I want a break from writing about loss and grief and fear. I want to write about joy. I want to practice joy. Because I want to feel joy.

These days, I spend my days rushing to fit “everything” in before my surgery (which is on May 20th, two weeks from today). These days, when people ask how I’m doing, I say, “Eh.” These days, I am less in my day, (less in my body).

And so I want to ponder joy. Not in a I-wish-I-could, I-wish-I-had, maybe-some-day sort of pondering way. I want to think about what will bring me joy this day. I want to wake up each morning and have at the top of my to-do list:

JumpingJoy#1) Think about what will bring me joy today. (Jenny, what will bring you joy today?)


#2) Do something—maybe do two or four somethings—that will bring me joy.

So what brings me joy?

  • Slowing down enough to spend 5, 15, 30 minutes of focused time with my children. Like this afternoon, when I helped Sophie turn a shoebox into a bed for her stuffies. It only fits one, and she has about 97 of them, so she explained that whichever one will go to school with her the next day gets to sleep in the bed. “Makes sense,” I shared. “Gotta have a good night sleep before school.” Then Harrison and I spent about 12 minutes working on a puzzle during which time he, not surprisingly, taught me plenty about how to tackle a puzzle. Joy followed by a little more joy.

What else brings me joy?

  • Reading my book in the middle of the day.
  • Reading to my children in the middle of the day. (I’ve never understood why that joy doesn’t translate to bedtime-reading. Unfortunately, bedtime-reading is typically the opposite of joy for me.)
  • I’m admitting it here: watching bad T.V. in the middle of the day brings me joy. It’s my ultimate guilty-pleasure—what I imagine playing hooky feels like, though I never did play hooky. Guilty, which is why I always close the curtains. If you walk by my house in the middle of an afternoon and the curtains are closed, you’ve busted me watching bad T.V.
  • For the record, if I’m watching bad T.V., I’m also doing something in front of the T.V. Sometimes it’s folding laundry or returning emails or opening mail, but none of that brings me joy. What does bring me joy, tremendous joy and calm and fulfillment, is doing a good craft project in front of bad T.V. A scrap book for a dear friend. Photo albums to pass along to my kids someday. I would gladly spend days bad-tv-crafting.
  • Sitting around a table with food and/or drink and good friends.
  • Sleeping in. Though that might be more relief than joy. Still, I’ll gladly take it.
  • Eating a delicious piece of fruit. If I’m paying attention.
  • Writing something that I feel good about.
  • Sometimes, when I can really dig in without interruption, cleaning out my closets and drawers and corners brings me joy, like it did this Sunday when I helped fill a dumpster full of crap and a minivan full of Goodwill donations.
  • Finishing a great run. Sometimes the run itself brings me joy, but only if it involves good conversation and minimal pain. Even then, I think I’m happiest when it’s over and I can savor the memory and the feeling of success without so much exertion.
  • Connecting—really connecting—with another human being.

fields flowersTomorrow, I have a too-busy day. I don’t like too-busy days. But I think I’ll make it my goal to slow down enough to collect some joy along the way.

13 thoughts on “Joy

  1. Because

    Lately she’s been falling in love everywhere— at the market, in the pharmacy, always in the cafeteria sliding her tray over the metal rails, last week with the hands of the attendant at a gas station. It’s not right, she knows, but still, she can’t help it. Sometimes it happens all day long.

    Yesterday at the campus it was everything again— The way the postmaster, on lunch break, went whistling past, or how the frisbee players sing the quad. The way some students stay after class, that usually gets her. Cashiers, people who sing at stop lights—all fair game. Cab drivers—forget it.

    With ice cream scoopers, with their little paper hats, it is often love at first sight, and she will never forget the boy at the sandwich shop— the way he said “miss, would you like anything to drink?” to the 80-year-old woman in front of her, then when it was her turn said “Ma’am” instead.

    Later today, blessed by all this loving she will make some tea and play a violin concerto for her dog who is deaf. She will play the music as loud as it will go because she can, and because somehow, he’ll hear it and he will stand on the porch of the fine yellow house, glowing.

    She will be all choked up because the lawn chairs have never been this white before and because, tired ears flapping in a soft Autumn breeze, the old dog will bark back his joy.

    Lisa Stark


  2. The Joy… Thank you Jenny! We all need this – to remember about Life…
    Your words are amazing… And your smile is so full of Life’s Breath…
    Thank you… From my whole heart…


  3. Dear Jenny, some thoughts.
    Sorry I am not familiar with facebook, that’s why I’ll give you together my feelings about daring to live as a writer and Breast Reconstruction.

    Why not follow your heart? you sure are a writer, creating for yourself, but also allowing sometimes others to understand themselves, which is a blessing.
    And, its easy for me to say so, but maybe you can find some hours job, which brings you just the minimum helpfull cheque?
    After all, as long as we know, we live one life here, (we dont’ speak about living different lives), so why not enjoy it as we wish!….

    As for breast reconstruction it is sure not a “boob job”.
    For me it si astounding, for what I know, saw and heard about.
    Lot’s of love Mariejeanne.


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