Anatomy of a joyful day
Three places to find joy
Particularly as the season's tempo starts its relentless pa-rum-pum-pum-pums of to-dos and wish-I-coulds, I have to work hard to refocus every day on joyfulness.
That doesn't necessarily mean that it's always possible to succeed at being joyful. Just ask me how I feel when impersonating an octopus with ten eyes in the self-checkout line while trying to buy groceries and prevent my boys from shoplifting candy at the same time.
We're heading into a magical season of the year, where we all try to be the best versions of ourselves. Sometimes I need those "reason for the season" reminders to help me not honk at the lady who CANNOT PARK HER CAR, it’s a SMARTCAR, how can she be that bad at parking a tiny tiny car?!?!? But hey, I'm trying.
So, this year I'm breaking down some of the things I'm doing to try to maintain joy in my own life on our little urban farm - because if I can have one day punctuated with joy, then I can have two. If I can have two days, then I can have a week. All of a sudden, my hope is for an entire season of days where I found joy.
Although it seems like an obnoxious cliche, joy is a choice. That doesn't mean that you can always choose it - sometimes life just sucks, and there is nothing you can do about it - but it's worth trying to find those sparks of joy where you can.
It won't be perfect; no matter what you do, some people just won't be able to park, and the kids will still try to take all the candy when I'm not policing, but I hope to at least ring in the new year being able to say that I gave the last month of 2021 my best shot.
Look at a seed
Somewhere in your life there is a seed. I know this sounds dumb, but hear me out:
In your fridge, maybe there's a tomato (I hope you don't keep tomatoes in the fridge, they are supposed to be out, but I digress) or an onion, an apple, or a head of garlic. In your cupboard, maybe there's a bag of beans, or a can of peas, or a potato. On your coffee table, perhaps you're one of those types who keeps decorative pine cones around, or you're like me and haven't raked in years and just have a pile of them in the yard. Regardless, somewhere in your life, there's a seed. There are probably a lot of them if you think about it.
We are so surrounded with seeds every day it's easy to forget they're there. From the seed that pops out of your lemon wedge as you squeeze it into your iced tea (virgin or long island - I don't judge) to the pit of your avocado - we rarely give them a second thought.
This season, I'm taking a minute to really LOOK at seeds. If you think not just about the small object itself but also its potential, it's hard not to look on with awe. When you bite a banana in half, each of those tiny black specks COULD BE AN ENTIRE BANANA TREE. Not that they will - it's very hard to grow a banana tree, and you likely live in a place where that won't happen anyway, plus, you're eating them - but it COULD. That tiny seed in the middle of the apple COULD be an entire tree.
Potential life is ready to burst forth all around us with that perfect mix of water, temperature, sunlight, and soil. Our entire society and even our very existence is built on a platform of seeds. When you stare at that tiny seed and think about what it has the potential to be, the to-do list doesn't disappear, but it's a lot easier to keep in perspective.
Talk to a person from a different generation
For some reason, talking to either children or old people snaps me right back into reality. Both groups have similar communication styles but for opposite reasons. Kids often haven't learned to couch, parse, and beat around the bush, and many older people I know just don't have the time or patience to do so any longer. On either side, it's refreshingly authentic.
Children, or at least my children, haven't yet learned how to approach their ramblings with anything other than unvarnished bluntness. The other day my son told me that he loved my "squishy belly" because it was so soft - I declined to remind him that HE was the one who made it that way and could therefore go straight to hell. I was proud of my restraint in that case.
Yet, this afternoon, the same child who told me about my tummy came over and asked for his brother and me to join him on the front porch with hot cocoa. "I just want us all to sit and enjoy the sunshine," he said. My squishy belly laughed as we sat, and they sipped the cocoa while we chatted about nothing in particular. There's something about a four-year-old wanting to "enjoy the sunshine" that makes it extra shiny. You can't miss out on joy when a child so perfectly distills it.
This morning I received a message from a friend I hadn't talked to in a while. She's lovely, funny, a serious goat breeder, and is just starting to get up a bit in age. We discussed our breeding plans for the year and what we're hoping for in our spring kiddings (and I don't mean joking). At one point, we started talking about goat artificial insemination - which is a whole next level of goat breeding into which I have not yet waded.
She started to tell me about some "straws" (in which the purchased goat semen is delivered - I am not making this up) she bought that were so overpacked with sperm they all started to die off. At one point, she said these straws were so full with some massive multiple of millions of sperm that were shoehorned in "like sardines." I almost spit out my coffee at the visual. THEN SHE SENT ME A VIDEO OF THE MICROSCOPE SLIDE.
First off, I am very grateful for the education. At some point, should I want to continue to breed and show, AI (artificial insemination, not intelligence) would solve a lot of buck and transport problems. Second off, watching videos of goat sperm dying before noon really puts life into perspective.
Hang out with animals
My goats don't care who's mean on Twitter, or what the stock market is doing, or even what the latest revised jobs report says. They don't carry the anxiety of wondering if they're going to get everything done in time, if they're doing a good enough job, or what they need to do next. They just live in the moment.
Joy is contagious and happy, healthy animals are in an almost constant state of joy. If I take an animal cracker out to the goats in the pasture, it's THE BEST animal cracker in the world, and they have never had one that good. If we walk to the fence and race back to the shed, it's THE BEST run they have ever had.
Today I had an entire bag of expired corn tortillas that had to go. The ducks were pretty sure that it was actual Christmas. Based on the quacking and tail-feather waggling, expired tortillas must come straight from heaven. Existential crises get sucked up into the vacuum of pure beings, be they goat, duck, dog, or chicken, who are living a moment of pure joy. It's impossible not to smile.
Now, if we could just teach everyone how to park and stop my kids from trying to be little candy kleptos, we'll be set for the most joyous season yet.
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I try to do an Ask Me Anything to start off the month, and I’m collecting questions for December! Leave me a comment on this post or a question - ask me anything. Literally anything. I’m always game for some weird questions.
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LOVE YOU, mean it! I hope you’re happy and healthy and at least keeping it between the navigational beacons. YOU’RE THE BESSSTTTT.