Thursday, December 31, 2009

Day 22 - This Past Year

Cliche, I know, but I have had so much joy in this past year. Some sadness, but mostly joy. And today is a wonderful day to recognize that joy. Looking back there have been many changes. Change is sometimes scary. It's sad to let go of what you know. But with change comes adventure and the introduction of new things. We've made new friends. We've reunited with an old friend from high school (back when I lived about 1000 miles away from here) that we discovered was living just 45 minutes away from us for the past 10 years! We've found new restaurants and a wonderful new Christmas tree farm that is sure to be our family tradition. New recipes. New games to play with the kids. 2009 has been a joyful year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 21 - Food Network

I enjoy cooking. But I'm a late bloomer. My grandmother was a wonderful cook. When she was alive I appreciated her cooking but only to eat it. I didn't appreciate the time and talent it took for her creations. Now she's gone. And I have to rely on food television programs to be my teacher. I loved Rachel Ray (although I've grown away from her lately). My current favorites are Ellie Krieger, Nigella Lawson, Barefoot Contessa, Paula Deen (but only in small doses - my waistline can't take her steady diet) and Chopped. Chopped has helped me to be more creative in the kitchen. I watch about one cooking show a day, getting ideas or learning new techniques. A cooking show on Food Network is a little morsel of joy.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day 20 - Piano

I'm so glad my mother made me keep up with my piano lessons. I'm not that good. But I can read the music. I can plunk out a few songs still. And I love being able to sit at the piano and transport myself for awhile. I wish I still practiced. I wish I could play more challenging music. I wish I had that gift to play by ear. But I can't. What I CAN do is practice what I do know. It is such a beautiful instrument and I love the few classical pieces I can play. So let's start there. I'll begin with my limited skills and be thankful that I can play at all because the piano brings me joy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 19 - Apologies

My daughter and I had a fight. She's a teenager and I'm her mother, so not very surprising. We snapped at each other. I don't know who started it but we both continued it. It wasn't pretty. It was over the phone. We both agreed we needed some time to reflect so we said our good-byes and hung up. And then later, after I had cooled down, I called her back to apologize. I explained why I felt I reacted the way I did but quickly added that didn't excuse my behavior. I should have handled it much better. I apologized. And then she apologized. And then we had a heartfelt, true conversation about the conflict. The apology made our interaction real, productive and genuine. Who knew the awesome power of an apology? Who knew an apology could bring me joy?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 18 - Family Dinners

We try (very, very hard) to have family dinners most nights of the week. But some nights it just isn't possible. My husband works late two nights a week. And with sports practices sometimes we're missing someone. To keep costs down we eat out a lot less, too. So when we do - it's a big event. My middle son hit a milestone at school and asked if we could go out to dinner to celebrate. It was so much fun. We laughed. We talked. We shared. His big sister brought him a little gift. He sat at the head of the table so proud. So excited that it was his night. A special dinner out. Or a cozy dinner home. I find joy in our family dinners - staying in or going out.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day 17 - Popcorn

I love popcorn. Especially movie popcorn. I ignore all of the articles out there telling me that I shouldn't eat movie popcorn. Quite honestly, I can't go to a movie without popcorn. It's my favorite salty snack. It beats potato chips (even Lay's potato chips) every time. But no butter. Not unless I'm making it at home with real butter. That fake stuff they use at the theaters IS evil, slimy stuff that coats my throat and ruins the entire experience for me. Nope. Regular, plain, wonderful movie popcorn. And I'm on my way out the door to have some right now while watching one of the many films released at this time of year. Jumping, joyful popcorn. Yum!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Day 16 - Christmas

I believe "One mountain, many paths." I realize there are other faiths out there besides my own. But during this time of year I find incredible, amazing, indescribable joy during this most holy time of year. Yes, I know that Jesus wasn't actually born today. I've heard the history about why the church not so arbitrarily chose a date around the winter solstice to celebrate a Christian holiday. And I don't care. I celebrate it now with abandon. I don't mind that the decorations seem to go up earlier and earlier. I don't see it as unadulterated greed. I see it as a chance to get into the spirit that much sooner. I love the Christmas spirit of giving and kindness and joy. And I'm sending that to all of you (all two of you) who peek in here at my humble little blog. Merry Christmas! May you experience all the joy the day can bring!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Day 15 - Santa Claus

Yes, I believe in Santa Claus. I believe you can see evidence of his spirit everywhere. You just have to look for it. He may not be dressed up in a bright red suit. He may not have a beard or a jolly belly. He may not even be a "he." But you will find Santa in every act of unconditional giving, every unexpected kindness, every magical joy found during this wonderful time of year. I see Santa throughout the year but especially during the winter holidays. Santa Claus will always live in my heart. And he always brings me joy!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 14 - A great haircut

I'm not an entirely vain person. I also don't fuss too much with my appearance. Five minutes or less for hair and make-up. I'm not kidding. But a good haircut? A really great haircut? An absolute necessity. There is such a difference between an OK haircut and a really good one. The first difference is obvious - one just looks better than the other. The other difference? You can actually style it yourself and it will look as if you stepped out of the salon - every. single. day. I love a great haircut and I just got one! It IS a joyful day!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 13 - Hand lotion

I know. Hand lotion? What joy can there be in hand lotion? My skin gets so dry in the winter. Especially my hands. And my hands more so in the winter because I was raised by a nurse who drilled into our heads, "Wash your hands!" It's almost OCD how much I wash my hands, especially when I'm cooking. But it IS the best way to stay healthy. And as a result, my hands get very dry, sometimes cracked. And you'd think that with how many times I have to apply hand lotion I'd have some magical favorite. But I don't. Just about any hand lotion will do. As long as it isn't too greasy. Which some can be and then I just rub the excess up my arms and to my elbows. Problem solved. Ah the joy in the healing properties of simple hand lotion.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 12 - Sugar

Not a very PC thing to find joy in but I love sugar. It's my weakness. Sugar in my coffee, on my oatmeal, in my drinks. I live in the south and I LOVE sweet tea. Real Coke, never diet. Sugar cookies, candies, cakes and pies. Muffins, syrups and jelly. I even love the southern phrase, "Give me some sugar!" meaning a kiss, of course. Because, after all, kisses are sweet! Sugar is getting such a bad rap these days. Oh, how I wish it were a health food. But, alas, it is not. So I suppose I'll have to secretly find joy in sugar. Shhhhhh....

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day 11 - Dogs

I'm a dog person. I like cats. I just prefer dogs. I've had dogs most of my life. But the best dogs I've ever had have been Golden Retrievers. One dog in particular, Max, was my best friend. I got him when I was about 13 years old. He was with me through high school, through college and then when I moved after college he followed me to my new home. He died at age 13 and making the decision to help him be at peace was the most difficult decision I've ever made. I loved him so much but I couldn't bear to see him suffer any longer. All you have to do with a dog is feed him, give him a place to play and love him. That's it. No other expectations and you receive so much in return. Dogs bring joy to my life.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 10 - A quiet house

I'm not a night person. By about 8pm I've shut down. I'm tired. A little more cranky. And I don't feel like interacting with anyone. But I have three children. And a husband who is a night person. My home is active and bustling in the evening. So I don't get my peace and quiet at night - I get it during the day when husband is at work and kids are at school. Sometimes, after I've dropped the kids off at school I'll go to Starbucks, get my favorite Caramel Macchiato and come right home. I let the dog out and then sit on the couch in our family room and just listen. To the quiet. I sip my coffee and enjoy the silence. Because there IS joy in silence. Ahhhhhhh......

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 9 - My husband

He makes me laugh. And laughter in a relationship is so important. Especially in a love relationship, one that you choose. Because, as you well know, it isn't always roses. You aren't always hopping from peak to peak. You need something to get you through those valleys and for us; it's humor. He can make me giggle at the oddest times - which is probably why his shins are bruised. Plus, we've been together so long now that a situation will often come up and just by looking at him I know what he's thinking. And it's usually inappropriate and would set me in a fit of giggles at the most embarrassing time. Yep. My husband brings me joy - most of the time!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 8 - My children

I know. It's so cliche. But I really, really, really, love them to bits. When they entered my life my heart grew just like the Grinch's - three sizes, breaking the x-ray. I never knew I could love someone like I love my kids. They're funny and fun. They delight and amuse me. They make me laugh. They make me cry. I worry and pray for them. They're entertaining and intriguing. I have been truly blessed with the best kids in the world. Amazing. My kids are my joy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 7 - Sleep

I never, ever thought I'd hear myself say this: but I find joy in sleep. I have always hated it that I have to sleep. It seems like such a waste of time. I mean, do you realize if you sleep 8 hours a night you're sleeping away 1/3 of your life? One third! Oh, what I could do with that one third. And if we have to sleep that much could our days be at least 36 hours long instead of 24? But no. We need sleep and the day is only so long. I once saw a segment on 60 minutes talking about the value of good sleep and the comment from a sleep specialist suddenly resonated in me: (paraphrased here because my eidetic memory is on the fritz) "Sleep must be very important because in order to achieve efficient, quality sleep our senses rest as well, leaving us at our most vulnerable." Wow. Then sleep must be important to survival, ironically enough. And since then I have been getting more sleep and guess what? I'm more efficient during the daylight hours, I'm healthier and happier. So, here's to sleep! Zzzzzzzzzz........

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 6 - Chocolate

I love chocolate. All kinds. Well, almost all kinds. Cheap chocolate I'll take a pass on. But today I made my famous Rocky Road fudge. Yummy. And my husband is a chocohalic and so is my son. Whenever I make cookies or fudge we just pour 3 tall glasses of milk and have a chocolate fest. We love chocolate cake, chocolate cookies, hot chocolate, chocolate ice cream. I even have a recipe for a rub for steak that involves chocolate. The joys of chocolate are endless!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Day 5 - Horses

They are completely, utterly gorgeous animals. All kinds. All varieties. Majestic. Just simply beautiful. And today, while running errands I had to dash from one part of the county to another and I took a short cut through some rural roads. I was following a school bus and it slowed to let off a young girl. She lived on a horse farm and as she walked the gravel road to her home one horse in particular came galloping to the fence. She picked up her pace, too. He nudged his nose over the fence and she hugged his muzzle. It was a beautiful, touching moment. I'm so glad to have witnessed the joy between a horse and his human friend.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 4 - Holiday Cookie Time

I'm not much for baking. You need to be so precise and I like to wing it. Soups, stews, casseroles, meats and sides - that's MY specialty. I like messing around with recipes, putting my own twist and that's a little tougher for me to do with baking. But around the holidays I love to bake. I love the aroma wafting through the house. I love the excitement my children have every time they see a new cookie batch coming out of the oven. I love the frosting and sprinkle mess that covers our counters after the kids help me decorate. Today we've already make two batches of our favorite cookies and my son got an idea for another batch so I'm off to the store for more supplies. Oh the joy of holiday cookie time!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 3 - Chinese Medicine

As much as I hate some of the herbal teas I am so thankful that my husband practices Chinese Medicine and we have access to some of the most amazing products. Sure the teas taste nasty. Ok, worse than nasty. But most of what we use is in pill form. It's easy. It's tasteless. The only trick is to catch colds early and to be vigilant in taking the prescribed herbs. No 12-hour formulas here. But I don't care. It's better for my liver. It's better for my kidneys. And the results? Astounding.

I was raised in a Western Medicine family. I was the family joke when I married my husband, the witch doctor, they called him - not always affectionately. But a yeast infection that modern medicine couldn't cure? 24 hours later, after following my husband's (then boyfriend) advice? Gone. I used to get UTI's fairly easily. Since my husband prescribed the little yellow pills? Rare.

And today I woke up with a scratchy throat, a little drainage, a little achy. I downed the herbs he suggested. I will pound those babies all day today. And tomorrow? I'll be as good as new. Today I find joy in Chinese herbs.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 2 - Water

Such a simple thing to find joy in, I suppose. But I love water. I love to drink it. I love to swim in it. I love sitting by it or riding on top of it. And as I was taking my not so environmentally sound shower this morning (because I KNOW it took longer than 3 minutes) I was so thankful that it was running clear and warm over my body. But only 1% of the earth's water supply is fresh water. So I reluctantly turned the faucet off. I thought of all the people around the world who struggle for clean, pure, safe water. One billion people lack the basic, safe water supply necessary to thrive. In places without adequate water supply and standard safety measures the child mortality rate increases multiplied by 20. Most of our body is made up of water. Water is essential for our survival. It's a resource that I know I take for granted. But today, as I sip my clean, cool glass of water I will find joy in it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 1 - Snail Mail

My grandmother was wonderful at sending cards and notes through the mail. But I'm a product of the electronic age - email is more my speed. Oh, who am I kidding? Even as a child I procrastinated sending thank you notes. I loved receiving things in the mail but I was terrible at sending them.

And this time of year? Oh the joy in receiving snail mail holiday cards! With pictures, without pictures, with annoying brag letters or not. I love them all. Even just a signature is fine with me. It means you were thinking of us. I used to be annoyed if a handwritten note wasn't inside. But now that I'm married with children I am fully aware of the distractions that can keep you from being more personable. And now, there are so many people that don't even bother to slap a stamp on something that I'll take what I can get. And today? Three little bundles of joy arrived in my mailbox today! So today, I'm finding joy in snail mail.