Visit my show at the PSCCU Credit Union, Vashon, Washington May, June 2024 

Is it time to create your “Joy List?”

This week, I’m balancing writing an article about coping with life’s little losses by remembering all the joys that I’m finding.

I’m creating a “Joy List,” a go-to, no-thinking-required list of top pleasures, delight-full projects, music that moves, things that make me sing, gratitude-enhancing activities–a list I can quickly summon when the pain of loss is great or the weight of the world is heavy.

A Joy List is like an emergency kit for the soul that doesn’t require you to think about what will pick up your spirits (who wants to think when you’re weighed down already?). I go to it for items that are sure-fire, often sensual, and easy to pull off. I use them to restore brain sanity before I decide what to do next, maybe reading a great book, continuing my writing, or picking a project that will, hopefully, also be pleasurable.

NOT reading the news.

Given the state of the world, I’d recommend a Joy List to anyone.

Always near the top of the list is my garden. I need do nothing more than open my eyes and peer out our living room window to soak in delight. I planted our flower beds a bit randomly with flower colors that don’t “go together” and are too near each other, like magenta and white oriental lilies near the fading orange-red gladiolas. But the fragrance from those misplaced lilies make me swoon.

Captivating fragrances always have a place on my Joy List.

Our dandelion-like weeds, which spring up everywhere, are stunning if you ignore the fact that they are uninvited party crashers. My Joy List requires delighting in the abundant growing-ness of life (and letting go of my expectations to ever be weed-free).

My list includes simple pleasures like coffee and telephone calls with friends, Upbeat music like Gambia by Sona Jobarteh or sweet and mellow like the acoustic version of Take on Me (acoustic) by Ah-ha. Keep a list of your sure-fire favorites to use in a pinch. Sometimes I put my songs on repeat and let them salve my soul.

Comedy always has a place on the list–thank goodness for online access! I never tire of watching a young Bill Murray in Stripes lead an unusual Army drill. Robin Williams. Kate McKinnon and Tina Fey almost always make me smile. Pick whatever crazy thing will make you laugh. Your list is just for you.


The furry additions to my list this week are staring at me right now with tails wagging furiously–Royce and WInston. How did I forget how much energy a young Springer Spaniel can pack into a relatively small body? As my husband describes them, they’re like two thirteen-year-old brothers, rambunctious, loveable and possibly on speed, careening around the property on dirt bikes. If I start the day at 5:30, I know that the moment I try and sneak into the kitchen for my first quiet cup of tea, it’s “Game On!”

Who can resist a compressed package of joy running straight at you? Unlike our last foster dog, Franklin, who was a bit stand-offish about showing and receiving affection, these guys are in-your-face with love. Fortunately, I adore doggie hugs and luscious licks.

The boys would need a lot of training and a big dose of calm before they could ever be used as “therapy dogs.” But, already they’re therapeutic to me.

Like mainlining joy.

My dogs, like the other items on My Joy list, counter my despair as I look at the United States and our backward slide in areas like care for the environment, civil rights, and education. Unprecedented heat waves, blatant racism at rallies, immigrant and refugee children held in cages–heartbreaks are everywhere. I used to believe that the world was becoming steadily better, and I was a part of making that happen. Today that idea looks like “the good ‘ole days.”

It takes effort to keep the faith and notice all the good that’s still happening around me, often undocumented.

That’s why finding joy is so important. With one whistle, my furry joy-boys will remind me that life is GOOD and will be even better when I agree to PLAY BALL NOW. Then, they’ll reward me with some of their super slobbery Mommy-it’s-going-to-be-all-right kisses.

A truth I still need to remember.


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