For the Everyday Ordinary...

"Normal Day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all in the world, for your return." ~ Mary Jean Iron

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Philosophy on Joy

 Today I wanted to share my personal philosophy on Joy.  In case the name of my blog didn’t give it away, Joy is super important to me.  Like, more important than books, or that hazelnut chocolate bar I found at a local store that tastes like heaven in my mouth…or wine even (and that is saying A LOT)!  Or…the hazelnut chocolate paired with the wine…!

There is a challenge each year online on several different blogs to “choose a word for the year”.  The idea is to focus on that word and bring it more into your present life.  Years and years and years ago (but not in a galaxy far, far away), I chose Joy.  Each year I try to choose a new word – like “simplify” or “complete” or “begin” or “enough” – but it always, ALWAYS swings back to Joy.

Joy is and always will be my “word of the year”.

For me, joy is not something I wait for.  For me, joy is something I try to experience in each moment.  In doing so, I am able to celebrate joy in everyday moments – when, I honestly believe, is where joy truly resides.

When I was much younger, I used to say to myself, “oh, when xyz (fill in the blank with whatever xyz means to you) happens, then I will be happy!”  In my mind, that happiness would go on forever and ever.  However, in reality, when x, y or z would happen, I would be overjoyed, but then it would pass and I would be onto the next xyz.  To me, this was “seeking joy”.

But since then, I have learned that joy happens most in the simple, often quiet, in-between moments of when the rest of life is happening.

Like when I am bending to pluck a weed and brush against the basil or the tomato leaves and that heady scent surrounds me and even clings to me when I come back inside, my skin all sun-warm and fragrant.

Or when I am mixing the batter for cupcakes, or picking out what pretty thing I will wear that day.  Or when I hoop with no expectations of doing it well or better. Or when I choose which lotion and perfume to wear for the day.

It is the flurry of texts I receive in the morning from my guys all telling me to have a fantastic day filled with fairies and magic and all good things; the first (and second) cup of coffee in the morning; the pile of books next to my bed waiting for me to dive in; the fast-moving storm that waters my garden and fills the bird baths.

It is watching my kitties bliss out in sunbeams, long emails (which we call "eye-crampers") to and from my daughter who lives far away, pictures of my grandchildren.  Painting my fingernails a color I am in love with at the moment, wine and conversation on the porch lit with twinkly lights late at night, visiting my mom and having lunch and coffee with her.

It is mostly being in whatever moment I am in – painting in my Documented Life journal, preparing a meal, needlefelting, writing notes for a story, sweeping the floor, even cleaning a toilet (which I would never classify as fun, but it IS a joy for me to care for my home).

If we wait for things to happen a certain way before we experience joy, then we miss all the millions of moments which we could be experiencing it right now.  And, the truth is, you may not have the next moment.

There was no sense of ending when my daddy went into the hospital overnight to have a very simple procedure done the next morning.  He and I talked on the phone that evening while he was eating his dinner and we were both watching the Pope, who had just arrived in Baltimore, on the tv at the same time.  I had planned on going up to see him and “tuck him in” and then coming back early in the morning to be there for his procedure and take him home once he was out of recovery.  He told me to wait until the next morning – traffic was probably awful because the “Pope was in town” (I smile every time I think of those words).  So I decided to wait until the next morning.

We talked a little more – I shared how I had raked all the pathways around his little fish pond out back and maybe he would feel like sitting out there under the autumn leaves when he got home.  He shared how he did not like hospital food and how he had told all the nurses about his baby grandson, whom I would be bringing with me the next day.  I told him Zachary had picked out his little engineer's cap to wear to the hospital (I still have that precious little cap). Then, we said goodnight and “I love you” and hung up the phone.

A few hours later, he was reading and had a pulmonary embolism and stopped breathing.  In just a few moments, he was gone. 

One moment there, the next…not.  (I cannot even write that without weeping).

We do not know when our moment will come.  All we really have is this moment.
After I got through the grief (and the horror) of the loss of my dad (does one ever really get over it?  I think not.) and I began to get used to a life without his presence (does one ever really get used to that? No, one does not.) I came to realize how important joy is in our lives. And, more importantly, that joy is not something one waits for – it is present right now if we will but look for it in our everyday, ordinary moments. 

And that is what I vowed to do.  Sometimes it was hard to find – in fact, I had a period of time recently when I believed that joy had abandoned me, but it was always there and in moments when I least expected, it would reveal itself to me and remind me that THIS moment is the only one that matters.

I am eternally grateful for that phone conversation with my dad – those last joyful moments speaking with him.  I cherish them and always will.

And I try my hardest to cherish every moment I have and suck the joy from the very marrow of my life.  Because I may only have this moment, and I don’t want to miss it for the world.



  1. Very moving, Donna! Big joyful hugs to you :-)

  2. Donna! I too have adopted this philosophy of joy. I used to get really angry about petty things with my partner, fights about stupid stuff! I don't know what happened, but one day… I just stopped. I didn't get a kick out of fighting anymore. And my life became a lot more peaceful and happy. And I know that if anything happened to me or anyone I loved, that they'd know that they were loved, because I keep up with their lives naturally, without even trying now. I don't bicker about petty things, because in the big picture, those things are nothing compared to the love and relationships I am blessed with. As hard as it can be sometimes to not want something different, lose ten pounds, buy a new car, have a better house; I remind myself that no flower is ever planted in the wrong place in the garden of the universe ;)


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