Hello, my bloggy friends! I hope you didn’t miss me too much during my break.
While I was on “blog vacation,” I realized I didn’t need a break from my blog at all. I needed a break from some other things in life. In fact, work has been all-consuming. A few days ago, I was speaking with my colleague Ramona about our desperate need for seven consecutive days of not thinking about work. She replied that we need 10 days of doing the things that give us joy.
Wow! That’s a beautiful thought.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the whole world slowed down and took 10 days for joy? I know…I know…not realistic at all.
There was a time not so long ago when I made a point to do something “joyful” every day. These days…that’s a struggle, so the occasional afternoon nap is the best I can do. Lately, however, I’ve been wondering why it’s so difficult to muster the energy for things that bring joy. There’s still a month standing between me and an actual vacation, so I figured to save my sanity I must make a conscientious effort to take a joy break each day.
To jumpstart my return to joy, I pulled out the very long list, “100 ‘Things’ That Bring Me Joy,” I wrote seven years ago. I made some minor updates, and I’m sharing it with you as the first post of “10 Days of Joy.”
The list is pretty long, so you might want to grab a cup of your favorite warm beverage before you get started. 😉
First on my list are the basics, the foundation, so to speak. Nothing else would matter without these entities and individuals who bring not only joy but meaning and purpose to my life:
- God the Father in whose will I try to walk, who knows me intimately but still loves me, who pursues me relentlessly
- God the Son who sacrificed His life for me and who loves me like no other
- God the Holy Spirit who chides me when I’m heading in the wrong direction, who comforts me, and makes sense of my woe and pain
- My hubby to whom I’ve been married for almost 27 years, who shares this world and this lifetime with me
- My now 15-year-old son who from the time he was born has been teaching me what true joy looks like and how to focus on what really matters
- My parents who have been supporting me all my life, for the love and loyalty evident in their 63-year marriage, for their integrity, and perseverance
- My sisters who are my forever and dearest friends. Each is a reminder of different aspects of my personality and character; looking at all of them at once is like holding up a mirror. We miss Karlette and Lori like crazy, but their hearts still beat in us
- My brothers, who stand strong and firm and exhibit the positive values of manhood taught to them by my father
- My close friends—my angels on earth. They each add something unique to my life and they have held me up and sat in dark corners with me more times than I can count
Then, there are the little whispers…the things that leave impressions and carry a touch of joy that sustains me and keeps me pushing through the day(s)—
- God’s love enveloping me
- Random daily hugs from my not-so-little one
- The dawning of new knowledge on my students’ faces
- An unexpected compliment on a day when I don’t look or feel my best
- Good times with colleagues. We actually like each other 🙂
- Hearing one of my favorite hymns beautifully sung: “It is Well With My Soul” or “Come Thou Fount” or “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” (I’ll stop before this becomes its own list)
- Doing something for others without recognition or reward
- Meeting someone with a beautiful spirit
- Rainy days with a good book
- Beautiful words/quotes
- Baby smiles and giggles
- Stumbling upon breath-taking beauty in nature
Of course, the natural world offers so many moments of joy.
- Cloud formations
- The ocean because of its vastness, beauty, and the salty air surrounding it
- Bodies of water in general…something so peaceful about them and they seem to make me a little giddy
- A mountainous landscape—mountains add such majesty to a place
- The view from my office @ work because of all the gorgeous trees
- Beautiful, colorful flowers! If you check out my Instagram page, you’ll see that I can’t resist snapping photos of them!
- The view from my home office because of the beautiful clouds and the visits from my feathered friends.
- A cool and breezy summer day—rare here in the South, but it happens
- Autumn for all that autumn means: cooler temperatures, changing colors, pumpkin everything, beautiful clothes and sweaters (Not sure this should be under nature)
- The moon!
- Falling leaves
- Red leaves
- Spotting a deer, rabbit or other animal in its natural habitat
- Morning dew
- The pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof
- Frolicking squirrels
- Spring revival, especially the short but sweet awakening of cherry blossoms and dogwoods
- Birdsongs in the early morning
- Butterflies fluttering from flower to flower
- Long walks/hikes in nature
- Sunrises and sunsets
- Found hearts!
- My favorite colors in nature—purple, red, and pink
Then, there are those things that help my spirit recall joy
- Quiet mornings of prayer and meditation
- Meaningful conversation
- A good church service (good music, connection, and cerebral sermons)
- A good day’s work
- Singing my heart out
- Listening to good music with meaningful lyrics
- Writing in my journal
- Poetry—reading it and writing it
- Reading my favorite scriptures
- Getting so absorbed in well-written fiction that I can’t put the book down till I finish
- My son’s reading list–an opportunity to revisit great literature, read something I missed, or catch the newer writers
- Looking through old photos and photo albums
- A finished blog post 🙂
- Children’s art
- Illustrations in children’s books
- Making lists
- A finished “to do” list—a very rare thing indeed!
- A spotless and well-organized house
- A piping hot cup of herbal tea
- A guilt-free afternoon nap
- A boxful of Bath and Body Works products
- Tree walks
- Good falafels
- Publix brand Chocolate Almond ice cream
The things others do (or did) for me…
- My son’s poems, stories, and essays. He’s been telling stories and writing all his life and doesn’t yet realize he is indeed a writer
- My hubby taking care of things around the house that I normally take care of
- Little surprises from my hubby
- My son’s artwork
- Gifts from my sisters, especially those with a “sister” theme
- Teddy Bear bookends my mom gave me years ago. There’s a story behind the bookends and that makes them extra special.
- Teddy Bear gifts—including Winnie-the-Pooh and Paddington
- Bookstore gift cards
- Gift boxes from my bestie
- Sunflower mail!
- The “sister spirit” sun-catchers my sister Karlette made
Sometimes, just looking at pretty, artsy things brings me joy, especially when I can use those things to do something for others:
- Colorful stickers
- Nice pens–ink or gel and Sharpies of all kinds!
- Craft scissors
- Craft punches, including corner rounders (they make everything elegant)
- ATC blanks, sketchpads, and art journals
- Rubber or acrylic stamps
- Photo apps
- Pretty stationery, journals, and notebooks
- Fine art, including photography
- Handmade envelopes and cards
- Washi tape!
- Scrapbook materials, including Project Life and digital/printables
- A good mail day, especially unexpected letters from friends
- Apple products (phone, tablet, laptop, desktop—all things Apple)
- Martha Stewart Scorer and Envelope Maker
- Cricut—cutting is so relaxing!
- My camera, of course!
My social media indulgences:
- Pics and Posts!
Revisiting this list (of slightly more than 100) certainly offered today’s joy moment. I’m going to make a concerted effort to take time for joy each day–beyond morning prayer and meditation. Would you like to join me in taking (at least) a 5- or 10-minute joy break every day for the next 10 days?
Let’s see the difference joy makes!