Joy – Thankvember Eighteenth

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Joy – Thankvember Eighteenth

For a good deal of my adult life, I didn’t give joy much thought at all. My parents and teachers had made it abundantly clear, after all, that being an adult was serious work. They didn’t talk about joy, or finding my passions, or following my heart and my own instincts. They talked instead about responsibility, unmet potential, pipe dreams, common sense, and work ethic, and so these things were where I put my focus.

So, whenever I did something I loved doing, for no other reason than that I did love it, I dealt with a sense of guilt that had me making justifications for why it was a worthwhile endeavor. Often, I would set myself up with assignments and schedules, which gave whatever I was doing a sense of importance in the “adult world” – and, at the same time, sucked the pastime free of the life and fire that had drawn me to it in the first place.

There was something unspoken about doing things just for the sheer joy of doing them. At the same time, I have a nature that resists what is forced upon me, but which thrives on inspiration, intrigue, imagination, and delight.

I suffered much guilt for doing as I pleased, and that took much of the wonder out of it.

It took me until after my fortieth birthday to realize something. This is my life. No one else can tell me, really, how to live it, because no one else is me, living every breath of my own life.

I don’t need permission anymore to live on my own terms. I don’t make justifications for indulging in my passions.

Two years ago, I made a conscious choice to learn to do only what brings me joy. I’m not perfect at it yet, but I am learning.

Does this mean I never wash dishes, do laundry, scoop up after the dog or clean up after the children?

In a word, no. It doesn’t mean that at all.

What it does mean is that I am learning to approach necessary tasks in a different way. For instance, the homeschooling laws in our state require us to write five to six reports per child per year, as well as keep an attendance logs.

I do not like writing these reports – they are tedious and dull, in a way that the things the children are engaged in never are. These reports remind me of one of the primary reasons we chose not to send the children to school unless they choose to go – school tries to reduce everything into a recipe or a formula. After years of watching my children learn in ways as individual as they are, I can attest to the fact that this is not true.

However, I love my life with my children, and value their freedom to learn in ways that are natural and relevant to them, personally. I trust that they will learn what they need to know, and I am willing to support them more or less around the clock as they do so.

If I did not write the reports, we would be in violation of state homeschooling law, and that might lead to being required to enroll the children in school.

My children have this joy thing down pat!

So, I write the reports, and I do my best to keep my focus on what is being gained in the writing. I make sure I have lots of other interesting writing projects going, then, so that I can slip in a point or two on the reports somewhat painlessly, here and there.

It works the same with laundry and dishes. We buy sweetly and naturally scented detergents, and I do the work in small segments. And, when I really don’t feel like doing them, I don’t, because hometending begrudgingly creates a bad vibe in our home.

By respecting my energy levels and my right to live my life as I please, I have both brought a great deal more joy into that life, and, although it may seem paradoxical, far more productive.

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