Best of 2016

"In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As 2016 comes to a close I have spent a lot of time reflecting. Reflecting is something that is so important but often gets pushed aside in a busy life. John Dewey famously said that "We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience" and I couldn't agree more. It's important to look at our year and identify what worked, what didn't, and what we can learn to move forward.

I'm so grateful for the year I have had and the people I have shared it with. I love reading all the years in review around this time on social media so, with that in mind, here are some of the highlights of 2016 for me:

Reading Challenge

I set a goal to read 52 books this year - and I hit the goal! I'm super proud of myself and plan to set a similar goal for next year. Reading is such an easy way to learn new things, open your mind to other perspectives, and to sometimes just be entertained. Here are my top picks:

Non-Fiction: Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari

Fiction: Tenth of December by George Saunders

Personal Growth: You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

A photo posted by Emily Hart (@emhart11) on

National Parks

I visited 11 National Parks this year! I loved every visit but I definitely had some favorites:

Overall: Grand Tetons

Classic: Yellowstone

Best Hiking: Zion

Interesting Abodes

I stayed in a lot of interesting places this year. I really enjoy spending a relaxing night in an architecturally interesting place - drinking wine, reading books, and just being. Here are some of the most memorable:

Most unique: Arcosanti

Best vibe: Taos Vintage Trailer

Best View: Torrey, Utah


If you follow me on social media - or have read this post - you know I made up a holiday and wear whimsical outfits (mostly dresses) every Tuesday. It's been an important and fun part of my life that really brings me joy. Here are some of my favorites:

Overall: Dinosaurs!

Classic: Space!

Best Print: Mountains! 

A photo posted by Emily Hart (@emhart11) on


I went on a lot of trips this year - mostly road trips (and put over 30,000 miles on my car!) Looking back - while I always enjoy a road trip - there are a couple that really stand out:

Best trip (by far): Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana loop

Runner Up: Aspen

Most Surprising (in a good way!): South Dakota

So there ya have it - some of the best parts of 2016. This year had so many ups and downs. There have been countless times when I literally thought I was living in the twilight zone - what more could go wrong - but looking back at all these memories puts the down times into perspective.

I love scrolling through my instagram feed when I need a pick me up or looking back at blog posts when I need inspiration. Sure social media is a curated collection of your greatest moments but, shouldn't it be? Shouldn't we be emotionally intelligent enough to know that a person's life exists between filtered frames? I think so. So I will keep sharing the moments I love in 2017 - the things I want to look back on and that give me joy. I hope you will do the same! 

Happy New Year! :)


"Take chances, make mistakes, get messy." - Ms. Frizzle

I love celebrating. Every day in my classroom we celebrate one of those weird National Days (today is National Food Day btw) and I have holiday decor for all seasons in my apartment down to cocktail napkins. So it's no surprise that I have made up my own weekly holiday - Jess Day Tuesday. More commonly known as #jessdaytuesday. I've gotten a lot of questions about what the heck this is, why and what I am celebrating etc. So here is the history and background of this great day.

I've always loved to theme dress. I frequently think of my outfits as "looks" (others think of them as "getup's" yikes)  and try to dress for the occasion at hand. My first foray into whimsical work dresses came with this math print dress: 

I'm a math teacher so this was an obvious purchase. But the interesting part of the dress isn't the dress - it's the feeling I get when I am wearing it. 

A lot of research has been done on the affect of clothing on our lives and self-perception. I've always known that when I look better I feel better, but there is some serious science to back it up. According to a study cited in the Wall Street Journal article "Why Dressing for Success Leads to Success" wearing nicer clothes than required raises confidence levels, affects how others perceive you, and boosts levels of abstract thinking - which is the thinking of successful leaders and executives. 

Another interesting study came from the Journal of Experimental Psychology and found that clothing affects our performance through "enclothed cognition" - a type of embodied cognition that basically means that the clothing you wear affects your cognitive process and your behaviors mirror your expectations of how someone wearing that clothing would behave. In one of the experiments,

"subjects who donned white coats that they thought belonged to doctors performed better on tests than those who wore street clothes, or those who thought the coats were associated with artists. Their heightened focus was evident only when subjects actually put on the coat in question (not merely when they were in the same room)."

So what does all this have to do with whimsical dresses on Tuesday? Well, the math dress made me take on the role of the most important teacher in history of course: Ms. Frizzle! Ms. Frizzle is the teacher in the Magic School Bus series and according to Wikipedia (and me) she is,

"eccentric and a bit strange, The Friz is intelligent, kind, resourceful, happy, funny, supportive, loving and somewhat motherly. She loves making jokes revolving around the lesson she teaches, even if she is the only one laughing. A redhead, she wears wacky clothing that reflects the subject of each adventure and earrings that glow before a field trip begins." 

If I had to be described as a teacher (or just as a person really), that is pretty much word for word what I would want to be said. And according to the enclothed cognition phenomena (and my own anecdotal evidence) the dresses help! 

So why isn't the holiday Ms. Frizzle Tuesday? Well you see that doesn't rhyme and things like that matter to me. :) Also, another fictional whimsical dressing teacher I admire is Jess Day - a character on New Girl - and since New Girl is on Tuesdays (and it all rhymes) a holiday was born! What started as a funny hashtag has turned into a vital and important part of my week.

So here is my challenge to you: think about the way your clothes make you feel and dress the way that makes you feel great/powerful/confident whatever. Maybe create your own day!! Post a selfie without shame. It's not frivolous and it's not shallow - it's fun! And it's science :)

And let me know how it goes :)