one little word

My OLW for 2021

Recovering from foot surgery + a global pandemic helped me read more books for pleasure last year than I’ve ever read in one year of my adult life. Reading served as my escape when I was unable to leave my home. I traveled all over the world — to places like Australia, Austria, Bolivia, China, and Singapore — and across the United States from the comfort and safety of my home.

After three weeks of reading A Promised Land, which is the longest book I’ve ever read, I found myself a little over the 50% mark. I needed to take a break so I read some novels. First I read Last Tang Standing, which gave me a case of the giggles. Rather than returning to President Obama’s book right away, I picked up Katherine Center‘s newest novel, What You Wish For. It was in the pages of What You Wish For that I found my One Little Word for 2021.

Before I tell you what my word for 2021 is, come back in time with me for a moment. You may remember the latter portion of 2019 was a when-it-rains-it-pours kind of time for our family. I chose the word restore to guide me through 2020. At the time, I thought restore was a bit of a pipe dream. We had a family member who was extremely ill and I didn’t even know if/when I was going to have surgery. While I’ve had to claw my way back to being able to use my foot properly again (I’d say I’m about 90% recovered. The final 10% is going to be challenging. So will taking off some of the weight I gained from being sedentary all of those months, but I’m digressing.), I feel as though I’ve been able to restore most of the things I took for granted before I injured myself in 2019. Plus, said family member has gotten good news twice in the past three months. Amidst all of the horrendous things that have happened relating to COVID-19 in 2020, I am grateful for what we have.

Yet, I’d be disingenuous if I said I have been enjoying life every day. There are big, daily challenges we face as a family. It’s stuff I talk about face-to-face, but I don’t blog about it. These challenges aren’t things that are going to change in a year’s time. The challenging stuff will be demanding for years to come. So when Sam, the main character in What You Wish For said this, I knew I found my word for 2021:

Consciously choosing to be joyful is what I realized I need to do, even when it’s hard. JOY. That’s the word that will guide me in 2021. Joy is something I will look for daily in 2021. I will aspire to find joy every day in 2021.

I don’t have a plan for exactly how I’m going to be joyful on a daily basis this year. So, it’s good that I’m the kind of person who reads the author’s note in books since Center recommended Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee. I have a feeling this book will be a roadmap for helping me find joy authentically, even when it’s hard. In the meantime, I will take walks when there’s no snow and ice on the ground, try (more) new recipes, and use face masks once a week since those are things that delight me. But before I read Joyful, I’ve got to finish A Promised Land. (I made it to page 486 of 752 last night!)

39 thoughts on “My OLW for 2021

  1. > I will aspire to find joy every day in 2021.<

    I love this word for any number of reasons, but the main one is kind of silly, and I'm embarrassed to even write this down. I'm on TikTok (no stupid dances!) for the content, and there is a gentleman from New Orleans who has a catchphrase, "Find your joy!" He is an absolute riot and leaves me joyful each time I find one of his videos.

    This is where my mind goes. My word is clarity for obvious reasons! 🙂

    I hope you find your joy each and every day! ♥️

    Happy New Year!

  2. Oh my goodness! Maybe we can be joy partners. We can cheer each other on in 2021. I actually had to put “choose” in front of the word as I think I need to be more intentional about choosing joy – and giving myself permission to put joy first. Wishing you all the best – and a year filled with joy!

  3. Joy was my first olw and the basis for my blog in the beginning. It really changed my life- knowing the joy is always there. We just have to choose to find it.

  4. I didn’t expect to be adding several books to my obese TBR pile when I clicked on your link, but the book in joy sounds cathartic. I read President Obama’s book and found it calming. It gave me hope for the presidency. Joy is a wonderful word, and we each need joy before we can bring joy to others.

    1. I read the chapter on the BP Oil Spill last night. I’m getting there!

      Yes, we need to find our own joy before spreading it. I’ll be working hard on this in the year to come.

  5. I love how joy claimed you, Stacey, and the emphasis on being intentional and purposeful in it. The book, the quotes – so powerful. Also love how you gave yourself permission to interrupt your reading for other reading. The word that chose me this year is “awe” and I cannot help seeing how it parallels with joy, and how your word “restore” in 2020 also paralleled my word “reclamation,” and how we both were out of commission with a foot operation/broken foot in early 2020.., well, here’s why it’s so important to share our stories. We find ourselves reflected in one another, in ways great and small. There’s comfort, strength, awe, and joy in it. 🙂

    1. Our words seem to fit tongue in groove!

      Interrupting my reading was the greatest thing I’ve done. I was enjoying A Promised Land, but it was so heavy. I needed something light. Who knew that I’d find my word during my reading break.

  6. The key to the OLW magic is being intentional. Looking for joy, finding joy, recognising joy, creating joy, celebrating joy – collecting all these will add up to more than you can imagine. The most interesting thing is that the OLWs work their magic beyond the person who chose them. Every time you write about your OLW it spreads joy to others too.

  7. I, too, love your word, Stacey. And the way it found you by reading this book…so powerful. Thank you for sharing not only the word, but the quotes from that book. I especially appreciate the intentional way we are advised to create and experience joy…like it is not something that just “happens to us,” but is rather something earned by courage, sacrifice, and intentional action. I plan to read those quotes to my young daughters, as I am currently working with them on ways to better deal with life when it becomes challenging (I am feeling unsuccessful, but hey, maybe the quotes will help). Thank you! And Happy New Year!

    1. I found a great little sheet (from Ingrid Fettell Lee’s website) to help one plan their joyful experiences for the year. LMK if you’d like me to send it to you for your daughters. (I’m working on finding joy with Isabelle too. It’s hard when we’re stuck indoors so much of the time. But yesterday we took a walk around the neighborhood together during her afternoon break. It was lovely!)

  8. Great choice. I loved the book Joyful, and it was super helpful to me in a time when I felt very little spontaneous joy. Wishing you a joyful 2021! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

  9. Yes, Stacey, more JOY! I do wish you a joyful 2021! One of my favorite verses is from Psalm 16:11. God’s presence will be a source of joy to you this year!

    “You make me know the path of life;
    in your presence is unbounded joy,
    in your right hand eternal delight.”

    Peace and joy!

  10. Fine article, Stacey. I got a kick out of seeing Barack Obama as a guest star on Stephen Colbert the other day. The President 44 commented on his giant book, The Promised Land, among other things. Lots of good natured laughter by both gentlemen.

  11. I love the way your word chose you, Stacey! I had a similar experience where my word “become” came to me. Speaking of the Obamas, it was likely reading Michelle’s memoir 2 years ago that planted the seed. This year, it was ready to reveal itself. On another note, I am listening to A Promised Land while I walk. Good for you for reading it!

  12. Not sure what just happened but my comment vanished so let me start again. There is joy in this post, Stacey. Joy is a special word full of dreams and hope for a new year. It is a sparkly word that illuminates the path and a comforting word when troubles seep it. Joy makes us look for the light at the end of the tunnel with a positive slant even when there is little to find. I know because it was my one word a few years ago. May this word bring you self-care and peace. I look forward to hearing more about your one word.

  13. Joy was my word in 2019, and I loved it. It’s a great guiding word and reminder that it’s a choice and a deliberate act to find, notice, and celebrate the joy in every day. xoxo

  14. I had to stop by this post, as I am smack dab in the middle of reading The Book of Joy by The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, so your OLW is on my mind. Reading this on Thursday morning has been an act of self-care for me, after Wednesday afternoon’s events. I hope they don’t rob you of the joy you glean from today! May you continue to heal, and sending good wishes for your troubles to lessen as the year progresses.

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