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What turns my crank? What makes me smile? Pieces of joy all around me. My azaleas blooming a second time. Finding the stock I was looking for, after 5 hours of searching. Hearing from my famly. Watching 2 furry tailed backyard creatures doing their mating dance…where he is chasing her, she flips her tail and leaps to another branch while he leaps to thin air. My cranberry relish turned out ok. The smell of a ripe cantaloupe. We have eyes to see with but do we really look? A thousand little joys far surpass one big joy for me.

I took a walk around my neighborhood yesterday and today, as I do most days. I take different routes each time and vary my stops–Passion House Coffee and Same Day restaurant one day, Buzz Cafe and Reno Restaurant another. I always love tucking into our beloved bookstore, City Lit Books, now reopened again! As a writer and voracious book buyer and reader, my bookstore stop is usually left to savor at the end of my neighborhood scan before returning home. Sitting inside the bookstore I forget myself and the Pandemic–it reduces stress. Across the street I find a bench in our little Monument Park. I watch children, adults, young and old passing through. There is quite a lot of happiness wafting from their bodies and their faces–they love the weather, the summer and the breeze–in spite of Covid and the Variant! The human capacity for joy is palpable. I often stop at our Dill Pickle Food Coop, just across from my apartment building before I head home. These moments are small in and of themselves, but as I walk down side streets lined with trees and apartments and houses, I hear birds, I see a small squirrel and I listen to the wind in the trees. After so much anxiety, panic and grief globally, nationally, locally and personally, I am especially attuned to letting go of it all to appreciate moments of complete presence–this joy is worth all the other things we have been coping with! Life is beautiful.

Turning a stressful situtation into a JOY: Reading something very insightful this week causing me to pause and become grateful for what I considered a pain in the patooty. I am finding joy that I am able to care for 7 rescues cats-and they are a great deal of work and severely limit my freedom to go and come as I please….but they also give me a purpose each day as my feet hit the floor and security in the fact that I will always have their purrs and humor around bringing me joy–oh yes, and also that I am able to do something “good” for what otherwise be neglected, abandoned kitties.

It is so important to find the joy within as we age. I’ll be 73 this fall and have spent the past few weeks on my back. I’ve had spinal issues since I turned 40. New to Maine, I got here just before the pandemic so I haven’t made many friends yet. The spinal issues have changed all my hobbies, hopefully for just a few weeks, til the next episode happens (said with some humor). Fully vaxed, I still mask up and will for quite some time. I’m beyond grateful to get out and about and hope to get back to that when my spinal pain resides. Until then, I am enjoying the moment as best as possible. How do y’all handle this?