Notes & Stories: Pockets of Joy

I’ve been thinking about happiness this week, about how it’s not something I have to achieve or something to strive for, but something I can (and should) find right now. Happiness doesn’t need to be a constant state of being, but can be found in little “pockets of joy,” as Jonathan Van Ness says.

Too often, I catch myself thinking “life will be better when we have a second bedroom,” or “I would be so much happier if I made more money,” or whatever my pain point is at the moment. But what I realized, and keep trying to remind myself about, is that I can’t count on life being better later—maybe it will be, maybe it won’t, but no one knows what’s going to happen. Waiting for later stops me from living life right now. Sure, life now can be bad sometimes, but it can also be good sometimes—and often, it can be both at the same time.

For instance, it’s kinda sucky (for me—it super rocks for Harper) that I’ve given the bedroom to my kids. I really don’t like having a bed in the living room. At the same time, my bed is right next to the front window, which gives me a perfect view of the way the first morning light hits the top of the oak tree across the street, outlining the leaves of the highest branches. That’s a beautiful view that I didn’t see before.

Sunrise on the oak tree = pocket of joy.

Parenting is kicking my ass right now (just ridiculous amounts of bureaucracy, paperwork, driving, among other things), but at the same time, both my kids have developed sharp, witty, truly funny senses of humor.

Every time one of my kids makes me laugh = pocket of joy.

I’m busy as heck—capitalism also kicking my ass—but at the same time, I’m never ever too busy to spend part of my evening reading a book to myself and a few picture books to Poppy (and sometimes Harper, when I can entice her back into bedtime stories).

A good book = pocket of joy.

When I make up my mind to start noticing sweet moments—slanted afternoon light, a funny joke at the dinner table, getting sucked into a story—and being grateful for them, life is better right away, not later.


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Now, on to some more links that have been pockets of joy in my week:

Don’t you love it when people you love love each other?  Was overjoyed to listen to Jonathan Van Ness (of Queer Eye) interview Nancy Birtwhistle (a Great British Bake-Off winner who has one of my favorite Instagram accounts) on his Getting Curious podcast. Listen to the episode online or on Spotify.

I just plowed through all three of Abbi Waxman’s novels. I started with The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, then went back and read Other People’s Houses and The Garden of Small Beginnings. That’s in reverse order of publication, which didn’t matter too much because they’re standalone stories. However, there are characters that appear in each book, and if you’re a stickler for chronology, you might want to read them in the more correct Garden –> Houses –> Nina order.

Bookish Life was a recommendation from my friend Ruth. I was only a few pages into it before I knew that I would love it, and why Ruth had told me to read it. Here’s the quote:

“Nina worried she liked being alone too much; it was the only time she ever fully relaxed. People were…exhausting. They made her anxious. Leaving her apartment every morning was the turning over of a giant hourglass, the mental energy she’d stored up overnight eroding grain by grain. She refueled during the day by grabbing moments of solitude, and sometimes felt her life was a long-distance swim between islands of silence. She enjoyed people—she really did—she just needed to take them in homeopathic doses; a little of the poison was the cure.”

Yep, that’s me.

There’s a lot of excitement in our house about Frozen II coming out. (Although we’re going to be pretty disappointed if it doesn’t include a storyline about Elsa coming out.) I enjoyed this Maureen Dowd interview with Jennifer Lee, the director of Frozen. Lee was the first woman to direct a Disney animated feature film, and the first woman to direct a film that earned over a billion dollars. (That’s capital-B BILLION, my friends.)

I’m a pretty invested Schitt’s Creek fan. (Have you seen these photos of me with some of the cast? Look at the size of my smile!) So I was happy to run across a short film called Layover, which Noah Reid co-wrote, co-directed, and co-starred in.

The song You’re Not Alone by Our Native Daughters makes me happy and weepy at the same time. Listen online or on Spotify.

2 thoughts on “Notes & Stories: Pockets of Joy

  1. For my 2020 New Years Resolutions, one of them was finding pockets of joy in normal or less than good situations. I think pockets of joy help you to become a happier person, and when you are happy, it rubs off on others around you.

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