Thursday, January 5, 2017

Clap your hands

Here we are again. January. 

Fresh start. New calendar (unless you are like me and use a 17 month calendar and therefore are still using the same calendar you were 6 days ago). Goals. Dreams. Resolutions. All that January jazz.

A few thoughtful and possibly bored friends have asked about my One Word for 2017. Even Annie asked me last night if I had made my One Word choice. I can't tell you how much it pleases me that I have become known for such consistency. That is never not often the case with my grand and bold ideas. But here I am- five years into my One Word approach to the New Year and I'm still hanging in there! 

Can I get a WOOHOO?!

Of course, probably the reason choosing One Word for the New Year works for me is its simplicity. 

Note to self: keep things simple.

(If you want to read about my past One Word selections you can go here and find all of my previous posts relating to my One Word.)

Having now done this a few times, I'm finding that arriving at my One Word looks different every year. One year I made lots of lists and charts and Venn diagrams to finally settle on a word, and another year the word came to me in December and I never looked back. There have also been words I struggled against only to realize that the struggle was indicative of how much the word was needed. 

This year has been another fight to the death battle between myself and my One Word.

Okay, maybe not fight to the death....more like icy stares across the room while lobbing passive aggressive phrases like, "Bless your heart", and "No, really, I wanted you to have the last cookie. It's fine.

I like the word just fine. It's perfectly useful in conversation, writing, and for naming one of seven very small men who live in a cottage in the woods. It just makes me nervous when I think about carrying it around for an entire year. 

First the word...and then an explanation.

In the words of Matthew McConaughey, Alright Alright Alright... 2017 One Word of the Year is....


Huh. Really? Happy? As in, the superficial second cousin to Joy and Gratitude and Generosity and Contentment?

Yes, Happy.

Believe me, I tried to go with one of those A-List words. I worked SUPER hard to get Joy to apply for the job. But Happy kept finding her way to the front of the line, resum√© in hand, ready to get to work. 

I wasn't sure what my DEAL was with Happy until I read this:

We are highly suspicious of happiness. We really do want to be happy - secretly of course - but we'll tell everyone else it's joy we want. Because isn't joy the holier aim? Isn't happiness against the rules?
And then on the next page, this:

But this happiness we seek is not a wimpy emotion. Happiness has been advertised as some kittenish, fluffy feeling. In reality, happiness can make your heart race with excitement- and sometimes with a bit of fear. Because on our happiest days, we are worried it won't last. (emphasis mine) ~Jennifer Dukes Lee from The Happiness Dare
And there it is.

Happiness can leave us feeling vulnerable, especially when we know what it feels like to go from feeling so very happy to so very sad. Opening ourselves up to happiness again can be a risky endeavor.

Last night when Annie asked me what I had chosen as my One Word this year, I very hesitantly told her I was leaning toward Happy.

With all the wisdom and innocence of childhood she smiled and said without reservation, "That's a really good word, Mom."

I was beginning to think she was right...but I just. still. wasn't. sure.

And then I found myself up at 3am unable to sleep.

Sidebar: I'm here to tell you that the whole middle-age-mom-insomnia thing is no joke. Thank you to my darling children for giving me so many sleepless nights for the past two decades that my body now believes waking up in the middle of the night is normal and FUN and necessary. Bless your hearts.

I tried and tried every trick in the book to get back to sleep but they were all to no avail so finally at around 4:30am I got up and pulled out a little book of blessings I often read before bed at night. (Maybe if I had remembered to read this before going to sleep I would not have needed it in the hours before dawn, but that's neither here nor there now.

I never look ahead in this book so I had no idea what the blessing for this day would be...

It was one of those moments I found myself both laughing and crying. Quietly, that is. (It was 4:30 in the morning, mind you, so a full LOL would not have been okay). 

I got so tickled by the words, "I recommend having fun...". I looked it up and of course there are other translations with loftier words like mirth and joy and merry, but I felt this translation (NLT) was chosen just for me. It's actually quite rare to find Bible translations that utilize the exact words 'happy' or 'happiness' much (again, JOY is a bit of a scripture hog) but even more rare to find the word 'fun'. I'm loving it.

So, you only have to throw so many bricks at my head before I figure out to duck, and you only have to give me three or four obvious signs before I finally say, " want me to go this way..." 

I'm quick.

Now that I've gotten my head around Happy, I'm pretty excited about it. Because the thing is, true happiness really flows out of all of those other good words. You can't be happy without being grateful. You can't be happy without a balance between work and rest. You can't be happy without contentment. You can't be happy without being attentive to your health. (Although God did tell me to eat, drink and enjoy life so....). You can't be happy without giving to others. And you can't be happy without choosing joy. 

Now that I think about it, maybe Happy isn't the superficial second cousin after all? 

Maybe Happy is the wise grandma who has experienced a whole bunch of life with all of its ups and downs and yet still bakes cookies, and sings songs, and takes time to lean down and whisper in your ear...

Now, you know, dear, I recommend having a little fun....

Have a blessed 2017, friends! 

May we all be happy. 

These people and pups bring me a whole lot of happy.
More of this, 2017. More of this.

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