Finding Joy – A Photograph

No doubt you awoke this morning to see friends and family post all their merry holiday photos on social media. For many, it is a time of joy in family and friend seasonal traditions. You cannot help but notice the smiles, wonder, and merriment on the faces of everyone big and small, old and young in these holiday photos.

Where most find joy others find sadness, loneliness and loss. Someone may be missing from the photo for any number of reasons – death, divorce, or a decision. There are empty chairs. Or chairs now occupied by someone else. Time passes. Things change. And so, do we.

Change is an opportunity to find Joy

Sometimes it is difficult to find joy when reviewing social media timelines from this past year. Others seemingly enjoying vacations, new additions to the family, and opportunities in various ways all the while we may be stuck in a rut in one way or another in mind, body and spirit.

While our individual pursuits may not be as happy, significant, or wanting such as a finding spouse, having a baby, deciding on a career, getting hired, obtaining a college degree, finding a literary agent, or still chasing elusive answers to health or whatever may be keeping each of us from finding purpose or pleasure in our lives, there is still JOY to be found even in this chaotic and corrupt world.

Finding Joy

Starting today and every day going forward, post a photo of where you found joy on your social media feeds. If you don’t use any type of social media, take a photo each day with your phone to remind you of where you found joy. If your phone doesn’t have photography capabilities, write down in a pocket-size Moleskin journal where you found joy. Carry joy with you every single day!

Joy is different for each person.

I find joy in the silliness of my dogs playing. I find joy in a hot cup of black coffee. I find joy in the breakfast my husband serves me even if the bacon is too well done for my taste. Who cannot find joy in someone making breakfast for you? I find joy in helping someone at work find an answer or solution to a problem. I find joy not only in the grand things of life when my oldest son receives a promotion, or my youngest son who is now getting healthier; but in the very simple things we take for granted, like the beauty of a red cardinal sitting on a bare tree limb in wintertime – a season I am not fond of to be honest with you.

prince of peace

Where I found joy today

I found joy today in writing this blog post and sharing my love of writing with you. Whatever your passion, whatever your gift, use it to find joy in your day.

I found joy in a pecan pie square that my husband made and a cup of hot black coffee in an owl mug that was a Christmas present from a co-worker.

Christmas mug

I found joy in the love of family and my four-legged ones too. Someone out there needs your love – volunteer, foster, adopt – young, old, two-legged or four-legged. You will find not only joy but love too. I know it. Don’t forget to post photos when you do!!

I found joy in your photos of people smiling and finding joy. You don’t need to know their personal names to find joy in photos.

I found joy today in many ways. I found joy in celebrating the gift of Jesus Christ. Though you may celebrate differently than I do, I pray you find joy today.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Sheri Head Shot

The Blogging Owl

 

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved – The Blogging Owl – SL Prielipp-Falzone

Finding Joy – In a cup of coffee

In the words of Pastor Rick Warren, “Contentment is not laziness, complacency, apathy, or fatalism. Contentment does not mean you are not making progress, or you do not have goals. It means you are happy with what you have right now.”

“It is better to have only a less with peace of mind, than being busy all the time with both hands, trying to catch the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6

If only

When I was younger climbing the rungs of my career and as a mother of young sons trying to catch my breath, I wish I had heard these words then and they become more powerful for me to heed now in my empty nest. Turning back time is impossible but living in the present can slow it down.

Which brings me to today, the biggest day of the year for retailers and shoppers – Black Friday. This isn’t a day I usually go out to the local shops and mall, however, my son is home from college and has the day off of work. He wants to go shopping. A chance to spend time with my son, you bet!

Joy in a cup of coffee

Around the world and particularly in the United States, there is much discontent. It is difficult to find much joy no matter where one turns although many people mouth these words across social media to make kindness great again (myself included). Yet even today for this Black Friday after waiting in a long drive-thru lane to purchase a decaf coffee for my son, the vehicle in front of us paid for our order. My son and I look at each other in amazement as the drive-thru server with the biggest smile and the brightest blue eyes said it had been happening all day. So of course, we paid kindness forward or should I say backward.

It was the best gift I bought all day.

It was worth every penny of the $11.31 for one 16 oz. cup of decaf coffee to see the joy in the faces of the drive-thru server and my son.

Caffeinated thoughts

I had enough coffee before we had set out on our shopping expedition, still the Starbucks pay-it behind experience got me thinking in over-drive.

Why does it take a holiday for us to be kind to one another?

Is it reminder to ourselves that kindness can still bring joy to a stranger? That the gift of giving without any expectations is still possible, still worthy?

How can we learn to be content with acts of kindness rather than simply buying a gift out of obligation or because it is the latest, greatest, and most likely the most expensive material gift on the shelves today and we must have it?

How can we, as a nation learn to be content with what we have rather than be so concerned with those seeking fairness in asylum, equality, and opportunity to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Granted, we have our own set of problems with homelessness, gun and domestic violence, and under-insured people, but do we even bother helping our own as we check-out the latest X-Box or designer sneakers?

How do we accept others different than ourselves who are also American-born citizens as well as those born elsewhere?

How can we be kind to one another every day?

Paying kindness forward

Citizens of the United States have always rallied to help one another in crisis, whether here at home or abroad. Yet currently there are many Americans who are taking a nationalist approach to the global economy and national security to name just two topics. I contend it is easier to keep what made this country great – our ingenuity, our integrity, and yes, our kindness than to discard those qualities for own self-righteousness.

I am not what I own, whether it is in the material things I buy on Black Friday or what I am given because by the grace of God I live in the United States. Dreams and ambitions do not just reside in these things, but in what I do, in what I think, and where I live. They reside in each one of us who may look, believe, speak differently than I do or live beyond borders.

I pray that I can be content with what I have and allow my content to make progress toward healing the world with the goal of making it a better place for everyone. Not just in the holiday season but all  year long.

Find joy in making the world a better place

Heal the World lyrics by Michael Jackson

Heal the World Video

May we all find joy

Why not buy someone a cup of coffee today and discuss how kindness can be paid forward to heal the world? Then act upon it together. Kindness starts with you and me. It starts with acceptance and the desire to understand each other and not just in the drive-thru lane.

Peace,

The Blogging Owl

 

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved – The Blogging Owl – SL Prielipp-Falzone

Finding Joy – The Message

Have you wondered, “How can I learn to get through to this person?”

Have you wondered, “Gee, I thought I knew this person, but I don’t think I do anymore.”

With the advent of social media in recent years with old friends and family reconnecting, have you wondered, “I don’t remember them this way back then.”

There is a whole lot of friending and un-friending going on these days and I have not been immune to it. In a world that is becoming more divisive and hostile, I have wondered, “How can anyone find joy in the messages these days?”

Concentrating on the message

Every person has a unique communication style, a way in which they interact and exchange information with others. Okay, so let’s look at the different communication styles.

There are four types of communicating styles.

1. Passive communicators often act indifferently. They yield to others, usually failing to express their own feelings and needs, allowing others to express themselves.

2. The aggressive communicator speaks in a loud and demanding voice, maintaining intense eye contact and dominating or controlling others by blaming, intimidating, criticizing, threatening or attacking them.

3. Passive-aggressive communicators mutter to themselves rather than confront a person or an issue. They have difficulty acknowledging their feelings, particularly anger using facial expressions that do not correlate with how they feel and even deny there is a problem.

4. Assertive communicators can express their own needs, desires, ideas and feelings, while also considering the needs of others. The assertive style is known to be the best communication style because it aims for both sides to win.

This is interesting because depending upon my mood, battle or if my bullshit meter has been activated, do I alter my communication style? Do I speak differently with my mother than with my husband? How about my co-worker versus my child? Do I communicate differently with a stranger than a friend? Does it depend on the topic? Are certain topics left off the table? Is that good or bad?

You see where I am going with this? No? Stay with me.

Let’s look at the different learning styles because our preferred learning style internally represents our experiences, the way we recall information, and even the words we choose.

There are seven types of learning styles.

1. Visual learners prefer pictures, images and spatial understanding.

2. Auditory learners prefer using sound and music.

3. Verbal learners prefer using words, both in speech and writing.

4. Physical learners prefer using the body, hands and the sense of touch.

5. Logical learners are mathematical. They prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.

6. Social learners prefer to learn in small groups or with other people.

7. Solitary learners prefer working alone in self-study.

I am primarily a visual learner, although verbal and logical learning is sometimes thrown in for good measure. So, how can I learn to become a better communicator? How can I become better at sharing my ideas, passions, views, and opinions, so I and the other person can each can be great in our own way without hurting or slamming one another in the process?

Are you listening? Yes? Maybe.

I believe to learn how to better communicate with one another, each of us needs to understand the types of listening styles.

There are seven types of listening styles.

1. Appreciative listening – listening for enjoyment.

2. Informative listening – gather information such as facts, directions, news, or instructions.

3. Critical listening – listening to examine and evaluate logic, truth, and value.

4. Empathetic listening – listening to another person’s feelings, or thoughts, with the ability to put oneself in the other’s shoes.

5. Precision listening – listening to single out one sound with exactness and clarity.

6. Discriminating listening – listening to distinguish all the sounds in one’s environment.

7. Social listening – listening just enough effort to give a response.

Oftentimes, we concentrate on the messenger rather than on the message.

In the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi there is a passage,
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;

To be understood as to understand is to first believe we are all human first and foremost. No other label necessary.

A few weeks ago, I watched the Netflix special, “Nanette” a stand-up comedy act written and performed by Australian comedian, Hannah Gadsby. Its original debut was in 2017 but I never heard of Hannah Gadsby or her special, “Nanette” before that evening. It is a work of social commentary, especially about LGBTQ issues and I have watched it several times since.

Hannah Gadsby had such a profound effect on me. Not because she identifies differently than I do, or that I have an issue with the LGBTQ community. What I found in her performance was the ability to connect on such a human level about dignity and acceptance. The look of terror, anger and sadness in her face as she described the ugly experiences in her life. That visual combined with her voice brought me to tears. I had childhood traumatic experiences, although different from hers, but just the same I saw my own face in hers. I just wanted to reach out and hug her. I hope to one day. To let her know the impact she has had on me to examine how I communicate, but more importantly how I listen. And to also to let her know she is loved just as God made her.

My message is in my control.

Today’s political landscape makes it more difficult, but not insurmountable to learn how to communicate and listen to others. It takes more than open eyes, ears and mind to effectively communicate and listen to others.

Yet the messages I hear may be surprising if I commit to learning to communicate and listen more attentively with my heart. If my prayer is the same as Saint Francis, then I can find joy in trying. And perhaps I may be understood too in the process.

Actions are the words of the heart.

Still the cautionary tale is in a person’s actions. Often, I need to silence myself and to the noise around me. Actions do speak louder than verbal words. And what makes it even more difficult is wading through those words and the actions to know the truth.

Each of us has a different communication, learning and listening style, as well as different life experiences. Yet, the one thing that is in my control is my message.

Have you heard yourself lately? How about the other person? I’m committed to learning to become better at it. You too?

Finding joy in today,

New web photo - Sheri

The Blogging Owl

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved – The Blogging Owl – SL Prielipp-Falzone