Who knew such a little thing could set me off? It was a piece of yellow construction paper with the words “Choose Joy” scrawled across it in blue crayon, pinned up in one of the offices. I was sitting in an armchair, staring at the offending paper, contemplating the existence and futility of mankind, when the annoyance finally boiled over.
“That’s just stupid.”
Zach, our office manager, looked up from his laptop. “Am I missing something?”
I pointed, and he followed my line of sight to the sign on the wall.
“Yes. Do you realize how absolutely dumb that is? Anyone who’s suffered from depression knows exactly how impossible that is.”
Zach stared at the offensive paper for a second, then turned back to me. “I think it’s actually more about attitude and head space, than emotion.”
“Yeah, but joy isn’t something you can just turn on like a light switch…” I trailed off, annoyed that Zach was right and I was just being a grump.
“I think the ‘Choose Joy’ phrase is actually a lot more about finding the good within the bad, and not letting the bad suck all the goodness out of life. Choosing Joy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re choosing happiness or choosing to suddenly be fine, but instead choosing to see the hope, or at least choosing to search for it.”
If I haven’t mentioned before, Zach is a very wise man.
The sign (and ensuing conversation) got me thinking, though. I was so quick to find fault in something so simple, and so slow to try and see the good just because I was in a low spot. Sometimes you have to look for your joy, search for it in the midst of stress and emotional dehydration.
So, I started making a list. I’ve realized that I really enjoy lists. Having them all down in an easy tangible form is helpful, and I can continue adding to it without feeling like I have to remember everything. At first, the list began as something of a “to-do” list of things that I needed to work on that might bring back a little of the joy I was missing. I present it to you now:
- Work on your herb garden. You saved a pin about this. I’m thinking basil, rosemary, and mint for starters. Put them in mason jars, or some fancy hipster thing like that.
- Blog more often. You should write more. Writing gets you out of a funk.
- Be a better wife to Allan. He deals with all your crap and your whining.
- Finish Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans.
- Finish Worm by Wildbow.
- Start A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans.
- Compile a good reading list for the year. You need better reading goals. You always surprise yourself with how happy reading makes you. Dumb bunny.
- Think about a five year plan. Also maybe a ten year plan. Or just a plan.
- Finish playing Bioshock Infinite
- Start a bullet journal. Your inner scrapbooking queen is screaming to be let out (just a little bit).
- Cook for people. This is your love language, and since people need to eat, this is pretty convenient.
As you can see, the list doesn’t really have any real thought process to it, other than being a bunch of things I’d like to do regularly. A couple goals thrown in, and voila! A partially functional list. A couple joy things, a couple goal things, and a couple life things. Now, some of these I can’t really work on at camp (like the video game and cooking), but other things I’ve already started. I finished reading Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans, (which was, by the way, absolutely amazing and blew my freaking mind all over the place), and am already half way through A Year of Biblical Womanhood. I’m almost 1/3 of the way through an audiobook of Worm by Wildbow, (and considering the book is approximately the equivalent of 6 War & Peace books, I’m quite proud of my accomplishment thus far). I’ve started trying to write in my spare time, jotting down bits and pieces to later weave them into something coherent. As for the “being a better wife” part, I consider that an ongoing project that I shall continue to master until my death.
I had a conversation with my boss, Tim N., a couple days ago, and he brought up something I hadn’t thought about before. He mentioned that I seemed unhappier this summer, and that (since he had read my blog) I seemed to really be struggling more so than the past two summers. He guessed that it might have to do with my lack of people-ing. That’s not the word he used, but you get the idea. As an extrovert, I get energy by being around people. And not just being in their presence, but interacting and having an impact. As photographer, I am around people all day, but don’t have the time or opportunity to interact on a deeper level with the campers. I think he might be right. Yet another insightful piece of information to help me locate my joy.