Joy, week 2

How is it that January is already half gone?  I feel like I’ve been busy and diligent, yet the last half of the month looks too short.  I’m crossing my fingers for a couple of weeks of smooth sailing.

Joy.  Did I feel it?  Yes.  It was a good week, aside from the day I fell off the wagon and was an emotional wreck {and yes, it’s true, you can ask my mom and one of my sisters about this}.  I recovered and am back on track, grateful for all the things that are right and trying not to dwell on the one big thing that isn’t right.  My circle of influence is where it’s best to keep my focus; the other things aren’t worth wasting energy on.  Easier said than done, but I’m sure trying.

So how did I feel joy?  Well, I tried to pause when the children were noisy and notice what was going on to make them so excited.  I ended up observing some really fun things taking place among them and it brought me joy.   I played ping pong with my husband late at night.  I tried to notice funny things and let myself laugh more often.  I am still writing daily in the “Joy” books I’m keeping for each child, which has been a really healthy thing for me already.  If I’m struggling to think of something great that a particular child did that day, then I either didn’t connect well with them or I wasn’t in the proper frame of mind when I was around them and therefore I probably didn’t build them enough.  This little exercise is helping me to begin the new day more aware of which children I really need to seek out and spend a few minutes with.  It isn’t much, and I’m not perfect at it, but I believe that small yet consistent efforts will make a big difference over time.  I also made this little notebook for collecting quotes in, quotes both for my own pondering and also for us to memorize.

I’ve continued to do well, really well, with my morning routine of studying scriptures and reading good books.  I’m reading a little bit from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families every day and have gleaned so much already.  I’m trying to put it into practice and I do feel like I’m getting a little bit better although I have much to learn and many habits to create.  Today I also started reading The Happiness Project, and it’s funny how much of what the author says in her first chapter mirrors thoughts and feelings I’ve had.

While I cannot say that every day I did a good job on my daily list of essentials, necessities and nice-to-do items, I can say that taken across the week as a whole I feel like I worked on a lot of important things, like there’s a decent balance overall.  I like that feeling.   No, my house isn’t spotless; in fact, it’s quite messy.  But I’m spending time every day working at it and it’s going to get better.

I have some things on the weekly list that I’ve been intending to do on Sunday evenings, but so far we’ve had Church-related commitments on most Sunday nights (and will through the end of the month) and it hasn’t worked out.  We also started a new Church schedule so our day is more chopped up than it was before.  I’m going to give it until February to work it out, but it’s possible I need to schedule those activities for another time if it just doesn’t work out.

Our family wrote thank-you notes for Christmas gifts received (I just realized as I’m typing this that I haven’t mailed them yet).  I had a few great conversations with friends, a couple in person, the others over the phone.   One in particular was so uplifting.  I tried a couple of new recipes, tickled a lot of little ones, did a lot of laundry.  It was a good week in many ways.

I didn’t meet my goals to be creative every single day but I did it several days, and on Saturday I woke up early and had some time while the house was still quiet to work at my projects.  Although I’m craving a marathon day or two of sewing, I’m learning to be happy with a handful of minutes and the knowledge that I’ll get another handful tomorrow.  I’m also reading a book about creativity when I’m in the carpool line at school and have learned some interesting things about myself.  For example, I’m a results girl.  I do things to get them DONE. I want to see the final product.  I don’t, by nature, find as much joy in process.  {This was a big revelation to me about myself.} Spending just a few minutes a day on creative activity is helping me to recognize that the process should be enjoyable, and this is a great way to school myself to appreciate process.

I am so grateful for the chance to learn!  I’m grateful for this opportunity to teach myself how to notice and feel joy even when we’re facing adversity.  I’m excited to see how my daily efforts, carefully prioritized, add up at the end of the year.  I am thankful to be alive, to have the husband of my dreams and a whole bunch of imperfect but very loveable children to share this journey with.  Life is good, oh so good!

Joyfully, Jennifer

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