Sparking Joy

Several years ago, I sat down to tackle “Mount Fold-a-Lot” while wasting braincells watching something on Netflix. Maria Kondo was all the rage at the time with her specific art of folding clothes, and her idealistic view of purging everything from one’s life that did not spark joy. After one episode, I was angry, defeated, and frustrated. I live in a world that is beyond over-cluttered, but most of the stuff isn’t mine. Sadly, I’m still responsible for it since no one that I cohabitate with appears to be capable, read that as WILLING, to deal with their personal belongings. There is literal stuff everywhere. There is so much stuff that I have given up caring for my own belongings since I will never have a proper place of peace, or organization in the world that I’m currently living in. I hate it. I hate every single minute of the chaos in which I reside. I honestly dream of a day when I rent a giant bin on the driveway, open a window and shovel shit out into it, then send it off to wherever those bins go when they are full. I dream of filling donation bins and having massive garage sales. I dream of passing stuff on as hand-me-downs, selling things in consignment shops, and watching other people celebrate their lucky finds.

None of that will happen though because no one in this house will ever part with stuff. Dare I send something on its way to another life, I promise you within three days, the original owner will demand its immediate presence in their life. I can’t win.

I have started asking myself what sparks joy in my life; not only in a material sense, but in a social, and emotional sense as well. What sparks joy in your life? What makes you light up and feel your existence so deep within you that you are truly feeling joy?

Is there a song that catches your ear, and holds onto your soul?

Is there a nibble of something delicious that comforts your mind while nourishing your body?

Is it the sensation of a hot bath with a soothing scent?

Do you crave candle glow filling a room rather than harsh lighting aggressing your eyes?

Who is your PERSON? The one you go to when celebrating solo isn’t enough, or when you need to borrow a smile, or a tear?

I’ve been searching for joy lately. It used to come wrapped up in my workout wear and lifting weights. I think it still does, but I paused for a week, and finding motivation to return is sometimes harder than finding matching socks.

Maybe joy is hidden at the bottom of my coffee mug? We meet each other every morning and watch the sun rise together. There is joy in the warmth, flavour, and beauty in those moments.

Is joy lurking in my daily work tornadoes? The connections, conversations, and camaraderie sure function well in taking the edge off of most days, but work is work and with all of the pleasantries, many. sparks of frustration, and failure fly alongside joy.

I have my PEOPLE who spark joy in my life. With people though, joy, stress, and frustration often tango and waltz around in my brain. People spark joy, but they spark complications, conflict, and disappointment.

Music provides the ambiance, and background noise to my life. There is so much joy in music until my heart, and soul entangle themselves around the lyrics creating connections to people, and experiences. At that point, music becomes a vehicle for memories, some wonderful and joyous, others too painful to recount. Expecting music to spark joy is always a gamble.

I find joy in nature. Stepping into the forest and walking until I feel satisfied, then returning from whence I came. I’ll walk just about anywhere if I’m able to. City scapes offer temptations to spend frivolously while the forest offers me solace and peace. Both have their merits. Both spark tremendous joy.

I find joy in giving. I am a caregiver, a nurturer, a cheerleader, and team player, and a support system rolled into a fun-sized human being. I give. I give tangibly, emotionally, and mentally. I will give until there is nothing left in me to give. I give because I can’t have if someone is without.

I’ve been told that I need to find joy in receiving, but I don’t know how to accomplish that. I am always a grateful receiver, but I, like many others feel awkward and guilty receiving gifts, or compliments.

Is joy sustainable? Pixar gave us “Inside Out,” the movie that had emotions battling for first rank in a young teen’s mind. Joy felt that everything needed to be happy in order to be valued, and worth becoming a “core memory.” Sadness trudged along like her sloth sidekick pointing out the melancholy in the brightest days. As memories turned from yellow to blue, Joy fought to keep the core memories happy. The obvious ending revealed that in order to feel joy, one must feel sadness at times. It’s like the Passenger song “Let Her Go;” there are paradoxes in everything we say, and do in life. We only look for happiness when we’re feeling sad. We only look for warmth when we feel cold.

The constant push and pull for emotional well-being is the mental tug of war that we face daily. A dear friend once told me that it’s important to live in the moment and not keep waiting for a brighter day, a better day, or a special time to do something important. She finds joy in places that I’d never imagine even looking in: proof that life is full of the most unexpected surprises and experiences.

Go forth; seek joy, let joy in, don’t fight your feelings, even the big feelings that sometimes take over and stomp out all the joy in your life…eventually, the sun comes out. Eventually the joy returns.

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