Seeking joy is new for me. I blame it on being a Capricorn–we’re all about accomplishing things, climbing up the mountain, working hard to achieve more. Which is probably why “working” on joy is so what I need.

There are many wonderful books out there about joy and how to uncover it. But in the interest of mini-resolutions and starting small, here are the simple places I’m finding joy.

1) Going to bed early

For the first time since becoming a parent, I’m getting to bed before midnight. Because there’s no way I can be the parent I want to be when I am exhausted. I have no idea why this didn’t occur to me earlier.

2) Making my bed every morning

Back when I had a newborn and my mom stayed a month to help me, she would make my bed every morning. She makes it PERFECTLY–wrinkles in the sheets don’t stand a chance with her. Back then, taking time to make my bed seemed like a time luxury I couldn’t afford. But this is a new season, and having a beautifully made bed is a wonderful thing.

Hannah Marcotti puts it perfectly in her Making Space Cleanse:

“Making your bed is a gift from your present self to your future self.”

3) Drinking lemon water and tea 

(Especially in place of my nightly glass of wine.) Another little step inspired by Hannah that feels like a gift to myself with every sip.

4) Getting out of the house on Saturday mornings

My husband works out from 10:30–noon every Saturday morning. Which was making Saturdays feel like a “6th workday” for me and the kids–leaving us all resentful and cranky. This month, I’ve started slipping out at 8am for a yoga class and coffee/writing/wandering. Carving out those 2 hours for myself has made a world of difference in how I feel the entire weekend.

5) Letting go of my to-do list and being present with my children

I started noticing that things fell apart just after breakfast every day. I would be in the kitchen dealing with the meal aftermath and yelling “go in the playroom–I’ll be there in a minute” over and over again. Inevitably, I’d finally stop doing dishes (in a huff) once someone started crying over something.

I’m learning to look at those parts of the day that always end up with yelling and crying and trying different strategies. In this case, I’ve learned that if I leave the dishes and just sit with the boys while they do Legos or trains or whatever, no one cries or fights.

The even more amazing part is, once I give them my full attention–even if I’m just sitting with my coffee and observing them–I can usually slip off and finish the dishes or do a quick email check without anyone falling apart.

By giving them attention up front, it changes the result. And it’s teaching me that there is value in just sitting and being.

6) Giving thanks, and teaching my children to do the same

This is the root of joy.


Instead of making a list of resolutions last year, my husband and I each came up with an intention for the new year. Mine was “find my focus and own it.”

Little did I know on January 2011 that over the course of the year, my focus would reveal itself as my children instead of the boutique agency I’ve run with my husband for the past 5 years.

On November 1, 2011, I changed my title from President to Founding Partner, Special Projects and started working 1 day a week instead of 4.

That’s the funny thing about intentions.

Unlike strict resolutions where the outcome is pre-determined, intentions remind us to be open to possibilities we hadn’t even considered.

For 2012, my intention is Choose Joy.

I’ve spent too many moments over my past three years as a mother flustered, frustrated, overwhelmed, angry, and spun around from the volume and chaos that comes with having two very young children. (Especially when you are a highly sensitive person like me.)

For example:

Over the holiday, I was putting groceries in the car in a rushed panic. The boys were both whining/demanding something of immediate importance, another car was waiting for my spot, it was freezing.

Once I got the boys strapped into their chairs, I finished loading the grocery bags and stopped for a second. “It’s the holidays. This is supposed to be fun,” I thought.

After the liftgate closed (effectively silencing the boys’ protests), I took a few deep breaths and felt the chaos dissipate. I entered that car as a whole new person.

That moment, shopping at our beautiful new Whole Foods buying special holiday treats, was a recipe for joy. Instead of letting the joy get derailed by normal life with toddlers, I claimed it back. 

That’s what I want to create more of this year. In a million different ways.

What is your word for 2012?

And if you have any luscious quiet time today, check out this fantastic list of 20 questions for reflecting on your 2011 from Simple Mom.


image credit

I recently participated in something called the Holiday Joy UP. It was essentially a 10-day online retreat for women interested in tapping in to the joy and magic of the holiday season.

Led by the lovely Hannah Marcotti (whose writing I cannot get enough of), the Joy UP delivered a letter each day which explored a particular aspect of joy, along with a video from Hannah and the day’s assignment.

So for instance, one day we focused on Blessings, and the assignment was to be a blessing fairy–spreading little gifts or acts of kindness everywhere we went. (I’m still trying to practice being a blessing fairy in the high-strung parking lots around town.)

So many years I’ve longed to feel the holiday magic I felt as a kid.

I’d go to the mall just to try to get “in the mood.” This only made me feel worse.

I’d indulge in holiday treats. This only made me feel groggy.

I’d overspend on gifts, panicked that there wasn’t enough under the tree. This made my stomach hurt.

Having children of my own has helped bring back the excitement of the holidays.

We have our holiday channel on Pandora, our Advent activity calendar, our Elf on the Shelf.

But much of that is superficial “busyness”

Making cookies, opening early presents (holiday books or jammies), watching more TV than normal in the name of holiday fun, being more lax about sugary treats.

So while I started the Holiday joy UP thinking I was already full-on in the spirit of Chirstmas, having an opportunity to create a quiet space each day just to think about Joy from different angles actually left me a bit blue at first. As it turns out, pursuing joy can be hard work!

Getting quiet

The best part of the Joy UP was having an hour of focused quiet time each day (I did it during our mandatory 1-hour naptime/quiet time where everyone goes to their own room even if they no longer nap). Each day, I was able to open my Joy UP “letter”, watch Hannah’s video, and think/write about the day’s assignment.

The Holiday Joy UP helped me think about my intention for the holiday season. And it left me with a deeper connection to joy, along with the clarity that there’s a lot more to be explored.

Joy is Unfolding

Joy is Spirit

Joy is Blessings

Joy is Love

Joy is Desire

Joy is Faith

Joy is Magic

Joy is Celebration

Joy is Peace

Joy is our Gratitude

Thanks to Hannahfor this wonderful journey.

If you are interested in doing something similar, here’s where Hannah posts upcoming programs. I’m looking forward to her 2012 Making Space Cleanse.

(By the way, this is not a sponsored post.)

If you want to know where your heart is look to where your mind goes when it wanders


Just over two months ago, I wrote about my unexpected desire to become a stay at home mom.

Since that post, I have been working on listening to what my soul wants–without judging it, without letting “rational” arguments push it away, and without letting myself veer off-course every time something awesome happens at the office.

(It’s so easy to keep saying “‘I’ll just finish this one really cool project and then I’ll make the move.” That could go on forever.)

At first, I would only tap in to my deep desires late at night, or when talking to a sage woman friend of mine who is almost twice my age.

When daylight would come, I would think back to all those silly thoughts I had the night before and shove them under the pillow. But as I’ve spent more time inviting in the “what-if’s,” it’s flipped–it’s hard to stop thinking about anything else but the new life I’ve committed to.

Sometimes the things our soul wants the most are the things we reject the strongest.

A friend asked me a year and a half ago if I wanted to stay at home. “Absolutely not,” I blurted. It was such a strong, immediate reaction that it raised a little flag for me. But I ignored it.

Besides, I rationalized, I was just regaining my strength after dealing with a mean blow of postpartum anxiety. Staying home with two children under two seemed far more terrifying than just going to work.

This summer that my husband posed the idea to me: What if you stayed home?, even then, I didn’t feel a big Yes! That’s it! But this time I decided to consider it.

“Considering it” for me means mountains of research, talking to the wise woman I mentioned, and trying to push aside all the external forces/judgements/”are you crazy” looks I get from friends.

Since allowing my thinking to shift over the past couple of months, I went from “absolutely not” to wanting it so badly that living in my old life has felt like wearing jeans two sizes too small–making me feel uncomfortable and antsy in my “old life.”

It’s like I can see my children’s babyhood disappearing right before my eyes, and if I don’t inhale as much of it as I possibly can, quick, it will be gone forever.

So I’m cleaning out my desk. We are interviewing people to help take over my workload at the office. And I’m promising my boys that soon, mommy will be home.

I’m taking the leap. Stick around for the new adventure.


image: whereisthecool