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A jumpstart to joy

I felt profound joy this week when, while walking our dog one morning, I discovered a dandelion. The perky yellow flower was sitting all by itself in the middle of a neighborhood lawn. My delight at seeing it reminded me little things happen in any given day that give you a feeling of simple joy. I vow to treasure those moments more.

There are times in my life when I would have referred to a dandelion as “pesky,” not “perky.” But this is not those times.

I tend toward the quirky, more so of late it seems. I look for “weird and delightful ways [of] getting through.” That quoted phrase made me smile when I originally read it. The words came from a joyful someone whose name I cannot recall but I suspect would have shared my delight at coming upon the stand-alone dandelion.

“Let a joy keep you. Reach out and take it when it runs by.” That phrase was frequently used by my long-deceased mother and is attributed to the poet Carl Sandburg. It is offered to me on a daily basis through my mom’s exquisite calligraphy in a framed wall-hanging in my study.

I know joy is personal and can sometimes be hard to reach out for when you are in the doldrums. Perhaps I can help you jumpstart the moment with a few ideas. There is the “the joy of a morning sunrise” or “the joy of the perfect scrambled egg.” The sunrise is available most mornings just by looking east. My perfect eggs involve a little cornstarch or arrowroot (diluted in water) added to the beaten eggs. Heat the pan with steamed water before adding a cubed pat of butter — and then the eggs, of course. Eatable joy.

We are now farther down the path toward opening up things post-pandemic after a long and sometimes joyless year. There is less need to stay as close to the homestead as long as we are appropriately masked and observe the recommended distance. Think about these opening-up times as holding forth more opportunities for finding joy. The joy of hugging other vaccinated people and the joy of eating out come immediately to mind.

How about, “the joy of visiting long-unseen friends” We are scheduled to do that next week, and even anticipating the get-together gives me a feeling of joy. And there is the joy of just knowing you got through the last year and that spring is coming.

And what about this: “The joy of purchasing new shoes.” Hopefully, like mine, they are walking shoes and we use them daily. A Harris Poll in late February found that “42% of respondents had gained an average of 29 pandemic pounds,” so the joy of daily walking could lead to the joy of stepping on the scale and seeing lower numbers. Or maybe it’s the joy of looking in a mirror and seeing yourself smile.

Sharon Johnson is a retired health educator. Reach her at sharjohn99@gmail.com.