Moments of Joy: December 2016

We traveled to a choir concert in last month’s post.  Today’s “story” is very much more simple, because I am very much too busy to blog lately and am behind on this publishing this post!

black rectangle with white frosted edges, representing nothingness

What a great month it has been overall.  My family and I were showered with blessings and special memory-making moments.  In today’s post, I could recount stories about our silly antics on a shopping trip or during the holidays.  Or, I could capture in words a poignant moment of deep sorrow or friendship, or a life-changing event I witnessed in one of my friend’s lives.

Rather than go into such detail, I’d like to simply mention something which brought me great happiness this month — a thing many busy Americans long to find.

Can you see the thing I’m talking about in the photo above? Do you know what provided one of my greatest pleasures recently?

That’s right…You see it…It is NOTHING.  An entire week of nothing scheduled and nowhere to be at a certain time.  OK, there wasn’t actually seven days in a row of nothing, but in the space of two weeks my daughter and I had at least 5-7 days of pure relaxation.  It was wonderful!

Usually for my daughter’s homeschool we plan only one week off for Christmas so that we can have an extra “spring break” when we are feeling burned-out from studies.  This year she suggested we push summer break back a week so we could have the typical two weeks off for the holidays.  I was very receptive to this idea because we spent most of the first holiday vacation week catching up on her school work (my daughter has been sick more often this fall than ever in her entire life, and we were quite behind on her work).

That extra week off was blissful!  It was just what we needed to get us rested and energized again.  You would never think someone could get so excited about nothing, eh?

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I’m amazed to think that I’ve written these posts for two years!  How does the time slip by so quickly?! Looking back on the second year of “Moments of Joy” posts, I can’t decide which one brings me the most joy. So, I will delegate choosing the favorite post of 2016 to my lovely daughter…

After reading through the selections, she says her favorite one is the post from July. That makes sense because it was a sweet, heart-warming event that involved an adorable baby.

(She had trouble picking her favorite, as well.  If you prefer funny stories over sappy ones, she said the August post was a very close second favorite…Have you ever seen a tree wearing clothing?)

Speeding Past Joy

Hurry up!  Scan through this post as fast as you can!  Better yet, just skim the first and last paragraphs and click to the next page!  Get moving–there’s a lot more to do today and only 24 hours to tick things off the list!

You’ve got to be kidding me–are you reading this paragraph, too?!  Don’t you know this is a fast-paced world full of fast-paced people who have a ton of important tasks to complete at a fast pace?

There’s no time for tedious details in your busy life!  This blog is about finding joy, right?  So let’s just toss up a few bullet points and move on:

  • Are you breathing?  I thought so, but did you know we sometimes breathe so shallowly that our bodies still lack oxygen?  Slowly take the deepest breath you can; now pull in two or three more sniffs of air. (You can do it!)  Hold it in for five seconds, and let it out even more slowly…Did that feel a little uncomfortable?  Slow, deep breaths can help calm and relax your entire body.  Stretch those lungs a few times every day (especially if you don’t do strenuous exercise on a regular basis), and you will be happy you did.
  • Squeeze your shoulders up by your ears for a moment–hold that position…pull them straight back…hold it…hold it…now let them drop loosely down.  You were probably carrying some tension in them without even realizing it.  (Ooo, that made my neck pop and crack!)  Make it a point to be more aware of your breathing, tension level, posture, etc.  Self-awareness is a first step toward self-control and peacefulness.  (We could all use a little more of those qualities at times, couldn’t we?)
  • Wow–did you see THAT?!  Probably not, if you’re always rushing.  If you are having a rough day, slow down, just for a moment, and study your surroundings; there’s beauty and wonder to be found.  Truly there is!  “Some tiny birds keep jumping up at that dried up bush in my garden and kicking it with their feet.  What in the world?  Oh, they are knocking seeds down onto the ground to eat–how funny!”  “Look at the fancy trim along the top of that building.  I wonder how old that place is?”  Stir up awareness and curiosity in your daily life and enjoy the little pleasant things that many people miss.
  • Here’s an allegory for you:  A lumberjack can furiously chop trees all day and get a lot done before he collapses in exhaustion.  In the same amount of time, another lumberjack can chop more trees and be less tired at the end of the day simply by taking occasional breaks to sit down and sharpen his axe.  …So what?  The connection is that your mind and body work the same way; they both need breaks to rest and rejuvenate.  Search for a time or place each day where you can be alone in a quiet spot and take a breather, even if it’s only for five or ten minutes.  While you’re there, try some of the previously mentioned ideas or whatever will help you to relax a bit.  You may feel like that is wasting time, but you will actually be more productive in the end.

Ok.  If you have actually read this entire post and tried a couple of the suggestions, perhaps you’re feeling (at least a tiny bit) more relaxed and peaceful.  I hope that is the case, but enough’s enough–break’s over!  Get outta here and get busy!  Step on it!