Joy

It’s a Little Smudged

The Oscars are on, and my dad isn’t here. I feel funny watching without him.

On Friday, through fits of tears, I groaned on the phone, saying “I don’t want to participate in something I once loved without him. I’m just going to do something else entirely.” I wiped off my snot, and tried to move into the weekend.

All day, I’ve been wondering how it will feel to watch something I treasured without his presence. I’m not sure if my parents intentionally made Oscar night special, but I have memories of fancy evenings, appetizers, and sneaking out of my room to watch the award for Best Picture be handed out late at night. Watching the Oscars was a family thing, a special event, a day I always looked forward to. I wrote about my passion for the night here.

This year, as I write, the opening monologue plays on. I think my timing in writing is connected to avoidance, to the still uncertain, squeamish feeling in allowing myself to participate in things I love when life has changed. Is it ok to return to things I enjoy? To remember to laugh, to dance at weddings, to smile in the Sunday sunshine? Sometimes grief treats you like a real bitch who deprives you of those things.

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I was at a wedding last weekend, and we accidentally took this blurry picture. I kept it, though, because I think at times, the beauty of life can feel a little smudged.

In moving out of intense grief, efforts to dress up and sparkle feel shaky and uncertain. Are we allowed to partake in such joy and celebration? It can be hard to tentatively trust the universe that joy is allowed. I am, at times, the only one keeping myself from those experiences. But if we don’t keep trying to get back to enjoying life, I don’t think we ever will.

So here I am, watching the Oscars, and I might cry a little bit. Might make my in-laws uncomfortable. I might have to choose to honor the beautiful ache when I make the choice to return to the things I love without him.

Time to squint, and start seeing the beauty through the tears.

 

The Dachshunds

Shauna Niequist is taking the world by storm, or rather, by quiet revolt. Inviting people to say no to the rush, and yes to the pause. No to feelings of inadequacy and yes to the beauty and grace that we discover when we give ourselves the permission to slow the heck down.

The other day she had this as a Facebook status, “One of my spiritual practices: noticing. The tiny moments of sweetness & beauty & hope are always there–sometimes it’s just a matter of choosing to be a noticer.”

I saw this and I thought, “YES! This is what I want to be. A noticer.”

And so this week I choose to share the joy brought from these things that I noticed.

We went to a Rockies baseball game on Friday night and sat next to a school group. I was amazed at the sheer energy these kids had – climbing over chairs, refusing to sit still, hitting and nudging of siblings. I was so exhausted from sitting all day – yes sitting, the curse of the desk job – and I almost wished I had the tenacity to be able to climb all over my environment.

Too, these kids could not stop eating. Handfuls of popcorn, Pringles, hardboiled eggs their parents had brought, cotton candy. The joyful consumption of so many snacks. Every time I would look over, these little boys and girls had their palms to their faces, licking remnants of cheese and salt, and smears of flavor would be left on their face. This is the kind of abundant life we should be thankful for – remnants of food and wiggles still yet to be had after 9 pm. We live in a place of abundance – we need to recognize this.

As I left my neighborhood driving to work on Monday morning I rubbed my eyes and slurped my coffee. Mornings have never been my favorite and we are notoriously bad at any kind of morning routine here at my house. So when I stopped at the stop sign to turn left onto the main street and noticed an older gentleman walking three dachshunds I had to smile. Not one little dog, but three, and their owner had the ability to get up and dressed and out of the house for a walk. Not all of us are in a hurried rush to get to work.

Notice this kind of thing – the joy owners get from their  little creatures- the will to be outside in the mornings. I noticed a feeling of thankfulness for the beauty that was brought by being forced to stop and notice at a stop sign.

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And today, a little girl outside of the bank building, patiently waiting in a trailer being pulled behind a bike as her mom made a deposit. She knew how to put her hair in a pony tail, and beamed with pride as her mom noticed the change in her appearance when the mom was done with her chore.

It’s true – the world can be scary, and anxiety provoking, and a heck of a hard place to be. But when we slow down and choose to notice, not all of it can be awful.

I want to continue to notice – the good, the happy, the joyful, the dachshunds.

What did you notice this week?