I knew 2017 was off to a stellar start when I split my pants in class on our first Friday back to school. Now, mind you, after teaching preteen girls for so many years, I could write a master’s course on the fine arts of concealing embarrassing…uh… wardrobe issues …that come with “growing and changing”. Typically, this kind of seam-splitting embarrassment in front of my students would drive me to rework my New Year’s resolutions. I would vow to include more carrots in my diet and fewer tea cakes (which I may have unabashedly considered a main course over the holiday…which also may have resulted in me pushing the limits of Lycra and spandex!).
I could cry, however it was so much more fun to throw on my pea coat, disguising my malfunction, dismiss the kids, …and laugh with the other teachers about my afterschool plans would have to be altered… as well as my pants!
Joy! This year, the desire of my heart to is embrace more of it…intentionally. I don’t feel that you simply catch joy, but it is something that you foster and protect. In these next 12 months, I want to invest my time in the activities that feed my soul, leaving me feel more purposeful and fulfilled, while ridding my schedule of interruptions that steal away that life-giving spirit.
Things that Foster Joy
- Writing-I love writing, even if no one reads it, the process of putting words to thought is imperfect, but therapeutic, in understanding what I am learning in the everyday moments.
- Creating– Painting, decorating, crafts, or design project… when you see a product of your efforts and creativity, there is something fulfilling about a visual of your time well-spent.
- Helping-No, this is not an open invite to sign me up to volunteer at your event… especially if it includes childcare 😉 Joking aside, I do get a great amount of joy be being able to help brighten someone’s day or help them learn a skill that improves their life. I am looking for more creative ways to show generosity to people, using meaningful gifts outside of checkbook.
- Entertaining– Notice this is a verb, not a noun. I definitely don’t need more entertainment in my life, as I could spend hours just browsing Netflix options without committing to just one option. Hospitality is something that I thought my mom just got a kick out of and I was along for the ride. Now that I’m older, I see the value and the love she poured into hosting. Whether hosting a huge group for a party or one or two friends for coffee, I love being able to set aside a time and place for people to feel cared for, special, and welcomed.
- Clean House– The other day, I admittedly got a small rush from steaming the upholstery in our living room. I love the way the house smells after dusting with pledge and washing with Pine-sol so much, that most of our candles have the same lemony and spruce smell despite the season. When the house is clean, I feel less physically and mentally cluttered.
- Simplicity– Last year I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying-up” which had less to do with cleaning and more to do with simplifying your house, wardrobe, and life to the few things that brought joy, eliminating the excess that was just taking up emotional space.
- Order– “A goal without a plan is just a dream” I love my Erin Condren LifePlanner and will probably still be using one 50 years from now, when I’m scheduling bingo in between my afternoon naps at the raisin ranch. Now, I need to be more diligent to cutout distractions to meet my daily goals/ to do lists 🙂
- (The feeling after) Working out-I want to like working out… I really do. My husband loves going for runs and lifting and getting his BPM higher than a hummingbird about to get hit by a Hummer. I don’t. I do, however, love the feeling when it’s over and feel better when it over. And I’m pretty sure a wise woman once said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. And happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” So for the sake of my marriage, I need to hit the gym 😉
- Surprises– I have some sweethearts in my life who every so often send me a surprise in the mail, or with an unexpected phone call or visit. I don’t like secrets, but love the joy of receiving and, even more, giving a good surprise!
- Fellowship– The laughter shared in face to face conversations is invaluable. I love regular FaceTime dates with friends and family who live an ocean away. Consistency help foster that connectedness. Texting and social media doesn’t quiet meet that need for connection like a face-to-face conversation. Every week, I look forward to the joy and closeness shared with the girls in my Bible study. And coming home to my best friend is something that I need to treasure more.
- Coziness– I grew up in a winter wonderland… or in a place where we celebrated the coming of spring when temperatures finally reached above zero (Fahrenheit). What got us through the four months of ice and snow that followed Christmas, were the roaring fireplaces, hot cups of coffee, wooly socks, candles, and cozy environment. Even though, now our “fireplace” is currently a DVD played on repeat and the warmth comes from a heating pad I curl up with while I read, the cozy lifestyle is comforting and reminds me of home!
- Quiet– Have you ever been in quiet classroom. It’s rare and almost disconcerting, but wonderful. While it’s unrealistic (and truly unkind) to ask this of my pupils every day, I do appreciate the peace that comes with quiet. So often, we fill our homes with background noise, our time with browsing the TV or web, when what we’d benefit from the most is a quiet environment and mind. Recent jet lag turned me back on to the idea of rising much earlier, before the sun is up, to start the day with peace and productivity. Turning off distractions this year is one step I’m taking to foster the joy that comes from quiet.
I would be remiss if I spent the time talking about the joy fulfillers without acknowledging the sneaky little time-suckers that can negate those good intentions of joy building.
Things That Steal My Joy
- Distractions (especially social media)
- Arguing or Complaining
- Attitudes of Scarcity
- Struggling to Control Things (That I Cannot Control)
- Clutter (Mental & Physical)
- Ruminating with Negative People
- Looking Down (my term for when you look in a Starbucks, subway train, or grocery line and everyone is looking down at phones, book, etc. and are missing each other)
Perhaps our lists look similar, but it’s likely that our joy-lists differ. Maybe in this season, you’re having a hard time finding your “joy spot”. When I split my pants at the start of the new year, I heard the verse from James go through my head, “Consider it pure joy…when you face trials of many kinds, because it is through the testing of your faith that you develop perseverance, and perseverance must finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
When in that moment, though I felt neither mature or complete (I could’ve used a change of clothes), I did experienced joy in that trial of torn fabric… I laughed my pants off (no pun intended).
I know that I cannot create my own joy, but it’s a gift outside myself. Yet, I can be a steward of the the joy that is set in me to live out this year (and every year) to it’s fullest.
May your year be filled with Joy,