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

This Seat Is Taken

December 22, 2016 marks the 26th year of my father’s sudden passing, and each year I post my personal essay, “The Empty Chair.” This holiday season instead of reminding every one of their empty chair because everyone has one, perhaps we should consider what I call the ’Larry Effect.’ Whether the chair is empty for the first time or just another year in a string of many, I would like you to think not of the emptiness of that chair but who God may have placed there in their absence.

This past summer I lost a very dear teacher, mentor, and friend. His sudden passing threw me into a depression I had not expected. As I thought about the loss of him, not only to me but to his family and others whose lives he touched, I began to reflect on the loss of my father in a different way.

The Larry Effect

Some people may not bear looking at their empty chair while others may touch it fondly with a memory or two. I didn’t have many fond memories. When I have looked at my empty chair in the past, I asked many questions. Questions that were all why, should have, or could have been questions. Coming out of that depression, I began to reflect on all the people God placed in my life either long before or after the chair became empty. People who assumed roles (some unwittingly) of those either missing in my life or roles of people who were just absent either by their decision or perhaps mine.

I am calling it the Larry Effect.

I began listing these special chair occupiers by name…. J. Larry Roberts, Anita Pepper, Rev. T. Richard Marcis Sr, Mary Bierlein, Margot Matula, Michael Rehling, Mike Pendy, Dave McNally to name just a few. While some of these treasured people have passed away, God always placed one or more people to occupy that empty space in my heart. It is never the same, mind you. No. No one can be replaced. But there are others God has gifted me wonderful relationships that fill the emptiness.

The Larry Effect taught me not to focus on the whys, should haves, and could have beens, and most of all, not on an empty chair. But the seat that was taken by people and memories of advice, mentoring, laughs, poetry, and love.

Thank you to all my treasured readers,  friends and family. May you all have a Merry Christmas and know God’s Peace in the New Year!