March 24, 2014 by Julia
Hey guys. Sooo…this is my 100th post. No big deal. I mean, I already had a one-year- blogging anniversary last September, and if I start turning every milestone into a huge celebration then we’ll all get a little bored and eye-roll-y.
If I wasn’t so keen on humiliating myself every two seconds, I would not mention that I’ve been obsessively compiling 100 “things” for an official “100th Post!” I would not explain that these “things” started out well enough, and included such useful tips as my favorite parenting tools and ways to cultivate joy, but then when I still needed approximately 80 more things to get to 100, I started to throw in everything – top five favorite wild animals, favorite scents, travel photos I’ve taken of beautiful places, memes that have made me laugh, favorite words, things I am bad at and good at, throw in some pics of the kids – and you might assume I was joking, but I would not be. I AM keen on public humiliation, so there it is. But I’ll spare you the actual smorgasbord badly in need of a unifying theme, which topped out at more than 2,000 words. Unhinged! I am.
Instead, I will bring to the table a normal-sized portion of insight and glittering wisdom, which is probably more appetizing than a Golden Corral-type buffet. I’ll even throw in one photo of Stonehenge as a garnish!
Deep breath. Clean slate.
I did enjoy writing about cultivating joy, earlier, but before sharing that with you, I must confess something. Often when I start writing about how to be good at something, I start to get really bad at it in my life. Last week I had several meltdowns, in part because of a sleep deficit, in part because I just wasn’t coping very well with normal setbacks.
So I offer these with the obvious disclaimer that I have in no way mastered the art of bringing joy into daily life. But I have struggled with depression, discouragement, stress and self-acceptance, so you could say I have some experience in overcoming these things to live a good life. Which I know that I have, in part because I am lucky so far, and in part because of my attitude and actions.
What I presently know about cultivating joy:
- I make sure the motivations behind my actions are sound. For example: why am I organizing the laundry room shelves for the first time since we moved to this house? Is it because I am ashamed, and fear that friends might see the mess? No. It’s because I feel better and more on top of my life when I know where I can find stuff that we need. Also, I can actually do more crafts with the kids if there is a designated spot for supplies. Those motivations are more likely to inspire joy in the results than motivation that is shame or fear-based.
- I try to embrace the things I am naturally drawn to, and accept my own taste whether it’s on trend or not. This goes for fashion, design, music, arts, and so on. Personal taste is one of the many great things about being human.
- I make time to be alone, and to be with friends, and to be with family. I pay attention to when one of these needs is running on empty, and I try to give it more quality time.
- I am learning to let go of my constant need to finish things, because it is impossible to see things all the way through every time (especially when young children are in the mix). Progress counts for something. A halfway finished project is more valuable than one that hasn’t been started, and a self-pat on the back for that is okay.
- I don’t search for constant happiness. I try to accept the full range of human experience, with the knowledge that if one of these feelings was amputated from my life, I would miss it in some way.
- Never underestimate the power of sleep. I know some people love to get tons of sleep, but this is a tough one for me. I often go to bed exhausted at midnight, having no idea if my children will be up at 5:00 am or 7:30. It’s just that there is so much I want to do, and it’s so much easier to do it after the kids have gone to bed. But if I get enough sleep, I notice a huge difference in my well-being the next day. Sleep heals the body and mind.
- I remind myself that just about every aspect of my life has been chosen, and I have the power to change most of the things that don’t work for me. If I can’t change something, I can find ways to make it bearable or even enjoyable. I am lucky to have such power to change my circumstances, though, and I should fight to make sure others in the world can attain it.
- I do my best not to procrastinate about or dread work, especially if it qualifies as decent, good work. It’s really not so bad, and joy is on the other side.
- I feed my soul whenever possible with quality experiences. Quality experiences: going with my husband to see Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos performed live. Taking the kids to a garden. Reading books with actual pages.
- I make sure to get some fun or rest every day.
11. I do little things to turn every day events into “moments.” Burn a candle, play music, make coffee, call a neighborhood walk with the kids “an adventure.” These small actions do so much to enhance our experiences
12. I remind myself to sit down and be present with my family, sometimes – whether that means playing with the kids, focusing on Fiona’s homework with her, watching a kid show and snuggling on the couch with the kids for ten minutes, or actually sharing with my husband how I am really doing, not just the laundry list of the day’s events. What’s the point of all the household work if we can’t take a moment to enjoy our families?
13. I allow myself to be delighted by people and things, sometimes even in the middle of chaos. It’s like a little pocket of oxygen to get you through as you float upward through the swirling debris to the air.
Thanks for reading, guys. And if you’ve made it through all 100 posts, double-thanks!
Now off to go make a list of my top five kinds of herbal tea…a great 101st post, don’t you think?