More and more, I find myself in a conscious pursuit of happiness. And calm. And simple moments of joy.
Like most people, I find it too easy to become overwhelmed and frightened by the news.
When I was a teacher, my students had “independent time.” During that time they completed “must do’s,” and when those were done, they could choose something from the “may do” list.
I know my days should not only be filled with “must do’s” such as homeschooling my sixth grade son, cleaning the house, paying the bills, and cooking the meals.
I know that it is just as important to incorporate “may do’s” into my day – things that fill me with happiness, things I do for the simple pleasure it brings me.
And I’m lucky. There are plenty of things that bring me joy at home.
I read. Books and magazines. Non-fiction and fiction.
I tend to my garden – both the back patio and front porch. I sweep the jacaranda flowers, pull weeds, and water my plants. My son and I go outside every day for a neighborhood walk and sometimes a bike ride.
But, these things that take me outside of the house and bring me joy also bring me additional pain.
Since this pandemic shutdown, my pain has been consistently worse. Sometimes it’s immediate. From the moment I wake up in the morning, often after a fitful night’s sleep, my legs feel heavy. Each step makes me feel like I have invisible weights strapped around my lower legs. Sometimes the pain gradually increases as the day goes on, until one trip back up the stairs leaves my knees creaking loudly and me gripping the banister, taking each step very slowly, very cautiously. Sometimes, I may be reading on my patio, swatting away a fly, and my jeans suddenly feel very tight and restrictive around my left calf. And all I can think of is David Schwimmer’s character, Ross, struggling with his leather pants in a Friends episode. Except when it happened to him, it was funny. When it happens to me, it means it’s time for me to go inside and roll up my pants so my calf doesn’t feel the fabric against it.
And sometimes, my pain wasn’t too bad until I squatted down to pull weeds or on the way back home after a mile-long walk with my son.
Yet, I continue doing these things. When so many other simple pleasures have been taken – browsing my local bookstore, enjoying French Crepes at the Farmers Market – I continue to do these things that make me happy in the name of “stubborn gladness.”
(In case you missed it, click here to read an earlier blog post, “Announcing My Motto For Life” which explains the term “stubborn gladness.”)
And you, dear readers? How do you find joy and moments of pleasure during these challenging times? Feel free to share in the comments section.