Posts Tagged ‘joy’

a hamiltonian history

Last April, I made a small but fateful decision in a grocery store line: I bought a copy of the Hamilton soundtrack.

For the first time ever, history came alive to me. It came so alive, I decided to read the biography that inspired the musical, Ron Chernow’s Hamilton.

“Oh, Deefy. You take such silly pictures.” — my husband, today

What I read fairly well stunned me. Sold, somehow, on the notion that history was a linear progression toward the betterment of humankind, I discovered instead that Americans today are having the same fights that our forebears did two hundred years ago. That those fights were extensions of fights that had been held elsewhere for decades to centuries prior.

While the state of technology has progressed, I saw that the state of the States … hadn’t, in fundamental ways.

I’d been a lifelong Democrat when I picked up that musical in the grocery store line. Democratic officials cared for the little guy, I thought, while Republican officials cared about the little fraction of the population that could fund grotesque, human-crushing legislation. That was pretty much my entire understanding of politics before I heard and then read Hamilton. Read more…


nope –> yep

about a week ago,
i finished reading
my 90th or 100th
thoroughly depressing
political book
in a year

my mind went, “great!
on to the next!”

alas, when my
eyes landed
on my to-read
pile, my body
replied with

(enough grimness;
enough despair;
enough aching,
for now)

a week later,
my mind
to say, “read more!
don’t become

my body continues
to say,

so i tried
reading a health book
on my ereader
on break

one of my son’s
diary of a wimpy kid
books popped onto
the screen

i navigated away,
to my library,
and felt that
when i looked
at all the

so i went
back to my son’s book

for ten minutes,
i laughed
my belly;
mind and body

Categories: Books, Health Tags: , ,


I went to brunch on Sunday. I always enjoy brunch, and appreciate–so much–that I have people to brunch with.

There was something special about this brunch: talking with Bill Friday. Specifically, we talked about happiness.

Anthony’s always asking if I’m happy!” I said. “And I’m like, no! And who cares? What if happiness isn’t a useful measure for my life? What if there’s something more and deeper that’s lost by looking so hard at happiness?!”

(This was not a gripe about my husband, by the way; it was about the limitations of language and cultural perceptions!)

Today I talked to my sister Rache. As we spoke, I saw she would have so enjoyed chatting with Bill and me:

Though the histories we discussed were grim and heartbreaking, our conversation was so damn hopeful. “Happiness,” we agreed, was not the yardstick by which we want to measure our lives. We want comprehension, connection, fullness, and fulfillment, not entertainment (alone).

Rache will be visiting soon enough. Maybe we’ll get a chance to sit and talk (things more important-to-us than) happiness with Bill.

But if not? I will hold the joy of those separate, related conversations within me,

for, unlike happiness,

joy is the complex totality that recognizes how all the feelings of life are part of a full one.

Photo courtesy Ra

Prescribing Joy: Reading Dreams

Rachael (The Ramblings of a Would-Be Writer) is my sister, my most enduring friend, my Silver Star … and actually a writer.

prescribing joy

Reading Dreams

It’s the night time ritual
That blissful chaos
Of tugging jammies
Changing diapers
Potty breaks galore
And just one more water, pretty please
And then just one more… more.

Then reading time’s begun
That joyous time of lap-time cuddles
Silly voices, sing-song rhymes
With heads bowed in
Wriggly bodies writhing
As the chaos

To the rhythm of the books
To the sweetness of the rhymes
To the sadness of a monkey
Learning it’s okay to cry
To the swooping of a dragon
Dreaming in the skies
To the cats in hats
The Hortons and the Whos
To all the dreamers dreaming
And all the You Know Whos.

And as I’m reading –
As my voice lilts up and down
To be whomever it needs to be –
As I’m reading I’m feeling
These little bodies next to me.
I feel their joy, I feel their laughter,
At that silly dancing giraffe;
I feel their sadness at the bully
Or when someone’s mean;
I feel their wonder, I feel their bliss,
At the magic crayon and the wishing trees –
I feel it all, and hold it tight,
Finding it easy, somehow right
To give in to the, pretty please
Just one book more,
And then one more…more…

Sometimes, though,
the bodies keep writhing
And the little hands,
No matter the reaching,
can’t find the right books
For the feelings that they’re feeling
So we let them feel the feelings
All the hurt/sad/mad feelings
Until we lay together in a heap
And I find the book that needs reading
To help with all these tangled things
And I pour my soul
Into teaching
Into showing
These sweet little beings
How to find their own road
And their own paths to peace.

And when I sing the last song
And kiss the last kiss
I feel the tired joy,
(No matter how the night’s been)
The aching joy,
Of reading dreams
– And sharing dreams –
From a mother to her child.

last : Loving Joy | TBA : next

Prescribing Joy: Gardening hopes and dreams

Heart and Soul posts pictures and images that remind me it’s not only okay but vital to sink into sweet things, instead of letting them fly by unnoticed. Today’s post is no exception, and I’m delighted to share her uplifting words here.

prescribing joy

Gardening hopes and dreams

To feel immense joy a person must be ready for it. Open your heart to small moments. It’s living without blinders on but with a conscious awareness of joy. When you welcome anything that could make life better, a friend’s hug, a thoughtful compliment, a shared smile, a sunset for your viewing, I believe that’s your joy.

Joy means to me…

small moments that may seem insignificant to others but mean the world to me!

Joy means to me…

a quiet moment walking my yard and thanking God for its peace.

The incredible feeling I get when baking for my family and seeing their contentment when biting into a dessert.

Having my morning cup of coffee in peace, while watching flowers adorn our yard, outside my window and through the open screen smelling their very essence.

Picking weeds and digging in soil that a farmer did the very same thing in the early 1900’s, our gardening hopes and dreams the same, all except a passage of time of over a century.

Digging in the soil with high hopes of cultivating food for our family. Food that I know where it comes from and it’s as organic as you can get.

Quietly watching a graceful deer cautiously cross the road, skirting the edge of our running pond. The joy of wildlife surrounding our little abode and the expectations of many more sudden visits.

Seeing people from the past come out of the woodwork and all at the same grocery store. Being outgoing around old acquaintances and connecting once again.

Feeling the social connection that summer brings because warm weather brings everyone out and about.

A walk on the beach gazing at a vast ocean of beauty. Smelling the salty and fishy air while digging my bare toes in the scorching sand.

Listening and and dancing to music at an exciting concert. Seeing flashy colorful lights and appreciating music and it how it affects my soul!

Being with my family and talking, especially laughing! This is so good for the soul!

All my different experiences, the sources of my joy, all have a common factor. They are simple moments, mostly indulging in nature and simplicity. If you don’t know what brings you joy, pay attention. Write down things that make you happy or cause you to laugh deep in your belly. Notice these special people, things or places that cause you to feel joy. Once you know what they are, hold on to them with all your might. Make every effort to experience these joyful moments every single day!

last : Pouring Light | Finding Their Victories : next

Prescribing Joy: Letting the good times roll

Catherine (Ten Thousand Hour Mama) and I became blog friends after a mutual acquaintance shared one of her posts with me. We’ve only met once in person, but meet in heart/words as often as our demanding schedules enable.

She blogs about motherhood–the good, the bad, and the messy enough to require a garden hose. She lives in Oregon with her husband, two girls and dog. For craft ideas, parenting tips and the reassuring knowledge that you’re not the only one who swears in front of the littles, read along or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

prescribing joy

Letting the good times roll

The other day I met a friend and her kids at a park across town. The playground sat at the top of an enormous hill. Peeper, my almost-three-year-old, watched as my friend’s kids rolled down the hill, giggling.

“Do you want to give it a try, too?” I asked my daughter. She is sometimes shy around other kids, often preferring to talk with adults or older children.

“Yes,” she finally said.

Another little girl tried to explain the mechanics of rolling down the hill. Peeper watched and tried it herself, but she still had a hard time.

“Mama, will you show me?” she asked.

I’m not sure about you, but the last time I rolled down a hill was circa 1990. But I’d do just about anything for my munchkin, so I got down on the grass. I lay down on my side. And I started to roll.

As the world spun around me and I gained momentum, I began to laugh. Really laugh. Within a few revolutions I was laughing with complete abandon.

I came to a stop where the hill leveled out and I sat up. I looked to the top of the hill, still laughing. Peeper was watching me, a big smile on her face. My friend and her kids were grinning, too. Unsteadily, I got to my feet and walked up the hill to help her do the same.

Seeing an old hill-roller helped her figure out how to do it herself. She liked it, but she was content to stop after a few gos. She moved on to climbing the spider web-like ropes and zipping down the slide.

We didn’t stay much longer; we drove home for lunch, my almost-one-year-old’s naps and the more mundane parts of the day.

Later in the day, I squirmed as I felt something poke my back. I took off my sweatshirt and pulled out a sharp piece of grass—leftovers from my roll. I smiled, temporarily transported back to the sunny morning.

For just a few seconds, I had given in to the freedom of being a child. I had followed an impulse (it was my daughter’s, not mine, but still—it was spontaneous). I had let go of a grown-up’s inhibitions (What do you mean adults don’t roll down hills? Watch me!). And I had enjoyed something pure and joyful.

Here’s where a grown-up’s filters kick in. You rolled down a hill; you didn’t do anything spectacular, a voice in my head chides me. You’re reading too much into it. Get over yourself.

In some ways, its very un-spectacular-ness is why a 32-year-old rolling down a hill is so wonderful. Because there’s nothing remarkable about a kid letting go and doing something just for the fun of it.

We could all stand to be un-spectacular like that. My girls constantly experience the joy in the moment: Peeper paints her entire body with watercolors because she likes the patterns and the tickly feeling on her skin. Lately Kiwi pauses in her play to lay her head down on the ground, we think just to feel the sensation of whatever is below her: carpet, our dog’s back, the wet pavement at the splash pad.

That’s what I did on the park hill, if even for just a few seconds. I let go—of judgment, of ideas of what I “should” do, of the separation that keeps us parents on the ground instead of on the monkey bars. As gravity took over and pulled me down the hill, I gave up control.

I won’t spend every day rolling down hills—or pulling pokey sticks and grass out of my clothes. That’s ok. But every so often, even for just a few seconds, I’ll surrender to the joyous momentum of living and laughing like a child.

last : Joy Is | Joy : next

Prescribing Joy: Joy Is

Kim (Little Bits of Heaven) and I have only known each other for months, but it feels to me as if we’ve known each other since before words. She writes with great love woven through with strands of bittersweet, her compassion today a conscious, considered departure from bitter befores. We don’t share a family tree, but to my heart, she is a sister.

prescribing joy

Joy Is

A cool breeze on a hot day
Watching it roll through my daughter’s hair

A warm puddle for my cold toes on our walks to school
Waiting for my son to jump in

Dirt on my hands from planting seeds
Wresting to keep baby from eating them

Joy is
After the storm
When we know we’ve made it through
Perhaps better than before

In the cold times
When our hearts are not hardened by our loss
But made stronger by our faith

When fire rips through our lives
And through the smoke we see the new
New beginnings, new life, new hope

Joy is
Finding that someone whose laugh is worse than yours
But knowing it’s all you want to hear

Celebrating a sunrise
Because you’ve seen it one more day

Toasting a sunset
Because the clouds have gone away


last :Joy in Creation | Letting the good times rollnext

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Categories: Family, Love Tags: , , , ,
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