Creating space for joy

Two years ago everything changed for show choir. Last week brought hope and new beginnings. Oh the joy to be in community and witness students dancing, singing, and celebrating their accomplishments. Social distancing has changed; yet, loss has remained. That same week my five-year-old grand-daughter lost a friend in her kindergarten class, my youngest in high school lost a friend to cancer, my mom lost a friend at church, and a young teenage girl lost her father. Not to mention the unfathomable crisis in Ukraine–the heartbreak and sorrow. As the stress builds we release. The body’s stress response. I talked to a friend one morning who gave me perspective and hope. Friendships matter. Joy is not the opposite of sadness. Joy is in the midst through images and events that occur in relationships, spiritual connections, conversations, nature, and our “daily going about things”. There was a moment during the competition event that I looked around the room, and, in slow motion, my mind and emotions formulated a sense of transitional sadness. This is it. My last child to move through high school and parental volunteering. My chest got tight and I stopped to pray and mediate. Peeking through the glass watching the students I teared up.

I’m okay. Really.

I think as we move along in this world of chaos and change, we’ve got to be okay with doing things sad with permission to experience joy. We have to be intentional. I’m not talking about toxic positivity. I’m talking about intentional practices that make us laugh and offer hope.

Volunteering at my daughter’s school brought this joy.

This event connected me with new friends, created positive conversations with students, and gave my daughter and grand-daughter a way to volunteer in their community.

After a long weekend of volunteer work, my husband and I decided to look up Richmond happenings and do something different. We went to a restaurant on Cary Street and then walked to see an old movie at the Byrd Theater. We love old movies but have never experienced watching one on the big screen. The place was packed. Their is a man who plays the organ just before shows. His last song–“What a Wonderful World”. He played it grand and loud! As I sang along, my eyes beheld the beauty of the old theatre.

I’ll leave you with an excellent podcast on the importance of joy in the midst of it all.

How creating space for joy can build resilience (with Miracle Jones)

With all the terrible things happening in the world lately, does the idea of maintaining a spark of joy in your day to day feel unrealistic? Or even inappropriate? Today’s guest, Miracle Jones, believes that all the collective tragedy makes the role of joy in our routines even more crucial. She is a community organizer and queer activist who currently serves as the director of policy and advocacy at 1Hood Media. In today’s episode, Miracle meditates on the importance of joy as a catalyst for resilience, growth, and collective action, and shares how we can cultivate its practice even (and perhaps especially) in the darkest of times. You can learn more about Miracle’s work at 1hood.org. To learn more about “How to Be a Better Human,” host Chris Duffy, or find footnotes and additional resources, please visit: go.ted.com/betterhuman

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Linda says:

    Anna, I am so sorry to hear about all the loss’s that have touched you this past week. My heart goes out to you.
    I was sitting at Addison’s school in the Theatre for his band concert last Thursday and as we were waiting for the performance to start. I could not help but to reflect on The past 5 years that I was in the Theatre for Kayla’s show choir and theatre performances. I actually had tears of sadness that she was not able to perform there her senior year of high school. As always, I found the silver lining and remembered the school allowing the parents to come to the gym and have them “not sing” put perform their winning songs for both show choirs last year. It was by far not the same (and you know the kids were singing under those masks for Mr Finn blased the music so you could not hear them) but it at least gave them a moment to share their last senior moments together as a team and connected. Those are beautiful moments we share with our kids but there are so many more ahead of us – even with grandchildren 🙂 I love you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Linda, I’ve been emotional the last few week for many of the reasons you’ve reflected here. Nothing says “I see you” as someone sharing their heart and story to validated where you are in the moment. I’ve always appreciated you for this and so much more. Sometimes that feeling hits you in your gut and other times in your chest/heart. It sneaks up on you. I guess that is the journey of parent and the love we have for our family. Many more adventures ahead. I love you.

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