Finding Joy in the strangest of Places

I was talking to a friend the other day, sharing my mom’s experience of getting a phone call from Butte School, and when she answered it, there was no one there.  Or should I say, my dad was calling to check in.  Mom and Dad met at Butte High School.  Coincidence?  I think not!

My friend Deb reminded me that I can be specific and ask Dad for a sign that he is still here with us.  I noticed a Joy ornament on the Christmas tree, and made the statement, “Dad, can you show up today as unexpected joy?  Can I somehow see you in a joy that is new to me, not one that is already in this house?”  Later that afternoon, Tony was going through the mail as I was cooking dinner.  He usually throws out junk mail, but this day, he brought me two pieces of mail and asked me if I thought there was a theme.

I just had to laugh.  There is such comfort to know that just because my dad passed away doesn’t mean he isn’t here to remind me of his love. The relationship didn’t die. I just have to be willing to look for my dad in a new way.

When I reflect back on this year, I have learned new ways of seeing the world. The pandemic, the political and social unrest have been overwhelming at times. It has been a year of learning for me- beginning to see my own biases, learning about privilege, and recognizing the world from the lens of oppression many people face.  While there is much work to be done, and it is hard to be called out on things I say that aren’t inclusive or contain an -ism, I am grateful for the opportunity to face my societal beliefs and make changes the best I can. I want to be a part of the solution in creating a world for all.

Where I learned to find the most joy was in slowing down, in connecting to what is most important in my life.  I connected more with my own self, learning about what I need to be healthy.  I have to take time for myself each day for prayer, art, journaling, meditation, yoga, etc.  Some combination of these helps me start my day on the right foot.

I found joy in creating art, more for myself than to share.  I did enjoy making large visible art like my painted mailboxes. Because I wasn’t out at craft shows this year, I rediscovered the joy of writing a weekly email, sharing little thoughts that hopefully inspire others.

I had to learn to practice patience.  I was used to having the house to myself. Because of COVID, Tony moved his office home and took over my healing touch room. We did have to renegotiate work boundaries and discovered that eating lunch together on the porch worked well for both of us.

Even though I could no longer use my healing touch room, I discovered the effectiveness of    long-distance healing. My intuitive skills grew when I concentrated on a body not directly under my physical hands. I continue to love doing this spiritual work.

It goes without saying that backyard chats, walks, zoom gatherings became the norm for most of us.  While technology can be tricky, it was a godsend this year, keeping us connected to family, work, coaching clients and friends. I loved our family’s homemade jeopardy games and walks with our daughter Becca in our local parks.

We spent many hours sitting and watching the birds on the new feeders we inherited from Tony’s dad. Now we can identify the local birds and laugh at the squirrels who aren’t able to get into the squirrel safe feeders.

I found joy in reading, and in beating Tony at Scrabble! (He still has won more games than me!) I found joy in learning how to bake gluten free sourdough bread, and it is fun to still be learning new tricks on how to make it better.  I learned to laugh a little more at my own foibles.

As you know from my latest emails, I even found joyful moments in the midst of my dad’s passing.  I think all the practicing I did at finding joy helped me through the darkest moments.

So my friend, as this year comes to a close, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my emails and to respond as so many of you have.  You have been my lifeline in some ways, reminding me that what is do is of value, and that makes it easier for me to continue to find ways to reach out.  Blessings to you for 2021!