Monday, July 20, 2015

Joy and Pain, Pain and Joy

I have spent more than a week in a great deal of pain.

The kind of pain that consumes your life. 

And takes your breath away.

I didn’t know it took my breath away until after multiple medical appointments to get it figured out, and as soon as the pain medication I was finally prescribed kicked in, I suddenly felt like I could breathe.

I always thought I had a high threshold for pain – I even had doctors tell me so – but this week I almost couldn’t take it. Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, but there was absolutely no position whether sitting, standing, laying, walking, crouching, or curled up in the fetal position that I wasn’t inwardly screaming.

Partway through wallowing in this ordeal it dawned on me that I’d better start practicing what I preach. I have stated – in this blog - that joy is something you can choose. Well, what better time to prove it!

I feel I need to say here that I’m not making a statement about mental illness. I’ve never been diagnosed with a mental illness and can’t speak for those who have. I have no idea if choosing joy is an option in those circumstances, though it would be an interesting study.

In my present circumstance, however, I decided to peer through the pain and locate some of my best “joy bubbles” on which to focus.  Things that set the joy bubbles … well, bubbling.
I eventually came up with 25, some of which I put into practice and others I spent time thinking about.

Here they are in no particular order:


1.              Pink
2.              An actual real letter in the mail for me
3.              The way my grandson calls me Maa-ma
4.              Creativity
5.              The meadowlark's song
6.              Cloud watching
7.              A new bookmark
8.              Walking down a school hallway when everyone else is in class
9.              Just stepping IN to a fine arts college or university, where the creativity in the air is distinct and palpable.
10.          Presents – for me                                   
11.          A full pantry
12.          New piano music to learn
13.          Surprises of kindness
14.          Sky
15.          Wind
16.          The sound of the English horn
17.          Yellow roses
18.          An organized drawer
19.          Good music played/sung well
20.          A surprising and well-turned phrase               
21.          The smell of clover
22.          Wild daisies
23.          Walking barefoot in soft grass
24.          Quiet
25.          A genuine smile from a stranger

And you know what? It worked. It got my mind off the pain and focused on my many gifts from God, and His goodness to me - through people, through nature, through music.

Later in the week I happened to exclaim, “What a great day!”
To which the Cowboy remarked, “That is quite the pain medication.”

Little did he know that, pain medication aside, I had decided to choose joy.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Me, the Corner-Folder

A few years ago when a friend lent me her book over the summer, I remember telling her, “Don’t worry, I use bookmarks. I don’t fold corners. I don’t roll covers. I don’t make marks …” 

It has always been my intent to return a book in the same condition in which it was lent.

But in recent months I’m almost horrified to realize … I have become a corner-folder!!

How could this happen?

Me. A lover and respecter of books and all things book related. Now I am dishonouring these best-loved items by folding over corners?

And to top it all off … yes, I admit it here for the first time … I have been rolling covers back as I read. You know, the front cover and all the pages I’ve already read are rolled back in my left fist as I read on.

What has happened to me?

I wonder if it goes along with that whole over-a-certain-age-you-don’t-care-what-anybody-thinks-anymore season I’m in.

I find myself compelled to analyze this:
- I don’t fold corners to mark the last page I read. I still use bookmarks. I love bookmarks. Give me a bookmark for Christmas and it’s like I just won a trip to Disneyworld.

- I fold corners when I don’t have a pen and paper (or my quote book) handy to write down something I want to remember … something I deem quotable.

- If the deemed-quotable quote is near the top of the page I turn down the corner at the top. If it is near the bottom, the corner at the bottom is turned over. Then, when I’ve had a chance to write down the quote somewhere, I unfold the corner. It’s a very organized system. And yes, if the deemed-quotable quote is in the middle of the page I really DO sit there thinking, Now what?? I have a hard time deciding whether to turn down the top or the bottom corner in that case. I’m just finicky like that.

As I analyze this further I realize that I am only a corner-folder-cover-roller on my own books.

Thank heavens I still respect other people’s books.

This recent realization has brought me to wondering … what else is going to show up? If the corner-folder in me rearing it’s alluring head these days really has to do with the over-a-certain-age-you-don’t-care-what-anybody-thinks-anymore season I’m in, then what else has been lying dormant, ready to pounce when I’m least expecting it?

It’s like the secret rebel in me has been waiting for this season of my life. Who knows what will happen next. Yes, you can still lend me a book without risk of it returning to you damaged. But who knows how long that will last? I certainly don’t!

Should I be seeking help?

Or should I resign myself to the fact that the secret rebel in me will inevitably appear from time to time? And just look forward to the surprises?

Hello, my name is Joyous and I’m a Corner-Folder.