Friday, January 1, 2016

2016: A New Year, Holiday Traditions, and A New Word!

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space to share our celebrations. Please join us and share your own!

Happy New Year!

As I awake, a new year dawns...fresh, with no mistakes in it. A new start. That's exciting and a little bit scary. Being single, this can be a lonely one to kiss at midnight. Years ago, I decided I would take back this celebration for me. I've spent a long time developing traditions to ring in the new year and now I'm proud to say it's become one of my favorite holidays. Here are some of my favorite ways to celebrate...

1. Writing and reflecting on New Year's Eve. I spend much of the day rereading notebooks and blog posts from the past year. I think about where I was this time last year and how I've changed. I look at pictures and writing from the entire year to help me see how I've grown and changed.

2. Happiness Jar...I call it my JOY Jar! This tradition I learned about from Elizabeth Gilbert. I read about this years ago. I have an empty jar on January 1st and I spend the year scribbling down memories filled with joy and drop them in the jar. 

I'm starting my third year of this tradition today. The thing about traditions is sometimes they take awhile to catch on. The first year I only jotted things down for two months. This past year I got to nine months, but inconsistently. 

My hope it in 2016, I remember to do this everyday. (I'm going to need a bigger jar.)

3. Cook something. I pick my favorites and indulge...sometimes it macaroni and meatballs, sometimes it's shrimp and pasta, sometimes it's steak. There's always something sweet too.

4. Create something. Spending time creating inspires me. I used to create a vision board for the year and hang it in my home. I abandoned that practice...instead, I paint. Last year I made my new joy jar.

5. Spend time alone. Really being alone and being ok with that has taken some practice, but I do cherish those quiet moments. I read a book or take a long walk. I listen to my favorite music or watch a movie. I meditate and pray about what's been and what is coming.

6. Spend time with friends. Spending time alone is a great way to reflect, but time with friends is invaluable. I feel seen after time with my friends. It looks different every year. Last night, I was invited to a small get together at the home of some friends. Talking and laughing and just being together is the perfect way to spend the final hours of the year.

7. Project for a year. In 2015, I committed to taking a picture everyday at the same time. I picked 5:22pm. I took 341 pictures. I missed 24 days...bummer. As the months went on, I also used a picture from anytime that day. It was an interesting project. I'm ready to say goodbye. What will my 2016 project be? I think it will be filling my JOY Jar!

8. Share my word of the year. This is the eighth year that I've picked a word of the year. It's also called my One Little Word (OLW). Here are past words...

2009: Mettle
2010: Engage
2011: Build
2012: Embrace
2013: Author
2014: Risk
2015: Fly
The word I've picked for this year is SELAH.

Weeks ago, I saw this word on Facebook...

I was immediately intrigued. I love what Glennon said, "Selah means holy pause. The Selah is the space between what happens to us and how we respond to what happens to us. When we don't take a Selah—we tend to respond from fear." A holy pause to help me respond from a place other than fear! I needed this word. I did more research about this word. It turns out it appears in the Bible more than seventy times. No one really knows what it means. Here's a list of possibilities...

stop and listen
pause and reflect
do a riff - go off the page
a pause, a reframing
pause, examine, consider , pray
to pause and praise
pause and calmly think about that
God has spoken
to lift the voices in praise
to pause and reflect
After words like FLY and RISK, I felt like I wanted a word that helped me pause...listen...examine...and even praise.



  1. Now I understand. It is such a beautiful word! I know this sounds corny but I am so very lucky we "met". My are you just amazing a beautiful woman. I love this post so much. So much of you and your journey and your strength. It also holds so many lessons that all of us can learn from (married or not). I think it is a wonderful way to spend the end of a year and welcome in a new year. Happy 2016 Michelle!!!

  2. Once again you inspire me with your grit and honesty. I think I may need to start a joy jar. Also, that word. So interesting and necessary. Kind of like Breathe. My word is ruminating. I think I'll reveal on Tuesday. Have a great day and happy 2016!

  3. I totally love this word and your reflection about it! And I could totally relate to your comments on singleness- sometimes the holidays are hard.

  4. I love this post! Full of so much reflection and anticipation. I started jotting down thoughts and moments. I was given the book Flow and I love it. It comes with little cards and books you can take out and use. There were a bunch of little cards to tear out and record moments on. I have them all in a little jar too and I love it. I'm hoping to be more mindful this year but the word I chose is REVEL...which I guess takes mindfulness to the next level. I want to notice and celebrate everything. :) Thank you for sharing!

  5. I think this word is perfect you! I remember reading about your joy jar last year and thinking that was such a great idea too. Now, seeing you look back, it really makes want to try this. I will write about my OLW on Tuesday. I love reading everyone's stories. Here's to an other wonderful year! Let's try to get those Saturday's going again. Even if it is once a month!

  6. You are so great at taking action, Michelle, always admiring you! I love the idea of a project for the year, and have watched you share the notes of good things happening in the classroom. I knew about Selah, surprise! I had a student last year whose name was Selah, so when the students wrote about their names, I discovered the meaning. It is a lovely thought, that pause, isn't it? What a wonderful word for the year. Happy New Year in all that it means for you.

  7. As I read your post, I continue to feel such a bond of sisterhood with you, friend! You have inspired me to start a JOY jar. (I'm going to Hobby Lobby later to get one.) As for kissing someone at midnight on New Year's Eve, that is overrated. :) I've been married for 20 years now and we are usually asleep at midnight. But I love the tradition you have built for yourself -- it feeds your soul which is exactly how you should begin a new year. Looking forward to 2016!

  8. You have started some wonderful traditions for yourself. You create your own happiness. I am fascinated with your project for a year idea. Your OLW is very special and so is the story of how you found it (or it found you.) Wishing you an awesome 2016!

  9. How intriguing - I've never heard of this word before, but now I feel the need to keep saying it! Happy New Year, friend - so glad to be learning and sharing with you all the year through.

  10. Oh, I LOVE that word! I saw you posted it on Facebook, but I wasn't sure what it meant. So glad to read about it. It's perfect. I also love your Joy Jar! "I'm going to need a bigger jar" - ha! I enjoyed your 5:22 project. I tried to take your suggestion and do the #focus pics, but I didn't last as long as you did. ;-) Your NYE celebration sounded wonderful! Happy New Year!

  11. Michelle,
    My word for you is beautiful and inspired and loving. Sorry I couldn't still to just one. Love everything about this post. I'm getting a joy jar. I think it will work to enhance my olw. Love to you.

  12. Wow. This post has really made me stop and think.
    Thank you for introducing me to this word, it's one to share.
    I love your Joy jar. I may copy that.

  13. Thank you for introducing me to a new word. It sounds like one that will serve you well this year. I love your New Year's Eve traditions as well. Time spent reflecting is valuable time. Have a great week.

  14. Me again. :) Just commenting on everyone's blogs, like the old days! I love the word Selah. A reminder to slow down and pause. Are you going to Instagram your Joy jar from time to time? I enjoyed your 522 journey. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  15. What a beautiful word and the meaning behind it. There is so much to take from your post. The JOY jar...I need one of those. :) I also love your traditions. It's sounds like a wonderful way to spend New Year's Eve.

  16. I wrote down the meaning of this word. I might just have to make this my word for next year. I constantly need to remind myself to stop and take a pause in just about everything. Being an overly anxious person makes pausing really difficult. This would definitely be a good meditative word for me!

  17. You are such an inspiration! I want to try a similar "jar"- not sure if it will be a jar or a notebook entry daily. I love the thoughtfulness of your post. My OLW will be sotted by Tuesday. I love selah.

  18. Michelle, Thank you for introducing this word to me. A holy pause is something everyone should exercise. It can only make the joy and love richer and mitigate the anger.

  19. Somewhere I have a poem about Selah . . . I'll try to find it for you. Your post is so fun. I love that your notes for your joy jar are so artistic! Your enthusiasm pops off the page. Love that you celebrate church hugs. They are the best. Happy New Year, Michelle!

  20. Selah-pause and reflect, Michelle, that sounds like a great plan. If you have time join me on #NYEDChat tonight for convo on New Year, New Direction with our one word. Happy New Year!

  21. LOVE your one little word. Unique and powerful. This may need to be my second one little word! No one ever said we can't have two, right?!? It's just beautiful and I pray that SELAH brings you moments of clarity and strength with God right by your side.

    Oh, and I started that happiness jar last year too with my girls. They were helpful in the beginning to remind me to write happy memories down, but we fizzled out quickly .... but several years ago I started a ten year journal (that also usually fizzles out around September) and you have reinvigorated me to start fresh again this year and write down my joys daily! Happy New Year!!

  22. What a gorgeous word. I don't know it. So powerful and full of potential though. I really like your idea of a joy jar. And the part about being comfortable with being alone is something I want to embrace more fully this year as my youngest leaves for school and I will be the only one in the house...


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