Write Team: #ONEWORD2022 “Rejoice”

18-254 days.

That’s the timeline for a resolution to become a habit and stick.

From my experience, I know that 99% of New Year’s resolutions will be broken long before those days are up. However, I see the power of words and how choosing the right word can guide us through the new year.

The new year is a time of rebirth. Why not look inside ourselves and see what we need to live a fuller life? Words can lift oneself or others or sting long after speaking. Words can provide inspiration, encouragement, and motivation and are powerful enough to create change. I have participated in the #ONEWORD challenge for the past six years. I have found this challenge is much more helpful to lift me when needed and is easier to maintain than any resolution I could make. I mean, one week without sweets is plenty. I have shared this challenge with my coworkers and started each new semester by sharing and exploring this activity with my students. We then create a bulletin board of our chosen words and look to it when we need a push. Powerful, to say the least.

I don’t just randomly pick any word. I research the denotation and connotation and decide which word speaks to me the most at that moment. My past choices have included: energize, optimistic, choose, invincible, intrepid and peace. This year I chose “rejoice.”

Even though the past year has been tumultuous, many blessings allow me to REJOICE and be glad. Through adversity, one tends to reflect and hopefully realize that the valleys are put before us to reach the mountains. I have learned so much about myself and others over the past two years. I have a greater understanding of who I want to be and who I want to surround myself with. I REJOICE that each day offers me the opportunity to share my gifts with others, spark a fire for someone where there may not be one, and give back to create a brighter existence.

My wish for my students, families, and colleagues is that they look inside themselves and see the goodness in their lives and REJOICE. 2020 and 2021 were challenging years, but I have seen strength, determination, and the right mindset to adapt the best way possible to make the most of an imperfect situation. I hope that 2022 offers inner peace, knowing that brighter times are near. I feel the tides turning. As Psalm 118:24 states, “This is the day which the Lord hath made, we shall REJOICE and be glad in it.”

I hope our world finds time to REJOICE instead of sharing hate, anger and bitterness. If we as humankind can open our hearts and minds to other viewpoints and understand that our way isn’t necessarily the right way, that would be a day to REJOICE from the rooftops. The world is made up of diversity, which makes it beautiful. We are unique individuals, each with our own perspectives on issues. So let’s listen to each other, open our minds to other possibilities, and if we have to, agree to disagree. By having a sense of peace and gratitude as individuals, we can communicate and spread goodness with our neighbors and live happier lives ourselves. 2022 offers so many opportunities and outlooks. I am already REJOICING for my family to continue to grow. I could not be prouder of these humans who are my calm in turbulent waters.

My intuition tells me that the new year will take them to great heights.

I will continue to REJOICE as I retrain my brain from past beliefs that significantly affect every aspect of my life. I am at peace knowing I can’t help every person I encounter. However, I will not give up hope to inspire others to evaluate their inner voices and raise awareness of how thoughts and attitudes control our actions. Our thoughts become our reality. The idea of living a life of gratitude and REJOICING for all couldn’t make me happier.

As we move into 2022, reflect on the past year. I know that even with the pandemic, I was incredibly blessed. I am sure you were too. Take those memories forward, don’t focus on the negative, or you will continue to get that back. Just as we pray, we need to believe that we have already received; therefore, REJOICE that the light shines through. The new year offers a sense of hope and peace. I REJOICE that we are all headed for a year full of health, happiness, love and prosperity. I encourage you to find your #ONEWORD to motivate you to be better, do better, and lead you to have the best year possible.

  • Leeann Raikes is a resident of Ottawa and works as a seventh grade ELA educator at Marseilles Elementary. She’s been teaching for 17 years.