A little glimpse of Joy

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.
~William Shakespeare

I think I came across my first Joy encounter last week. Of course, there’s been some moments of happiness, but like we discussed earlier this year, Happy is not necessarily the same feeling as Joy.

This Joy encounter came from an unexpected source….the cancer radiation treatment center. Yes, you heard correctly.

Entrepreneur was scheduled for three radiation treatments last week. We drove to the hospital entrance for radiation patients with more than a little anxiety building about how these procedures could end up. Radiating the brain….the stuff of which anxiety is made.

It was a dreary, chilly, spring day with on and off rain showers. Much like our frame of mind. But as we drove into the private parking area for radiation patients, this is what greeted us.

A sea of yellow daffodils planted between the reserved parking spaces and entrance.

I felt my heart lift as soon as I saw them. Of course, they didn’t negate the harsh reality of what was about to happen inside, but for a brief moment, I was caught up in the beauty of the moment. I thought of all the hours it must have taken to plant these bulbs last Autumn. I thought what a wonderful gift to those experiencing the challenging darkness of cancer.

And, I noticed some of these splendid blossoms had been mercilessly beat down onto the ground, unable to hold up against the spring storms. What a shame, I thought. So, I rescued them to live in vases in my home. There is some poetic justice in this, right? 🙂

Joy. It can surprise us in the strangest of places.

For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Renew and Replace

The flower that wilted last year is gone. Petals once fallen are fallen forever. Flowers do not return in the spring, rather they are replaced. It is in this difference between returned and replaced that the price of renewal is paid.

And as it is for spring flowers, so it is for us.
~Daniel Abraham, The Price of Spring

Yesterday was the “first day of spring” although here is felt more like mid summer with temps in the mid 80sF! And, last week we had a hard freeze. So it is with spring in middle Missouri. I thought this was an interesting quote and am still processing its meaning.

My thoughts are still pretty much a jumble in my head these days and I’ve not been successful in penning anything worthwhile. But, with yesterday’s teaser, I’m ready for warmer weather. Although winter was not a harsh one, it came with its own set of challenges.

As I look ahead to warmer…and hopefully, better days…..I’ll leave you with some of the hopeful signs I found around the yard and vow to come back soon with something of more substance.

Asiatic lilies

Iris

Houttuynia (Hoot-en-ia) Caution: this plant is awesome, will grow anywhere, and is invasive. Plant at your own risk.

Comfrey

 And my favorite:

Happy spring!

One Word for 2017

This ended up being a long post, so grab a cuppa and get comfy. I hope to see you all at the end.

Back in 2015 I started choosing One Word for the new year instead of those pesky resolutions that are always broken before the snow thaws in the spring. In 2015 Entrepreneur was facing a cancer diagnosis and my One Word was Fearless (fear less). I believe it helped me focus during that time and continues to be a reminder today.

In 2016, my One Word was Present. I wanted to focus on trying to be more engaged in life, physically, instead of living vicariously through today’s social-media-technology-addicted world. Did I succeed? Overall, I’d say I had mixed results. I did really make an effort to not be obsessed with my phone at the expense of enjoying the moment. Some days were very successful…some were colossal FAILS. But it did make me realize just how easy it is to get sucked into living a virtual life instead of a real one. Last year helped me try and find a balance and use social media more sparingly. Plus, taking care of grandchildren doesn’t lend itself to distractions! In fact, I found myself so present in their well being, work and teaching that a lot of other things took a back seat….like blogging. Which also explains why this post is more than two weeks late.

This year, my One Word is Joy.

I’ve become painfully aware that, while I enjoy a lot of activities and have had many happy moments, a deep feeling of Joy is something that has been elusive the past few years.

Most people would define Joy as feeling extremely happy or something that gives great pleasure. But I think I disagree. Happiness and pleasure are temporary…and most of the time they’re dependent on external influences. Once the source of the happiness is gone, then what? I tend to go in search of the next happy or pleasurable moment. So my life becomes a string of happy/pleasurable experiences…or not.

No, I think Joy is something completely different. To quote CS Lewis,

Joy, must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again…I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world.  But Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is.

And, oh baby, is it ever hard to find Joy in the world today. That is, if Joy is defined as something tangible and measurable. And, who doesn’t equate Joy with the feeling of satisfaction and happiness when our world is all good? But, what happens when our world falls apart? What happens when we suffer bitter disappointment, unbearable loss or extreme suffering? But, let’s not be so fatalistic. What about the days when those technology devices we are addicted to don’t work seamlessly? What about when the basement floods or the (pick an appliance) breaks? What about when, after picking up after a toddler, we turn around to feel like a tornado went through the house right behind us? What about the never-ending stress of worrying about your children’s welfare? We certainly are not happy campers during those times. How is it possible to still feel Joy when it seems as though Life’s purpose is to exhaust us into submission?

I suppose it depends on your worldview. Happy and pleasurable moments come and go. If I base my mental well-being on only the things that go right in my world I’m probably not going to be very enjoyable to be around much of the time.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
~James 1:2-3

So easy to say, so hard to live. Many times I wish God would not test my faith so much.

If I base Joy on having a worry-free, prosperity-filled life….well, let’s just say I’m setting myself up for an epic FAIL. No, I believe Joy is something felt deep in the soul. Something apart from the temporary warm fuzzies of pleasure and happiness. It’s something intangible that grounds the mind, despite the circumstance. Joy settles deep in the heart and soul, creating peace and a strength that makes a person feel they can endure the worst life will throw.

My goal this year is to be more aware of when Joy speaks to me; to pay more attention to my inner voice so I’m not distracted by the temporary elation of pleasure and happy moments when everything is going my way; to be able to feel calm amidst the irritations, inconveniences and injustices of this life.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
~Romans 15:13

And just to begin this journey with a positive attitude, here’s a photo of a recent instance where Joy made an appearance.

meridia-sunset
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
~Psalm 16:11

There are layers to Autumn’s beauty

autumn-quotography-72
Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance.
~Hal Borland

November is here and the strangest thing has happened. In the course of just a few days, a coziness has settled in and everything just feels different. October is lovely, and the wildness of the autumnal colors peak about the third week here in middle Missouri. But now, watching the leaves fall like rain with the November wind, everything is becoming more subdued and a quietness is descending…much like when wisdom and maturity sets in after the wildness of youth.

November is the month we close our windows and begin to turn inward…to hearth and home….to focus on relationships….to take time to assess our lives and count our blessings. The force that drives us indoors is the same one that invites us to look inward at ourselves.

There is mystery in Autumn like no other season. Spring holds the excitement of rebirth, and summer is nothing but a scattered, free spirit. Winter is deceptive with its mirage of bleakness all the while harboring growth and anticipation underneath its white mantle.

But, there are layers to Autumn.

As we are drawn inside (physically and psychologically) during Autumn, we tap into our inner selves and in reflection…reflect outwardly on the year as well as inwardly in self-evaluation. And, that inward evaluation can lead to feelings of vulnerability as we asses our comfort zones and areas where a seasonal shift may be necessary. Outwardly, Autumn’s harvest has been brought inside and is neatly stored in the pantries and cellars for winter nourishment. Inwardly, Autumn is a time for us to nourish the soul by letting go of behaviors and mindsets that keep us from thriving, and focusing on priorities of the mind, body and spirit.

So put on that cozy sweater. Simmer a pot of soup. Walk in the brisk, cold air with the summer’s leaves crunching under your feet. Feel the warmth that stirs both body and soul.

Welcome November with its sweet reflections and rich blessing.

Playing Quotography along with Kelley
and with Lisa at Life Through the Lens

September is all but gone already!

autumn-quotography72

By all these lovely tokens,
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather,
And autumn’s best of cheer.
~Helen Hunt Jackson

 Wasn’t the first of September just last week? I really don’t know how the months slip by so quickly. With October just a short one week away, we’re quickly falling into Fall. Temps are suppose to cool a bit this coming week. Right now, it’s only 61F at 10am. The windows have been thrown open and the AC turned OFF!

I found some signs of early Autumn last week. You can see them HERE. I hope to make it to a park with the grand girls for the main event in a few weeks.

Entrepreneur celebrated a birthday this past week. The Golfer couldn’t make it but The Recruiter, Peanut, Twix and his parents joined us. He says it’s no big deal, but I’m thankful for every day….especially birth days since the cancer scare of a couple years ago. We also celebrated Peanut’s 8th birthday earlier this month.

I hope you all have a wonderful, Autumn week.

Playing Quotography along with Kelley

The calendar says it’s Autumn but the temps say it’s Summer.

Autumn! It’s here! Or is it?

The calendar says today marks a seasonal shift with the first day of Autumn. The Autumnal Equinox….when there is almost an equal number of daylight and moonlight hours in the day. Woo Hoo! Bring on the apple cider, pumpkin-spice everything, boots, jackets, cozy sweaters, and the warmth of crackling fire pits.

But my weather app says this:

2016-autumn-equinox-1 2016-autumn-equinox-2

A bit of a disconnect. All week the temps have been in the upper 80sF with heat a head index in the 90sF.

But Autumn’s coming….I know she is.

single-red-leaf

The Fall asters are blooming. A little different color than the usual Autumn bronzes, golds and crimsons.

aster

The burning bushes are beginning to burn.

burning bush-leaf

To hurry the season along a bit, I bought some mums for the front porch. Looks like they are just waiting to explode into full bloom.

orange-mum

Hurry up little bee. Those dreams of more honey are almost gone.

honey-bee

So, Happy Autumnal Equinox to everyone in the norther hemisphere.

May you harvest the light and keep it burning brightly in your heart, so that when the deepest darkness of winter is upon us, you will remember the summer sun.
~Teo Bishop

An August calendar in September

Well, I did it again. Or, more accurately, I didn’t do it again. It was September 6th before I realized I had not done my monthly calendar. No surprise. It’s been a wild summer.

august-2016-72

You might not know it by this calendar selection, but aside from our sitter services for Twix during work hours, the grand girls are not here much anymore. And it’s quiet in our house. Veeeeery quiet….especially after 5pm. It’s a strange feeling, and we’re slowly adjusting to our new routines.

I’m slowly regaining control over my house…one room at a time. The Recruiter is 99% moved out, but still has pockets of possessions that have not been relocated yet. Entrepreneur is already making noises about downsizing, but I need a few years of enjoying my space before I even consider making a change.

So, the garden is, for the most part, done for the year. The pool has been drained and the toys put away until next summer. I’m mapping out some landscaping changes to tackle when the temps cool a bit more. And I need to get back to walking 2-3 miles every day or so. My exercise routine took a back seat this past year…but the stress eating did not.

I hope your summer was enjoyable. Even though temps will tend to stay warm for another month, I’m sorta looking forward to some cooler days.