There are many things in life that take us away from finding and experiencing joy. “Life is hard,” we often hear muttered by our friends and family or read on someone’s social post. And, honestly, it is. Sometimes it is so overwhelming, that even our memories of experiencing joy can be hard to recall. It’s that moment when we feel the sadness of life enveloping and drawing us down into a dark whirlpool that we need to be able to connect with joy.
Recently, I was looking to find joy. I needed to find joy. I opened up my email, something I procrastinate on as long as possible, but yet surprisingly I found joy. There was an email just waiting for me to open it and have a smile of childlike wonder appear on my face. It was from Disney, and they are the masters at this, but I didn’t care. I found a smile and it helped. I also now have a Tsum Tsum plushie headed my way and I’m sure when it arrives, I’ll have some more child-like joy.
When I was learning how to be an adult with my first checking account as an undergraduate at Georgia State, I read Alexander Stoddard’s Living a Beautiful Life: 500 Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty and Joy to Every Day of Your Life and it changed how I approached the world. When she spoke of saving money to buy fresh flowers for her tiny apartment when she first started out because they gave her joy, it rang true for me. I went on to read many more of her books about living graciously and happy and about decorating. Looking at my house, I can see her influence. Every time I buy flowers for myself, I think of her words.
I fell in love with Monet’s water lilies when I was in high school. If my life and style were to be described by a color pallet it would be from his impressionist paintings. When I stood amongst them in Paris at the Musée de L'Orangerie,I wept. In that moment, I experienced so much joy and wonder that I could not contain it. It was like in an instant I realized the impact that his art had on me, my life, and my style and taste. Art, in many forms, brings me joy. I find that because of social media, pop art and photographs are grabbing more of my attention. Branden Camp’s, a former student, work touches me when I see how he captures the spirit of a moment. Art can bring comfort.
As I write this, there is a little dog barking outside. His bigger, but younger, brother sunning himself in the unlikely 70-degree winter weather we are enjoying. The cat is curled up on her pet bed, the sun shinning on her illuminating her beautiful coat. I sit in silence, a small smile on my face. The bigger dog is at the window now, looking at me. He wrapped himself around my heart the first time I saw him at the shelter. These furry companions bring joy and a lack of bed covers with them. I didn’t know unconditional love until I adopted Clover. She greeted me at the door and meowed her heart out from day one. At night, she would curl up on my shoulder. For the first time in my life, I had a furry companion and she opened my heart.
Yesterday, while I was teaching, I had to use my phone because the internet was down. We have these amazing doc cameras that will project what ever you put on the platform onto the big screen. I have to say, I get just a little giddy every time I use one, because I remember the old days when you had to use overhead transparencies. Since my phone could access the internet, I used it to show the day’s presentation. As I’m walking up the side of the classroom discussing the point-of-the-moment, I suddenly hear a room full of “ahs” and “that’s so sweet.” I look up to see my husband texted me, “Kisses.” And though my face was red, I was smiling. So much joy filled me with his simple expression of love, that I forgot what I was talking about. He is my greatest source of joy. I send him silly emoji texts to brighten his day and he sends me kisses and hugs.
The animals are inside now, cuddled up around me. I have learned to type with a cat sitting on my chest, a dog beside me and another dog in my lap. The joys of being a fur-mom.
Life is hard, but it is also joyful. The one thing you must do is open your eyes to find it, because it is hiding out there somewhere.
A senior lecturer of marketing at Kennesaw State University, Tyra is a gamer-girl, gadget geek at heart.