The Size of Joy: Lady Bugs to Relationships

This past month has found me reading too late and starting too early and avoiding house tasks to read a bit more. The energy comes from trying to make my own definition of joy. As a usually happy person, my joy always seems to be a combination of gratitude and happy. I have been reading and rereading The Book of Joy ( not the Joy of Sex that was another decade) with discussions between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. I started it in January after my friend Jeanie gave it to me for Winter Solstice and I pick it up and read and underline and highlight and then think about it for the days needed to absorb the ideas.

As an Extraordinary Elder in training, the aspect of introspection always leads me to the need to read and study what other people think and to ask myself the same questions they have asked. The answers of the two powerhouse wisdom keepers mentioned above no doubt come more easily than mine. And then, in a work of fiction I was reading, a character asks, “what would be essential for you to bring to the house to make you comfortable”. The accumulation of stuff raises its overstuffed head again. How does that impact joy in a human being? I find it interesting that Marie Kondo, who taught the world how to fold underwear in her tidy book, named her second book ” Spark Joy”.

In her first writings she tells us that if an item does not create a sense of joy, get rid of it. While I get a sense of productivity and prevention from my toothbrush it does not bring me what I consider joy….but it does give me a sense of well-being on some level and gratitude that I have it and the dentist has not taken any money in several months.

Great pleasure or delight seldom comes and settles in when an object (even a living one) attracts my attention for a moment. I am happy to see a lady bug, but true joy will be more likely to come to me from the delight of time spent with a person with whom I have a relationship. Sharing the sight of a lady bug with a child would double the happiness and maybe joy for the moment in time with the two of us.

In The Book of Joy, the authors understand that exploring what makes the human experience satisfying is the task they wish to discuss. Please read the book so you don’t have to watch me regurgitate it, but know that one of the outcomes is that the ability to be joyful is work done from the inside out. Possessions and jobs and money and gold bathroom fixtures are not long-term joy producers. As elders we should know that by now, but occasionally get caught up in the anticipated joy of new kitchen cabinets .

The picture at the top of the page is of a baby celebration cake. A library book club to which I belong lost our facilitator to maternity leave this past week and we celebrated the coming birth with a cake and small presents for her. In the room was a sense of joy from our relationships with each other and to her and for being part of the joy she was anticipating. A small example of relationship and community creating a space for felicity in a world that can be full of fear and anger and sadness. But, it came from inside of all of us–even thought the cake was a success, it was the interactions that counted.

May you find joy in your life,

Joanna

 

 

 

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Being the Curator of Your Life

A curate in a church cures souls. A curator of an art exhibit, chooses the work to show and its placement and importance. Both get a positive or negative reputation from the outcome of their work. *In a dream on Thursday night my friends were all around me and I was patting myself on the back about the way I had curated (chosen) my friends. A few days later the Denver Post had a picture of art objects a young artist had curated as an exhibit. The description made is seem a bit out of the ordinary and fresh and thought-provoking. He must have an interesting life!

The mind-set of making choices and listing them on a board or using a symbol to remind you that life choices reflect on your abilities should not be a surprise to me. But, it is a different way for me to appraise my present life and mindful approach to living that extraordinary elders can find helpful. So, the visual learner in my brain is already buying a large piece of cardstock and has a bottle of glue and will start putting up symbols of the people, experiences and material items that represent my life at age 73.

Each dear friend will have a spot on the sheet and it will be fun to ask what symbol or item will represent their soul or energy. The same goes for my family and people living at a distance. The outline and base for the symbols will be the figure for infinity–a large loopy NUMBER 8. I enjoy personal art journal type projects as a form of introspection. (especially since I do not have to show how child-like my work is) Mindfulness practice has taught me that spending time berating my self over a life time of choices is wasted…unless it reminds me to choose more slowly and thoughtfully now.

Each decade or two our needs and wants shift along with our jobs and situations in families and housing. We all get numerous chances to choose the best pieces of ourselves and others to go on our wall of life and there may be years where we hide the not so good pieces. If we have lived a long life, full of adventure and kindness toward people and the planet, we have a LARGE king sized bed sheet of words and symbols. But, this moment in time is what is important and how and to whom you present yourself and your life as an ancestor to be is the immediate legacy you will leave. This is a visible obituary in a way and while the facts of the past may be interesting, who you are now closer to the culmination of this journey is your gift to those coming up on the family tree.

Some of my friends will soon join me for a Christmas Eve in July party with iced hot chocolate and pink tree sugar cookies and they will need to bring an idea for me of what represents their aura and intellectual energy at this point so I can create my present day soul map……right after the Christmas carols.

HO,HO, HO

Joanna

* PS. I don’t believe that I chose my friends, it is usually as if we knew we were friends when we met for the very first time.