The Joy of Life

Sometimes I have to admit that I get joy mixed up with being thankful. The two are different but so intertwined in my life, that I rarely feel one without the other.

Most mornings as a child I was awakened by one of my parents calling out, “Rise and Shine!” (I now know my mom and dad had coffee before they woke us up! I never thought about the head-start they had on us kids!) From there we went to breakfast where everyone talked about how they slept, the events of the day or something funny. Nevertheless rising and shining stuck with me.

Later when I attended nursing school and shared a common bathroom with 10-12 other young women in various stages of wakening, I was surprised to find my “Good morning!” greetings were greeted with much less enthusiasm than I was accustomed to! Sleepy, half opened eyes, with gaping mouths and incredulous looks were usually the responses. So I learned to curb the sharing of my morning joy.

Later after I married, my morning joy and greetings were pretty much shut down by my husband who was a very slow riser. Yet I usually managed to feel happy. I wanted to be joyful and happy! I wanted to keep my inner child of joy alive.

I grew up as a Christian so it seemed natural to be filled with joy, wonder and thanksgiving when I saw the wonders of nature and life as I watched my younger siblings grow; the wonder of how a spider knows how to spin a web; the various lifestyles of so many animals, insects and yes people, even life in general. I can find joy and entertainment sitting in a field of grass and be fascinated with insects, flowers, or whatever there was to see.

Spiny Orb Weaver
Spiny Orb Weaver

People can also be a source of entertainment and curiosity: wondering what they are thinking or why they dressed the way they did or what they might be feeling. In short my world is now and was an amazing place to grow up in.

After my husband and I were married, we moved to New Orleans for him to go to school there. I worked full time as a nurse to support us. I enjoyed being a wife, learning to cook and be supportive of him during his studies.

Being a nurse is not an easy career but I was rewarded with the fulfillment of interacting with and helping people get well.. Helping other gave me great joy iand purpose.

Later our son was born. There is nothing like the joys of watching an infant grow and learn. I read to him, played with him, sang to him, took walks with him. He filled my heart with even more joy.

So you are thinking, “Is she nuts?! Did she never get mad, hurt, frustrated, unhappy, or have a negative thought or feeling???”

Sure I did! My husband developed poorly controlled diabetes, which later precipitated a stroke. He recovered with minimal physical limitations. But in 6 years he died at 58 of heart failure. He was a good person but the ravages of high blood sugars, high blood pressure and mini-strokes affected his personality adversely.

Ignorant of what was happening to him physically, I continued in my efforts to keep joy alive in my life. I tried to explain away my husband’s irritability and how it affected me. But I survived! Yes, in a sense I used denial to cope with my life after things got hard.

But I did deal with our relationship in the best way I knew how. My parents rarely argued, never yelled at each other and were truly a partnership. I had no background to help me deal with the situations in our marriage.

My joy and positive nature disappeared many times and for varying lengths of time. But I got it back because I wanted to be a positive influence in my family’s life. Sure there were times when I cried, when I was hurting emotionally. But I fought through it to maintain my joy and try to understand what was happening.

After my husband’s death over 9 years ago I maintained that joy by making a new life for myself. Redecorating the house we had lived in made it more “my home.” I made friends, worked, developed hobbies, studied photography, business, Spanish, and what ever tickled my fancy. I also adopted two cats. I felt good in my home and made it a place of joy and peace.

I had to retire early due to sciatica from two bulging discs in my back. It was scary for a while, (not knowing if the pain would be permanent) but fortunately it improved with exercise and treatment. But still I worried: Would I be able to walk without a cane? Would I need surgery? Would my back stabilize?

Thankfully with exercise, care, time and just anti-inflammatory medicine I improved! I worked through the fears and regained my joy for life.

Over four years ago I sold my 3 bedroom house with yard for a two bedroom condo with a screened in porch and no yard. I do have a little red maple tree on the corner of my porch. My life continues to be a joy-filled one.

I also adopted the young man who had called me, “Mom,” since he was 15. With him I gained my first daughter in law and later two grandsons. My first son also married and so I have another wonderful daughter in law.

Yes, I have aches and pains. Yes, I worry about finances sometimes. But I have a loving family, loving friends, good health (other than occasional back ache) and can live a reasonably active life. Life itself is a joyous thing.

I firmly believe that my desire to have joy, in spite of the hard times, (actually after I worked through the bad times) have made me a stronger, more mentally happier and healthier person. Sometimes you have to let go of the past after you have learned whatever you needed to learn and start over again.

Walk between fences.
What joy does life offer you?

17 thoughts on “The Joy of Life

  1. Great post. I think people have that characteristic in them. Maybe they are born that way. In my own family I am much like you, bouncing back from negative experiences with a fervor to enjoy life yet I have an older brother who is intend on what the next bad thing is that will happen. Same family, same gene pool. One of the really great things about being joyful is that I never envy other people. Maybe I do for a specific reason — I swear if I win the lottery our local animal shelters will benefit — but not for anything for me. I’ve done fine and don’t need anything for me. PS: I’d love to move into a condo. I’m at that point in my life but my husband is not yet ready.

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    1. Kate, that is interesting. I grew up in a Gestaltstyle family. We did things together and aside from a little sibling rivalry, we were a team. If one succeeded, we shared the joy. We are all still like that with other people. I agree. I have what I need and more but if I won the lottery, I would donate it or most of it to a worthy cause. (Being 67 makes me want to be sure I won’t be a financial burden to my kids.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, jaquintinwriter. One reason I share my story is to help someone else get through the rough times. Sometimes like Frodo in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, you can just keep putting one foot in front of the other to get through to better times. Thank you for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I keep joy in my life by knowing [through a bevy of other experiences] the difference between having joy, feeling joy, and being joyful despite all the ‘stuff’ that can and may come up [without warning most times] in my life. I keep joy in the foreground, not the background, even placing a joy necklace on my bedpost lest I forget how the word instantly lifts my mood. I use the word “enjoy” a lot, as this seems to further help x out all the “other” stuff; at least the noise of it. In spite of all else [and I’m not thinking of anything specific right now], simply speaking the word JOY softens the blow; at least it does for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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