Category Archives: JOY in 2012

Joy, week 46

I can’t believe another week has come and gone.  I’m going to break with my standard format and share a picture I took this afternoon:

It hadn’t been raining.  They were playing ping pong in the basement and hollered up that we should look at it.  We all ran outside and discovered a faint second rainbow as well.  The bow arched so high above the clouds it nearly took my breath away.  It got brighter, for soon we could see a distinct green color emerging.  We stood outside and talked while we watched, and within minutes it began to fade slowly.  A moment later and the sun was suddenly sending it’s last horizontal rays across the earth before sinking behind the mountains.  The rainbow was gone as quickly as it came, giving way to the sunset.  We went back inside and I thought how happy that moment had been, and how we would have missed it if we had waited only a few moments before acting.

So much of the week was like that.  Little rainbows tucked here and there in cloudy moments, unexpected, fleeting, and then gone.  Some of them I chased like we did tonight; others I assumed would be there when I finished whatever “pressing” thing I had going on.   Of course they weren’t.  But the ones I grabbed were happy and good for my heart.

I thought things would slow down more than they have.  We’re still too busy and I’m trying to fix it.   I was hit with a cold this week which is making it harder to combat the stress of getting ready for out-of-town company during Thanksgiving.  I feel like I’m off my game and really hope I can “come round right” in the next day or two.  I am thankful for small reminders of how good life truly is so I don’t get too far ahead of myself.  I have a lot to do before Thanksgiving, so the task ahead is to savor the rainbows while working harder.

I am grateful for the opportunity to make good decisions, to make mistakes and learn from them, to be a part of a family and become who I’m supposed to be.  There is much to be thankful for!

 

Joy, week 45

There is a rhythm that comes with keeping a home.  When the rhythm is just right, and especially when it’s not in fast forward, there is a peace in it that I’ve never felt in any other setting.    It’s a peace that lends beauty to mundane tasks and turns the rowdy play of children into music.  It expands until the heart is full and with all your soul you hope it never changes.    I experienced that rhythm tonight.

It was brief but beautiful.  I treasured every minute of it.

On the whole, my week was a little on the crazy side.  Several days felt like a series of continuous detours.  Someone forgot their lunch, someone got hit in the face and ended up with a bloody nose that now decorated all of their clothing and could I please bring a change of clothes to school, someone doesn’t feel well at school and needs to go home, the bank made a mistake with our account, on and on it went.   When it started snowing on Friday I prayed silently, “Please let this weather get bad enough that soccer practice is cancelled!”  It did.  So we had one lovely day of no errands, no practices, no events.  YES.

I didn’t choose joy as consistently this week.  Instead I caved in more often to stress.  I was away from home more often and had responsibilities that required extra time and focus.  It wasn’t the kind of week I wanted, but I managed to get a lot done ( mostly because I had deadlines) and enjoyed a few extras as well.  It seems when we have weeks like this it’s harder for me to stay on top of all the homework.  Not that the math homework doesn’t get done or we don’t read books, but that I forget to initial the reading logs and things like that.  Sometimes I feel like those little things all get together so they can turn into a mountain that stares down at me with a big flashing sign to broadcast my failures.  The feeling brings a portion of guilt, and also a flash of irritation and anger.  Aren’t we supposed to be reading for the joy of it, not so we can check it off a list?  But I usually feel that way when I’m stretched too thin.  Which I was.

So I had a few occasions to stand apart from myself, observe what was going on, and ask, “Have I learned anything this year about joy?”  The answer is a resounding YES!  I’ve learned so many little things about feeling happy, like putting a smile on my face, singing a song out loud, doing the thing I’m dreading, that when I do feel stressed I have a bunch of tools in my pocket to fight back with.  When I’m feeling down about things I can’t control, I am quicker to remind myself that I can’t control it and focus instead on something I am able influence.  I know that a huge part of feeling joy is simply a matter of doing what needs to be done and putting a smile on my face.  I have learned so much.

So we got the house clean.  I had a dry pack canning activity in my kitchen.  My brother and his family were in town and we got to see them!  We had guests for dinner and it went great.  I heard Mindy Gledhill sing in a cozy mini-concert.  I got on the phone for a little book group chat with all the women in my family.  I went to another book club meeting and had a great time.  We made a big push in the sewing room and two teenaged girls finished quilt tops to display at a meeting tonight.  (They turned out so great!  I can’t wait to share them tomorrow!)  The kids went on a hot chocolate binge as the temperatures plummeted and the snow whirled outside our windows.  We turned on the fireplace and enjoyed its warmth.  I even snuggled with my three year old on the couch in front of the fire and we both fell asleep.  It was a great week.  Crazy enough to make me feel like lots of important details were slipping through my fingers, but I suppose without it I might not have enjoyed tonight’s perfect rhythm so much.

The coming week is our last full week before Thanksgiving and then, in the blink of an eye, the holiday season will be in full swing.  I have so much I want to do and I’m going to do my best to get it done, but I hope I’ll have the wisdom to slow down when it’s time for that so I can savor the wonder of Christmas.  Only seven more weeks in 2012.  What a thought!

Have a great week!
Jennifer

Joy, week 44

I’m typing early tonight, before I’m too tired to think.  I look out our windows at a sky that ‘s striped with blue, pink, lavender and gray.  It’s kind of nice to have the time change now.  I don’t mind having more hours in the evening to snuggle, read books or just be together.  And I won’t mind driving the children to school in daylight, either.

The weather here has been golden.  Warm temperatures, yellow leaves everywhere, golden sunlight in the afternoons, blue skies full of geese, harvest moon.  As I watched Hurricane Sandy wreak havoc along the East coast, I kept having this feeling that something must be ready to hit here.  I’d look out my windows expecting gray and cold, and every time the sun surprised me.  My heart aches for those who have lost so much, and their suffering has added a new dimension of gratitude to my own life.  Every time I got in a car I’d remember how fortunate I am that the roads are fine, that my electricity is on, that we have a house to sleep in.  The list goes on and on.

I excavated most of the basement this week.  It was such a mess!  Included in that project was the task of sorting through baby clothes for eight children, keeping a few special items and hauling away multiple huge black bags of clothing.  As soon as I finished, the children moved right back in and all weekend we’ve had noise wafting from the basement.  Sounds of air hockey, ping pong, soccer balls bouncing off walls, children yelling with excitement and sometimes yelling in anger.   I have a lot more I’d like to get done down there, especially if I’m going to cross it off my project list for 2012, but it’s at a good spot.  I think from now on I’ll have to invoke the “suffer for 15 minutes” rule that I learned from Gretchen Rubin.  It seems to work if I am only consistent.

It was a week of projects.  In addition to the basement I cleared out our gardens, harvested the last of the lavender, pruned back some bushes, cleaned the back porch, planted some bulbs, repaired a broken table, finished dehydrating our apples, packed away Halloween.  It feels good to take care of things.  Regular maintenance isn’t one of my strengths but I’m working at it.   Remember when I cleared a long shelf in my pantry?  Well, it still works!  I’m so happy to have figured out the secret to an orderly pantry and now it takes me only 5 minutes to tidy that room.  It makes me want to empty shelves in lots of places just to see if it helps my children stay organized.  Actually, many of the organization projects I tackled in September seem to be working better than in the past.

It almost doesn’t seem fair that the two previous paragraphs could be typed (and read) so quickly, because they’re really all I have to show for the week.   I was tempted a few times to feel bad about the other day-to-day tasks that didn’t get done because I was moving through my list of larger projects, but I realized that this is just the way my life is.  There is time to do a little of this and a little of that with a prayer in my heart that in the end it will all balance out and enough will be done.  Instead I feel grateful for what progress I made.

We enjoyed a fun Halloween.  I spent much of the day at the school, the afternoon driving my oldest three to meet up with friends, then costumes back on and trick-or-treating with the younger five.  We had a great time and enjoyed the warm weather.  We also read the book “The Worst Best Halloween Ever” by Barbara Robinson.

We endured more drama surrounding soccer teams.   I took the brunt of it so my girls wouldn’t have to hear it or deal with it and I think it will work out in the end.  I always feel frustrated when things like this come from nowhere and park in the “urgent” area of my life but I’ve also learned that sports and drama can’t be entirely separated from one another, so we focus on the good and move on.

I haven’t touched my sewing machine in almost three weeks, and I find that when I’ve been away for so long I have a hard time jumping back in.  I walked to my sewing table multiple times thinking that I should work for just ten minutes, but I always ended up wandering out again to do something else.  I got up super early this weekend to make myself sew something – anything – for just 15 minutes so I will quit avoiding it.  I finished a quilt block and think it did the trick.

I find myself looking happily toward the holidays while simultaneously feeling like I’d better pull things together NOW if they’re going to look and feel like I want them to.  I have so many ideas, a long list of to-do items, gifts I’d like to make.  If I’m not careful I’ll get swept away in it all, but if I don’t work at it, I’ll get swept away in the force of our daily life and do none of it.  This morning when everyone slept in with the time change, I moved my alarm the other direction.  I’ve set a goal to give up an hour of sleep every morning to work on projects before I get everyone up for school.  If I use it well, it should be enough to accomplish a lot.  I’m sleepy right now, but that hour of quiet will be precious.

Right now my husband sits on the couch across from me with his computer on his lap.  He’s going through old pictures of his childhood and all the children have crowded around him.  They sit on either side and several are standing behind the couch, leaning over it to get a look.  Little voices ask, “Is that YOU?” as they try to grasp the idea of their Dad once being the same age as their brother.  I look at all their faces, eyes focused intently on the images, all of them curiously quiet as they hang on all the details he offers.  Each of them making their own silent observations to carry away with them, special rocks in the pockets of their hearts.  Each of them drawing parallels between their lives and his, noticing differences, hearing things that surprise them a little.  It always makes me happy to see them gathered around him.  Somehow it makes me feel confident in the future as I watch that pull draw them all, regardless of age, into the circle of family.  It also reminds me that while the future requires careful planning, the investment I make in today must be done consciously and wisely, with my whole heart.  So I’ll sign off now to go clean up the accident my three year old just had on the kitchen floor before I join the mass of bodies on the couch, making memories as we look at memories.  A little voice in my head shouts “TAKE MORE PICTURES OF THESE EVERYDAY MOMENTS!”  Just like I remember doing at my house when my Dad would get out the old 8 mm projector, just like my children will do in the not-so-distant future.  Knowing we are part of this cycle grounds me, reminds me that what happens here in our home is of utmost importance.  Being part of this anchors me to my ancestors as we reach our arms toward the future.

Jennifer

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