Ode to Joy

So, I guess we’ll just plan on me being late with every “three moments of joy” entry, and then when I’m on time, it will be an unexpected moment… of joy.  See what I did there? Yeah, okay. Onward, then.

Yesterday was a much better day than Tuesday, that’s for sure. Still… it’s interesting to discover that moments of joy are often elusive creatures to pin down. As I mentioned before, I’m trying to stay away from moments of gratitude – of which, there are many – to focus purely on sparks of joy. What sparks joy?  It’s a thought-provoking question.  Joy can be something as simple as a baby’s laugh, which, as we all know, can light up a room. Or it can be that first barefooted step onto a white sandy beach, knowing that work remains two weeks off in the future.

Well, I didn’t visit any white, sandy beaches yesterday … but I did see and hear a baby laugh, and I’ll tell you, it was infectious. My other moments of joy were brief – and perhaps small, but looking back, they were the glue that made the day not just bearable, but oh-so-pleasant.

Moment of Joy #1:
An unknown-to-me baby’s infectious laugh which broke through a moment of not quite sadness to engulf the world in delight.

Moment of Joy #2:
Coffee.  Need I say more?  Coffee, coffee, coffee. First thing in the morning, too. I rarely have time to make a cup of coffee for myself before I go to work, and this one was there, just waiting for me, so yeah, it was a joyful way to start the day.

Moment of Joy #3:
My dog. It occurred to me yesterday, that perhaps I’ve taken advantage of it all these years, but my dog loves me. His wiggly butt and his “mommy’s home!” dance at the door when I come home after work just brightens my day… no matter what kind of day I’ve had. Oh sure, he gets treats all day long and I tell him what a good boy he is (cause let’s face it, he is), but I vow to better appreciate this unconditional love going forward. Dogs, like people, aren’t here forever, and we need to soak up their affection for as long as we have them with us.

So, spill… what were YOUR three moments of joy?

Joy to the World

So, true to form, I’m late with my first “three moments of joy” submission.  Quite frankly, yesterday was an extremely difficult day. It’s almost as if the gods that be saw my desire to be more joyful and said, “Oh yeah!? Well, have WE got a day for you, my pretty!” Strangely enough, the gods that be sound just like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Now, if it’s moments of gratitude we’re talking about, I’ve got that down … there were lots of moments of gratitude yesterday. From a very sweet and compassionate store clerk who spent just about forever helping an older gentleman get his $1.00 refund to a dear friend who tries his best to make me smile. But moments of joy?  Those were tough to identify. After some heavy consideration, I found that my moments of joy were also true to form… involving animals and books.

Moment of Joy #1:
While on my way through my neighborhood yesterday evening, I saw a guy … big, burly kind of guy, walking a little pug dog. The dog was young, likely still just a puppy – it had that puppy gait typical of very young pugs that is more hop than walk. It looked as though it had discovered something fascinating in the grass and was attempting to scare it into submission – by bouncing at it mind you—which only served to increase its cuteness by tenfold. I was reminded of Jack Frost in Santa Clause 3 … “What are you going to do, adorablize me? Sweet me into submission? Cute me to death?”  Joy is cute baby pugs.

Moment of Joy#2:
I went to the library. Yep. It was that simple. It wasn’t a long visit, I just had to return some books but in doing so took about five minutes to look at the shelves close to the book return. That’s all I needed.  Joy is being surrounded by books.

Moment of Joy #3:
After I was finally finished with errands and at home, in my own space, before I could even change out of my work clothes, I laid down on the couch with the intent to just sulk recoup after a trying day. While lying there, curled up on my side, the ne’er-do-well decided that I would make a good perching point, so she climbed up on my hip, somehow making herself fit as only cats can do, and laid there… purring.  Joy is a warm little ball of fluff.

Where did you find joy yesterday?

Selfish or Self-Care?

It’s Monday yet again. It comes with infuriating regularity. Although Monday and I will never be friends – except perhaps after I win the mega-millions lottery – recently, Mondays, for me, haven’t been so bad.

In life, we have two choices.  We can devote our time to activities we love, surrounding ourselves with, if not exactly low-stress endeavors, at least endeavors that do not prompt the need for an impromptu intervention … or we can devote our time to fighting against things we hate.  Which is better?

Until very recently, I devoted my time, energy, and whole heart into a cause I am passionate about: animal advocacy.  What I’ve learned is that the nightmares never end, figuratively and literally.

I loved what I did, and I’m still active in the animal advocacy world, but I found out that devoting myself to it exclusively led to high stress levels that affected me physically and emotionally.  I stayed with the job, subjecting myself day in and day out to nightmare scenes I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and for a lot less money than I realistically needed to survive.  I was tirelessly devoted to my job out of loyalty and dedication to the cause, letting myself suffer financially and mentally for far longer than I should have.  At last, I had no choice but to change jobs.

Now, I work with food.  Yummy foods.  I work for a food broker, managing a variety of vegetarian and vegan lines.  I find my sleep is a little better; the worst thing in my nightmares about my new job is the rumored Great Carrot Revolt coming in the fall of this year.  My job is interesting, and I am surrounded by what I love, food.  And did I mention, I work with food?

It’s only been a couple of months since I left my animal advocacy job, and while I can sleep a little better now, there are situations and images seared into my brain that I will likely carry with me for the rest of my life; thank the Gods that be that my mental library of horror is no longer being replenished daily. I have no regrets about leaving the job behind, but I do struggle with a little bit of guilt for leaving the cause.

It’s a much better situation that I am in now, of course, and I find myself looking forward to going to work instead of wondering what fresh level of Hell I will be walking into every day.  Discussions about food are, hands down, much more satisfying than discussions about defenseless animals trapped in unthinkable situations.  Still, the guilt is there, an itchy spot in my brain that I can’t quite scratch.

I’m very busy every day, with a different set of jer … ummm, associates to deal with. But the worst abuse I face now is someone trying to launch a new line of snack packs with no understanding whatsoever of their target audience.  No longer do I face veiled, and not-so-veiled, threats from low-lifes who regularly exhibit sociopath and psychopath tendencies. No longer must I explain to a well-meaning donor that the world does not, in fact, rest on my shoulders and no, I cannot control everything and everyone. No longer am I faced with images that could very well be in a Clive Barker film … and not in a good way. 

Oh, the work is challenging, and I am in a management position meaning I have a lot of responsibility and must be on top of my game … BUT our meetings at my new job revolve around food, and who doesn’t love food?  We are all enthusiastic about our jobs, and our days are filled with delicious excitement, not horrible dread.  And still, there it is again; a twinge of guilt.

I no longer argue with the belligerently ignorant in our midst over why leaving an egregiously crippled animal to starve is animal cruelty, and I don’t have to explain, with pictures, video, and tales from the field, for the umpteenth time why horse slaughter is a horrific fate for any horse and should be permanently abolished.  I can go home from work and just “be,” like a normal person, without collapsing into tears on my bathroom floor over what I’ve seen that day.

I will deal with my slight twangs of guilt in favor of a life I can enjoy.  I am proud of my past work in the advocacy group, and I know they will continue to succeed in the fight to protect the helpless … they are an amazing organization doing amazing work.  I still follow news, with a heavy heart, and get involved in ways that do not consume my life and scar my soul.

I know that some would say I abandoned the animal advocacy group, but I look at it as self-preservation.  Sometimes, you need to accept your past accomplishments and opt for taking care of yourself.  It doesn’t mean you stopped caring; if you ask me, it means you care too much.

But, I Hope …

I saw this article today. It made me sad in so many ways … I could fill my blog for years discussing this topic. The writer, a special-ed teacher, explained, in no uncertain terms, that should there be a shooter at her school, she would not die for the children in her class as she did not want to die herself. She wants to go home to her own kids. She wants to be there for her family, her parents, her siblings. She wants to live. I mean, really, who doesn’t? She discussed at length how much she puts herself out for the kids in her care, how she worries over them, guides them, helps them … basically everything any good teacher does, that, to her, seems award worthy (okay, she didn’t say that, it was just my take on her tone).

However, when it comes down to it – when called upon to protect her charges, she would be hiding in the supply closet (her class’ go-to place in an active shooter event). Oh, not to keep the children who were lucky enough to make it in there with her safe, but to keep herself safe. She ended the article with a curt “I won’t save your child.” I have no doubt whatsoever that she means it.

I’m not a teacher. I don’t have to participate in active shooter drills or instruct a room full of kids on what to do in a life-threatening emergency. Ex-husbands and creepers aside, I’ve never experienced anything more threatening than a crowd-filled fight and being trapped in the perimeter … squashed in like cattle – no guns involved.

But.

I hope … I would sincerely hope … that if I were thrown into a sadly-not-so-unthinkable scenario, that I would do what I could to protect the children around me. Yes, I want to come home to my kids and my family … hell, I just want to come home to my dog. I have people who love me and count on me and I think, need me. Not counting those in my familial circle who would like to see me stick around, in a purely selfish sense, I do not want to die.

But.

I hope my ever-present compassion would come to the fore. I can’t imagine being in a situation where children are at risk of dying and not helping in any way that I could. I’m only human. Maybe if the time came, I would choke. I don’t know. I’ve never been called upon to do anything at all of greatness.

But.

I hope I could make a difference in this world. In my heart of hearts, I have faith that I would rise to the occasion and save a child whose life hasn’t even yet begun, whether they are mine or not, whether I know them or not.

Personally, the idea of slamming a door shut in the face of a child to save myself, not to mention a child that I see every freakin’ day … a child that I taught to read, a child whose shoes I tied, a child whose future I helped mold, is abhorrent to me. Oh, I can’t say as I completely blame this teacher for her way of thinking (I mean, I do, but still …). After all, she is living with the very real prospect of death every day, given our current climate of school shootings. So, it’s easy for me to say what I would and wouldn’t do as I go back and forth to my relatively safe job.

But.

I hope I would do the right thing. My intentions are there. Of course, we all know what road the best of intentions pave. It’s easy to say that I would jump out in front of a bus – or a bullet – to save anyone, let alone a child. However, when it came right down to it … would I make that leap? It goes without saying that if it were MY kids, that leap of faith would be as natural as breathing.

But.

I hope that when faced with an impossible decision in a horrific situation where kids were in danger, that I would make my own children proud … that I could face my death – or life – with the knowledge that I not just aspired to greatness, but truly achieved some small semblance of it through the life of a child.

I just know that when push came to shove, if I were the one coming out the other side … at the cost of a young life I, myself, could have saved and deliberately chose not to … well, I’m not sure there would ever be light or joy in my own life again. It’s certainly not a life I would want to live.

If Inspiration was a Person

Maya Angelou would have been 90 years old today. The world suffered a great loss at her passing in May 2014. Ms. Angelou was an amazing talent, a truly loving heart, and a strong, passionate, dedicated woman. Her words have never ceased to move me. The world is a better place for her having been in it.

click for more info on this incredible woman

 

To Everything a Purpose

I gotta be honest with you guys – I have always had a hard time leaving behind the underdogs. I can’t turn my back on a runt, or the ones who need to be saved. This habit has no doubt penetrated the bubble of my personal life, I mean, just take a look through my past relationships and you’ll see that. If that doesn’t convince you, then maybe the ‘zoo’ I’m currently building – consisting of strays, rescues and neighborhood animals – will do the trick. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, this quirk of mine has been passed on to my daughter. My somewhat purposefully theatrical daughter.

You see, the other week we were at the grocery store, just doing some regular shopping – nothing new – and as I rooted through the cabbages looking for the perfect specimen, my eye caught sight of what had to be the smallest cabbage in the world. At least the smallest that I have ever seen.

Naturally, I brought this up to my daughter as an “oh, look at the cute little thing,” moment.  Sarah on the other hand, having the uncanny knack of knowing just what to say at any given moment to give me pause, pointed out that she simply couldn’t believe I hadn’t picked out the diminutive veggie resting at the top of the pile.

She actually made me feel sorry that I had left him behind to fend for himself.  Don’t tell me this girl can’t spin a tale. In great detail, she explained to me that everything in the world has a purpose, even this pocket-sized vegetable. Only no-one was likely to buy it since it’s so small and therefore it would be left behind to wither away and rot, never able to fulfill its purpose – that of being eaten…perhaps turned into a lovely veggie dish, or maybe a small serving of sauerkraut.

She was able to convince me that the life of this cabbage was some sort of Disney movie, and if I didn’t buy it and take it home, the little guy would never meet his happy ending. My daughter put it like this, everything has a purpose, and now this extraordinarily petite cabbage will never be able to fulfill his. It’s a beautiful sentiment, but seriously, I already feel guilty enough about all the other shit in life, I don’t need this too.

Needless to say, she successfully guilted me into going back to buy the wee little thing. What does that say about her? Hell, what does it say about me? And just what am I going to do with a baby cabbage?

the world’s tiniest cabbage

Inner Salvation

There will never be another me. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but there you go. I’m too damned old and too damned fed up with others who think they should have some level of control over me to placate unworthy people anymore. I’m me. And I’m happy with that.

 

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