Finding Joy When Life is Stressful

Finding joy when life is stressful seems impossible. Yet these are the times joy is most needed.

How I Found My Joy

Inspiration for joy came to me in many different ways. All these ideas have one thing in common – taking action.

  • Connection with positive friends
  • Looking for beauty in nature
  • Noticing synchronicity in everyday occasions
  • Asking for help

Connection with Positive Friends

Although I’m a caregiver to my husband and elderly mother, I also choose to surround myself with positive friends. This is the primary way I find joy when life is stressful.

One example is a nearby cousin, Tom, whom I’d only seen at sad occasions during the last year. His brother and parents passed just before and during the pandemic.

Look for L. Anderson, my grandfather

Tom called me to ask a favor of helping him deliver his car to a mechanic shop located between our respective homes. He enjoys eating out and offered to take me to lunch in gratitude. Our conversations centered around sharing past adventures and our mutual interest in the family genealogy. We made a pact to discover the location of our great-grandfather’s home in the late 1800’s.  We spent a Saturday afternoon at the local county historical library, pouring over platte maps.

Looking for Beauty in Nature

During 2020’s restrictions, I discovered nature in my yard. It was wonderful to visit the many plants, some that I had installed specifically to attract butterflies and birds. In contrast, the declining health of my husband and mother pulled me farther out into the world of nature.

Although I walk every Saturday morning with a gardening friend in the gardens of Bok Tower, this week I twice answered the call of a wilder place. Last Sunday I went to a local state park and took my dog, Sugar. The pain in my arthritic knees reminded me that I have walking poles hidden under my husband’s hunting camo in the garage.

When I decided to head to Bok Tower’s wilder side, Pine Ridge Preserve, I dug out the poles, cleaned off the cobwebs and brought them with me. As I used the poles to steady my stance and distribute the force away from my knees, I thought, “Why have I ignored these tools hanging in the garage four years!”

Noticing Synchronicity

There have been so many instances of synchronicity, it’s hard to know which to share. Mostly, I’ve been drawn to reach out to like-minded people through my online groups.

One such person is Miggy Rodriguez, of Infinite FlowInfinite Flow. I’ve known her over a year, liked her Facebook comments both on our private groups and in our personal pages. Finally, I reached out and we had long telephone conversation. She asked me where I lived in Florida. Although she lives in North Carolina, her father lives right here, in the same small town I live in. And her sister literally lives off the same street as me. That’s extreme synchronicity.

You might wonder why that brings me joy. It’s rather simple really. For me, synchronicity is proof of a higher power guiding and helping me.. helping you.

Asking For Help

This has shown up in myriad ways. Not only have I asked friends for help navigating the complex medical world of my husband’s cancer, I’ve learned how to ask for help in small ways too.

Now is the time of oak leaf drop in Florida. I asked my landscaping person to help me by blowing the leaves on our circular drive into piles. When I checked on his regular lawn care tasks, I found him raking the leaves into piles. We worked together to get them into a garbage can.

When you ask for help, joy is doubled. Both people benefit in this giving and receiving exchange.

Final Thoughts

This coming week, consider finding joy when life is stressful. It’s a combination of a choice in your thoughts and taking positive action.

Smiling,
Dawn

Three Ways Values Affect Your Life

I have found three ways values affect your life; relationships, career, home environment. When these areas are in alignment with your personal values, happiness comes naturally.

Since we are each unique, you may find different areas of your life play a more prominent role in your happiness. These areas may change naturally over time.

Relationships

Personal relationships run the gamut of family, friends, lovers, spouses, like-minded people (your tribe), and co-workers. Have you found yourself observing personalities? Maybe you like those that exhibit your value system more than those that don’t. Actually, this seems intuitively obvious.

Do you get along with one parent more than the other? Perhaps it is because you share values with one parent and not the other.

Then why do we end up with partners that don’t last? There are undoubtedly many reasons. For me, however, my values played a key role.

Career

A long time ago, fifty years to be exact, I took the Air Force Career Test in high school. The results suggested your best careers. It was an extensive personality test. I remember my results clearly; attorney or psychologist were high on the list.

Psychologist was understandable to me as people tended to naturally open up to me. I listened, cared, and promptly forgot whatever they said.

Conversely, attorney, didn’t appeal to me at all. I understood the research might appeal, but even at age 16, I suspected dishonesty was part of their job.

What about your current career? Are you happy, discontent, or desperately looking for a change?

Home Environment

Although I’m using home environment, any environment can be substituted here; work, transportation, workout area, even the great outdoors.

Where do you feel most comfortable? Does dust drive you crazy? Is there comfort in having many cherished items on display? Rather, do you find simplicity more pleasing? These are some of the ways your values are reflected in your environment. If you have control in your home environment, you will choose what makes you happy, that is, comfortable.

Examples

My personal values are honesty, tranquility, and purpose. If you search online for personal values, these don’t usually come up. Rather a list of 10-25 values that are sometimes hard to even understand emerge.

Here is an interesting article that lists 25 values. One of my three is on it. While the questions they ask are good, don’t get distracted quite yet.

Back to my example. Here are three ways my values show up in everyday life:

  1. In fifty years of driving, I have never received a speeding ticket, because my value of Honesty helps me know what the speed limit is so I don’t exceed it.
  2. Tranquility surrounded me in a home as I prepared to move, with essential furniture, bare walls, and bare floors.
  3. Life gets pretty busy for me, yet I am committed to writing this blog weekly as it partially fulfills my value of Purpose by helping you take small steps toward a life of fulfillment.

Finding Your Personal Values

While researching this blog, the destiny of my purpose brought me an incredible, free resource to help you determine your own personal values. I took the evaluation and found it to be spot on. Furthermore, you can take it many times as your life evolves.

Life Values Inventory

I would love to hear your three ways values affect your life and how it evolves. Please comment below, send me an email or signup for my newsletter for a weekly opportunity to connect.

With honesty, tranquility, and purpose,
Dawn

Writing Morning Pages Opens Up Creativity

Today, I returned to writing morning pages. Finally, I picked up one of the spiral journals on my bookshelf, plucked a pen off my desk and wrote.

My first morning pages started over thirty years ago when I was introduced to The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It is one of the tools she uses to open up creativity.

What are Morning Pages?

The idea is very simple. Each morning, before you do anything else, take pen in hand and write on paper. The standard for how much to write is three pages or thirty minutes. The only requirement is physical writing.

At first, you might not know what to write. That’s okay. If you’re stuck, write “I don’t know what to write. This is stupid.” Continue writing these two sentences. As if by magic, your words change to release whatever needs to come out. Maybe the emotions release. Perhaps, a new idea may emerge.

There is no wrong way to do morning pages. Furthermore, don’t worry about syntax, punctuation or spelling. Above all, just write.

How Might This Work?

The physical task of moving the hand allows the brain to slowly unwind. It seems like expressing your thoughts on paper is basic therapy. Moreover, it doesn’t hurt you or anyone else.

Morning pages are private. They are not shared. When you’ve filled up your first notebook or journal you choose what you do with it.

    • Store it
    • Burn it
    • Shred it
    • Physically tear it up

Start Today

Why not give writing morning pages a try? Do you have an empty notebook lying around the house? Any writing instrument will do; pen, pencil, marker. Start writing morning pages and watch your creativity soar.

For me, today’s morning pages made me feel so much calmer, I didn’t stress over publishing this page much later than usual. Ahhhh.

Helpful Resources

As I composed this article, I remembered the scores of young people who were not given the joy of learning cursive writing in school. If you want to learn how to master this creative style of writing, here are a few of the many helpful sources online. Most noteworthy, the first link is full of more resources at the end of the article.

On a personal note, thank you, kind reader, Donna M., for emailing me the link in the last item above. The world needs more teachers like you.

Have an enjoyable, safe Labor Day weekend, enjoying the vestiges of summer and looking forward to fall.

Warmly,
Dawn