Joy is here.

This is my third morning of waking up to coffee on my bedside table thanks to Gabe, who often takes the early morning stretch with our kids.

Jem and Mi enjoying tea with pinkies up. Jemma’s first polaroid (of me!). Miles’ first birthday via Zoom. Making dinner (pasta and wine) with my big sister virtually.

It is also my third morning of taking said coffee and walking out the sliding doors that connect our master bedroom to our deck.

It’s been chilly (35 degrees) but the sun has been directly pointed at the deck and the birds have been singing love songs and dogs have been barking boisterously and it feels like a haven of sorts.

This morning, I sat staring at the dew droplets covering the pillows I bought in lieu of going to Florida last month. They have been the pop of color I needed out here to feel like everything wasn’t just doom and gloom.

I went inside briefly and was putting something away in the kids toy room when I noticed a large sun splash hitting the dress up chest. It looked like magic – though it photographed pretty unimpressively.

Having drank that first cup of coffee I moved on to tea. The kids and I poured cups on the deck and took Polaroids of each other. Pinkies up, of course.

I’m out here alone again now – the kids are not quite sure about spending hours outside after being so used to the indoors the last few months of grueling winter.

I am reading and thinking and looking at the pictures I took last night and this morning. One of a virtual cake smash for my best friend’s son. One of my sister and I making the same meal in matching sweatshirts. Two from tea this morning, and I was nudged by the title of my book and encouraged that here and now it is right and good to push for joy.

Here in the days that feel confusing, frustrating, overwhelming, and plain wrong – here it is time to pull out the toolbox full of strategies for pushing into joy.

I have developed many over the last two years. I shared 27 of them in my book – in the form of scenarios. Since writing those words and publishing them into the great wide world, I have changed and I have grown and shifted and bloomed and lost some petals that didn’t need to be there anymore.

All that to say, the process of Pushing Into Joy has stayed the same. I am still active in pursuit of it. I do not wait for it to fall into my lap, I look and I find it. I listen and I hear it. I speak it and I believe it.

So today, I write of a new scenario. One I could not have predicted when I sent that book baby into the world.

Pushing Into Joy when a global pandemic is sweeping and your life is turned upside down and inside out.

I imagine you feel similarly to me when you are scrolling these days. You feel angered at those who are taking things “too lightly”, and yet unsettled by those taking it “too seriously”. You find yourself constantly wondering.. what is the truth in all of this and how do I find any sort of rhythm if I have no idea what tune that is actually playing?

We are at home, and yet the noise and the chaos is dizzying. It’s at our fingertips and its in our eardrums and it’s escaping our lips whether we want it to or not.

  • Stop. Plant your feet into the floor beneath you. Feel each toe as you tighten and release them – strengthening your foothold there beneath you. Let your arms sit at each side. Ball up your fist, and release it. Do it again – this time feel each fingertip slowly with your thumb. Is your forehead creased? Is your breathing shallow? Relax, breathe deeply.
  • Drop. Drop your expectations of self and others. Just for a moment, don’t overthink it. Are you still relaxed and breathing? Your palms are open and your jaw unclenched – take in your surroundings.
  • Look and listen. Do you see it? The sun on the plant before you, the toys strewn showing signs of play, the mug of coffee you enjoy so much each morning, the dishes from the meal you attempted last night, the evidence of life around you. Do you hear it? The birds still singing, the wind still blowing, the animals scurrying busily, the dew thick until it evaporates with the rising sun, the evidence of life around you.

Joy is here.

It does not change the reality of a global pandemic, but it can still us and calm us and center us within our own flesh that is holding us here. Steady. Breathing.

Stop. Drop. Look and listen.

No, don’t be fooled – it does not lessen the pain of the loss you are feeling. It does not put teachers back into their safe environments with students, it does not provide safety for those entering the workforce diligently each day, it does not reclaim the lives that have been taken… but it allows you to brace yourself and position yourself with a lens of gratitude.

Stop. Drop. Look and listen.

Joy is sometimes hard earned. You, dear friend, are up for the challenge and up for the fight.

Joy is here. Fight the good fight.