“Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, even joyous. That has more of an effect on economic well-being than any other single factor.” ~ Paul Hawken
“Contrary to what we usually believe… the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times—although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen. For a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the last block on a tower she has built, higher than any she has built so far; for a swimmer, it could be trying to beat his own record; for a violinist, mastering an intricate musical passage. For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ~ Dr. Seuss
This week, we focused our attention on joy. Our writers drew from memory and poetry to discuss aspects of joy – what brings us joy and what diminishes joy. We identified the joyful moments in our lives as important marker points. This means that our joy is tied, inevitably, to identity. What makes us joy is linked to who we are. And learning who we are helps us feel guided toward living authentic lives. Joy is really difficult to achieve in the prison. Because of that, I’m going to hurry on to our writers’ words this week and let them speak for themselves.
Below, you’ll read our writers’ accounts of their joy and, by extension, accounts of themselves.
Being rocked by your mom starts joy.
Being a mom is also joy,
Playing with friends, at home or in school,
being with your pets, feeling their soft ears,
going on vacation, buying souvenirs,
eating with family, ending with dessert,
learning to drive, getting to take the car out,
sitting on the beach watching the waves roll in,
walking on the boardwalk watching the guys go by,
going on a date with butterflies inside,
enjoying wine, being asked to dance,
buying a new outfit, and 2 pairs of shoes,
cooking for a holiday, enjoying tradition
or being invited for a holiday at someone else’s house.
Food brings joy, ice cream, chocolate, Chinese food.
So much of life brings joy.
The list goes on for a mile.
The best joy lately is hearing
my grandchildren say,
I love you, Grandma. Can
I come over your house?
To My Son
You are the one
I think of.
Your life as just begun
and here you come
telling me that.
Laugh when all you wanna to do is cry.
Smile, even though your life is upside down.
Speak even though no one want to listen.
Sing because that’s all you wanna do.
Eat only when you’re hungry.
Run when there is nothing else to do.
Love even when you’re mad.
Believe in the dreams you believe in.
Hope when you’re on the ground,
joy when something’s new ground.
Feel when someone says something nice to you.
Cry even when you’re happy.
Fight even when there’s nothing to fight for.
Thinking about the future brings me joy!
All the possibilities – what I could be, having
a family, someone to love me, a beautiful baby,
someone made solely for me to stand by
me stick up for me and protect me!
To become a business woman, get out of Myrtle
Beach, go to college to get a business degree,
move away from my family! Like in warm weather,
next to the ocean with seashells decorating my house
and wedding to plan. I love watching people fall in love.
I guess I am in love with the idea of love!
I know right now while I’m incarcerated in this purgatory,
I’m frozen but when I am released, I will make a better life
for myself, build all that I dream. I won’t depend on anyone.
This is all on me and if I want it bad enough, my future
will be everything I’ve ever wanted it to be!
Believe in being happy.
Joy comes from within,
is present at times,
a mood comes and goes,
never a constant thing.
I learned the difference
Be truly joyful, always.
Joy or happiness?
Do everything, but nothing –
I was losing myself.
Well, I could make her happy
She needed more.
Joy, come back.
I was going to live my life,
change my life,
Never let go.
4 thoughts on “facets of joy”
I’ve occasionally co-facilitated writing workshops for women in prison, together with a creative writing tutor. The experiences were incredibly rewarding. I’m cheered to read these poems.
What fun to see you here!!! We’ve often connected via my ‘author’ site … I’m curious how it went, you and a creative writing tutor? Would you not be that tutor yourself?!!! Thanks for stopping by – I hope you continue to enjoy our postings. Cheers, Sarah
I provided guided imagery, or photographs to spark off the imagination, and took part in listening, and discussions around stories.
The projects always had a budget for small pamphlets, beautifully produced, so participants had something to hold in their hands, share and be proud of. It often changed lives, made people more understanding of themselves and others, and curious enough to study and widen their horizon.
Sounds fabulous! We, too, provide printed anthologies three or four times/year of the work they do – just for them, but it gives them a sense of ownership, motivation, confidence, having been witnessed. All the things you observed. Last week was our semi-annual reading inside with invited community guests – I’m about to post about it – you’ll read more of the same kind of comments/observations there, too. It is incredible work – for ALL of us. Thanks for sharing your own experiences here. Especially the changing lives and expanding understanding of self/others. We see that in spades here, as well. Universal, isn’t it – truly listening to others is the foundational key to connection.
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