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I spy joy in originality

Sand Forests on the beach in Seaside, OR

Last month we took a 3-day weekend to relax in Seaside, Oregon. During one of the daily beach jaunts I saw this young boy building something completely original. He wasn’t building the usual sand castle, but something more like a forest, made of twigs and feathers and stones. Only assisted by his father in what appeared to be merely a gathering of goods.

I was struck by awe. And joy. What a wonderful, original work of art.

It also brings me great hope. Hope for our children and the possibilities that are before them–and before us. Endless possibilities for creative thought and unique expression.

What amazing and unfathomable worlds are yet to be ours?  After all, everything is possible. Isn’t it?

October 4, 2010   No Comments

I spy joy in feeling beautiful

Kellen 12-09

Kellen 12-09

I often ask my daughter how she got to be so pretty.  Her common response is “I was just made that way,” which is what I used to tell her when her answer was, “I don’t know.”

Last week I asked my son, “How come you’re so handsome?”

“Because you made me,” he said.  Then he asked, “Mom, do you think you’re beautiful?”

Surprised, I answered, “Sometimes.”

“If you thought you were beautiful when you made me, then I am, too,” Kellen explained, and he went about doing whatever he was doing before.

I sat for a minute or two, thinking about what just came out of my son’s mouth; wondering if he intended to say what I think he said.

If you thought you were beautiful when you made me, then it follows that I am beautiful, too.

I had to walk away and write it down.  I have just begun to grasp this concept at 41. My son is 8 and he tossed this idea out as casually as he tosses his shirt in the hamper at the end of the day. (Note to self: evolution works.)

My brilliant son is so right.  Feeling beautiful is a symptom of loving yourself.  And anything we create when we’re in that place of kindness, confidence and love in inherently beautiful.

I am going to practice loving myself more–loving myself like I love my children: absolutely and without condition.  How beautiful would that be?

December 18, 2009   1 Comment

I spy joy in love



In the conference room of my office today I took a quick break from a group envelope stuffing project to sip a bit of my freshly-made mocha.  When the yummy caffeine concoction hit my tongue and warmth slid down my throat I moaned my love and appreciation so audibly that my coworkers stopped their stuffing to look up at me.  I just couldn’t help myself.  I was in pure rapture and sound escaped before my brain could flash the “WARNING: People will think you’re weird” light.

In an attempt at recovery I said, “Oh, I’m sorry.  I just LOVE this mocha.”

That’s when it hit me: joy IS love. Anytime I enjoy something it necessary follows that I love it; otherwise it would be merely acceptable.  I love / enjoy the sunshine, my kids smiles, a nice hot shower, (obviously) good mochas…  It also occurs to me that the things I truly enjoy / love I also feel a deep reverence for.  To me, there is something divine in sunshine, smiling children, hot showers and yes, a really good mocha.

Do you suppose that joy, love and divinity are all the same thing?

What if every time we feel that moaning-good-mocha feeling we are actually sending up little prayers of gratitude and joy?  Mantras of of love and reverence that ripple out and cause distant flowers to bloom?

I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.

-Henry Ward Beecher

July 17, 2009   No Comments

I spy joy in teddy bears

Macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, warm chocolate chip cookies with a tall glass of milk, chicken noodle soup and teddy bears — these are some of the great comforters of our young lives. Many of which endure well into adulthood. (I’m 40 and most of these bring me that wrapped-in-a-blanket feeling to this day.)

This may be why Hough Elementary, where both my kids attend school, hosts a Teddy Bear Picnic once a year। Children are able to bring their bears (or any other stuffed animal, for that matter) to school, sit the cuddly critters next to them during class and bring them to the cafeteria for a lunch of deli sandwiches and teddy bear graham crackers. The kids love it. “It’s one of their favorite days of the year,” attests Candy Wallis, Hough Para-Professional, cross-walk attendant and joy-spreader extraordinaire.

Standing in the classrooms and seeing so many children proudly introducing their little bundles of comfort to their classmates brings a smile to even the most weary of parents, hustling through the morning hoping to get to work on time; not to mention what it does for the children.

But Hough is a school where 62% of the children are eligible for free or reduced lunches, and there are plenty of bearless arms. Enter Dave Lafayette (pictured here); parent, school volunteer and Senior VP of Language Fusion. Just after the tardy bell rings and children are settling into their seats, Dave is delivering a bag full of bears for those children who have come to school empty handed.

On the surface, having a teddy bear next to you during class and at lunch may not seem all that important. And certainly, there are kids who choose not to bring a furry friend to school even though they have many sitting on their beds and shelves at home. To some kids, however, this extra bit of comfort and cuddling goes a long, long way. The bears that are handed out to children without get to go home with them. Who knows how many hours and days and nights of comfort and joy they will provide? Even if it were only one, it would be enough.

January 25, 2009   No Comments

I spy joy in swinging

TonSwing_092008 lr

It’s been over a month now that I’ve been on this quest to spy joy and I’ve noticed a few things.

1) Joy is most easily and most often found in children.  Children are quick to run and laugh and play.  They do not hesitate to have a good time.  I used to think this was because they aren’t worn down by the pressures and stress we adults shoulder every day.  That’s not fully true.  Children have their own pressure and stress and although we can see missing recess for a day is a trifle, to them it’s monumental.  The difference is they let it go.  They sulk and pout for 20 or even 40 minutes, but then it’s gone and forgotten and they’ve found another game to play.  And children are transparent: feel joy, smile and laugh; feel sad, cry and pout. 

2) The visual effects of joy are fleeting.  The expression of it flashes in the glint of an eye, a lift of an eyebrow, a smile that washes over a face before dispersing into a pool of time that quickly becomes the past. If camera isn’t in hand and ready, the moment disappears uncaptured. 

3) Joy, while abundant as ever, goes unseen.  We’re at a point in time where we seem to be looking for misery.  We anticipate sorrow and pain and so we find it.  It’s not that there’s any more of it then before, it’s just that we’re choosing to focus on it. Think life isn’t good? Was your coffee warm and satisfying this morning when you took that first sip?  Did you enjoy a warm shower and the clean, fresh scent of soap today? Were you greeted with a smile and a hug from your child or spouse or friend or coworker? Did your electricity work this morning?  Was the commute to work happily uneventful because your car is reliable? Did you have food to nourish your body and music to soothe your soul? Clothes that are comfortable and warm? We are met with joy and wonder at every turn. If we just allow ourselves to see it we will realize life is a fabulous, marvelous, delicious gift.  Savor it. Breathe it into the depths of you and be thankful for every single second.  Joy lives.

September 27, 2008   No Comments