The Joys Have It

I normally end my day with a journal entry, all about my illustrious doin’s, how many steps I got in, what books I worked on. Not exactly late breaking news, but the process of reviewing and documenting the day helps me say good job and goodnight. I also list at least five things about that day that I’m grateful for.

That’s a good exercise for hitting re-set on my gratitude-o-meter, but I’m also aware that I’m tired of this danged pandemic. I’m tired of politics, financial upheaval, the publishing industry shooting around the room like a deflating balloon, and Not Being Allowed to Go to Scotland (I’m really tired of that).

So I’ve added another exercise to my sign-off routine. I ask myself: What did I enjoy today? It’s easy to know what upset me–my ignorant neighbor, Amazon’s “quality” dashboard, social media trolls, my sore thumb–and negativity has an insidious stickiness that makes dwelling on that stuff too easy. So I’ve been focusing instead  on all the little joys, and they are myriad.

I have a cat named Oscar, a young male, all black. He is soooooo soft, softer than mink. He’s a shy guy, but he likes to be petted, and I have delighted in our growing friendship. I cannot touch his fur and be tense. He’s that soft and sweet.

The sunlight this time of year is to me the most beautiful of all seasons. There’s something especially clear and lovely about mid-autumn sunlight, and it makes me think of my mother, who associated that light with “the night before the first frost.”

Then there’s my daily cup of jasmine green tea–one cup only, though I could swill this stuff by the gallon–and how it never fails to taste special. I have to watch my caffeine consumption, but I would sorely miss this little indulgence if I had to give it up.

Another joy is the big, red dinner plate dahlias growing by my driveway. They are bold, bright, and coming on strong when all the other flowers are going peaked and wan on me. I want to be like those dahlias, a late season bloomer who doesn’t know when to fade into elderly obscurity.

I delight in my flannel sheets. My sister gave them to me and I can’t wait for the nights to cool off enough so I can bust ’em out and get snuggly. I’m still riding the horse only once a week, but the time I spend with old Santiago is peaceful and dear. I get off him with a sense of, “We still got it, dude!” when all we do is walk, trot, and canter (both directions!).

Mondays are my pizza day, when I let myself start the week with a pizza slathered in black olives and extra cheese. It’s my one occasion of carby-cheesy bliss each week, and it never fails to restore a sense of abundant pleasure. This is all it takes for me to look forward to Mondays. Wish I’d figured this out decades ago.

My days are full of joy and pleasure, but it’s easy to lose sight of my riches. The big, bad frustrating world is still there, and it’s still my responsibility to do what I can do battle the darkness and overcome the forces of eeee-vil, but I will be a more effective warrior if I also remember and delight in my joys.

What is delighting you these days? To three commenters, I’ll send a $25 Amazon gift card.



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25 comments on “The Joys Have It

  1. This blog post delighted me, especially the reminder of negativity being insidious, and the list of all the lovely things you’re grateful for (GREAT idea on the pizza, BTW). My dog, Penny, a little old poodle with a gray muzzle, delights me with her inner light, her capacity for joy and her little snore when she naps. The mid-autumn light delights me — I love your mom’s recognition that it was the light before the first frost. I feel you on Not Going to Scotland. I feel the same about not visiting family in Italy. We’ll go again someday and it will be all the better because we’ve built up our anticipation. 🙂 Always glad when you post! I’m looking forward to your next book.

  2. I start my days with thanksgiving. By the end of the day I fall asleep so fast I hardly have time for a goodnight prayer.

    I’m grateful for so many things. Most of all a loving family who care for me as best they can in these trying times. I too have a sweet little kitty who is the perfect pet and companion for this time in my life. She is very vocal and talks to me all day long. I don’t always know what she is saying, but then she probably doesn’t know what I am saying either. We enjoy each others company.

    Autumn has always been one of my favorite seasons. I know what you mean by the Autumn light. I will get out even less now that the air has such a chill, but I can still see my birds through the windows. The Hummingbirds have left, but the Cardinals have found a home in one of the trees in my backyard.

    I’m grateful for my books, many of which are ones you created. They take me on trips away from this little house that I love so much. It’s good to get out sometimes.

  3. My daughter phoned me a few days ago to ask if I would travel to a town some sixty miles away with my grandson who had to attend at a clinic for a health test before he could work For South Eastern railways.The route required three changes of trains and my grandson was worried he would arrive to late.In my previous jobs I had to travel a lot on courses,training and meetings
    So off we went,trains were on time,connections went well his medical went well.We had the rest of the day in Maidstone.A very busy town ,plenty of shops and pleasant views of the river Medway running through the town.My eldest grandson is a calm kind young man but sometimes the unknown worries him.We had a lovely day and had a fine lunch,he wanted to go back to a shop we had been to earlier so “I said I would stay here and have a hot chocolate”.Which I did.I had the marshmallows cream all so lovely.A great and for me a special bond day with my grandson.Time well spent and hot choc to round off the day.Perfect.Keep safe and calm some are losing the plot around us which helps no-one it’s gonna be a long haul.Your next book is next month and this will soon be here.This will be a”something to look forward to”” .Bye for now.

  4. My kids have gathered with us for my Birthday Weekend. We’ve been gathering once a month since May, and since the one kid who lives in the Big City works from home and has minimal contact with others, it’s safe.

    But anyway, I was going to give a little recitation tonight about what we all need to do to feel good in These Times. Flannel sheets and I just bought new, fluffy mattress pads, along with making sure your bedroom is dusted, for a cuddly and restful night’s sleep. Having one meal a week just ’cause (like your black olive pizza)and that may mean the same thing or the same day a week to make Granny’s chicken oriental casserole or pot roast or a meal that has *comfort food* written all over it. Warm socks or a well-worn sweatshirt or something to make you feel loved and warm on stressful days. We need to take care of ourselves during These Times and if that means subtle pampering, then we have to do it for our mental health.

    Lots of things delight me and I am reminded of how much the Little Things do. They are helping me get through our Difficult Times. Having just celebrated a significant birthday on Thursday, I decided my gift to my family would be some wisdom about those things we take for granted and maybe feel guilty about needing and wanting…..having a Pot Roast (even if you’ve declared yourself vegan to those around you)by yourself is okay if it helps you get through an awful week! 🙂

  5. In the midst of this miserable pandemic that is impacting our lives today, I am beyond grateful that I am quarantined with my amazing, accepting, funny, and kind husband of 42+ years. I can’t imagine couples who are not as simpatico as we are enduring (seemingly) endless time alone together. When I feel like I simply can’t stand another minute bored out of my skull, he is there to make me laugh, to drag me out of the house to walk around our neighborhood (masks on!), or to play a silly game. I have always appreciated what a gem I was lucky enough to find, (I am fond of saying that he is a better man than I deserve!), but these days when circumstances push me over the edge into either depression or sniping, he always offers a smile and a hand to pull me back from the cliff. Could life be better? Of course. I will some day again be able to hug my kids and my grandkids. We will hopefully emerge from this awful experience unscathed as a family. Meanwhile, I delight in my amazing husband each and every day.

  6. I have a cup or 2 of Trader Joe’s Well Rested tea At night before I turn in. The tea is soothing, caffeine free and warm. It’s a peaceful time as everyone is sleeping. Just me and Rose- patting a dog is a definite stress reliever.

    I am grateful for My dogs- Rose, Greg and Laci. Rose turned 14 this past week. She had a few bad days and has perked back up. I admire her desire to walk every day and to spend the day WFH with me. She’s still independent for an older girl. Greg is sweet and Laci is full of energy. They delight me in different ways.

    Friendships are important. I walk with my friend several several times a week; to the beach, & around the neighborhood. We talk about everything and nothing during our 7000-8000 step walk. I text with my sister every day. We exchange recipes and dog stories. Connections are important.

    My mums ( russet this year) and pumpkins dress up my front door and make me smile. The leaves are so beautiful- yellow red and brown.

    Reading is key during this season of politics. I am reading Christmas books now and a mystery book set in the 1930s. And movies…anything to avoid the social media mess and tv news. We’ve watched a few classic movies and found a few classic tv shows that we enjoy.

    I look forward to your blog. It’s a great way to start the week and I will make a big effort to jot down the everything that makes me smile this week.

  7. The list is lengthy!
    Light! My neighbor is climbing the ladder I can’t & changing the builders’ dim flicker 60w fluorescents for bright, clear LED lights. Phasing them in for budget reasons, but it’s a whole new house.

    Enough! Clothes, soap, food…in these days of tight times, I’ve managed the miraculous on a limited budget, including the greatly prized loo rolls. Yes, I’ll make it to the end of the month.

    Shelter & transport- after long slog, loans are paid & these things are mine, free & clear. There’s a relief in hard times in owning things outright & no longer being at the mercy of faceless international monoliths.

    Medical care – I’ve got a team of excellent healers who give discounts for cash & are conservative in their recommendations. Yes, I’m facing a root canal, but they don’t care I’m uninsured. I’ll get excellent care & they know I’m good for regular payments which I can now clear faster without a mortgage hanging over my head. Isn’t it wonderful to live in a place that has excellent medical care available when you need it?

    Books & internet- there’s so much to learn & enjoy! I got to make a video call to someone in Europe yesterday & we are both old enough to remember tissue paper airmail & international calls that had to be booked in advance using live operators & cost a week’s food money. There’s a stack of books coming in the mail from used bookstores that support charities & I have 3 boxes full waiting to take in to mine after I’m cleared to risk contact again. Plus my limited quota of electronic offerings from my library. Thank God for all the indie authors who can lower their prices to take up the slack after traditional publishers got greedy & priced their authors beyond the reach of rural counties. I discover new authors daily now the “best seller list” contingent are too expensive for our library to lease more than a single copy, if at all.

    I have enough & life is good. The hurricanes missed me, our woods aren’t on fire, the utilities all deliver reliably, & it’s finally cooling down to where I can open the windows when it’s not raining. Blessings abound!

  8. Reading on my tablet, enjoying a nice cup of hot tea ☕, and chatting with friends are my delightful activities right now
    Oscar is precious, by the way

  9. Aw, I love your list. I suppose it isn’t the same but could you drink decaffeinated tea?

    Hmmm. First the negative list. My brother had surgery and may still be in a wheelchair even after the surgery. My brother-in-law is having a heart procedure next week. My husband is talking about going back to work even though he is in a high-risk group. One of my cats also got outside and hasn’t shown back up in three days. I have posted about her on our neighborhood lost and found page, and am calling for her regularly.

    After a few weeks of lots of grindingly long hours that felt like running into a brick wall head-first multiple times, it was topped off by the oven door no longer closing, the sink not draining and the garbage disposal stopped working and is leaking.

    So. On the other side of the scale – my brother came through surgery ok, and I hope his quality of life will improve. We are all still here, which is always my most grateful thought. This wretched pandemic must end eventually, but perhaps not until we have a working vaccine without terrific side effects and can get most people vaccinated. I am planning on retiring next year and will miss the feeling of accomplishment even if I don’t miss the hard grind that comes before it. I added Grammarly this week and am astonished at how many errors I have been making. I am blessed beyond measure in so many ways.

    Good wishes for better times ahead for all.

    Life is good overall. I am still employed so please give the gift card to someone else.

    • Hugs & see if there’s hydrotherapy in a heated pool available somewhere. It’s amazing how much faster & farther therapy goes in water when there’s no fall risk & the muscles are relaxed. They’ll have a wheelchair lift if it’s available, so comparatively easy in & out.

      Best of luck finding fur baby.

      • Yes to the hydrotherapy!
        Seven years ago my leg was shattered down thru the ankle. The doc recommended deep water aquasize, and twice a week of that gave me a fully healed & flexible ankle, instead of a fused one. Now I happily walk long kms and forget about the steel bar & screws in my lower leg until it hits minus 20 & the metal gets cold!

  10. The fall weather after a long, hot summer. My two year old nieces who are growing so quickly. Good books and the time to enjoy them. Finally baking and fall comfort foods.

  11. I took a day off of work, the first true vacation day since Covid started back in March, and the ability to just decompress was AWESOME. I am trying to do less these days, and that is becoming a blessing

  12. Delight… Memories of the Northern Lights, the sunlight through the stained glass at Chartres Cathedral, the Hallelujah Chorus

    Breathing, really breathing. It’s only happened a few times I remember, but, oh, the euphoria.

    Children. Sliding sock-foot on our hardwood floors, discovering we have a complete set of TinTin, Asterix and a box of Archie Double Digests. Rejoicing together when the penny drops on something like place value.

    Being loved.

  13. Arbor Teas has a lovely collection of decaf organic loose leaf teas. Delicious. Menopause has me in the little to no caffeine camp (unless I want to hot flash enough to steam curl my hair). The teas go quite well with cats and comfort reads!

  14. I get your frustration at not getting to Scotland as a Scot/Canadian I usually spend a good five weeks back ‘home’. I delight in the communication from my siblings over there and that my brother eventually made it back from Saudi having been stuck over there for 10 months. I love the fall colours here in Canada and enjoy the escape into the world of True Gentleman. HEA’s are so much more fun than listening to whatever morally bankrupt individuals are spouting.

  15. The cooler weather (with most days staying in the 80s) has been wonderful! A side benefit is that the ‘second spring’ wildflowers are blooming in addition to other plants greening up. We were able to get together with our daughter and my husband’s parents in a physically distanced manner this weekend – they haven’t seen her since early June. Even better, there was very little political conversation so no spirited discussions. I am very happy that a few of my summer tomatoe plants are still producing fruit. They aren’t a prolific as they had been, but we still have some tasty homegrown tomatoes. The fact that my husband and I not only love each other, but also like each other. Being home together has not been a horrible hardship as it is for some couples and families. There are many other things to take joy in, but I’ll stop with the fact that there are many authors who are still writing and publishing excellent books for people like me to read.

  16. I finished my home office! I am truly delighted with the room. It’s in the room that would most commonly be considered the front parlor with lots of natural light where my two cats sleep for hours in the sunbeams. I’m not sure they are delighted to have me in their space. The room is decorated in an overstatement of silk flowers in pinks, mauves, and deep red/maroon, and right now I can still see my roses blooming outside the window. Hopefully this will make an impressive background for all those virtual meetings I’ll be hosting and attending through year-end. I have a century old piano (out of tune) in that room and my father’s old violin, plus two side chairs that were passed down from my husband’s grandparents that give me a sense of nostalgia for days gone by. I love those things that speak to the past. The room is everything peaceful and happy to help me get through the coming months as I will be working from home.

  17. I love your post because it is filled with positivity which I do need right now. Things can so easily get me down in this world of politics, the pandemic, people rioting & tearing down our history… We are being forced to isolate because of Covid at a time when we need to be pulling together.
    So thank you for reminding me to look for the good!

  18. .. birds of a feather…
    Long walks in our brief Canadian autumn, down the river valley & up ravines, always make me feel like I’m breathing lovely golden champagne.
    When I lived in Victoria and spent many happy hours at the stunning Butchart Gardens, one fall day I was entranced by the dahlia walk in all its splendour. Stopping to talk to a gardener working in the flowers, I was amused when two girls walking past said, “oh she’s talking to a gardener!” From their view, it had looked like I was having a conversation with the dahlias – what a lovely idea!
    and you’ve inspired me to do a quick dive into online shopping! I loved flannelette sheets as a child – mum used to heat one in the dryer to wrap me up after a bath -but I haven’t had them in years. A new sheet set is a small luxury, and why not indeed.
    And I also looked to see if decaf jasmine green tea is a thing, and yep it is. I used to drink coffee & tea all the livelong day w/ zero effects, but am now limited to a few decafs a day, so enjoy them I will & do.
    A friend once told me that she envied me my inclination to find such pleasure in the small things in life. I often think of that, and now actively cherish them. After all, there are countless moments of little beauty and I’ve come to the conclusion that the big issues will come and they will go, but the little moments are always there.

  19. For Rosh Hoshanah we received a basket of delicacies from a friend and in it is my new favorite flavor of tea (caffeine free!). I have been enjoying a hot cup of tea watching the snow fall, and foresee many hours spent thus this winter.

    I have the great pleasure of working with people I adore. Just being able to have conversations about any old thing with a cherished friend is a big help in keeping my spirits up.

    Wanting to spend time with my husband and kids is a delight as I have little choice in the matter! 🙂

  20. Grace, I thought about you and your caffeine consumption when I was googling decaf tea the other day, because I’m trying to cut caffeine, too. I came across several posts on tea rinsing. I’ve been drinking tea for 30+ years and had never heard of it! Evidently, you can lower the caffeine in your own tea by “rinsing” it first. Pour enough hot water to cover, then steep for 30 seconds. Dump off the water, pour on a second round, and steep as usual. I’m trying it today with Pu-Erh; I’ll let you know what I think. But if it works, it might get us two cups of tea! 😉