Little Joys- Part 1

There are so many little joys to be grateful for in life, treasured not for their grandness or “importance” but for the happiness they bring to each moment if we heighten our awareness of the present.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in obligations, multitasking to fit it all in.  But if we can stop and take time to notice, these little joys gift us with peace, a smile, and connection to all that is positive.

I’ve been recording some of the many little joys in my life via Instagram and Facebook but want to share them with my blog friends as well.  What Little Joys bring light to your life?

Art Supplies

My art supplies… always beckoning me, inspiring me, and encouraging me to play.

Birdhouses

My backyard bird haven… plenty of shelter, water, and food. Seeing them flit about happily brings me joy.

Coffee in the Morning

That first cup of coffee in the morning, made even more special by being in a favorite mug.

Crocuses

Purple crocuses bring the message that spring will soon be here!

Daffodils

Sunshine yellow daffodils soon follow crocuses.

Evening Walk with Pups

Evening walks with the dogs. My way to release the stress of the day , transition into my personal life, and take time to notice the little joys in nature with my pups.

Freyjas Soulful Eyes

Freyja’s soulful eyes. This gorgeous girl was once someone’s helpless puppy mill breeding dog but luckily for both of us, she’s been my little girl for 3 years, bringing me joy with every soulful expression on her face. I think we rescued each other!

Rag Rugs

Rag rugs are a great way to salvage scraps of material and give them new life. Each piece has a story. I made this rug over 20 years ago and enjoy the vibrancy and cheerfulness of every color.

Sily Socks

Silly socks… just because.

Warm Cinnamon Rolls

Warm cinnamon rolls with icing drizzled on the top. Comfort food at its best.

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Does the dream align with joy & meaning?

I’ve been intrigued by what I’m reading in Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfection:  Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed To Be and Embrace Who You Are.  “Gosh Susan, why are you reading that?”  Because I’m a recovering Type A, overachieving, perfectionistic, list-maker… emphasis on the word “RECOVERING”.  Years ago, when I was first told that I had type B negative blood, I seriously thought, “Why couldn’t it be an A?”  I’m not joking.  That was honestly my initial thought!

That’s how much my perfectionist tendencies were ingrained in me.  I can laugh at that now but it’s taken a while to see that this perfectionism, while it helped me get where I am today, didn’t just prevent me from enjoying success.  It kept me from enjoying the present.

So I’ve chosen a path of greater self-acceptance & gentleness.  I’m by no stretch of the imagination a “reformed perfectionist” but I’m well on the road to recovery.

If there was a 12-step program for overachievers, it would include:  

1.  Gentleness

2.  Patience

3.  Gratitude

4.  Love

5.  Acceptance

6.  Trust

7.  Surrender

8.  Bravery

9.  Joy

10.  Openness

11.  Passion

12.  Nurturing

Brene Brown asks us to consider whether or not the dream we have for our future aligns with what brings joy and meaning to our lives.  Or, is the dream list merely a list of accomplishments and acquisitions, such as “get a promotion”. “add a new addition to the house”, or “buy a boat”.  Am I driven to follow a path of joy & meaning or is the perfectionism driving me to pursue things that keep me chained to a life of constant reaching, striving, gaining, & reaching for more?  Am I trying to please myself or impress someone else?

Intriguing… and an opportunity for me to make TWO lists!  (I said I was recovering.)  I eagerly grabbed a sheet of loose-leaf paper (the best for list-making) & divided the page into two columns.  The left side was “Joy & Meaning” and the right side was “My Dream for My Future”.

Let’s see how well these two align…  Under Joy & Meaning, the list included my boyfriend, dogs, creative expression, nature, good food, friends, serenity, and my spirituality.  Easy.  Let’s see what’s under the dream category…. more time with Jim, dogs, my art, nature, friends, and spiritual exploration.  (Quite a few that relate to my professional life but I’ll keep those to myself.)  There were no material possessions on that list and no accomplishments outside of the burning desire (need) to have a more meaningful, joyful professional life.  For me, what I dream of having in greater quantities are those things that already bring joy and meaning to my life.  (And having the wisdom, courage, & support to shed what doesn’t.)

“Is the dream you are pursuing aligned with what brings the most joy and meaning to your life?”  

 

 

Lazy Days of Summer

Happy Summer Solstice everyone!  I have a secret that needs to come out; despite being a total nature lover, I find summer is the most difficult season to love. There, I said it.  Every June I come up with dozens of ideas for outdoor projects, ignoring Mother Nature’s gentle reminder which I vaguely recognize from last June, “You might want to do your outdoor activities during the coolest parts of the day & rest when the sun is at its highest.”  When I continue to work in the yard, despite her warning, she gets parental by shrugging & saying, “Ok, I tried to warn you.  Now you have to learn the hard way.”  The reward for my stubbornness is exhaustion, icky sweat, & sunburn.  As I rub aloe across my red shoulders & down my red nose,  I humbly remember I need to work on Nature’s terms if I want to enjoy the summer.

Lawnchairs in the shade beckon as the temperature climbs.

It’s all about balance & learning from nature.  Birds, deer, & other wildlife are most active in the cooler parts of the day.  Intuitively, I know that & always have.   I now do my chores early in the morning.  Once the temperature rises, I read, meditate, sketch, or perform self-Reiki in the shade of my young maple tree.  Occasionally, I nap because that’s what summer is for!!  Just ask Paco, he knows 🙂

Paco, my Lhaso Apso, knows how to beat the heat.

My Garden; My Retreat

Last weekend, we went to Landis Valley’s Herb & Garden Faire & the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  I was STARVING for a deeper connection to nature as life has been pretty hectic lately.  It was a great day for a festival with temperatures in the 60s, a blue sky, & fluffy clouds rolling by lazily.  My eyes danced as I took in all the heirloom vegetables, fragrant herbs, native perennials, homemade soap, organic dog biscuits, & gourd birdhouses. Every year, I accept the fact that my wallet is full when I arrive & it will be empty when I leave.  This year was no different; we bought over 50 plants, 3 birdhouses, & a gorgeous wrought iron garden hose holder!

I spent two days on my hands & knees in the dirt with these little plants.  Some will nourish us.  Some will nourish the birds & bees.  And still others will attract butterflies & hummingbirds.  I truly want to make my yard a safe haven for wildlife as well as a peaceful sanctuary for those I love.

Can you tell that I LOVE gardening?

My handy tools have served me well for years.

I welcome new friends into my flowerbeds.

When I bought this house, there was only one small tree & a forsythia bush.  Because I spent a year & a half in England, completely falling in love with cottage gardens, I wanted to replicate that slightly wild, overgrown look here.

The garden has come a long way in 7 years.

This is my back garden today. Doesn’t a picnic lunch outside sound wonderful?

My garden is my retreat.  The 2nd highest compliment given to me is a friend saying, “I love it here.  It’s so peaceful.”  The highest compliment I receive is from Mother Nature– who blesses this space with the return of earthworms, monarch butterflies, centipedes, praying mantis, bunnies, bees, & birds.  I didn’t see a single worm when I began gardening here 7 years ago so turning over a shovel full of dirt to reveal an underground community of critters makes my heart sing.

Whatever I have given back to the earth, She has returned to me tenfold. 

For the Sheer Joy of It

A friend asked me to watch a video on flixxy.com  titled “Humpback Whale Gives Show After Being Saved”.  It’s been a long time since I cried for joy but this video made tears flow down my face.   A magnificent whale is trapped in a fishing net, close to dying, until people in a passing boat use all their strength to set it free.  Watching him leap in the air, flip, & flop back into the sea was indescribably joyful.  I clapped, cheered, & laughed between the tears, especially after hearing what the little girl on the boat says at the end of the clip.  I’m not going to tell you; you have to watch it yourself 🙂

Inspired by another uplifting whale story, I created this collage titled “Free To Be”.  Two words that come to mind when I look at this happy Orca are —  “PLAY” and “FREE”.  When is the last time you played–  just for the fun of it?  Sometimes,  I get so preoccupied with lists, errands, & chores that I have to remind myself that play is equally important.  My imagination & creativity (& sanity) rely on a healthy dose of playtime.  That’s why I garden, hike with my boyfriend, chase my dogs around the yard, eat cookie dough ice-cream out of the box, & create upbeat art.  What sounds like fun to you?  Think about it.  The first idea that makes you laugh out loud is the idea I want you to try… the sillier the better.  Do something just for the sheer joy of doing it.  See how it stimulates your creativity.  Include the people you love & share the fun.

Free To Be… what a concept!

 Check out the art I have for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan