I don’t know a single person who has had an easy year this year. Most families I know have had health challenges of some kind. Others have had employment challenges or financial woes. Everywhere, there are additional stresses of remote work and learning and the pain of isolation from our usual social outlets.
More personally, this year has brought plenty of challenges with my husband’s cancer treatment, my daughter’s depression, my son’s GI issues and Autism…and then add to that everything else that’s going on out in the world. I’ve cried some tears and had plenty of frustrated days, but one thing that often surprises me is how even in the most difficult of times…there is always a way to find a spark of joy.
It’s in those times where I have to look the hardest to find that spark that it’s the most needed.
There is a time to cry, to be sure, a time to surrender to sadness for a bit and allow the tears to flow, but I find it’s really important not to build a house there, not to live there. It can be tempting when the world outside seems out of control and stress upon stress is heaped upon me to dwell in sadness or anger…but that doesn’t help me or the people I care for.
Just like it’s good to open up the windows and air your house out, it’s good to open up the emotional space in my home and allow the mood to lighten. It’s important to play and laugh even especially when it might be difficult to find reasons to. It helps my children feel like things are going to be all right. It helps my husband feel less down himself. It helps all of us shift to a more positive mindset.
Joy grows most easily in easy soil. The seeds come up thick in softer times. But…we often can’t choose the soil we’re given and that doesn’t mean that joy can’t grow in rockier soils in difficult times…it just needs a lot more tending. Whenever I try to grow any plant in my garden or home that wasn’t meant for my climate or soil, it’s going to be a lot more work. I’ll often have to shelter that plant from cold winds or sun that’s too bright. I may have to water it more or add things to the soil to make it happier. I might have to bring it inside when the season changes. It still can grow here…it just requires a lot more care and maintenance.
I find the same is true of joy and happiness in rocky times.
I start by looking much more closely for the seeds. Often, they are hidden within little things. Maybe I spot a colorful bird at our feeder. Normally, I might just smile and note this and move on with my day, but if I’m working hard to grow some joy, I’ll stop and take a picture and make sure the rest of the family sees it. A movie comes out that we all might like…instead of just remarking about it, I make an event of it, complete with different flavors of popcorn and PJ’s worn on the couch. I take each small speck of joy I can find and I nurture it into something bigger and then I share that harvest with the people I love.
What seeds of joy have you been overlooking that you could tend?