Thursday, May 31, 2012

30 Days of Joy

Since the beginning of this blog, I have been thinking about what it should be when it grows up.  While writing is very fulfilling for me, I want Joy2Day to have meaning and help bring joy to others.  It's always an interesting process of determining what I should write about each time.  I keep a running list as ideas occur to me, but I usually write about what's uppermost in my mind and/or life at the time.  Thinking about the future of Joy2Day has been an intriguing exercise.

A friend who read my blog suggested that I might want to check out The Joy Project which was created by Amanda Gore.  You may want to visit The Joy Project's website sometime.  It is very interesting, and I found many common interests.  The Joy Project encourages everyone to find joy in their lives so that they can change their lives for the better.  People are invited to become part of the joy movement and join a joy tribe.  I thought that this was very much along the lines of what I was thinking about; but then I discovered 2 fundamental differences.

The first difference is that The Joy Project is founded on principles in the Gospel of Joy.  I believe very strongly in spirituality, but I felt that this was too close to Christianity for what I was intending with Joy2Day.  I have too many friends who have been hurt by organized religion, and there is too much going on in our world that ostracizes people based on a particular religious position.  Please don't misunderstand.  I belong to a Christian church.  My brother is a Lutheran pastor.  I think that The Joy Project is a wonderful endeavor.  In fact, I would encourage you to check it out.  It may be a great fit for you.  It is just not what I am striving for in Joy2Day.

The second difference is that The Joy Project is internally focused to help people find joy in their lives.  That is wonderful, but I don't think it goes far enough.  This is what has intrigued me in my struggle to develop an identity for Joy2Day.  I feel very strongly that we need to find joy and then share it with others!  If you are struggling to find joy in your life, The Joy Project is probably a great program for you.  If you are wanting to spread joy to others, I'd like you to join my journey.  

Facebook has been a wonderful experience for me!  I have found so many giving, loving, caring, joyful friends who provide support to each other as we encounter life's difficult times that are inevitable.  It has been incredible to watch as people who have never met reach out to their Facebook friends in times of need.  Why not try to encourage this?  What if everyone reached out to just one person every day that they went on Facebook in order to tell a positive story, send a hug, share a picture, provide encouragement?  Many of us do that a lot already.  I have one friend who sends wonderful pictures with inspirational or funny sayings every single day.  She makes me laugh and sometimes touches me in ways that make me cry.  She is a constant source of joy.  Why not join her in being purposeful about this?

I want to encourage all of you to join this effort.  I think of this as creating Circles of Joy.  Think of yourself as a drop of water.  Your reaching out to someone to spread joy today is like a drop of water in a still pond.  You create a ripple which gets bigger and has a far reaching impact on that still pond.  These ripples, Circles of Joy, can touch a lot of people.  You don't have to post on Facebook more often; you just have to pick one person each day that you post something and do something that spreads joy to them .  We could be a Circle of Joy made up of friends who make a conscious effort to share our joy with each other.  I think that this can be very empowering for those who are starting a new venture; supportive for those who are struggling with a loss in their family; encouraging for those who are trying to solve one of life's many dilemmas.  Just think what we could accomplish!

In an endeavor to get this started, I am going to try to blog every day in June: 30 Days of Joy.  I am going to try to share different examples of joy each day.  I am also going to go on Facebook each day, pick at least one friend to share some joy with in an effort to start my own Circle of Joy.  If this interests you, join me in spreading joy to others, and be sure to check into Joy2Day every day for new ideas for finding and spreading joy.  Better yet: become a member so you don't miss any posts.  I'd love to hear from you!  Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.  And don't forget to take care of yourself.  In other words...

Have you found your joy today?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Nesting and the Creative Process

I really like to write!  It can be a creative process which I find relaxing as I search for the right words or thoughts.  I am at my most creative when I take all of my jewelry off; someone once told me that my Native American heritage must need to be free from adornment to commune with my creativity.  Who knows?  It makes sense to me, and it works!  I also usually have a beverage (water, tea, or my fave-coffee).  I often write at night although that was probably born of necessity.  When I was working, it was the only time when it was quiet in the house.  I have always written whether it was newsletters when I was teaching or a weekly informational newsletter for Human Resources.  It was fun, but I have recently realized how dependent my creativity is on my environment!

Environment is very important!  My daughter-in-law is expecting a baby and part of the process is creating a welcoming, comfortable environment for her newborn.  She has spent time researching products, bidding on Ebay, and visiting BabiesRUs in order to make the best choices.  Society calls this nesting.  It is an important part of the motherhood experience.  I also have a friend who is moving into a new apartment.  She will be selling her house and starting a new job; so this marks a change in direction in her life.  She looked at a lot of places before making a final decision and is now in the process of buying new furniture and disposing of old items that no longer fit her new lifestyle.  As she moves in, she is organizing her clothes and envisioning how to make this a home.  I think that both of these women are experiencing the nesting process, and I understand it.

My environment has always been important to me, too.  When I was a teacher, I always had to make sure that my classroom was attractive, appealing, and comfortable for both me and my students.  My desk was my personal space and had to be just so. 

 I made sure that my students all had a place to display their artistic products so that the classroom belonged to them, too. When I was an HR professional, I always decorated my office.  Since I often spent 10+ hours a day in it, I wanted it to be efficient and appealing.  Over the years, I collected artwork, and employees would bring me different cultural items for display.  I greatly appreciated all of their gifts and added to the cultural art and artifacts when I traveled.  I always liked my offices.  Now that I'm retired, I wish that I had taken pictures.  After all, I spent years in those spaces.  I recently did some consulting for my old employer and saw my old office.  The walls were bare, it was a cold environment, and lacked character.  I realized that it was really nice when I decorated it.

When I retired, I brought home all of my artwork and artifacts.  Since I share my home with my husband and son, I didn't have any space that was really mine; so I decided to take one of the rooms as my office.  I spent a lot of time unpacking, getting my desk set up, and buying things to make it more efficient like lighting and containers.  In my office, I had an etagere that used to belong to my parents.  This is where I put all of the cultural artifacts.  It is now in my office with these artifacts on display.  I bought a TV for the bottom shelf so that I can watch programs if I want.  My office also has a futon where my son often sits while visiting me.  However, my office never felt complete, because it didn't have my art on the walls.

This weekend, my husband was kind enough to finally put up all of my art.  I now feel like my "nest" is ready!  I have my cultural art, some memorabilia about my dad, and the plaques/certificates I have received over the years and at my retirement.  I feel like my office now displays my character.  It is warm and inviting!  

I am so excited that I have a comfortable area to call my own.  I know that I will be writing even more in the future.  I am happy and feel joy when I can post a blog.  I don't know if anyone is reading them, but I still enjoy putting my musings in writing.  This is truly joyful!  So, do you have a "nest" that reflects who you are and makes you comfortable and lends joy to your life?  Even more important...

Have you found your joy today?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I Can See Clearly Now...

You may have noticed that there was a significant break in posts on this blog.  Let me assure you that it wasn't that I was bored with it or didn't have anything to write about.  The truth is that I was out of commission for over six weeks because I had cataract surgery on both of my eyes.

Always before, when I heard about someone having cataract surgery, I thought, "They must be old.  How terrible to get to the point where you can't see very well."  For Christmas this past year, I bought gifts for elderly adults through a program at my local Starbucks.  I chose a man and a woman to buy gifts for and discovered that they both wanted large print books.  It took a little searching to find some that were affordable, but I wanted to make sure to provide that along with the towels and puzzles they were asking for on their list.  I thought about how hard it would be if I couldn't read.  In fact, my son and I discussed how great it was to have a Kindle and that it was really too bad that these adults didn't have this technology that could change the font size of any book to meet their needs.  Little did I know that I would soon experience the frustration of not being able to read or drive due to my eyesight!

I learned that cataracts can happen at any age.  I am a bit young to have the surgery (I'm in my late 50s, but both of my parents had cataracts; so the doctors weren't surprised that I also had them), and I had reached a point where I was having trouble reading due to the cloudiness of my vision in my left eye.  In addition, they could no longer correct the vision in my right eye so that I could see at a distance clearly.  Therefore, I knew it was time!  Since you don't have to worry about having to have this surgery again, I decided that there was no reason to wait until I was older.  In fact, it might be a way to make my vision better so I wouldn't have to wear glasses all of the time.  My surgeon asked me if I wanted to correct for distance or reading.  Since I have had to wear glasses for distance since I was in fourth grade, I decided I wanted to try to correct for distance.  He warned me that I might still need glasses due to my astigmatism, but I wanted to try!

I had a wonderful surgeon who did surgery on one eye and then, two weeks later, on the other eye.  I cannot begin to describe how frustrated I was during those two weeks.  For that time, I had one corrected eye and one that still needed glasses.  My husband was kind enough to pop the lens for the corrected eye out of my glasses; so for this time period I walked around looking pretty weird with my half-lensed glasses!  I was especially frustrated because I couldn't read my computer or books.  I bought several different pairs of cheaters from the store but kept switching since none seemed to work right!  There were times when I cried and wondered if I had ruined my eyes forever.  However, patience paid off; I had the second surgery, and things were better.  Since it takes at least 4 weeks after surgery for your eyesight to stabilize, I had another month of waiting.

I am happy to say that my vision has improved so dramatically that I am just on the border of needing  glasses (sometimes for driving-usually at night).  I watch television, movies, my street, and anything at a distance without glasses.  I can work on my computer just fine.  I do need to wear cheaters to read.  One thing that they didn't tell me about was how much brighter the world would be!  My lenses had changed my vision so that everything had a yellowish hue-much like the headlights on most cars.  Now, with my new vision, the world was bright with a blue tinge like the new headlights you see on the road.  How beautiful the colors are!  I couldn't believe how red the cardinal was at our bird feeder.

While all of this is an improvement, it has taken some adjustment.  The biggest adjustment was my brain.  It was used to needing glasses for distance and usually being able to read without glasses (although I had started needing glasses for reading sometimes too).  Now I flipped everything around and my brain was just confused!  I had to retrain my brain to the new reality of my vision.  It took the full six weeks to complete this process.

While I have always had a tremendous appreciation for my eyesight, I cannot tell you how much I value it now.  Reading is such an important part of my life.  I always knew it on an intellectual level.  Now I understand it on an emotional level.  It is wonderful to read, to be able to look outside without glasses and watch the birds, appreciate nature, recognize my friends from a distance.  I know some of you do a double-take when you realize that there is something different when you see me sans glasses.  You just see the surface changes; I am living with the changes deep inside of me as a result of the decisions I made to have these surgeries.  I don't regret them.  In fact, my granddaughter now encourages Grandma to put on her glasses so we can watch videos of her on my iPhone.  She's so cute when she points to my head for me to put on my glasses!  My husband likes my new look with my "headband" of readers.  He thinks I'm very stylish.  I am very lucky.  I am finding great joy in my world and how I experience it!  What about you?

Have you found your joy today?