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I spy joy in graffiti

Inspiring graffiti on a warehouse in Pa'ia on Maui

I’m used to seeing graffiti. I think it enters my line of sight more than I realize because I’ve desensitized myself to the often barely legible writing spray painted on buildings.

This bit of graffiti, however, flew out at me. It’s not in a typical graffiti font. It’s not a gang marking. I even hesitate to call it graffiti. The single word: INSPIRE instantly lifts my spirit. It is, in fact, inspiring.

I can feel the word imprint on my forehead, sinking in like blue water on a sponge. And I feel a great joy and delight in not only my experience of seeing it, but also what I imagine the person writing it must have been feeling at the time; the message he or she wanted to share with the world.

I am inspired to inspire others. And so it ripples out, beyond Pa’ia, beyond Maui, beyond me to you.

February 25, 2012   No Comments

I spy joy in a conversation about beauty

I saw this video today and it made me smile. Thinking about what is beautiful, hearing about how and where others see beauty, is a joyful thing.

Thank you Adam Harbottle for creating this video.

Beauty from Adam Harbottle on Vimeo.

January 4, 2012   No Comments

I spy joy in Portland, Oregon

In late March of 2011 the Wall Street Journal released a study finding Portland, Oregon, to be the the 2nd most miserable city in the U.S.

I have found much evidence to the contrary. In fact, looking at photos I’ve taken in recent years for ISpyJoy.com and LicensePlateWisdom.com as well as images of the joy-spreading work of The Joy Team, it seems the Portland-Vancouver metro area is overflowing with joy, love and wisdom.

This video is a just a sampling of those images–all taken in the Portland / Vancouver metro area.

City of Roses, you are also the City of Joy, Love and Wisdom.

June 8, 2011   3 Comments

I spy joy in a sign

God Loves You!

I have no religion.  I don’t attend church.

I consider myself to be a very spiritual person.

I don’t believe in hell.  Never have. I can’t even begin to fathom a God that would put anyone in such a place. It just doesn’t make sense.  I mean, I would never put my children in anything even close to hell.  My children have my absolute and total unconditional love.  Absolute. There is nothing–nothing–my kids could ever do to change that.  No matter what they do I want the very best for them. I want the best and highest of love and joy for them.

If I love my children like that, wouldn’t God?

So when I–a woman without religion– saw this man holding this sign, something clicked in me.

This man is wearing a nice, clean jacket; with a nice, clean, shaved face and cut hair.  Which is only to say, I can tell he’s not using this sign as a means to make money (like so many others on freeway ramps).  He needs nothing from me or anyone else who happened to be driving off the Mill Plain exit on I-205 in Vancouver, Washington. He’s just sharing a message. Of love.  And joy.

God loves you.

God loves you. Allah loves you. Buddha loves you. The Universe loves you.

You are loved and adored beyond belief. Beyond condition.


April 21, 2011   2 Comments

I spy joy in murals

Mural on Williams

Driving north on Williams in Northeast Portland for the first time in possibly a year, I was amazed to see this bold, albeit unfinished, mural on a residential building. An automatic “wow” escaped my lips. And then another, louder “wow” followed when I saw the other side was completely covered in art, as well.  I quickly looked for a place to pull over.

That’s when I met Kyle.

Kyle Simmons: curator, artist, student

Kyle kindly came down from his ladder, interrupting his artwork, to greet me.  I learned that the people who own the building commissioned this informal group of six artists to cover the exterior walls in beauty. Each allowed the freedom of his or her own style, you can see where one artist’s work ends and another’s begins.

Kyle has covered his section of the wall a couple times.  Just learning he’s been accepted to study art history in Italy (“wow” number 3), Kyle is adorning the building with a victory dragon.

They’re hoping to put the finishing touches on with the next dry spell (a bit hard to paint in the rain). Finished or not, it makes me smile to see life and color and art on a house.

There’s talk of formalizing the group into a non-profit with the mission of beautifying our streets with art.

Definitely something to be joyful about.

April 14, 2011   7 Comments

I spy joy in the I Love You Mom rap

My 7-year-old daughter came downstairs tonight and said, “Mom, I made something for you.” Then preformed this short but amazingly fabulous rap song. I just about fell out of my chair.

Way better than a Hallmark card could ever be. And it’s captured on my phone, so I can watch it anywhere, anytime. I’ve already watched it half a dozen times in the space of an hour.

I spy joy. I spy love. I spy one lucky momma!

March 14, 2011   No Comments

I spy joy in optimism

Being green...

After keeping a magazine ad version of this on my refrigerator for months, I finally looked up the website for The Foundation for a Better Life. In addition to putting up billboards and magazine ads, they also put out commercials.

I found one that really speaks to me and my journey for a joyous life. It’s on optimism, and it’s awesome.  Watch it here.


February 27, 2011   No Comments

I spy joy in LOVE

Images of Love (photos by Michele M. Larsen)

Joy, love.  Love, joy.  I honestly don’t know if you can have one without the other.

In honor of St. Valentine, here is a little collage of images around the area expressing love.

Happy LOVE day.

February 14, 2011   No Comments

I spy joy in Taryn’s 2011 Vision Board

Taryn's vision for 2011

Mom and I have a tradition of creating vision boards each year on New Year’s Day. It’s one of my favorite traditions, and one I stick to closer than a turkey meal on Thanksgiving.

Last year the kids joined in. This year my son was out following his passion riding motorcycles–an equally fitting way to begin anew.  Taryn was home and picked up the biggest board she could find, which was 3 to 4 times bigger than the boards mom and I were busily pasting together.  She grabbed the jar of markers and quietly began creating her BIG vision for 2011.

After some time I walked by and saw this joyful, loving and empowering vision. And I nearly fell over into a pool of warm, fuzzy happiness.

All on her own, without any encouragement or prodding from me or anyone else, my daughter filled her board with thoughts of love, appreciation and joy. She’s 7. I find that to be pretty incredible. Down right awesome even.  Or auesome or asoum, in Taryn-ese.

My cup runneth over.

January 15, 2011   No Comments

I spy joy in an angel at WinCo

WinCo Angel

It’s Halloween.  This brings my children great joy; for no other reason than they get to go door-to-door collecting bags full of candy. Then I have the joy of trying to control how much they eat, attempting to find that fine balance between allowing a little extra indulgence and creating sugar monsters that put Frankenstein and Godzilla to shame.

It just so happens that I needed to do some grocery shopping today before the Halloween festivities begin. I came across an angel stocking chocolate chips and immediately felt joyful. Turns out this heavenly creature works at WinCo, and is one of a handful of employees that came to work in costume today.

How wonderful! And not just because she was in costume, but because she was in an angel costume.

Angels are symbols of love, acceptance, protection, caring, assistance and joy. How fitting that the women stocking groceries–the very food we feed our families–be an angel.

Truth be told, she really is an angel. Today and everyday.

October 31, 2010   No Comments