Amy Fenster Brown’s guide to understanding ‘buzz words’


Amy Fenster Brown, Special To The Jewish Light

Isn’t it interesting how buzz words become popular? Somehow someone somewhere coins a catch phrase, blabs it to everyone who owns ears, and then it gets repeated over and over until it becomes part of regular conversation.

Often people use these terms to sound cool but don’t really know what they mean. Other times the phrases are overused and feel forced. Now put those two together and you’ve got the trigger for my eye rolling.

Many of these trendy terms will stick around for years to come, while others will be replaced by something else that someone else says somewhere else. Allow me to break down some current catch phrases for you.

Set my intentions for the day – Intention setters are often meditators, which to me says they are sitting still with their eyes closed thinking about their to-do list. I do this daily. It’s easy. All you have to do is stay in bed longer than you should, check the to-do list on your phone and start panicking that you’ll never get it all done. Boom! You’re ready to tackle the day fueled by anxiety. You’ll likely burn more calories that way.

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Breath work – When I am having a to-do list panic attack and I try to calm down and worry that I’ll stop breathing altogether, but miraculously don’t die because my body continues breathing, I consider this breath work. After all, my breath worked. And I’m still here.

Natural consequences – These are like little mini punishments that happen naturally when you don’t complete a necessary task, like if you don’t fill up your gas tank and you’re on empty, you’re not going to make it anywhere on your to-do list. Honestly this term could be trendier, like farm-to-table consequences, or free-range consequences. I’m still workshopping it.

Safe space – My friend calls her enormous walk-in pantry her safe space. There are like six kinds of M&Ms in there, so it makes perfect sense. Beyond a place to shelter with sugar, a safe space is meant to be a circle of trust where you can share your true raw feelings without worrying it will turn into petty gossip. A safe space is supposed to be like Vegas…what happens there stays there. It’s what Alcoholics Anonymous has achieved with members keeping private things private.  The ultimate safe space is a relationship where you can deal with the effects of a spicy chili con carne knowing your partner isn’t going to leave you, even if your sonic booms cause a change in the cabin pressure of your own home.

Being in nature – People are always talking about how they love being in nature, how they are grounded being in nature, how they decompress by being in nature. Look buddy, you went outside. Why can’t we just call it outside? Every afternoon I spend time in nature walking to my mailbox. Some days I spend time in nature when I park my car and walk into Trader Joe’s. I’ve also spent time in nature at the Cardinals game, what with the open roof of Busch Stadium. I’m practically a tree hugger.

Forest bathing – This ain’t no bubble bath. You’ll really want Calgon to take you away when you realize your forest bathing buddies are blood sucking ticks and terrifying snakes. Forest bathing is probably just a trendy term for getting lost in the woods when you go hiking, which is really just walking where there are hills and no concrete sidewalks. I recommend sturdy shoes and some Deep Woods Off spray.

Self-care – It’s called brushing your teeth, pal. It’s called basic hygiene, and it’s nothing new.  We were always supposed to be trimming our toenails and taking baths (in water, not in the forest). Light a scented candle, grab a gummy, and it’s now called self-care. So hip! So trendy! I did my laundry and washed my face! I did self-care! I’m going to share about it in the safe space of my journal while breathing through my third eye and sitting on my porch, I mean, being in nature.

Eye roll.


Columnist Amy Fenster Brown is married to Jeff and has two teenage sons, Davis and Leo. She volunteers for several Jewish not-for-profit groups. Fenster Brown is an Emmy Award-winning TV news writer and counts time with family and friends, talking and eating peanut butter among her hobbies.