A Year of Delights

One place that brings me joy- the beach. Winter at sunset. I love the colors of the sky.

One place that brings me joy- the beach. Winter at sunset. I love the colors of the sky.

Last week I heard a snippet of an interview on the radio. It piqued my interest. The writer Ross Gay has written a book called, The Book of Delights. On his 42nd birthday, Mr. Gay gave himself the challenge to write about something delightful every day for a year. The book contains a collection of some of those delights: nicknames, fireflies, air quotes, garden weeds. As he shared with the interviewer, it wasn’t as difficult as he thought in finding delights around him. At first he thought he would have to really work hard on finding delights, but after a while he realized that he was more attentive to all the delights happening around him.

I love the premise- intentionally looking for things that are delightful in our lives. As with so many things, it doesn’t take much money or effort to be hyper observant, but it does take time. One has to slow down enough to see what is around. As Mr. Gay noted, once he began finding delight in his day, it affected the rest of his day. He also noted that delight is interdependent with others because what he found to be delightful were often personal interactions.

I thought that I would give myself a challenge- to find and write about one thing each day that brings me joy, tickles my funny bone, puts a smile on my face or just is downright delightful. The item can be big or small. It can be an activity, a person, a place, situation or idea. I would like to write @ 300 words, but It doesn’t have to be a specific number of words. If pressed for time it can just be a note, phrase or even a list.

What about you? Are you up for a challenge? Do you think you could find something delightful about which to write each day for a year? If you truly feel you cannot, could you give it a try for 30 days? Or plan on writing just 3 or 5 days/week. If writing is not your thing, how about pictures? What if you took a picture each day of something about which you found amusing or interesting? You could post it each day on whatever social media account you use.

What do you have to lose? You might gain some insight about yourself.

Click here to read the interview. Another person who is uber observant of her life is the actress Sarah Jessica Parker. Her Instagram has various pictures of her observations living and working in NYC. (Click here for her postings.)

The Season of Joy

I love the word joy.  It just has such a wonderful image.  What I love about it is that it represents peace that transcends circumstance.  It is being able to say, "I am okay even in the midst of trouble.  I know that my present circumstance will not be forever and even if it is, there are things that I can learn and change and do about it."  It is viewing our situations and problems as opportunities.

I have heard various people talk about happiness and joy lately.  Totally unrelated conversations which makes me think that this is a topic in which I need assistance. In each of those discussions the conclusion has been that joy and happiness are different. Happiness is dependent upon surroundings. The focus becomes on achieving and getting things and that those things will provide happiness.  Isn't that the crux of the materialistic holidays?  Or that happiness has to be a reaction to what has occurred.  If the surroundings aren't quite good enough then one is unhappy. Life is miserable until something else happens that may provide a positive reaction.  Then we feel "happy".

I think of joy as the serene, gracious wiser sibling.  The one who seems to be unruffled and steady during difficulties.  The one who remains calm, speaks in a pleasant tone and doesn't fly off the handle.  The one who is unfazed if things don't go his way.  The one who is content whether he has much or he has little.  The one who is confident in all circumstances. 

I think of the past to the many times when I didn't exemplify poise in a situation. Times when I certainly wasn't full of joy.  Times when I let my unhappiness because "things didn't workout the way I wanted" spill out in my speech. Times when I railed against the "injustice" or aka "not getting the things I wanted" of my life. How ridiculous. How unattractive.  How childish. 

Joy comes from contentment. Joy comes from hope.  Joy comes from God.

The world is is need of joy this season.  I am in need of joy this season. What about you?  Can you replace happiness with joy this season?  This coming year? 

Tidying Up

 l love the word tidying. It sounds so cute, so benign, so Goldilocks-ish.  It is a word that explains what you want to accomplish and how you go about it.  It evokes an activity that is not too strenuous nor too ineffective.  It is just right. 

There was a very interesting article in The New York Times Magazine about the author, Marie Kondo and her book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up".   Seems that Ms. Kondo has quite a following of people who swear by her methods.  Her whole premise is that the items in your household and eventually in one's life should bring you joy. 

Like so many ideas that abound, this is nothing new.  As I have posted before, the 18th Century English textile designer William Morris felt that one should have only beautiful and useful items in one's home.  Basically, only have things which bring you joy.   It makes sense that in order to appreciate those beautiful and useful things you have to be able to see and find them.  In essence, have a neat and tidy place.  But as with all things that seem simple, it is very hard to achieve. 

There are a myriad of books on the market about getting organized. There are a ton of organizational tools and systems. They all are a means to the end- getting rid of items in your life that take up valuable space, time and resources. What isn't necessarily mentioned in any of these processes is that in order to get rid of anything you have to sacrifice it.  You have to make a choice to remove the said item from your midst. I think there is the rub.  We cling to our things. We want it all. Even if something is not useful or beneficial we still want it around, "just in case." 

It is not only physical items.  We hold on to emotional baggage and mental images that only clutter our lives. For nothing less than to show that we have/had something-an emotional draining relationship, a self-pity party or a poorly acted upon decision.  It is almost as if we have to tightly grasp these situations to prove that we exist.   Even if it was/is harmful to our psyche, it was/is something nonetheless. 

I know for me, it is until things get to the point that I cannot stand the clutter that I will then be ruthless.  It is then that I say, "this needs to go".  Of course, everyone in our household has a different tolerance point of when things need to go and there too can be the rub. 

That's why I like the word tidy.  It seems doable.  I can work on the emotional, relational, and physical stuff that is cluttering my life. I don't have to do it all in one day.  Tidying seems to be a word that is done in smaller increments. I think, "I can talk to that person and straighten out one of our issues."  "I can let go and remove the worry scenario replaying in my mind." "I can tidy my office today and start on the corner of my basement tomorrow."

What about you?  Do you have a tidy life?  What do you do when things get messy? Does the clutter bother you?  At what point do you say, "this needs to go"?  Do you even notice clutter in your life? What is your method for tidying up?