Rampaging Joy

I’m aware of puzzling dichotomy at work in my life lately.

I am angry almost ALL THE TIME these days. I’m angry at those elected to public office who haven’t a clue how constitutional government is supposed to work–nor, apparently do many of them they care. I’m angry at social media, destroying our privacy for profit while expecting us to believe they are building “online community.” I am angry at much of what passes for journalism, I’m angry that our dear old Mother Earth is in such peril. (Happy Mother’s Day, Earth…), I’m really angry at people who profess to value the family while doing everything possible to make the average family’s situation harder. So much to be angry about.

And yet, I’m also aware that I’ve never been personally happier. Every possible variety of pleasure  is mine in abundance. I have a toddler’s pleasure in the simple things–ice cream cones, flowers, and clean sheets. I have a grown-up’s pleasure in adult recreation, such as cantering around an arena on horseback just because I still can. I have an attorney’s pleasure in reasoned, informed debate, and a writer’s pleasure in making my living doing something challenging and meaningful that I love.

I hope it’s not a pleasure reserved to the elderly, but I am also wallowing in good books. Churchill’s biography, long-form journalism, social commentary, my keeper author’s new romance releases,  all those historical mysteries I mentioned last week… whatever I want.


I even take a certain delight how free I am to quarrel with our present realities. I’m not exhausted by single parenting, not weighed down by child welfare cases, not battling a major health issue such that all of my reserves are taken up with basic survival. How amazingly lucky I am to be at a point in life where I can acknowledge my emotions, experience them, and decide what (if anything) I want to do about them. This is a very great luxury, though it shouldn’t be.

In the world according to Grace, we all have the skills and mental freedom to acknowledge our feelings, however uncomfortable, confusing, or inconvenient they might be. I know that in real life, that’s not always the case, and much misery and mischief result.

So here I am, pulled toward gratitude and joy on the one hand, and pulled toward passionate indignation on the other. I don’t recall any other time in life–not adolescence, not new-mothering, not mid-life, when I’ve been at the both ends of such a spectrum simultaneously quite as thoroughly as I am now. The connecting thread is that I’ve arrived to a passionate phase, when I can delight in having sprinkles on my double-dip and be appalled at our plastic footprint. Both, fiercely.

I hope this makes for some great books, because I am surely having a grand, interesting time.

What–despite everything–is giving you particular pleasure these days? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of A Lady of True Distinction, which is available in print now, and goes on sale as an ebook on Tuesday. (Wheeee!)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

34 comments on “Rampaging Joy

  1. Having a little bit of time to myself makes me happy. A cup of coffee, a good book & quiet time with the corgi sisters makes my day.

    I feel the tension at work ( June = Layoffs), my daughters happiness vs stress as she graduates from law school and studies for the bar, and see my mothers decline.

    The next year holds a lot of changes for me. I am going to try to face them with a positive attitude & a smile.

    • Sue, seems to me your employer is chronically laying people off. Who can fail to be stressed by such an impending threat? As for the bar exam–she’ll nail it the first time. She’s YOUR daughter.

      The parent in decline is so difficult, in part because there’s no timetable. When potty-training a child, most of us know that by age five or so, the basics will be in place. With elders on the other end, the timeframe can be decades, and they are long, hard decades.

      Hugs to you, and great books!

  2. It’s funny you mentioned clean sheets, Grace, because that’s also one of my simple pleasures. During the depths of winter, flannel sheets……I bought one set for each bed in the house about ten years a ago and wondered why I hadn’t before! This year, I bought a second set for each bed and WOW, how happy it makes me. 🙂

    A cup of coffee with the (physical) newspaper most mornings makes my day as well as a good stretch right after the coffee. Doesn’t take much to bring me pleasure the older I get!

    P.S. Thank you for liking (& commenting) the piece about my Dad on Facebook–we’re pretty excited about it!

    • Bob Fosse was a big deal. Now we know who spurred him on to greatness.

      My sister gave me a set of flannel sheets. I gushed and cooed about them so, the next year she gave me a second set–and I’m still gushing and cooing!

  3. I find myself being more angry about things lately than ever before.Since I retired many years ago I still find I’m myself fighting in people’s corner over being treated unfairly unjustly or being ignored.We all have a right to be heard and listened to.I know we can’t always have things go the way we want.But to be talked down to or given a load of old rot because you are old makes my blood boil.People are surprised when I react on behalf of my self or others.It’s also worse if you are an old woman and just want someone to explain how to operate the new phone you have just purchased.Their reply being”it’s easy anyone can do it”.I am not brain dead yet I reply but I am not familiar with phone so a few moments of your time would be good.(under my breathe I am saying you Moran).On a happier note I do come across nice pleasant helpful people too.But I got to say they are not so common these days which is shame.

    • I have tons of complaints regarding Apple and its youth-centric corporate identity. I guess they figure if you get a customer to identify with your brand while they are young, you have them for life, but does that mean you design a store so older people can’t be comfortable there? Everywhere you sit in an Apple store is low–hard on the knees and hips–and hard. The background noise never ceases, meaning old ears can’t hear as well there. The salespeople all speak quickly, wear headsets that mean they are badly distracted, and as you say, Brenda, they have the customer service training of a delinquent warthog.

      I asked about mouse pads the last time I was dropping bank in an iStore and was told, “Nobody uses those any more.”

      So I guess that makes me….?
      It makes me done shopping at that iStore.

  4. Hi Grace,
    Oh so well said!
    May particular pleasures these days:
    1- even if is a bit bittersweet- is my trip to Scotland… just came back Fri afternoon. I am still a wee bit of jet lag still lingers! It was even prettier than 2017 if that is possible. 9 days in Edinburgh and Stirling only but I walked over 50 miles… my fitbit was so happy! I am just wondering the kinds of messages will send me now.
    I am planning trip number 3 already – a real walking/hiking trip now.
    2- the other thing that is really a blessing is a total change in my lifestyle – I decided to become really active and reinvent myself – become an outdoor person. Since Feb 1 I have lost 13 lbs, lowered my blood sugar to a non diabetic level, walked miles, started a fitness program. It’s really hard work. Specially because I was in terrible shape… for 2 years I could not sleep in my bed due to a horrible hip pain. Since exercising and being active the pain is gone! I would never be able to walk in Scotland like I did if it was not for that!
    3- While in Scotland I hiked Arthur Seat – it was a challenge for me but as I got to the top the joy was incredible… I cried like a baby!
    4- Books and good stories – I still have one of your books unread – waiting for a difficult day! You know I use your books as reward/difficult/rough days when I need to be really in a zone to relax and forget about life for a bit!

    • Kassia,
      I think either Scotland OR walking would be a great tonic. Both together? Magic!
      Good on ya for taking your lifestyle by the horns. I hope I am moving to place of similar clarity. Some people have said to me that when you are ready to make a change, it’s doable. Might be hard, might get tedious, but when it’s on your terms, and your timing, wonders can happen.
      Wishing you many more wonders!

  5. I finally believe that the snow has stopped falling this season. I enjoy having the windows open to hear the birds sing, smell the freshly mown grass and see the blossoming trees and flowers.

    • I saw last week’s forecast in ME, NH, and VT… also Scotland. Yikes!!!
      We’re starting to see lightning bugs in MD. Always a reason to rejoice.

  6. Interestingly enough, I am in the exact same position. My kids are now functioning adults, my job responsibilities are manageable, I am okay economically, my library is hugely extensive allowing me to choose a wonderful book to read every day for more than the rest of my life, and yet the news everyday makes me want to curl up in a fetal position and howl! I am grateful for the writers like you who continue to put out stories that make one believe in the possibility of long-term happiness and love.

    • Thanks, Margaret. I often comfort myself by looking at the international trends. The world is getting healthier, more literate, living longer, behaving more democratically, becoming more peaceful… there IS good news, but good news doesn’t create click-bait.

      And there’s bad news too. No ignoring that, so off to my writing chair I go, which I consider my means of lighting candles, because the light ALWAYS wins (eventually).

  7. Hi Grace,

    I own my personal emotional rainbow too… between Dra. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde there’s a full spectrum of light and thunders. But the thing that gives me joy is an approach to life that I have owned forever and it is facing my life as a canvas upon which I can always create anew something. That is -for example- changing how I see some particular aspect in my life I make a pole shift and so my whole life changes its axis. From this point onward my life has adquired a new horizon and I am eager to try this new vision. So, the point is: my life is not carved in stone.

  8. I have recently read Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism book. I am following the footprint laid out there, and am so much happier when not on social media or constantly checking emails and newspaper websites!!!!! Why did I not do this before??

    • Because social media and screens are designed by very smart people to be addictive, just like tobacco; and like tobacco, even those who knew it for an evil at the time didn’t admit to themselves just how indefensible it was as a product.

      For those who haven’t come across the term digital minimalism, here’s Newport’s definition:
      “Digital minimalism is a philosophy that helps you question what digital communication tools (and behaviors surrounding these tools) add the most value to your life. It is motivated by the belief that intentionally and aggressively clearing away low-value digital noise, and optimizing your use of the tools that really matter, can significantly improve your life.”
      Sort “Marie Kondo does screens.”

      More here: http://www.calnewport.com/books/digital-minimalism/

  9. I am trying to avoid reading much about politics, as there is so little objective commentary or reporting out there. I guess drama and partisanship sells.

    My son just gave me flowers, candy, a lovely card and a balloon, which makes me even happier. Even better, he planted me some flowers in the bed around the mailbox and in my two planters in front of the house. I am blessed in my family, in being employed and (almost) able to retire.

    • I am so happy for you. Planting flowers for you makes you and your son “Winners” in my book.
      Happy Mother’s Day!
      Elaine C

    • I have gone bananas with the yard flowers this year. I don’t know what the greater benefit is–the beautiful blooms, the exercise, or the Vitamin D. What’s not to love?

  10. Chocolate has always been a source of pleasure for me. Being able to drink wine and have chocolate? Even better! A different kind of pleasure is knowing that even though their lives are not perfect, my children have become fine young adults who are able to find their way in the world. Being able to spend the morning with my daughter and a large part of the afternoon on the phone with my son are just bonus and wonderful ways to spend Mother’s Day.

    This week my husband and I will be heading to Yosemite National Park with friends. I will take great pleasure in being able to read my ecopy of A Lady of True Distinction on the airplane!

    • Yosemite is something else. The air feels… energetic? Glad you are going someplace spectacular. Please say hello to Margaret and Thorne for me!

  11. I’m angry much as you are with our elected officials actively destroying our democracy.
    I’m happy I have the leisure to read about four books a week and take pleasure in them. Other than “Pride and Prejudice”, I had never read a romance until I retired.
    I love them, particularly historical romances.
    Happy Mother’s Day, Grace.

    • I recall being a voracious reader as a child, as a young adult. Always had my nose in a book. Then along came motherhood, lawyer-hood, homeowner-hood. What a distraction from all the lovely books!
      Now I keep multiple books going at once, and life is one big, (mostly) happy chapter.

    • I escape into them too, Jeanne. Some days I’m all riled about some piece of news, and think, “Grace, she who writes the books pays the bills. Open up the work in progress…” And I grumble and don’t-wanna and pout, but if I can just open the document, 15 minutes later I’m in Regency England… a much happier place to be.

  12. I have had to get off dairy recently and the only thing I miss is cheese. I have had to cut out even sheep and goat milk cheese, not just cow. So, of course I now crave pizza more or less daily. I am not a pizza traditionalist or purist and I found the most delicious pizza that is just as good when they hold the mozzarella and I have embraced it with gusto. Thai peanut sauce instead of tomato sauce, veggies, herbs, chicken and tons of red onions fill this pizza that I can not get enough of, I actually find myself wistfully thinking of it at random moments. For the remainder of the day you can’t get too close to others with dragon onion breath, but totally worth it.

    Add a good book to a pizza day and it is heaven.

    • I would seriously, seriously miss my dairy. I’m sorry this has befallen you, but applaud your search for the Cheese-less Wonder Pizza. That’s a win!
      And yes, add a good book to any day and it gets even better!

  13. Your words tickled my heart! My spirit is in tandem with yours. My thanks for expressing such an abundance of love and distractions in your novels! Pleasure here in North Carolina smells of coffee while I’m under snug covers, tastes of warm brownies, glows in the satisfaction of azaleas and dogwoods bursting in flowers after a quiet winter. Moments of beauty surround me.

    • Now I’m jonesing for a warm brownie… hmmm.
      And yes, NC is breathtakingly beautiful in spring. Unbelievably beautiful… Why people go to Florida when they can stop in NC bewilders me.

  14. I feel your pain, Grace. I can flare in anger at so much but when I’ve had my say, I’m done. It’s like feeling better after you’ve cried.
    Right now I’m thoroughly enjoying A Lady of True Distinction and chuckling at the confluence of news and fiction. All that “sniffing”. LOL
    I’m lucky to be in a seminar that encourages all of us to consider our choices and how they affect not just our lives but those of all we encounter. Sadly, this is my last (fourth) year and I will miss it – EfM (Education for Ministry).

    • Sounds like that seminar has become a sacred space, where you can expect both vast tolerance and to be challenged in a loving way. Once you’ve experienced that sort of community, it never entirely leaves you, and you can appleseed the love to other venues.
      Best of luck as you turn all the different sorts of pages.

  15. I am perpetually happy that after 57 years of marriage, I am madly in love with my husband, and he seems to be the same smart, nurturing, wise person he has always been. I am joyful that the social justice group I began in 2012 is still working together—older women between 55 and 81 fighting for gun regulations, against the admin’s position on climate change and against the person who is a Tenant in the White House. As a retired professor, I am sickened by the low level of intellectual history he knows, his utter snake oil purveyor persona and the people who enable him.

    Personal joy and cultural despair.

    • That demographic–women 55 and up–is the most reading-est demographic in the country. Libraries love us, and we love libraries. That you started a group to further your ideals is inspiring… might hafta think on that!

  16. Grace, of course I love all your stories about the various Dukes.Can’t get enough of them.
    You mention Churchill and it reminded me that i recently read a super good book called “That Churchill Woman’ It is fiction but could be true. His mother was a fascinating person. I am going to reread it when my friend returns it, Enjoy your France holiday.
    Best Wishes
    Betty Thompson
    Toledo Ohio