Tuesday, April 22, 2014

As Life Gets Easier, Joy Seems Less Random

For almost three months, since I discovered another blogger's search for what brought her joy, I've made it a point every Tuesday to think back on the past week and find things that brought me joy.

I'm still grateful to Annah Elizabeth at The Five Facets for inspiring that exercise with her blog all those weeks ago. I still remember one of the things that had brought her joy that week was a new microwave. I'm reading her book, Digging for the Light, after being awarded an autographed copy shortly after publication. There's a connection, that thread of loss that binds us, but at the same time means I can only cope with small doses of her grief at her first child's death shortly after delivery and the pain and heartache that follows.

It's amazing how often, especially when things are bleak, when we're coping with illness, or grief, or any form of depression, we overlook the bright spots in our lives. Instead of finding something bright to cling to, it seems easier to shroud ourselves in a gray fog that keeps the world at bay and allows us to focus on our pain.

Annah Elizabeth is a regular reminder not to do that, starting her blog this week with a saying she noted while traveling: “Happiness is not a destination; it’s a way of life.”

So even when my schedule is disrupted by the 5 a.m. arrival of three pajama-clad little people, who drift back to dreamland while I begin my day slumped over a cup of coffee and isolated from my favorite keyboard, I'm going to keep looking for joy.

Having finally made it to the computer, with little people on their way home for two days (this is our "short" week), my brain a little fuzzy still from lack of sleep, I'm looking for the joy that I found in the week gone by.

1. I'd have to start with the brief spring thunderstorm that just blew through, although it made outdoor work impossible, soaked the kennel laundry on the line, and probably caused a drop in temperature. The great thing was I had been walking dogs and made it back to the kennel just before the first scattered drops fell. Although this was not one of the window rattling storms we'll see later in the season, I still prefer to be indoors or in a vehicle when a storm rolls through.

2. Watching the big girls hunt Easter eggs at their other grandparents' home Sunday. The whole day was off kilter because my hubs was still home with the stomach bug that raged through the ranks last week, but it was nice to be included in a gathering of "the other half." The sweetest thing was watching E2 put eggs in her cousin's bucket. I swear, that kid is just a dose of joy most of the time. (Except today, when she was in whiny, drama queen mode.)

3. Getting complimented on my Jamberry nails when I stopped to get gas on the way home Sunday. I never do anything with my nails, but one of my doggy moms talked me into trying them. I don't know that I'm hooked, but it was nice to have someone notice my normally ratty nails in a positive way. Longevity will help determine whether I want to apply them frequently or not.

4. Surviving last week. It was brutal, let me tell you. Between the schedule change for my daughter's work, some extra tweaks for dental and school visits for the girls, the car-seat shuffle, a trip to Winston, a stomach bug and the holiday dogs in the kennel, it was a rough stretch of days.

5. Not getting the stomach bug. I'm beginning to wonder if it might be the same strain that E1 gave me for Christmas a few years back. I was so sick on New Year's Eve and the days following that I can still remember the misery three years later. The fact that neither I, nor E1, or her mom, all of whom had it then, have been sick this time (knock on wood), makes me wonder if it's the same bug and we still have some residual resistance because trust me, I've been exposed. Repeatedly.

6. A spring peeper in my garden pond. Ethan dug my first garden pond years ago after we tore down an old shed in the yard. Bullfrogs found the pond fairly quickly and the random tree frog has shrieked from the dogwood near the water virtually every summer. But I've never had a spring peeper singing from the vicinity of the ponds (there are two now) until this year. I know, they're tiny and it apparently takes them a long time to find a new body of water, but 15 plus years? On the other hand, the girls and I toted home tadpoles from the tobacco greenhouse where they've been known to sing, so it may be that I've raised my own resident peepers. Either way, hearing them sing the other night brought a smile.

7. A sweet dream about my son. The few dreams I've had about Ethan since he died have not been reassuring. This one was in that, somehow, I knew even before I woke up that he wasn't here any more and I still woke with a smile on my face. It was as though he'd come to me while I slept and told me a joke that I cannot remember the punch line to any more. It still brings me joy to remember rousing from a dream with a smile and a memory of him just a breath away.

Funny, this week, it's harder to find those standout moments of joy than it has been at other times. I think it's because life itself is feeling more joyful, day in and day out. The weather is warmer and I'm thinking of pools and convertibles, mowing the yard and using less lotion, a trip some four weeks away to the beach.

But I still think the effort and exercise is worthwhile, because once you've spent time in a really dark place, it's important to remember how you found your way out and it's important to not take joy for granted.


  1. Wow, Angela...thank you...thank you for reading, for embracing this philosophy on happiness, for your most kind and generous sentiments, and for sharing my work with the world... I am truly honored and humbled...

    And I'm happy for your joy reflections! Pampering yourself and then having someone notice your nails is Doubly Happy! Surviving a brutal week? And hearing the first croakers of the season? And dodging the bug? All priceless instances to celebrate! And a peace and laugh filled visit from your son's spirit? That, Angela is a Moment that will carry you for a lifetime. Trust me...I've been there...But I won't spoil the read... ;)

    Thank you, again, Angela, for honoring me and my work in such a beautiful and moving way...

    Hugs, Journeyer!
    Yours in healing...

  2. Anna Elizabeth, you've helped me so much. Just that first blog I stumbled on during my blog hopping weekend (which by the way I've not done again) was apparently what I needed at that time. Thank you for your words that February day and for sharing the journey with me.

  3. Well, I'm so happy for whatever words tumbled out of me that meant so much to you. :) We never know what impact we might have on others and I can say that I am moved beyond measure to have been able to produce something so meaningful to you... Let us stay connected, shall we? :)