So many of life’s decisions are money-driven: which college is most affordable for my graduate? … will the family be okay if something happens to me? … should I retire now, or wait a few years? … are those investments growing or will they be in the tank soon? Curbside, or in-store shopping?
It’s a luxury, really, to be able to ask these questions. Many of the families we affect through our writings are wondering how to heat the house, never mind investments or 401-K’s.
They are scrambling to keep the kids in school and deciding which creditors can be paid this month. Sure, some regrettable choices have landed them in a world of hurt, but aren’t we all one emotion shy of making the wrong choice?
Our resilient hearts are possibly the most valuable currency we have. One thing we can all bank on, for sure: we have the currency of caring.
These intangibles — these treasures of survival — are the currency that can never be stolen, lost or wrongly invested.
Let’s take a look at our impressive portfolio:
We have …
The bankroll of unexpected blessings.
The treasury of compassion.
The cache of childlike wonder.
The treasure chest of non-judgment.
The abundance of laughter.
The nest egg of Resilience.
The wealth of watchfulness; of caring for ourselves and each other.
The riches of simple joys, shared.
We have the coinage of humility; something we all should carry like extra quarters in our pockets if only to feed the meter of kindness.
Tending to life.
A brief little phrase that packs a wallop.
Can we all just take a moment for:
An elbow-bump, maybe even an air hug?
How about making soup for a shut in neighbor?
Taking a few minutes to shovel the sidewalk for someone else?
It just feels like Hope x 1,000 when I look around and see us tending to life.
As we continue being tossed and jostled by the turbulent waters of Covid-19 and a contentious election year, may we emerge smoothed and beautiful – like polished beach glass.
Kathy Joy is the author of the Breath of Joy Series and Will You Hold My Story, a child’s picture book, to be released in early 2021.
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While we are taking precautions against sickness and anger and injustice, looking out for the vulnerable, measuring our group outings and postponing trips, I believe cultivating joy has never been more critical than in this murkiness.
As human beings, we are naturally inclined to focus on bad news; therefore, germs of joy and laughter are the “super germs” we need in order to boost our immune systems.
Yes, it may be time to infect each other with love and fortifying stories.
How do we summon joy?
Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, it may alight upon you.”
Is joy also like the butterfly of happiness? If so, how do we infect one another with good, fortifying, stuff?
They tell me that volunteering in tandem with others is one pathway to the fortifications of joy. Why is this? Is it the teamwork? Is it the joy that comes from change or conversations or bringing results? I’ve experienced this joy when I’ve pushed myself passed my lethargy to schedule myself into something worthwhile.
We all know talented seamstresses with a superhuman tolerance for Zero Sleep who are churning out handmade masks – many of them are donated wherever there’s a need.
Others are delivering food and medicine to their elderly neighbors; gardening; cooking; spending time in nature.
Let’s be real – nurturing joy isn’t the same as ignoring reality. While nurturing joy, some emotions will cloud the process. There will be bumps in the road ahead. Feelings of fear, worry. And anxiety will threaten our well-being.
The future is unknowable, but we are known.
The future is unknowable, but we are known.
The future is unknowable, but we are known
We can start with that if you dare to believe it. I believe my Creator knows me better than I know myself. It helps me to trust the process and the outcome a little more.
We can recognize our own strengths from remembering our past. Bank on those. We can remember those who love and care for us. We are known.
Just in case you wondered … you are seen.
You are known.
You are valued.
Your smile is still felt; your presence still matters.
No mask can conceal a soul.
It’s a privilege to see you whether I find you in the office, on a walk, in a store, or whether I hear your muffled voice on the phone. It is a joy, an honor, to watch you, hear you, and know you even a little during this Season of the Mask.
Perhaps the most radical act of resistance in the face of adversity is to live joyfully.”
We care for ourselves and others by carrying the Virus of Joy into the workplace, the home, the marketplace. Hints of hope, colorful memories, practical teaching, and helpful compliments. These relational inspirations build up returns, like deposits for future interest on human bank accounts.
Let’s spread droplets of high regard to our fellow workers.
Let’s cross that six-foot chasm with an air hug of affirmation, a verbal Atta-girl or Atta-boy. Now – especially now – we don’t want to miss an opportunity to remind someone how much they matter, how what they do, matters.
Let’s light up so brightly that our eyes outdo our half-covered faces, that our radiance surpasses the mask and leaves happy dust on anyone who is sad or struggling.
In a world of extreme caution, and angry avenues, let’s practice radical acts of human connection.
We can outwit any fluish boundary and find a way into the soul.
With a word.
With a note, a phone call.
With a meaningful look, a listening heart, a watchful prayer.
Mask if you must, but laugh openly.
De-germ as you are told, but re-germ with shameless optimism.
Keep your body temperature within range, but heat up the place with fierce encouragement.
Play a game with someone across the table.
Mask if you must, but walk in the park while greeting others.
But above all, remain tethered to other souls. We need each other.
Joy germs gone rogue – they can rebuild our immune systems into powerhouses of Resilience.
Harvests are mostly gathered and stored for winter by now. Unbelievably, Thanksgiving will be here soon.
We will celebrate Abundance and gather in the fruits of our farming community’s labors.
Our tables will stagger under the weight of Plenty; traditions will keep us grounded during the niggling uncertainty that is Covid.
What gets lost in the thrill of costumes, bags of sweets, parties, then the whipping of Thanksgiving spuds and cranberry sauce, is the season of rest to follow.
“If we only see the harvest as a time to be grateful, we miss the opportunity to be grateful for rest, planting, and caring.”
I didn’t really want to mention it, but Winter is coming – this season of sleeping bears and soft flannel; an interval of climbing in and hunkering down.
Dormant crops will slumber beneath the frozen earth.
It’s a time for rest, a well-deserved respite for planters, reapers and gatherers.
Symbolically, we’re all in the business of planting, reaping and gathering.
Seems logical, then, that we should plan for rest, and lean into it like a comfy quilt.
But we don’t.
Rest, in our industrious, git ‘er done culture, is the Last Stop on a Fast Track.
In some ways, the year 2020 has forced many of us to rest from something, open our hands, wear some masks, separate from all the parties and associations of labor, and receive something very new. Some new growth. New perspective. New value. New understanding.
Rest is too often frowned upon, equated with “lazy”.
That’s just sad. I know a woman who never tells her mother that she has been reading for hours, or drawing, or quietly designing something. It would be frowned upon.
What’s worse is, we often feel guilty for getting some downtime when there’s so much yet to cross off the To-Do List.
People who own their own company rarely get to just shut down and go to the beach for a week. Others feel their vacation time must be spent with family when they would rather explore a mountain retreat alone. Is that kind of vacation commitment more productive?
Give yourself permission to relax. Schedule down-time and honor that impulse to shut all the calling needs out. As a colleague is fond of saying, “You’re not lazy – you’re spent!”
She’s right — we’re operating on 2 cylinders and still hoping to put more miles on before bedtime.
Today, writing a blog feels inadequate as I shift under the weight of yet another personal loss. In a short week, I found I had lost a dear family member and a co-worker whom I really liked.
“Words are like nets – we hope they’ll cover what we mean, but we know they can’t possibly hold that much joy, or grief, or wonder.”
Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart
I feel like any combination of words cannot capture the wistfulness of wanting everything to stay the same; for everyone to remain alive; for grief to pack its bags and visit somewhere not so close-to-home.
What a relief to know we don’t have to cast out our nets and fish for words to express how we feel.
There are other ways to reach out for meaning. Or to stay folded-in.
In difficult times, carry something beautiful in your heart.
Beautiful Things You Might Carry in Your Heart…
An anticipated event
A person you love
A landmark place where you discovered God
A rare and splendid moment
Let these treasures sustain you, carry you, ground you and tie all your loose ends to something real. Something of substance.
We know we must carry on even during a time of grief. How is that possible? Here is a quote I often turn to.
Just for Today
Just for today, keep it simple.
Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Look at your life
for all you have gained
rather than lost.
Look at your path for everything
you’ve gotten through, rather than
where you think you should be.
Celebrate rather than criticize.
Experience rather than expect.
Stand in the sunlight
Rather than the shadows.
Quietly honor your heart
rather than disown pieces of yourself.
Take a break from all that.
See how that goes.
Just for today.
Author, L.C. Lourie
Maybe today you need this. If not, I’ll not be offended.
The power of empathy is often felt deeply in silence.
A compliment is usually a short phrase or sentence.
A compliment isn’t usually an essay or character development based on your uncle Henry. It doesn’t take a PhD or a master’s degree to offer one up.
The art of giving and receiving compliments is often pushed to the margins as an afterthought in life and business – but today let’s take a moment to applaud the power of the warmly-delivered affirmation.
Recently my daughter told me, “Mom, I’m in a bubble of sadness”. That was enough to make me want to get in my car and drive the two hours so I could burst her bubble.
Instead, I reminded her of her own talent for making others laugh. She laughed, and I like to think she emerged from her little bubble in that moment onto a steadier footing.
A well-placed compliment, even a lowly one, can carry the day – and several days after that.
“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” – Mark Twain
>Gratitude grows and fills the gaps where doubt once flourished. >Giving a compliment is a meaningful way of being fully present. >Giving a compliment breathes hope into a difficult situation. >Saying something positive is a booster shot of confidence. >An honest and sincere compliment validates who we are.
While googling the difference between “complements” and “compliments”, I stumbled on an unconventional list compiled by a blogger named Mary. She is all about affirmations and “seeing ourselves more gently”. Here’s a sampling from Mary’s list, with a few of my own thrown into the mix:
15 Unique Compliments to Give Someone
1. You are as vibrant as a Lisa Frank angel kitty deluxe pen set. 2. I bet you were voted “Most Likely to Stay Fabulous” in high school. 3. Looking into your eyes is like looking into a kaleidoscope. 4. Your sense of childlike wonder brings others joy. 5. The world is so lucky that you exist right now. 6. You’re more fun than the corn pit at Port Farms. 7. Your ability to overcome adverse situations is inspiring. 8. If I had to choose between unicorns being real or keeping you in my life, I’d keep you. 9. You are cooler than The Fonz. 10. Your level of general awesomeness is getting a little out of control. 11. I’m consistently impressed by the dedication you give to your passions. 12. Your perspective is refreshing. 13. I’d rather do something boring with you than pop an unlimited supply of bubble wrap. 14. You’re so un-basic your pH level is almost zero. 15. Anyone’s coolness level increases by six percent just by being in the same room.
It is also a compliment to invite your best friends to your kid’s wedding when there isn’t a stay at home order in place. To give a nod to your favorite author in your next book is a valued compliment; to ask someone you highly respect to read and endorse your novel is a compliment you may have to pay for; It is a compliment to ask a good cook to bring whatever they’d like to cook to your family reunion because you trust their opinion and you’ve never tasted a bad thing from their table. My supervisor gave me a compliment when she said that she had sent my daily jabs for our company on to the division head over us.
The Art of Receiving
Equally important as delivering a compliment, is receiving one. Many of us tend to deny or deflect compliments others give us. This is nonsense. Honor the giver by lovingly receiving what is shared. Simply say “thank you.”
And move on.
Allow the expression of gratitude to propel you into even better workflows, improved habits, more genuine depths of living.
Taking a compliment is one form of extending grace. It may have taken a bit of courage for your colleague to say something meaningful to you; take it the way you would a donut or a funny meme – with absolute pure delight!
Wear your compliment like a badge of honor. A badge of honor is a complement to you.
When nothing seems to be going right, dig deep into your emotional pocket and pull out a past compliment that has helped define who you are today. I have a folded up piece of paper I carry around in my wallet with three words written on it: warm, professional, funny. When my confidence is fragile, I unfold that paper and read the words my program director wrote in an evaluation, a long time ago. It’s a treasured note that carries me through the doubtful times.
Compliments give hope. Don’t be stingy with them.
Compliments are not “empty praises” … they are life-givers.
Compliments are not casual statements; they are launching pads to creativity and intention.