You will find joy in the oddest places. Let’s begin with a quote from my newest favorite author.
Every one of us is called upon…many times to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job, a limb or a loved one…Eventually, what moves it all forward is the subterranean ebb and flow of being alive among the living. Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tuscon.
And I will add living in a pandemic. She continues:
In my own worst seasons, I’ve come back from my colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a simple glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. And another: the perfect outline of a full dark sphere behind the crescent moon. Until I learned to be in love with myself all over again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills. I have taught myself joy over and over again. Barbara Kingsolver, Hide Tide in Tuscon.
I love this quote! What a concept? In your darkest hours you can teach herself joy. We can teach ourselves joy over and over again!
How do we find joy in COVID Times?
So how do we find joy in COVID times? How do we approach taking that long hard look at finding joy? It’s really about pure engagement. Have you ever been in your head, worrying about, oh let’s say, the pandemic – just to pull something out of the air? Your son or daughter walks in excited about the awesome time they had at a friend’s house. You’re thrust into the present and join in the excitement. You’ve totally forgotten the funk you were in one minute ago.
The rumination in your head is what gets you every time. I know it gets me, but lately, when I notice a quick switch from rumination to whatever that thing is that grabs my attention, I pause, take a good hard look and question the importance or lack of importance of my former woes.
And to paraphrase Barbara Kingsolver’s quote, you have to remember that you can lift yourself out of your present despair by looking for and teaching yourself joy over and over.
Take a good hard look
By taking that good hard look at things, I find my way back to: the subterranean ebb and flow of being alive among the living. Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tuscon.
When I was office jobbing it, I hardly spent time in my backyard. This summer, besides discovering the delta breeze, I made acquaintance with my great big, green, leafy trees. I have a veritable paradise! With the trees and delta breeze, I have some kick ass shade and coolness going on. It’s awesome. Now I drink my morning coffee out there and sit outside in the evenings.
Before, I wasn’t paying attention. Sacramento summers were scorchers and I needed to move somewhere that had decent weather. But then, I took a long hard look at summer, the truth about the temperatures, trees and the delta breeze and now I see it in a completely different light. It’s my home and a place to enjoy – not just tolerate.
June was awesome. I enjoyed my early morning walks in the cool air and temperatures were in the 70’s and 80’s. I got to take in all those fresh, soft, subtle, smells of late spring. Another bonus, especially for an extrovert like me, who gets her energy from interacting with people, is waving to my fellow walkers with an occasional chat here and there. It makes me feel like we’re in pandemic solidarity together and gives me that extra boost of happiness. You will find joy in the oddest places.
Finding joy in Target, Lowe’s and Home Depot
I had some shopping to do a few weeks ago and for some reason I was feeling a bit down. This idea popped into my head that I was going to ask every salesperson or cashier how they were doing just to see what would happen.
My first stop was Target and I boldly walked up to the first employee to ask where something was. I brightly asked her how she was doing. She was lifting some heavy shelves, gave me a dirty look and pointed me off in some direction. Not deterred by my first attempt, I marched on and saw two other employees. Before I asked for help, I popped the question and yes! It worked! They were happy I’d asked and responded with great alacrity! And I’m happy to report, the cashier was happy when I asked him too. Success.
After my triumph at Target, I hit Safeway, Lowe’s and Home Depot. It was almost magical. Every sales person or cashier I asked seemed to relax and their faces lit up! It was like they had been waiting all day for someone to ask how they were doing! The real bonus was for me. I wasn’t just going through the motions of asking where something was or paying the cashier – I was engaged, and it was fun and uplifting! It turned my day around. Now I do it all the time when I go shopping. I fill up my extrovert coiffeurs and hopefully brighten up someone’s day. You will find joy in the oddest places.
You can’t roam freely, but you do have options
Maybe you can’t roam freely like you used to do, pre-pandemic, but you do have options. My friend and I went to Limantour beach which is 90 minutes from San Francisco. It was exhilarating. First we stopped in Point Reyes Station for lunch. Its downtown has one street, lined with wooden sidewalks, and one- and two-story buildings. We cruised the streets for a while and stopped for a delicious meal – gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and white wine—at a restaurant my friend recommended. It was a gorgeous day – bright blue skies, sunshine, windy and one of the umbrellas nearly toppled on us!
Next, off to the beach. The wind in Point Reyes Station was like a breeze compared to Limantour Beach, but it was so gorgeous it didn’t matter. You could immediately smell and taste the salty ocean. The sun was shining on the glistening dark blue water. The sand was squishy and clean-in fact the whole beach sparkled, probably because nothing stands a chance of staying put with all the wind, unless you’re a human or a seagull. Sometimes the wind got so fierce it painfully stung our faces and skin. But we were so happy! It was so exhilarating to be surrounded by so much beauty.
We even saw a whale!
What a bonus! I’d never seen a whale in the ocean before and it was so exciting! We watched his black and silver body gracefully dive out of the water and then quickly disappear. We waited anxiously for him to pop up again and sure enough he did – spewing the glorious ocean water over his slick glistening body and then dive back into the ocean. It was mesmerizing. The power of nature can change your life!
That day I was filled with pure joy! In fact, I had an MRI the following day I was nervous about, but I forgot it completely as we walked happily on Limantour Beach. We took our shoes off and chased the chilly waves. The little kid wave chaser just never dies 😊. You will also find joy in beautiful places.
You will find joy in the oddest places
There are ways to find joy—even in this pandemic. There’s so much beauty in nature – if you look closely it can take your breath away. And I want my breath taken away. You can find joy in a conversation with a friend, child or partner. On your morning walk, waving to your neighbors and having an occasional chat. In smelling the aromas of a cool summer morning, or reading and discovering something new. You can find joy working on a hobby or a project or when you’re out shopping. You can take a good hard long look and commit to teach yourself joy over and over again. And remember — you will find joy in the oddest places.
Until next week 🙂