I have been spending a lot of time thinking about JOY this week. What brings it? How do we find it? What does it feel like? Who do we share it with? 

Do you ever think about who you share your joy with? Lately . . . in my house . . . I feel as if we share more joy with strangers or people outside of our house than we do with the people inside.  My husband just got home from my daughters college. We both spent some time with her over the weekend - but took separate cars because of timing. I left a couple hours earlier today and stopped to pick up groceries, came home and cleaned the fridge, started laundry, and got some things done around the house. He stayed with her and took her to lunch, then drove home. When he walked in, he was cranky. A grouch. Since I had a couple hours to get some things accomplished, I was in a good mood. He looked like he was mad. Mad at the world. Mad at me. When I asked him, he said "I am tired. Is that ok?" 

Of course. We all get tired. 

But I am kind of tired (no pun intended) of "tired" being an excuse to be unkind to each other. Lately, it feels like there is just no joy. 

The stress of the past year has done a number on us. I know. I get that. We ALL experienced it. When is it ok to use it as a reason to behave unkind, and when it is nothing but an excuse? 

Oh, don't worry. I am not too worried about my husband reading this. He doesn't usually read my blog. The struggle of life right now is very real. But me . . . I am desperately trying to find the joy. 

I haven't created much art since closing my art shoppe last October. I haven't felt it, at all. I haven't felt JOY in anything I have done, feeling more like I am going through the motions of daily life without taking the time to feel the happy. I mentioned this to my dear friend Cindy this week - telling her that I am really struggling to find creativity inside of me. I said that - for years we could sit and art journal and create until the wee hours of the morning without stopping . . . and if we ever wondered why we did it, we simply said "the question is not WHY we create, the question is WHY NOT?!" We would laugh in our giddy states of flowing creativity and continue our quest of creative bliss. God - life was so good then. It felt good. But in recent months, I haven't felt it. I sit at my table surrounded by collage materials and inspiration, and feel nothing. I mentioned that to Cindy - that I feel nothing. When I try to gather up the motivation to "art", I am faced with the old question of "why am I doing this?" - the old "why not" rebuttal just doesn't do it for me anymore. 

Then Cindy hit it on the nail . . . 

"We did it for joy." 


I have read that text response over and over. 

We did it for joy. 

So, this week I presented the following question to my tribe of friends for pondering: How do I get the joy back? How do we find that joy? Two questions I told them to think on - to ponder - and reply when and if they so feel the urge to. Their responses were brilliant, of course. (Which is why they are my tribe, friends. I am no dummy in the selection of tribe members, believe me. lol) 

Cindy said: a portion of the answer is . . . deliberately. You have to recognize that you do not have the joy, and then you have to push yourself hard to find it. And it's not instant joy. it's capturing a little spark of happy and then fanning that flame and protecting it from the wind. The wind being the things that rob the joy, that extinguish that spark. A lot of people label this as selfish, but it's truly self care. And if you do not refill yourself with the good stuff, you end up absorbing the negative stuff around you. And that's all you have to give - the negative. 

Loryl said: Self care is absolutely the first on every list. As women and nurturers we put others first. It's hard to get to the spot where YOU are first. You have to get away from the mind set of "filling everyone's bucket", because who fills yours is most important in mental health. You have to search for the joy every day. I do it mindfully now. Start with simple joys and build from there. A smile. A warm cup of coffee. A beautiful sky. A hug. Cooking. Laughter. 

Lynne said: So many times it is easier to stay home and sink. It is easier to stay in bed and close the curtains and shut everyone out. Depression, anxiety and grief are the thieves of joy. You have to push to do it. It's not easy to find your joy again, and it's not always present. But when you find it, you know and you ride it as long as you can. 

Amy said: I find myself wondering "why" and thinking that I should be grateful for what I have and should have no reason to feel down or depressed, and then I feel worse. I wish I could just BE at peace and be JOYful with myself. Lately I have been thinking about how I am getting older and need to figure this shit out so that I can be joyful more often. (Amy, I hear you friend. And I feel you.) 

Yeah, these ladies are pretty awesome - aren't they? My tribe. Sigh. 

So today, in lieu of their amazing thoughts and in lieu of getting caught in my own negative environment, I am trying to think of the simple things that bring me joy. I thinking making a list of JOYful things is a start . . . 

  • sunflowers
  • a great quote
  • frida kahlo
  • a good pen
  • taking time to write
  • a gorgeous sunset
  • that perfect cup of coffee
  • Fridays
  • laughter
  • Christmas decorations
  • strawberry pretzel jello salad
  • live music
  • feeling loved
  • meditating 
  • self care

It is kind of fun, to stop and make a list of simple things that bring you joy. This week, I am going to try to focus on one or more of these things each and every day - and really allow myself the time to FEEL it. Whatever it maybe. Next week, I am going to share my daily JOY image with you - and what I did to try and cultivate that feeling. Join me, won't you? If you are having a hard time feeling it lately, let's work together on bringing it back. 

We need it in our lives. Joy.

Until then . .  sending you peace.  xoxo


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