. What we say does matter. Yearning is the perfect descriptor, but I can also understand the sense of wishing you could be with your daughter sooner. I'm so glad I read your post today. It's provocative, loving, and reflective.

  2. Such a wonderful "think aloud" of your process of finding the right feeling/emotion - and to name it well means you can work through it well, too. I used the dictionary today, too... the first time in a long time. And it made me think of the power of knowing Greek and Latin roots and how we can teach that with joy, through storytelling (like you did today), and then make sure we're not just memorizing and matching, but using language more precisely. You've gifted us such a layered piece.


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