Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187™ Chatter. It used to be that if something went wrong, a fight erupted or plans were changed last minute, I was so inflexible that my day, week, or holiday season was ruined. I was the type of person who would over dramatize the importance of a bad moment, give far too much weight to its meaning and was unable to let go of the resentments I let build up. What I found was not only did it color the moods of those around me in a negative way when I behaved this way; I was often miserable. This was no way to live. In fact, it wasn’t living at all. So, with the help of therapy, the acceptance of a brand new perspective, and the freeing knowledge I have the power to start my day over at any time, I have learned to embrace my life, bumps and all, with a renewed enthusiasm, and, even when things go in a way differently than I would have liked, I get passed it as quickly as humanly possible, too. Looking for and, indeed, creating Simple Joys helps tremendously in this vain. By always searching for the best in my days I find far more good than bad. By staying positive I emit positivity which becomes contagious. By smiling I receive smiles. The formula is ridiculously easy yet most difficult to learn if one is set in one’s ways. Time, the desire to change, and the willingness to accept Simple Joys will go far to change a negative perspective to a positive one. Food for thought. Now, without further ado, is this week’s Simple Joys.

Days Off. On the heels of a week off of school due to the freak late October snowstorm, my children had a short week because the New Jersey Teacher’s Convention. For the first time my husband arranged to take the same two days off of work and we spent another long period of time together. I don’t mean to belabor the point, but having the time off has truly been wonderful! From working together on home chores to playing Wii Lego games in pajamas, eating meals in or dining out on a shoestring budget, we just enjoyed one another’s company! Without other distractions like holidays, having time off to just be with one another was a Simple Joy I had not experienced in a long time and look forward to again!

Tom Chapin. I rarely include events that cost money because I feel it takes away from the "simple" of Simple Joys. This event, on the contrary, is less about the concert Tom Chapin gave, but the events that surrounded it. A local historic children’s theater was recently refurbished and reopened. Tom Chapin, historically and emotionally attached to the town where the theater is located, agreed to a concert where no more than fifty people could attend. We decided the day before to get tickets and were successful. Getting there early for general seating, we secured our seats and realized we’d better let the kids explore so they might be more apt to sit during the concert. They delighted in the gorgeous paintings on the walls, the intricate details in the moldings, and the magical air of the theater. Other families milled about, but none with children as young as our two-year-old daughter who was dressed to the nines

and fully enjoying herself, giggling loudly at the antics of her brothers, dancing to music she alone heard, and flirting with strangers. Once the concert began and Tom Chapin, who is truly an engaging, talented, and fantastic musician/performer, my daughter decided she did not want to sit and listen. Most of the night I spent in the anteroom of the theater, fully able to listen to the concert, but not see which was a shame as the visuals were worthwhile in such an intimate setting. Regardless, my daughter was thrilled to have her momma all to herself. We danced, we played games, “Where’s Rosie’s nose? Where’s Momma’s nose?”, we visited the ladies’ room, and we cuddled. My husband was afraid I’d be frustrated by these turn of events, and I might have been another time. But, the chance to expose my children to this setting and this class act, the opportunity to spend quality time alone with my daughter who found me far me entertaining and interesting than the performer, and stepping out to such a wondrous night is a Simple Joy I will carry with me for a lifetime.

Tacos/pizza. Friday night was taco night. This is one meal that all three of our children agree is the best dinner! We had chicken tacos with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, black olives, and both hard and soft taco shells. Our children eat them up ravenously and we feel good not hearing complaining and seeing empty plates and full bellies! Having leftovers in our home is not only good but orchestrated. Then next day for our lunch I took out my trusty crusty pizza crust,

recreated our taco dinner on the dough, and baked it off in a hot oven. Once again our children ate the meal like it was their absolute favorite; we finished the leftovers from the night’s before dinner, and even had leftover pizza to enjoy for another meal in the near future! Why am I including food in Simple Joys instead of Tantalizing Thursday? Because watching my children eat and not complaining is an incomparable Simple Joy that had to be shared!

Star Wars Monopoly. I’m feeling like I’ve written about this game before, but it’s earned another mention. After putting our daughter to bed, my husband turned off the television and said to our sons, “Get the Monopoly game out, the Star Wars one.” What resulted was an epic sixty minute battle for monopolies, star fleets, Death Stars, and Republic Credits. What was forged was a bond between our boys and us that solidifies, once again, a strong relationship. It also proved to me that our five year old is a true financial genius who is extraordinarily lucky. It’s like living with a three foot Donald Trump! The whole experience was a Simple Joy I hope to revisit often!

After dinner. With three young children, dinner time is the least relaxing part of the day. Two need assistance eating, one could subsist on air so we have to coax him to eat, and there is noise, cajoling, and raucous laughter throughout because someone is either burping or tooting or both. Finally, after several minutes that seem like hours, the children declare they are finished eating, their father and I decide they are allowed to be excused, and the mass exodus ensues. As the dust (literally) settles, the crumbs taunt me on the floor, the chairs, and the tablecloth; I let out a long, audible sigh. My husband and I shake our heads and offer each other a supportive grin. We’d survived yet another meal. In these post-dinner moments before the dishes need our attention, my husband and I reconnect; sometimes for a few seconds, and, when we’re truly lucky, for several long minutes, to talk, listen, and just be. They are the priceless minutes of our day that are the most precious periods of Simple Joys.

When my radar detects stresses in the near future, I’ve learned to supply my arsenal with my strongest weapons – Simple Joys. Writing these Simple Joys for lo these many months has seriously made my life fuller, richer, calmer, and, plainly, more joyful. Knowing that the day offers endless opportunities for Simple Joys makes the hard parts, the stressful situations, and the sad seconds melt away faster, easier, and with less pain. Writing Simple Joys has helped with my perspective tenfold. Whether you write yours or simply think about them, I hope you are finding that recognizing the Simple Joys that exist in your life makes life simply wonderful.

Please join me tomorrow on Chief 187™Chatter when I wax poetic about yet another topic!


  1. I am going to have to make that Tacos/pizza this weekend. Yum Yum! :D

  2. I, too, have been trying to find "simple joys" throughout the day in order to make myself a more positive and happy person. Getting the chance to sit down and read this again after last week's hecticness, I have decided to start recording my own "simple joys" everyday, even if it is only in my own journal.

  3. I had multiple Simple Joys all within a few hours:

    Our church had a ladies only event called "Home for the Holidays: Festival of Tables" Friday night and I was blessed enough to, 1. be invited and 2. have the time to go. I can't express how blessed I was.

    I had purchased a new sweater dress for the occasion. It fit well, my boots were comfortable all night, my hair cooperated (for the most part) and a new make up technique worked out as well. I was feeling cute! THAT is a Simple Joy for this stay-at-home momma!

    There were 60 beautifully decorated tables which were to serve as inspiration for our own homes for the holidays. I LOVED seeing what others have come up with. I was thrilled to find out I was sitting at one of my favorites!

    The dinner which consisted of a wonderful salad, chicken & pasta entree and delightful dessert were served to the ladies by the men of the church. They were there to take care of us and make sure we had everything we needed. How cool was that?!

    Most of the ladies at the table were all new to me, so I was able to meet new people which I resist until I'm in the situation. One is thinking about walking in the Avon Walk next year, another is friends with JJ Yeley and into racing... that same lady does cakes out of her home. I was able to get some tips on my fondant work. SCORE! I was very blessed to meet them. They were a very fun bunch of ladies.

    The speaker/singer was a blessing as well. She discussed the business of the holidays and finding ways to really look at them and to find the meaning of them amongst all the hustle & bustle. I actually thought of you several times Chief throughout the presentation, thinking that you would have enjoyed yourself. The couple of things that I took from her was to always "Look for the beautiful" (another take on the Simple Joy), "Less Stress, More Bless" and to remember to open the "Gift of Gifts" at Christmas time. She also supplied us with a way to remember to "give grace" to those who may need it and a reminder that we receive it new everyday... and to "pay it forward" to others.

    Another Simple Joy of the night, was that the speaker/singer sat at the piano and sang a song called "As the Deer". This song is so special to me and I hadn't heard it in at least 12 years... It was sung at my wedding. As a matter of fact, if I remember correctly, I walked down the aisle toward the love of my life to the song. It has been running in and out of my mind since. I just wanted to go home and give my husband a huge hug and kiss.

    How often do you get so many Simple Joys to revel in, in such a short period of time (3 hrs)? Not often.

  4. I've been an inflexable in the past getting uptight when things weren't going as planned. I've had stressful car rides when traffic snarled. The past 5 years I've been pushing myself to take a step back and relax. I try to leave a few minutes earlier so as not to be stressed if there's traffic issues.

    You would think all my years of experience working with people in factory and distribution that I could learn to over come some of the things people do that screw up your work day. I'm still working on that one and I've been making strides in a positive direction. My pre-emptive strike and forward thinking skills are getting more awesome as time goes on. Actually it's the fact that I know the people I'm working with better and know what to do to get the results I want from them. Makes simple joys a little easier to come by at work.

    I've also started pulling out words like fabulous, stupendous, phenomenal, fantastical, marvelous, phantasmagorical and amazing to describe my day or how things are going when people ask. Even if I feel crappy or things aren't going well. You would be amazed at how people react to this. One of our new manager almost fell over when he walked past and greeted me and I said things were going fabulously. He knew they weren't but he smiled and joked about it with me. And it's spreading.

  5. Clearing up the leaves in my folks backyard on Saturday :-) Of course by Sunday more had replaced the ones I'd swept up the day before !