Saturday, June 30, 2012

30 Days of Joy: Day 30-Enjoy

It is hard to believe that I am writing my last post of 30 Days of Joy.  It has truly been a labor of love.  I took a few minutes to go back to the May 31 post where I explained what I hoped to accomplish by writing for 30 days.  I talked about creating Circles of Joy-sharing joy so that others can experience joy in their lives.  My 30 days have addressed a variety of ways that I have experienced joy in my life.  I also encouraged everyone to reach out to others to share words, pictures, and stories of joy.  I hoped to do this daily.  While I didn't accomplish this every day, I was able to do so most days and will continue this practice into the future.

Many of my posts talked about "enjoying" various times and activities in our lives.  It struck me how closely related to "joy" this word is.  In fact, it has the word joy embedded in it.  I had never thought about this before.  When I looked up its meaning in the dictionary, I found:

v. en·joyeden·joy·ingen·joys
1. To receive pleasure or satisfaction from.
2. To have the use or benefit of: enjoys good health.
To have a pleasurable or satisfactory time.

It sounds like such a lukewarm feeling when I read the definition.  Joy should always be exciting and exhilarating!  It makes me wonder:  what happened to joy when it became a verb?  Shouldn't it be the act of feeling joy?  Keeping that meaning in mind:

  • I have enjoyed writing these posts and sharing my life with you.  
  • I have enjoyed thinking and learning about things I had never explored before.  
  • It was fun to reminisce about young love. 
  • It was a joyous occasion to meet my new grandson.  
  • Writing about my family was joyful.  
  • I enjoyed all of it and hope that you did too.

One thing that I have learned:  there is joy in our lives every single day if we look for it.  Some of the days I was writing while in pain from my injury, but I was able to find joy anyway.  It certainly made the pain easier to bear.  I would encourage you to always look for the joy in your life-not just on those happy days when it is easy to find, but also on those days when it is more of a struggle.  I believe that we need joy on those days more than ever.

When you "enjoy" something, think about the joy involved in the experience.  Once you have found your joy, find a way to share it!  It is not meant to keep close but to broadcast to others so that they can share in your joy.  It's not bragging-it's spreading the joy and being positive in your attitude toward life.   Our world is so free to share the negative, troublesome events; why not share the joyful ones?  We will all be better for it!

Thanks for joining me in this journey!  I hope that you will join the site so that you can keep reading as I move to weekly posts and that you will always feel free to contact me through this blog or Facebook.  Have a lovely Fourth of July week!  And don't forget...

Have you found your joy today?

Friday, June 29, 2012

30 Days of Joy: Day 29-Create

A month ago I decided to try writing every day for a month.  This was an exercise to see if I could write every single day.  It also was a way to talk about joy.  If you read my post from May 31, you understand that I believe that it is important to share joy with others-to create a ripple effect.  Thank you for joining me on this journey.  It has meant a lot to me.

As I come to the end of my adventure in writing, I am finding that it is time to reflect on the experience.  When I was thinking about making this commitment to write every day, I sat down and wrote down 30 words that epitomized what brought me joy.  I have used 28 of those words and will use another one tomorrow as an ending.  (Technology wasn't on the original list!)  Each day as I sat down to write my post, I looked at the list and one of the words popped out as something that I was experiencing in my life.  I think that's pretty amazing!  I don't know what possessed me to put "help" on the list.  However, it was there when I experienced the need to ask for help after I fell down the stairs.  It makes me wonder-did I somehow know?  A foreshadowing perhaps?

It has been fun to share my life with all of you.  Sometimes I don't know if anyone is reading my posts.  I want to thank all of you who sent me messages and left comments.  It helped to know that my words weren't just getting lost in cyberspace.  I know that commenting on the blog page is difficult if you don't have a Google account.  However, many of you found other ways to comment, and I thank you for that.

Most days the words just flowed.  A few days I found it was harder to write.  You probably noticed that I also did some research which was a lot of fun!  I often looked for and found some fabulous quotes.  I was frequently surprised and amazed at what some famous people had said about the subjects I was researching.  I also spent a lot of time looking for images that enhanced the posts.  A few times I added personal pictures that I thought were pertinent.

Writing as a creative process is something that I obviously enjoy.  I have always loved the creative process whether it was knitting or crocheting blankets for my grandchildren or scrap-booking.  Art was one of my favorite things to teach in my classroom when I was a teacher.  I still want to paint; the time just hasn't been right for it yet.  For now, I am happy focusing on my writing as a creative project.

Creating is important for all of us.  I think that everyone should have fun creating and hope that you have found ways to create in your life.  It doesn't matter what you create; it doesn't even have to be in an area of talent.  The process in and of itself is fun.  I also think that it is important to share your creations with others.  I always put my children's artwork on the doors of our home and read their stories.  I am proud to say that both of my sons and my daughter-in-law have blogs.  They are all excellent writers.  My daughter-in-law writes about her experiences as a mom at Expert Mommy.  My older son writes about gaming at A Green Mushroom.  They both write very insightful posts that are interesting to read.  However, my younger son is the most talented writer of all of them.  He creates fantastic stories and has started sharing them at The Written Tale.  It is due to these wonderful young people that I started my blog.  I thank them for their support in this creative project.

As you can tell, writing this blog and sharing my musings brings me great joy!  I am hoping to continue writing weekly as we move into July.  If you want to keep reading, click on "Join this site" in the upper right so that you can follow my posts.  If not, thank you for going along with me on this journey.  You have brought me great joy!

Have you found your joy today?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

30 Days of Joy: Day 28-Weekend

Today is the day that most of us look ahead to the weekend.  The workweek is almost over, and everyone feels like they can make it to the end of the week.  Just one more day!  This is the mantra playing in minds everywhere.

Weekends are a time to rest, relax and re-energize.  The manner in which it happens depends on the individual:

If you are working during the week, rest and relaxation after a busy week are usually the first priority.


Ah-h-h-h, relax!

Weekends are also a time to get those pesky chores done.

Grocery Shopping

Hopefully, weekends are also a time for play.

My Husband's Favorite


I look forward to the weekend so that I can spend time with friends and family.


Whatever method you use to have fun and find your joy, I hope that you have a wonderful weekend.  Make plans today for this weekend.  You have earned it!

Have you found your joy today?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

30 Days of Joy: Day 27-Walk

I have been trying to be more active this year.  One of the things that I have been trying to do more this spring and summer is walking.  Unfortunately, I have had 2 setbacks: first I hurt my left knee walking downstairs and more recently I hurt my left foot when I fell down the stairs.  This has been very frustrating!  I don't know why it is always my left leg that gets injured; probably because it is not the dominant side and not as strong.

It also seems that stairs are a common denominator in my injuries.  It is difficult to avoid stairs since I live in a split-level home.  In order to go anywhere in my house, I have to use the stairs.  Now I am not normally clutsy, but I am developing an avoidance of stairs because I am trying to heal and don't want to re-injure myself. As a result, I am finding that I am planning my trips so that I decrease the number of times I use the stairs.  While this is probably good for healing my foot, it is definitely not good for increasing my activity level.

Before I had the second injury, I was trying to walk after dinner several nights a week.  I didn't walk far, but I was trying to start slow and build up my endurance.  Then I fell down the stairs.  I have been so frustrated with this injury!  Recovery has seemed so slow, because my foot was swollen, was causing a lot of pain, didn't fit into a shoe, and walking anywhere exhausted me.  (I'm always amazed at how exhausting pain can be.)

Two days ago the swelling was down.  I decided to try putting on a shoe thinking that the support might help with the pain.  I was right!  While it still hurts some, it is much better with a shoe that gives some support.

Once I could get a shoe on, I started wracking my brain for a way to start walking again.  I certainly get some walking in when I go anywhere-especially Target.  However, I wanted more than that.  I knew that uneven terrain was difficult so I needed a flat option, and since I never know when the pain will set in, I needed to be close to a sitting area.  Still, I wanted to find a way to be outside.  As I sat on my deck watching the birds at the feeders, I had a brainstorm.  I could walk laps on my deck!

My deck runs the length of the house and has one step.  If my foot starts to hurt, I have places to sit or lean. Perfect!  I now do laps on my deck.  I am starting slow by doing a few laps several different times a day.  It feels good, and I am so happy to be more active again.  If my neighbors happen to see me, I'm sure they would wonder what I was doing, but I don't care!  I am just joyful to be walking again.  

Have you found your joy today?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

30 Days of Joy: Day 26-Love

There are all kinds of love that we experience in our lives.  It's always interesting to watch a movie or read a book about love.  It is usually a very idealized version of love: that first blush of romantic love that is at the very beginning of a relationship.  However, love is so much more.

As a mother, I know that one of the
strongest, most lasting types of love is love for a child.  It is fun to watch my older son as his love for his daughter grows and as he bonds with his newborn son.  The love that a parent has for a child is visceral.  It brings out the best and sometimes the worst in a person.  The overwhelming need to protect your child is a very physical, hard-wired reaction to perceived threats.  This is a good thing when they are very young but can get in the way as they become adults and you need to let go.  

I love my sons so very much.  I enjoy spending time with them and talking with them about their views of the world around us.  Their hugs mean so much.  This love is one that I will always have as an integral part of me, but I want to talk about the love that brought these young men into my life: the love of my life-my husband.

My husband and I first met when we were seventeen years old.  It was the first week of college.  I didn't particularly like this young man when I met him.  This was the era of hippies.  I was an overweight young girl who had never been away from home.  I had long red hair almost to my waist, contacts, and wore bell bottoms with love beads.  He had short, straight hair, dark glasses, plaid shirts, moccasins, and a red boy scout jacket.  He looked like he came from the Cleaver family!  (I look back at these pictures now and think about how cute he was!)  Given the fact that I felt the way that I did initially, I don't know how we ever hooked up, but somehow we became friends.  As time went by, our friendship grew and turned into young love.

He became my life.  I loved his boyish charm.  He was always telling jokes and was interested in everything.  He was the smartest person I had ever met.  Above all, I loved his kindness and sensitivity.  I wanted to spend every minute of my life with him.  There was so much to discover together: about ourselves and about the world we lived in.  However, we both knew that we had to explore the world as well as each other.  That was why we decided to marry while we were in college.  We knew that we would be together every night so we could explore our world during the day.  Taking this step began our journey as husband and wife.

In August, we will celebrate our 39th anniversary.  We have traveled many roads together, and our love has changed over the years.  He is still my very best friend.  He still tells jokes (which I often groan at while I chuckle inside because I have heard them before), and he is still so very smart.  He has taken care of me, has given me two wonderful children, and has always encouraged me and supported me in whatever I wanted to do.  My love for him is deeper than ever and built on trust and respect.  I am so glad that I chose to spend my life with him and he chose me.  I look forward to many joy filled years ahead as we explore our journey through life.

Have you found your joy today?

Monday, June 25, 2012

30 Days of Joy: Day 25-Elders

I have always admired families and cultures who value their elders.  The respect they are given and the wisdom they impart are priceless.  Years ago, many different generations lived together so there were many opportunities for these interactions.  This is very rare nowadays.  Single family dwellings are the norm, and many family members are flung across the country.  For many of us, our siblings and parents are in different states.

This was the case with my family.  When my parents were alive, they lived in Arizona.  While I talked to them frequently on the phone, I would only see them once a year.  My brothers have moved away due to their careers: one lives in Wisconsin and the other lives in North Carolina.  We usually talk every week, but it's not the same as seeing each other frequently.

Since my grandparents and parents are gone, I am the eldest sibling.  I have a growing family-now with a granddaughter and grandson.  I also have  2 nieces and 2 nephews on my side of the family-all elementary ages.  I wish I could see them more often.  However, now that they are getting a little older, I have been surprised that they have started texting me.  This has been a great way for me to stay in touch with my oldest niece and nephew.  I am honored that they want to keep in touch with me.

Aging is an interesting thing.  Many of my friends are in the sandwich positions in their lives where they parent both their children and their parents.  I have moved beyond that and have reached elder status.  I am particularly aware of that as I research my family history.  Genealogy has given me an appreciation for those who came before me and for those following me.  I do feel wise at times, but I hope that I am keeping up with the times.  I don't want to get old and stodgy!  I want to be the cool aunt and grandma whom they like to talk to and spend time with.  In other words, I want to stay young at heart!

I am in love with the younger generations in my family.  This includes my own children who are now young adults building their own lives, and I am enjoying watching the very young.  They bring me such joy as they discover the world.  Our generations value different things as we are products of the times we grow up in.  There is no right or wrong, but we have to understand the differences between us so that we can better appreciate each other and our life choices.

I hope to be around to watch the younger members of my family grow into young adults, and I hope to always be someone they want to reach out to in order to share their worlds.  Being an elder isn't so bad, because I am in a unique position to find great joy in my family!  How very lovely!

Have you found your joy today?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

30 Days of Joy: Day 24-Beginnings

I have been thinking a lot about beginnings lately.  This is probably because there have been many beginnings in the lives of those close to me.  Today my brother told me that he is getting married over Labor Day weekend.  I am so happy for him!  Marriage is a true beginning of a blended life together.  In his case, they are blending two different families as each of them has 2 children.  I am excited for everyone as they begin their new lives together as a family.

As you also know, my grandson was born a week ago.  This is a true beginning!  He has so much to learn, so much to see, so much to do!  How exciting and wonderful!  This is also a beginning for my granddaughter as she learns what it is like to be a sister and for my son and his wife as they learn the joy and trials of juggling the needs of two children.
There have also been many high school graduates among our friends.  I am always struck by the optimism and eagerness of these young adults as they make plans to leave the security of their parents' homes to explore life on their own.  The opportunities and choices that lay before them are endless.  Many have some trepidation about their future, but there is joy in knowing that they have accomplished this important milestone to adulthood.

Several of our friends have recently started new jobs.  These beginnings are exciting and often cause for loss of sleep.  When I was a teacher, each school year felt like the beginning of a new job.  I would toss and turn the night before the students showed up, because I was excited and nervous about meeting the new group of children who would be entrusted to my care for the upcoming year.  I know that they were also nervous about meeting their new teacher.

Beginnings are an important part of change.  It happens more often than we acknowledge, and it is how we grow.  We don't think about it very much, but beginning is the end result of change.  If you have studied Bridges' change theory, you know that there is ending, transition, and beginning.  Ending elicits sadness in us, transition can be uncomfortable, and beginning is often scary.  However, our lives would be very boring if we did not change, and once we are through the initial stages of beginning, life is good.  I have always told my children that even though I can make good choices in my life, I cannot control what happens.  I can only control how I react and handle any changes or situations that come my way with grace and optimism.  Our attitude is everything!  I believe that is what life is all about: those changes and our reactions add up to our lives.

For those of us who are facing beginnings, take the time to recognize the endings so that you can truly embrace the new beginning.  By doing this, I think that you will find great joy in this new part of your life.

Have you found your joy today?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

30 Days of Joy: Day 23-Learning

I recently finished a project that I was writing for my previous employer.  It was a manual that included a lot of information that was in my head, but I also needed to include screen-shots of the technology system they are using.  I had never done that before, so I had to learn how to do it.  I called on my personal technology specialist, aka younger son, who figured out how I could do this easily with Windows without having to purchase new software.  It was easy, it was fun, and I learned something new!

I like learning.  I don't know if it is because I was an educator or if I just enjoy new challenges.  This past semester, our younger son took a women's history class and a business ethics class.  I read his text books, because I wanted to learn about these areas, too.  There was a lot I didn't know about women's history.  I now have a better understanding of my mother and the role of women in her generation.  I also understand myself better and why I made some of the choices I did.  I decided to read the business ethics book because I loved my ethics class in graduate school.  I was surprised and fascinated at how much of it related to my work as a Human Resources Director.  Both of these books made me think!

Now that the consulting project is done, I am considering what new learning I should tackle.  While I'll probably take a break for summer, I know that in the fall I will want something new to do.  When I retired, I had several things I wanted to do.  I wanted to start painting.  I wanted to start digitizing my pictures and slides.  I wanted to brush up on my Spanish.  I haven't done any of those yet.  I find that I am very busy as a retiree with never enough time to do all that I want.  How did I ever find time to work?

I think continual learning is how we stay young and keep our minds sharp.  We have friends who travel and take classes through Road Scholars.  I have been looking at the different opportunities they have and am amazed at the variety offered.  They have classes all over the world!  I was checking out options in New England.  You can ride and study trains, learn about lobster fishing, wineries, the arts.  Minnesota classes include Migration Mysteries, Upper Mississippi studies, the Mayo Clinic, and the Great Shakespeare Festival.  All you need is the time and money!

I can't wait to start my next learning project!  There is so much out there to explore.  I hope that I always feel this way because learning can be so joyful.  I don't want to become too old to learn.  So, I am always looking for ways to stretch my mind so that I keep it agile.  I hope that you are in the process of learning something new.  Have fun with it!  Now I have to look into some learning possibilities.  I wonder what I'll choose...

Have you found your joy today?