Moment of Joy 5/100 – The Anticipation Of Christmas On The Faces Of Children

Ok, I know, I’m woefully behind in posting. It’s not that I’ve lost interest. It’s just that, after a whole year of daily deadlines, I am taking advantage of the slacking off opportunities afforded me now. :)

So this is from a couple of weeks ago. The Worthington Kibourne High School choir was invited, along with the Thomas Worthington High School choir, to participate in the annual lighting of the Christmas tree on the Worthington Village Green. It was chilly, but overall, perfect weather for such an event. And by perfect, I mean not raining, which is always a possibility at this time of year for these events.

At first we got to hear the choirs sing as people started to gather, after which they broke out into small groups and carolled around the square to the delight of passersby. It was a fairly idyllic scene, with horse-drawn carriage rides parading by, hot chocolate to be had, and young voices in accapella song.

As the sun faded and the crowds gathered waiting for the arrival of Santa, the population of little people on the shoulders of their fathers threatened to outnumber those of us to had to stand on our own two feet. Looking up into a sea of faces under the age of five warmed my heart a bit. The memories those families were creating for those children are priceless.

And then we all gathered in candlelight to wait for Santa, who would oversee the tree lighting.

But this little guy is the one who inspired this post. The anticipation of children, in full delight of the season, always brings me joy.

I couldn't resist that adorable face.

I couldn’t resist that adorable face. He was SO EXCITED.

Moment of Joy 5/100 – The Anticipation of Christmas On The Faces Of Children. May we all remember that feeling.

Moment of Joy 3/100 – Breath As Music

I was sitting on the couch this morning, sipping my coffee, scrolling through Facebook on my phone. The house was quiet. (The boy was at an all night church event. He will likely be sleeping till dinner.) The sun was up, but the gray sky gave the impression of it being earlier than it really was. And I was just sitting there. Feeling like I was wasting something.

I should get up and do something. I need something. I need… yoga.

Now, this may or may not be something that randomly occurs to you. It randomly occurs to me. But most of the time, it comes to me in that creaky body, wow I would feel so much better if I stretched, gosh I should really get to class kind of pull. The “shoulds”. This was a little different.

This morning I felt as if I was being pulled right off the couch and onto the ground. I couldn’t wait for a class. I have time to turn on the music. I needed to move, right then and there. So I set down my cup, pushed the coffee table aside just far enough to give me a narrow strip on the rug, and stood in my jammies (ok, fine, they were yoga pants, but that was just luck of the draw today). Facing out through the screen door, I could see the sky. Gosh, I miss my outdoor weekends on the deck with my mat. This is going to be a long winter.

Eyes closed. Breathe in 4 counts. Breathe out 5 counts. Hold for 3. Do it again. And again. And again. I stood there breathing. And when I began to feel the tightness in my shoulders start to release as breath took up the space, I knew I was ready.

Into sun salutations I went. Those familiar beautiful sun salutations. They are like friends now. We know each other. As I lowered into my first forward fold and couldn’t quite put my palms on the floor, the sun salutations forgave my aging back and said “don’t worry, hang with me, it will come.”

I could hear my breath loud and rhythmic in my ears. That and the hum of the refrigerator were my music. My breathing became pulse personified. It was the drum beat that counted out the moves as I ran though them. Exhale chataranga. Inhale up dog. Exhale down dog. Breathe. Move. Dance.

My favorite part of the sun salutation is the close of each one, moving from arms stretched overhead, bringing them back to heart’s center in prayer position. It feels like an amen. So I did another one, from the beginning. Moving now with a little less cracking and a little more grace. And back to heart’s center. Amen. And again. And amen.

With my breath, sun salutations made way to a warrior sequence I made up as a went along. All the familiar poses, in whatever felt right at the moment, and magically, they flowed beautifully and gracefully, one into the other. Alternating reaching out with pulling in, breathing out and breathing in, first the right side, and again on the left.

Without hesitation or much thought I planted my hands on the ground and took a shaky crow pose. But I managed. (Note to self: eat breakfast first). And then laid my head softly on the ground and inverted into a headstand I haven’t taken in many weeks. Yes. This. Even as I lifted, I thought “I can do this.”

Eventually lowering onto the ground after another series, I rested in child’s pose, giving thanks for the metaphor. And as my body asked for twists, I turned onto my back and did those as well. I told myself “stay in this pose until you forget that you are in this pose”, and I let my mind wander, distracted from the contortion and allowing gravity to have its way. It worked. And then go the other way. That side’s a little tighter; it took a little while longer, but it worked over there too. When I realized I had forgotten, that was when I knew it was ok to move again.

And then I drew in, hugged my knees tight, took a deep breath, and with a sigh lowered all the way to the ground, prone to the perceived sky. Relaxed. Freed.

It probably won’t last long as the day brings back the stresses of the world, of my own mind, of the tasks of the day. But for a brief period in time, I was perfectly at peace. With my body, with my failures and my successes. With my life.

Alone, in a quiet house, my breath as music, Moment of Joy 3/100.

Namaste

Namaste

100 Moments Of Joy – Starting Right Now

As I was winding up my year long Thankfulness Challenge, I began to think ahead as to how this blog might evolve once the 365 days were over. The experience of reaching inward to make discoveries about myself at the same time I was reaching outward to engage with the world was something in which I found immense value. But I reached my goal and proved my point, to myself if to no one else. So what comes next?

I knew that daily writing was becoming more difficult thanks to a much different schedule and social life than I had when I started last year (thank you!), but I don’t want to give this up completely. And therefore an idea started to materialize that set a slightly different goal and still maintains the positive spin I have grown to embrace.

100 Moments Of Joy

My new goal is to find and document, in words or photos as best I can, 100 moments that bring joy to me or to someone else over the course of one year.

Joy is different than happiness. Joy can be found in fleeting moments, even in sadness. Joy radiates through the eyes and touches the heart. The Merrium-Webster Dictionary lists one definition of joy as “a source or cause of delight”, and that is precisely what I am setting out now to find. I want to spend a year sharing with you the moments that bring delight into the world. In a time when it becomes to easy to see the bleak, I want to see the sunshine. I want to share the things that made someone smile.

Last year I focused on those things that affected mainly myself. But now it is time to turn that attention elsewhere. Yes, my interpretation of joy can only be seen (and therefore shared) through the lens of my own eyes. But it is not only about me. And I am on the watch now for the ways that joy manifests itself in the entire world.

I was waiting to start until I had a wonderful moment to share, something to kick this off so that you will see what I am trying to get at here. And this morning, I found it. True, it is my moment of joy to start, but when I looked up, I knew this was it.  I smiled and reached for my camera.

My view.

My view.

Morning Glory

Morning Glory

On this cloudy and generally cold gray November morning, as I sat at my desk, a sunbeam broke through at the perfect moment and the perfect angle, lighting up the room and igniting my stained glass window in the way for which stained glass windows were precisely created. The air sparkled. The room glowed. And for about 3 whole minutes, the entire world was warm and alive.

Moment of Joy 1/100

I wish you had been here to see it.

We’re on a new ride now. :)

Day 365: October 31 – 10 Things I Learned In One Year

So this is it. Here we are. One year later.

Sheesh. A lot has happened in a year. If nothing else, this has been quite a chronicle of, not only my life, but the world around me. But of course, there is much else. The point of all this was to try to learn something about myself, as a woman, as a writer, as a human being. So what have I learned?

  1. I learned that we influence each other in ways we do not always anticipate. There were days when I struggled to say something I thought was relevant. And inevitably, those were the days I got beautiful messages back from someone who found meaning in words I had dismissed. Those were the days I realized I am not always in charge of the message. Sometimes I am just the messenger.
  2. I learned not to take myself so seriously. Many times, the things that I did think were relevant were the least read pieces. Just goes to show you how much I really know. ;)
  3. I learned that the internet is a vast and sometimes cold place. And sometimes it is as warm and friendly as a comfy shared blanket.
  4. I learned that people are extraordinarily generous when you speak to their hearts and not to their wallets.
  5. I learned to be careful with what I put “out there.” People really do read. Privacy really is valuable. Apparently, I have no interest in being a Kardashian. But I guess I knew that part already.
  6. I learned that I have a voice, and it can be very strong. And I have enjoyed having a mouthpiece with which to make that voice heard. Whether or not it makes a difference is not the point. It makes a difference to me to be able to say what I feel needs to be said. I cannot control what other people hear. But I can control what I have to say.
  7. I learned that my blessings are both far-reaching and very close to home. The abundance in my life is overwhelming enough that it has brought me to tears in appreciation on several occasions, and not once, not ever, did it ever have anything to do with money.
  8. I learned that I like myself, even when others don’t. In fact, sometimes I like myself BECAUSE others don’t. Needing other people’s constant approval was exhausting and futile, especially when some of those people hold opinions I don’t even find valuable in the first place. Why the hell was I giving them so much of my energy? They are welcome to their opinions. I am welcome to my self-worth.
  9. I learned that I can set a goal, even a long one, and reach it. I have suffered in the past from “Maybe I Can’t Do It” Syndrome. Other people’s voices in my head, mixing with my own, had torn down some of my self-confidence. Now I have some of it back.
  10. And first and foremost, I learned the thing I already knew… that always, even on the worst of days, there is something for which to be thankful. The trick is to go looking in the right places.

So where do we go from here? I have been asked that a lot as this day approached. And I don’t exactly know the answer. I think I do. But I need some time to crystallize this idea that has been running around in my head. I wanted to finish this before I started giving any energy to what comes next. I felt that was only fair to the blog and my commitment here. But now that we have reached this milestone, I can turn my attention elsewhere. So I am going to take some time to figure this out, and then I will be back.

I remember wondering, this time last year, where I would be in a year. What amazing things will have happened to me? And like a crystal ball in reverse, now I know. I have met people who have changed my world. I have experienced things I never thought possible. I have moved on in ways I did not imagine. And some things have remained an satisfying constant. Thank God for those things.

Thanks to everyone who has faithfully walked along with me. I am astonished at your enthusiasm, your encouragement, your wisdom, your generosity, your compassion.

We are not done here. We just might be going in a different direction. I hope you stay tuned to find out where. But if you don’t, that’s ok. Thanks for being a part of this ride.

Today, on the 365th day, I am thankful for this blog. You have no idea how thankful.