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Entries in Finding joy (2)


Making room in my life for joy

There are a lot of things that bring me happiness. Lattes bring me happiness. A good book brings me happiness. HBO brings me happiness on a weekly basis. (Hello, Eric Northman!) There are also a lot of things that leave me feeling fulfilled. When someone connects with something I’ve written, I feel fulfilled. When I can help someone who is less fortunate then myself, I feel fulfilled. When I can share something that has made my life easier with someone else, I feel fulfilled. 

But as I say no in November (which is getting harder and harder), I'm trying to prioritize between things that make me happy and things that bring me joy. 

There are only a few things that bring me real and lasting joy.

Bliss. Delight. Felicity.

That feeling that starts deep down into the pit of your stomach and then blooms and spreads until you feel like every cell in your body is smiling.

I feel joy when Amos smiles and giggle with glee as I toss him into the air. 

I feel joy when Griffin runs to greet me in the morning with his tousled head of hair - still warm from the covers. “Good morning, mommy!” 

I feel joy when I look around the table on Sunday evenings and see my family smiling back at me over a delicious meal.  

I feel joy when my husband pulls me close at night and throws a heavy arm over my body. 

I feel joy when the warm sun shines on my face and I realize the people I love are safe, happy, and healthy and so am I.

Joy is not permanent. It can be fleeting and evasive. But when it is here - when you feel it wash over you - it is so, so sweet. 

And it is absolutely worth saying no for. 

~ Sarah Stewart Holland


Project Joy: Finding Everyday Fulfillment

Don’t you love those experiences where you are reminded of the joy in life? This weekend I had the pleasure of attending an Alvin Ailey performance (my favorite!) with two wonderful friends, and I think I can safely speak for all of us in saying that the famous American Dance Theater’s fluid choreography, powerful beats, and colorful storytelling that lit up the stage also left us feeling energized and uplifted. As my friend so aptly put, our evening at Ailey was like an inspiring evening at church with hundreds of people. I know I felt this way because the dancers, through their verve and movement, communicated their unbridled passion and joy for their art, their job, and I would assume their life. And even though I’m certain the dancers’ performance wasn’t perfect (I make this assumption based on my past life as a dancer who knows the impact of opening night jitters), I can tell you that nothing marred their performance because their work came from their hearts.

I wax poetic about the vibrant performance of the Alvin Ailey dancers not because I love this ballet as much as Calvin loves Hobbes, peanut butter loves jelly, and Sarah Stewart Holland loves Oprah—which of course I do—but rather because the dancers epitomize the transformative, restorative, and fulfilling nature of finding joy in whatever you do. For me, I often overlook the things that can add to happiness in my life because I get bogged down with the stress and irritation of mundane professional and personal tasks or I just feel too tired to stop and smell the roses and enjoy the simple (and guilty) pleasures that make things sweet. I had forgotten that joy is a vital gift that keeps on giving and has far-reaching benefits. The dancers’ joy brought me great happiness and in turn reignited my commitment to up the joy factor in my life—in all that I do (yes, even changing diapers can brighten my day) and in seeking out enriching experiences (for example, girls night out should be a more regular event).

In an effort to keep riding my Ailey-induced high, I have initiated Project Joy and plan to work on recasting my focus to enhance rather than detract from my personal and professional fulfillment. During this kick-off weekend, I did the following joy boosting things:

  • When listening to an NPR interview with the founder of Sam Adams Beer, I was struck by the interviewee’s admission that once he knew he didn’t want be a consultant five years down the road, he also recognized that he didn’t want to do it tomorrow. I made a mental note of his sentiments because I agree that I shouldn’t waste time on things that, while tolerable in the immediate, don’t move me any closer to achieving my dreams. It makes me happy to eliminate things in my life that do not fit within this mission.


  • I decided to stay up late to watch a movie despite my better judgment that I should be in bed because my son is an early riser (it’s a rare occasion that I can actually keep my eyes open while lounging on the couch past 9 PM). Not only did I get to see a movie in peace and quiet, but my husband let me sleep in the next morning too.


  • I wrote this blog entry and brainstormed future posts (I can’t tell you how much I’d rather be writing than doing anything else in my life…I really have so much fun doing it).


  • I didn’t check my work e-mail all weekend because I didn’t want to be distracted from our family time, even when it includes multiple trips to Home Depot to select wood stain for our new fence.


  • I combed through family photos to create a display wall just off our entryway, but I let myself linger and look over all the old memories instead of just quickly grabbing the ones I planned to use.


  • I truly plan to start exercising again—and really mean it—because my friend is going to come over and we’re going to have dance parties in my living room. Rock on!


Although I’m only two days into Project Joy, I’ve found that I’m more relaxed and present in my interactions with my family and friends.  It's really that simple.

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

~ The Other Sarah