thoughts on aging

I've decided to capture a slice of my thoughts now, so I might compare them later down the road.

Being single and in my 40s means I get to witness all of my peers who have gone the distance in their marriages reach epic milestones like 25th wedding anniversaries. Who knows, maybe I'll find someone in enough time to have that celebration before I'm dead, but I won't be in my prime when it occurs. I will be getting on in age for sure. Even if I married tomorrow I'd be officially a senior citizen. Now that's a hard pill to swallow. Not that I think it's bad to get older, but I never pictured myself so devoid of romance in my prime of life.

My parents were not romantic types if you would have asked me when I was younger. Thinking of that in this context, I remember the excitement I enjoyed putting together my parents' 25th anniversary party. I hand stamped and embossed all of the invitations, arranged for the cake to be made by my grandpa who is a master baker, and witnessed my parents' joy in being so celebrated by friends and family for going the distance. Who could have known she'd be gone just shy of their 30th anniversary. And who even does a big deal party then anyway? I'm so glad I could play such a large role in making that one anniversary memorable.

But I don't want to focus on the party aspect. I want to note the small everyday things that brought them to that point: the not giving up, the choosing each other even when life was very hard, the learning to be and stay friends. That's real romance, you know.

I hope to find that to share with someone someday. I just really hope it happens while I can still dance and play with vigor. 

joy quest: hope and healing

Today marks my 30th joy quest post and the end of my formal exploration of joy—for now. So what do I write? How do I choose my words for something that I still don't understand completely? I have questions still.

How can we feel joy when also overwhelmed with sorrow? And yet—it happens. How does joy make its presence known when there is so much fresh pain pushing down? And even still—it happens. How does joy heal our hearts when our hearts are continually being wounded anew? I don't have the perfect answer to this question either except that I have seen the hope joy brings in our human suffering, and it is a continual healer. Joy heals as we look for it, embrace it, and allow it to heal us.

We have to choose joy though. That is something I have learned and know about joy. It is everywhere, in everything we do; however, if we aren't choosing joy, we can't see it or feel it. When in the midst of adversity, it is critical that we reach out to hold onto the joy that is available. Even still, it is more critical that we recognize the joy we experience in times of peace. There is no worse waste of a gift than to take it for granted.

Being apathetic to the gift of joy that makes life so good sets us up to not be able to see how joy works for us when things get difficult. We need to keep watching for it and wanting it continually to truly appreciate the work of joy in our lives.

I found a talk that teaches how to appreciate and understand how joy works in our lives, and I hope you will watch it. As I listened to it, I knew it belonged in my joy quest because of the truths it bears witness of. One of my favorite quotes by Yoon Hwan Choi:
It is not easy for us to recognize the love of Heavenly Father when we look around with our temporal eyes, because we see inconvenience, loss, burdens, or loneliness first. On the other hand, we can see the blessings beyond when we look up.

This joy quest has been perfect in its imperfection. I have let loss and burdens keep me down a few times. But I have learned from it when that has happened. The hope and healing of the paper crane I began with has been ever present, and that is why I share it at the end of my quest too. Recognizing that I have seen how I push away joy, I want to do better. I have done better. I have loved the challenge of these past thirty days that has pushed me toward understanding joy better, to seek it out and be part of it more often.

I thank my friend Julie for being the catalyst for such an enlarging experience when I needed to be stretched and healed and fortified. Joy has become a true companion.

joy quest: memory lane

Harris Lane. Now that has some memories on it. There are actually many lanes and streets and boulevards all over East Las Vegas that hold memories for me. The best memories. The worst memories. And memories that have made me who I am.

I will choose joy today as I say goodbye to my family home. My parents and siblings, aunts and uncles, many cousins and friends, all have been part of that house being made into a home. It takes people making joy-filled memories to have a real home, and we had that. Most of all though, my parents' love for each other and us was why that place was home to me. Despite all the troubles and trials, I can look on that place with joy and love because of them.

Bledsoe Lane and Harris Lane and all the other roads in my old neighborhood will still be there, but they won't ever be the same without us there anymore. I know that for sure. And that gives me a tempered joy—joy in knowing how much my parents made a difference in establishing a legacy of love that is only held down by missing their presence for so long.

My joy is full today. My joy has tears washing away any pain, leaving a shining, golden memory lane to walk upon whenever I may need it.

joy quest: quiet

Life can get so hectic that you never find time to slow down and be quiet. But then someone passes away, and all of a sudden, you have to make time to stop for awhile.

It might not sound right, but there is a type of joy in the period of time that is set aside to be with the living and share grief. There is no way to describe it without sounding almost irreverent unless you've been part of it before.

There is no gladness for the loss of my friend's brother, but in the quiet after the funeral, I felt joy that I could see my friend and his family come together to celebrate a wonderful life. Everyone has become such wonderful people as we've all grown up, and their little brother was a real treasure. And then just having some time to be quiet to recognize all of this calls for joy.

I have quiet joy right now, but it is joy nonetheless.

joy quest: friday

There is just something magical about the song "Friday I'm in Love" that makes me smile every single time I hear it. It could be that my friend, Suzanne, comes to mind. It could be the cheerful beat. It could be the hope that is laid upon Friday—that promise of being in love every Friday at the very least. Whatever the reason is at the time, every time I want to get up and dance.

Today won't be a day for dancing for me, but I have a wish for joy to be planted in the hearts of all who mourn and want for love and comfort today. I have joy in that hope. And we will dance another day soon because joy comes from behind and cures sadness. Every single time.