The Joy That is Ours

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  • Linda Samuels

    Knowing what is before me tonight and tomorrow, I have opted to write about joy without doing the meditation and freewriting. As we are friends, I know more of an explanation isn’t needed. Thank you for understanding.

    I love the prompt…to write and think about my experience of joy.

    Joy finds me regularly every day. It’s present when I wake first thing and find myself in the cozy warmth of our bed, next to my honey. It’s present as I gently and quietly greet the day- meditating, journaling, and slowly showering as the warm water flows over my body. I feel joy as I light and smell the happy scent of the candle or spray a dash of my favorite citrusy scent on my wrists. Joy finds me when I take that first sip of hot morning coffee or taste the juicy squirt of a tart blueberry. Joy finds me when I read or send messages of encouragement and love to friends, family, colleagues, and clients.

    Joy and delight are good friends. There is much to delight in. The sunrise, sunset, and big, huge moon that’s been present these past days. Joy is present when my honey calls in during the day to say “hi” or let me know how his day is going. Joy is present when I have a really good organizing session with a client, and they feel their progress. Joy finds me when I take a bite of something chocolatey. I LOVE chocolate!!!

    These days, the landscape is bare. There are no flowers outside, and the colors are more muted. In other seasons, the growth, greenery, and intense hues bring me visual delight. These days, I’m less drawn to the bareness of the landscape but still in awe of its beauty.

    Joy finds me at night when I take off my bra, get into my PJs, and put on my “little bear” zipper jacket. I call it little bear because it’s so soft, and I feel like a little bear when I wear it. I feel extra huggable in it too. Silly but true. And oh so joyful to crawl back into bed after a long day, get cozy, relaxed, and snuggle up with Steve. The joy of drifting off to sleep.

    Are all moments joy-filled? Of course not. Many moments are everything but. However, joy is abundant. And I love having the space to hold, appreciate, experience, and lean into joy as it lands in my heart. While I talk about joy finding me, truthfully, I am also a joy-seeker and hope I always will be.

    • Yota Schneider

      Dear Linda,

      You were born to be a joy seeker. It’s what is carrying you through life and I love that about you. Joy feeds your inherent optimism, inner strength, and resilience.

      There are people who seek big expressions of joy and tend to take the every day, seemingly small details of life for granted. And, there are people like you who have the gift of finding joy in everything and everywhere. It’s a gift, but it’s also a choice we all have. A choice that can begin by letting our senses guide us. Sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing … we open up to experiencing them fully and in turn, they open us up to delight and joy. You do that so well!

      I love that word, by the way … delight! It reminds me of children, and it brings up a memory of my girls when they were five. One afternoon, I went to pick them up from school and found them and their classmates sitting in a deep pool of mud, pretending they were pirates. Was I happy to put these muddy kids in my car and take them home with me? No, I wasn’t, but even so, the delight in their faces did not escape me. Neither did the memories of my own childhood that came up. I was an adventurous child too. Beginning that day, the girls took waterproof pants and rain boots with them to school.

  • Kim Cartwright

    I couldn’t really relate to David Whyte’s quote, so I diverged to look for a synonym for JOY. BLISS, ELATION, EXALTATION, EXTACY, JUBILANCE and others all seemed too extreme, to haughty for being joyful. Or have I never felt Joy?

    I understand CHEER, DELIGHT, WONDER, GLADNESS – but extreme joy?

    Has there been a period of joy for me? Is a period too long of an expectation? . . . Has there been a moment?

    I’m satisfied with the ideas of happy, grateful, content and delight. My dog rolling in the snow, a breezy blue-skied day along the shore, a field freshly mowed, my kids’ accomplishments, a surprise visit, a delicious slice of warm homemade bread, a successful project completed, a meaningful conversation (our gatherings included) all conjure up a warm, cozy, content feeling in which I can relax, appreciate, file as a cherished memory, share in a story.

    I’m looking forward to hearing your experiences with JOY.

    • Yota Schneider

      Kim, you mentioned that you couldn’t relate to David Whyte’s quote, and yet, as I read and reread what you wrote, I felt that your words expressed the essence of his words.

      Your final paragraph describes some of what gives you delights and makes you feel content, grateful, happy … “my dog rolling in the snow, a breezy blue-skied day along the shore, a field freshly mowed, my kids’ accomplishments, a surprise visit, a delicious slice of warm homemade bread, a successful project completed, a meaningful conversation (our gatherings included) all conjure up a warm, cozy, content feeling in which I can relax, appreciate, file as a cherished memory, share in a story.”

      In David Whyte’s words … “the passing seasonality of existence, the fleeting presence of those we love, understood as a gift; what is, and will never be again, going in and out of our lives: faces, voices, memory, aromas of the first spring day or a wood fire in winter,”

      I don’t know what extreme joy is … but this afternoon I felt its soft whisper come over me when I sank in my couch, in front of a big window, and watched the first snow of the season fall slowly outside. I was at peace and quiet inside and that is how joy felt for a brief time.

  • Kathleen Ellis

    This prompt and the responses have got me thinking about the difference between joy and delight. Linda, I liked your naming them “good friends.” And Kim, you brought in so many other words, none of them feeling like joy for you. After a lot of contemplation, I’ll say that for me delight is not as deep as joy, not as profound, and for me, not as often experienced. I can delight in eating the perfect chocolate almond croissant, or watching an incredible sunset or like yesterday, walking behind a little boy who, while being hurried down the street by his mother, was singing Christmas songs at the top of his lungs and having the best time. Then there’s joy–a couple days ago my husband Paul and I were laughing together about something we had plotted that had turned out really well. I think we were both delighted with each other, and for me that moment transformed into a feeling much deeper–an experience of the love and deep connection we share, in spite of the rocky last few years and uncertainty about our future. The joy I felt was more about the intensity of life, of love, of our humanity. Other times I’ve felt what I think of as joy: one particular moment during my wedding; the first time I saw my son; the night after I met my meditation teacher when I was overcome by a feeling so powerful that I realized–this is joy, and this is what I have forgotten I have been looking for all my life; the moment my friend died while I was holding her hand; sometimes when I dance and get totally into the zone and feel like I’m connected to some cosmic universal energy. The more I reflect on it the more I see that for me joy is love so intense it takes me out of myself and into communion with something bigger–and I’m part of it, and there’s no really good word for it so joy is the closest. So I’m going for nurturing more delight, more chances of the feeling turning into joy. Meditation, mindfulness, all the ways we can cultivate delight, and wonder, and gladness.

    • Yota Schneider

      Kathleen, I found myself coming back to what you wrote over and over again today. Your exploration and insights touched me deeply.
      Joy weaves in and out of our life clad in many layers. It’s deeply personal. We all understand and experience it differently depending on our temperament, life experience, conditioning, and our willingness to open up to possibilities.

      When you brought love into it, it all made sense. Love is the common thread … the moment at your wedding, the first time you saw Devin, meeting your meditation teacher, holding Robin’s hand, and sharing that special moment with Paul, even watching that little boy singing with abandon as he was rushed down the road by his mother … it’s love, it’s always love that takes us out of our stubborn attachments and illusions and shows us the way.

      Thank you for opening up to this prompt and sharing with us with openness and generosity.

  • Kathleen Lauterbach

    I found the prompt on joy very interesting. I kept reading the quote over and over again and I am still not sure I totally grasp its meaning. I am happy to report that I fell right into the meditation and wrote with ease after it. I began by wondering if you can ever experience the kind of joy, excitement and anticipation that I had as a little kid during this time of year. It was so potent I could barely contain myself. I don’t find that I have many experiences that equal the enthusiasm I had as a child.
    Then I wondered if most joy is only a memory. Do we create it as we retell an experience or is it there at the moment. Babs always prefaces some of the things we do as “Something that will be good ink! “. Probably a little of both.
    My next thoughts were about how joy needs company. Is joy a function of seeing someone else’s reaction to something you have said or done. It is amazing for me to watch how people react when you simply compliment them on the job they are doing. I don’t think we practice being nice enough to each other.
    I am still grappling with the idea of loss or absence related to joy.

    Our retreat is a wonderful place for me to slow down at this time of year. This week was a little crazier than most since we took our 3 day break in the action to surprise Ann. I wasn’t able to luxuriate in as much time thinking about the prompts as I usually do. I still found it a good practice though to carve out a half hour here and there. I am definitely a person that likes a deadline or an assignment! I loved reading everyone’s thoughts. A perfect compliment of participants.

    Thanks for such thoughtful execution of a little time to evaluate where we are at this point in time. You do a great job of facilitating!

  • Sarah Lipscomb

    Originally, I read this prompt and kind of put it off. I filed it as “to do” in my mind so I could complete the steps before the retreat tonight, I think afraid to dive into my experience with joy. I couldn’t tell you why facing joy seemed scarier for me than facing worry.. go figure.

    Luckily, when I sat and really read the prompt and then sat with myself to breathe, I found that joy makes me smile. Every memory that popped into my head, involuntarily brought a smile to my face: when Tyler proposed, when I took the pregnancy test and immediately screamed to Tyler from the bathroom, when my sibling came to visit for the first time after we moved to Buffalo, meeting our best friends’ baby. All events involving other people, all things that brough immense joy to me in the moment and again when revisiting the memory. But then since they all involved other people, I thought, “Do only other people bring me joy?” Quickly my brain responded with a memory from just yesterday that told me the answer is no. I’m in the process of drawing a picture for our daughter and yesterday, I set it down to take a nap. Upon opening my sketchbook back up, the pang of joy I felt when seeing how good it was coming out is what popped into my head.

    In thinking about that more, I realized that “joy” can be synonymous with so many words and that in fact, I might even put worry and joy as opposite sides of the same coin. Before this prompt, I would’ve said worry and relief were opposite sides of that coin, but in sitting with “joy,” I realized it feels a lot like relief for me. When worrying about that thing, whatever it is, the flood of emotion when it all works out is relief. It comes and fills the space around me like I was standing the middle of a pool and someone let the perfect amount of water in to fill all the space. Then, when thinking about the memory of how it all worked, that pang of emotion in my chest, is the joy I feel. Like someone I love unexpectedly ran up to me and wrapped me in a hug.

    I think all of that sort of also answers how this retreat has unfolded for me. I started somewhere and ended up somewhere else completely unexpected, yet still beautiful. I feel like I’ve learned more about myself in a week than I did in a year and a half of therapy. And I have all of you to thank for that. For giving me this safe space to think and feel and grow and share. What a year it has been and how lucky am I to have taken the time to reflect on all of it: what still tugs at me, what can be left in 2022, the worries, the joys, the path ahead. It leaves me in a place of overwhelming gratitude: for myself, for this group of exceptional women, and especially for you, Yota, being a guiding force of love and light on this journey.

    • Kathleen Ellis

      Sarah, I love the physicality of your descriptions of joy. Now when I think of worry it feels so constricting, while joy is expansive and liberating. I love that you’re drawing a picture for your daughter!

  • Kathleen Lauterbach

    Sarah I love your image of the pool and the water just filling in to give you a giant hug. I also love how we as a group identified the many faces of joy. From Linda finding it in the everyday, her morning shower and bear sweatshirt, to Kathleen seeing the enormity of shared love in those landmark joy moments , to Kim finding it in watching her dog roll in the snow to Sarah’s personal aha when she saw her drawing again for the baby. I think David Whyte’s quote, though complex, caused all of us to think deeply.
    Looking forward to seeing you all soon!

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