Living in Joy

Okay, I’ll admit the title is a play on words, but I didn’t want to say “enjoy living” because I want to talk about more than just enjoying living. I want to talk about finding joy in living. One of my favorite songs is: “Golden” sang by Jill Scott. The hook says, “I’m livin’ my life like it’s golden, golden, golden . . .” That’s what I’m talking about. Living life like it is a precious gift; creating memorable moments and treasuring valuable relationships -living in joy.

Perhaps you are thinking that’s a crazy idea considering our “new normal” during this pandemic, but that makes it more important than ever as far as I’m concerned. If the Corona-virus has taught me anything, it’s that life is way to fragile. Since that’s true, why live with regrets. Why miss opportunities to live in joy. I’m surprised at the little things that can bring joy into our lives and the lives of the people we love even in the midst of crisis.

The other day, my granddaughter had a really bad day at work. I could tell she had been crying even before she shared the events of her day with me. The next day she came into my room an hour before it was time for her to leave for work. She said, “I want to quit! I don’t want to go!” I encouraged her to go and to keep her own goals in mind in spite of how other people behave. As soon as she walked out of the door, I sent her a meme of Squidward (a Sponge Bob character, I spend a lot of time with kids) taking a shower in money followed by a Waynan Brothers meme that said, “Mo’ Money.” I could picture her laughing. She was probably surprised I knew how to send a meme in the first place. When she came home I asked her if she needed a few more memes. She laughed and said, “Nana, you’re so extra!” (I think that’s slang for being great lol.) Today, I sent her a Wonder Women meme and told her how proud of her I am. This was a little thing that brought us both joy.

While you are sheltering in, you can still live in joy. My husband brought me breakfast one morning. It was one slice of bacon and one teaspoon of scrambled eggs. He presented it to me like it was a gourmet meal. His giggles turned into us both laughing, so I returned the favor the next day with one mini sausage and one very small piece of omelet.

Today, I sent several friends songs from my YouTube playlist with a message of love and encouragement. I wrote a poem (the beginning of a new collection) even though it’s really hard for me to write at home. Yet, it was very satisfying. My mom and I prayed together and watched a video bible study together. Today she called all her church friends just to see how they were doing. She was on the phone for hours and I could hear her laughing which also made me smile. What are the things you can do to find and share joy?

Here’s a few old-fashioned things you can do even if you live alone. Give yourself a spa night – a warm bath, a glass of wine, a scented candle. Follow that with painting your nails or just doing a manicure/pedicure. Draw a hop scotch on the sidewalk or in the street for the neighborhood kids. Plant a flower or some vegetables. (You can order seeds, soil, and pots on-line at very low cost.) Cook your favorite meal and serve it on your best china. Call a family member and share a story that’s old and hilarious. Play basketball with your dirty clothes by throwing them in the washer from five or six feet away. (Social distancing my laundry, now that’s a plan.) Get the popcorn, turn the lights out and watch your favorite movie. Add whatever makes you smile to this list. Be creative!

I choose to live in joy rather than fear. I can’t do anything about the Corona-virus and all its mandates. I can choose my attitude, my disposition, and my outlook. I can be grateful that I’m still alive. I can use my gifts, my talents, and my time to bring joy to myself and others by any means necessary – and it is necessary because life is valuable. Try living your life like it’s golden for two weeks, then send me a comment about your experiences. Together, we may come up with more ways to live in joy.


I Choose Joy: The Daily Gratitude Practice That Will Transform Your Life
The Daily Gratitude Practice: Record your gratitude for ten things in your life. Write down three goals. Commit to personal and professional growth.

Silencing the Power of Stress

“Stress is not a silent killer, if you don’t believe me listen to your self-talk.” Several weeks ago I posted this phrase on my personal Facebook page, and I’ve been thinking about it this week. Many medical experts agree, stress will kill you. It causes insomnia, high blood pressure, irritability, digestive issues, and more, depending on the level and intensity of the stress. It also can kill your will to live your best life by casting shadows of doubt and despair over your goals, your relationships, and your creativity.

Stress seems to be quite a dangerous influence over our lives, but is that partly because we give stress more power with negative self-talk? That’s the thing I’ve been thinking about as I look for ways to control my own stress levels. In the same way that negative people can suck the life out of you with their constant diatribe of “what if’s,” and “that will never work,” and the ten thousand bad things that happened when someone they don’t even know tried that. Our own self-talk can have the same effect.

How many times have you said to yourself, “how could I have been so stupid? Or “look at the mess I’ve got myself into!” Or worst yet, “I’m never going to get out of this mess,” followed by a million things that could go wrong. The worry that comes with stress builds an anxiety for the unknown future that’s staggering. Our imagination seems to take that ball and run away with it. If you are like me, you discover that none of the “what if’s” ever really happen. Of course, this is after weeks of sleepless nights. Okay enough of the downside. I discovered one way to turn my stinking thinking around that I would like to share. (Actually it’s an additional way because everything I’ve written before helps too!) It’s called a Gratitude Journal.

A Gratitude Journal forces you to look at and think about all the good things that are happening in your life. This is an easy journal. You don’t write paragraphs; you make lists. For example, if you are feeling sad, try making a list of 25 to 50 things (actual things) that make you happy. Don’t try to find big, extravagant things, just the simple things like playing with your dog, smooching with your boo, a cup of hot chocolate – if it makes you smile it goes on the list.

Another way the Gratitude Journal can change your self-talk and negative thoughts is by making a list of the things you are grateful for. If your life is anything like mine, you have lots of the things to be thankful for that you don’t really take the time to think about. (Partly because you’ve moved some of those things to your bucket list to think about later.) For example: looking at the sky in various stages of light and darkness fills my bucket, I’m really thankful for house with skylights. I’m really thankful for a dog that doesn’t chew on things and doesn’t bark a lot. (I had a dachshund once that literally chewed the baseboard off the wall.) I’m so very thankful for a husband who let’s me be me and loves me.

The more bogged down in stressful thoughts you are, the longer your list should be. Try it! 50 things you are thankful for right now. Then you can take your Gratitude Journal up a notch by adding some pictures (photographs or magazine cut outs). You could also add quotes, perhaps something nice that you heard or read, or maybe something a loved one said to you.

Your Gratitude Journal is a great exercise just before bedtime. It moves your mind to a more joyful place which will help you rest and sleep. We all know that stressful thoughts love to show up when we lay our heard on the pillow. Its really important to replace those thoughts with positive ones and shut the negative down.

Last thing – add a screen shot of one of your Gratitude Journal pages to your phone, tablet, or computer wallpaper as a reminder that everything in your life isn’t difficult. Most of us have a lot more going on that’s good in our lives than bad, but we’re bent toward focusing on the problems. It’s time to focus on the pleasure. Let me know what you think and of keeping a Gratitude Journal. I’d love to know if it helps to make a positive difference in your life.

Hijacked by Your Brain: How to Free Yourself When Stress Takes Over
Good Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude: Gratitude Journal