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KerryOn: A Month of JOY

February can be hard. Even though it’s the shortest month of the year, it can feel like the longest. The holidays are past, and spring (where I live anyway) seems like a distant future. The lack of sunshine and subzero weather can leave me feeling crabby, frustrated, and drained. I’ve also noticed how it affects my kids. Leaving for school before dawn and getting home late at night from sporting events means you rarely see sunlight. It took a few years, and many long conversations, to figure out ways to get out from under the weight of a long, cold, dark February. Every reasonable option was discussed. Do we move to the desert? Do we douse everyone in vitamin D drops? Do we install heat lamps in every room of the house? Or is there something a little deeper that we can affect … something within us? Since we’re not able to shift the rotation of the sun, perhaps we can shift our thinking. As a result, since 2016, February has become JOY Month. What is JOY Month? Well, sometime in January, we each complete a list of “10 things that give me JOY”. The sheet we write upon has the following message as a reminder:

We are a JOYful family and we bring much JOY to one another! Here's a fun activity where we can give each other even more JOY! We'll each have someone we love who will be our JOY, and we'll create JOY over the next week to make them happy. It can be items from this list, items that give you JOY, and/or some of the special talents that you can share. EnJOY!

Over the 4 weeks of February we are each assigned another family member to whom we give JOY. What this does is, it allows our brains to think about what we can control versus what we can’t control. And taking action to bring JOY to others is something we definitely can control: writing notes of encouragement, giving special treats, helping with chores, lots of hugs (my favorite), walks in the woods, preparing a favorite dish, games, movies, or whatever else we can think of! It gives a new warmth to what can be a very cold time of year.

The best part is, we only have to think about bringing JOY to others to help us immediately begin to feel better. It’s like we can’t give JOY without getting JOY ourselves. We’ve realized the JOY doesn’t have to end with our family– treats for teachers, packages for neighbors, letters to friends and family, anybody is fair game… And really, who couldn’t use a little bit more JOY in their lives?

So, if there are times throughout the year that feel dark and cold – like February is for us – I hope this exercise can give you a moment to pause and write down what gives you JOY. Because, I bet there are others who could use a little JOY, too. Go ahead and give it a try. It brings an extra dose of sunlight to your day.

KerryOn Questions

- What is a time throughout the year when you need JOY the most?

- How would you answer “10 things that give me JOY”?

- Who can you give JOY to today? And what will you do?

The Kerry behind KerryOn

My name is Kerry K. Fierke, Ed.D. (pron. Fear-Key) I have a unique combination of skills and experience – decades of fast-paced corporate experience in Fortune 100 companies and large health care organizations, combined with the academic rigor of a highly ranked research university. My focus is supporting others to create their own path to leadership development, lifelong learning, and a unique leadership legacy. Take a moment to focus on leadership, then KerryOn!

To see all KerryOn's and other leadership stuff, visit

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Molly Ekstrand
Molly Ekstrand
02 feb. 2023

Love this! Try giving a Valentine chocolate to complete strangers (and friends too!) that you interact with on Valentine's Day. The feedback loop is so great!

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