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Friday's Inspiration Weekly
Days of Joy and Sorrow

Up one day, down the next. What can help me find the joy and happiness that life has to offer?


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Every joy is gain
And gain is gain, however small.
The selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Entrťe: Soggy Slippers and All by Julie Clark Robinson
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Every day I wake up a little more giddy than the day before. Steaming cup of coffee in hand, I challenge my slippers to take on the dew and head out the door to see, literally, whatís new. I give a nod of acceptance that the daffodils Ė whose emergence a few weeks back felt more glorious to me than any 4th of July fireworks show Ė are on their way out.

I wonder if my neighbors think Iím nuts. "Of course they do," I tell myself. Weíre the family who moved in, during an ice storm, just ten days before Christmas. Weíre the family with a giant Santa on the porch before the refrigerator was delivered. We pluck worms off the driveway after the rain and rush them inside (to feed the lizards).

They donít even know my name yet, but theyíve undoubtedly noticed that I trail behind my kids en route to the bus stop wearing soggy slippers. They know that several times a day I meander around my yard inspecting tiny buds with all the geeky intensity of the Professor on "Gilliganís Island." Neighbors know all.

They way I see it, a person only gets one springtime in a new house. With every soon-to-be bloom, Iím reminded that even though we bought this house because we loved the staircase off the kitchen, every drop of rain and every bump up the thermometer brings a new reason to justify that shiny new mortgage payment. Iíve got my eye on a row of bushes outside our bedroom windows that Iím hoping are lilacs. In a few days, Iíll have my answer. Even as I marvel at how much a fully wooded lot can add to the natural soundtrack of a homeÖribbit, chirp, chirp, coo, ribbitÖI canít help but wonder how Iíll feel next spring. (As the author of a book with an ambitious title like "Live in the Moment," I continually chastise myself for such thoughts.)

Twelve months from now, I will already know what secrets lay beneath the soggy soil -- spring will be the same, old, glorious spring. The same, old, fragrant awakening from a long, groggy nap with ice-cold toes. The same, old feast for the eyes as dogwood blossoms burst from mere sticks. The same, old sense of liberation for bare arms as they surface from somewhere within and feel the warmth of the sun instead of washable wools. Okay. So maybe worrying about next spring is a waste of precious energy. Maybe I have better things to ponder before they vanish! I hear a woodpecker and I need to know which tree heís in...

Activity Exercise: Walk around your yard (in your slippers?) and try to see the awakening of your own personal world as if itís for the very first time. Even if you live in a warm climate, something new is happening out there and wouldnít you hate to miss it?

About the author:

Julie Clark Robinson is a speaker and award-winning author of Live in the Moment (Beyond Words Publishing, Inc.). She has been published in the Cup of Comfort book series, Family Circle, and her online column about creating everyday joy is updated monthly on motivational websites. Visit www.julieclarkrobinson.com for more.


Main Course: Make Room for Joy by Susan L. Colantuono
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Have you ever felt that the busyness of your life gets in the way of really living? Have you ever felt that even as you are hooked up, on line and tuned in with pagers, e-mail, voicemail, cell phones, satellite, cables, FAXes; you are less connected with others? Have you ever felt that you live each day on automatic pilot plowing through our to-do lists, passing the same routes, seeing the same people? Today, all too many of us feel these things and make it through days that fly by, but seem to drag on forever. Why? Because we have subscribed to definitions of success and happiness that have nothing to do with the nourishment that our souls truly need in order to joyfully thrive.

Iíve learned that it doesnít have to be this way. Within our everyday lives we CAN experience joy on a daily basis. But not if we strive for joy through the acquisition of material things, fancy titles, or "free" time. Striving in these ways drives joy away as surely as squeezing a handful of water leaves us empty-handed.

If we want to find magical moments in our everyday lives, we have to make room for JOY! Joy requires emptiness - space and inattention. There is no room for joy when we are striving, collecting and hoarding things. There is no room for joy when we are full of anger, cynicism, or despair. There is no room for joy when we are worrying about future or complaining about past events. As Susanna Tamaro writes in her gem of a book, Follow Your Heart, "JoyÖ has no object. It seizes you for no apparent reason, itís like the sun, its burning is fueled by its own heat."

To be seized with joy we have to be open to it. This is why I hold a beautifully hand-painted broom when I speak to groups. (If you think thatís strange, imagine how the feminist part of me feels!) Nevertheless, the broom is important because it symbolizes 3 things.

Joy as a Daily Companion

First the broom symbolizes that joy can be with us on a daily basis, just like the chores around the home or office. Why? The answer lies in defining what joy is. Oxfordís defines joy as, " a vivid emotion of pleasure arising from a sense of well-being."

I LOVE this definition because it roots joy in a sense of well-being. We can have a sense of well-being every day of our lives. This means that there is no reason why each and every one of us canít experience joy on a daily basis. This means that we can find joy not only in the quiet of a life going well, but also in a life full of turmoil and even pain. This means that we can live more joy-full lives without making major changes in the external aspects of our lives, but by making minor changes in the centers of our beings.

This means that by letting go of the importance of external validation of our worth we can begin to nurture the internal sense of wellbeing that is the wellspring of joy.

We are born for joy and magical moments. When we are expecting them, we discover that magical moments already sparkle in our everyday lives.

Making Room for JOY!

This leads to the second symbolism in the broom. Itís not enough to expect magical moments, we must learn to actively make room for them. We must sweep away the clutter that clogs our homes, our hearts and our minds.

In Make Room for JOY!, I delve more deeply into each of these strategies for making room for joy and offer activities that help you personalize each of them. This raises the final significance of my broom.

Creating Your Personal Recipe for JOY!

The broom symbolizes the walking staff of a guide. Because no one can tell you what will bring joy to your life, I act as a guide. I call attention to ingredients that will invite joy into your life, but the final recipe is up to you. While the experience of joy is universal, it is also fundamentally personal.

I canít tell you that if you take a bubble bath, go for a walk, or sniff your infantís hair you will feel joy. These might work for me, but not necessarily for you. But I CAN guide you toward four ingredients common to many different recipes for joy.

When you create your personal recipe for joy-full living, when you sweep away the clutter that keeps joy at armís length, and when you come to believe that magical moments are awaiting you in your everyday life you will discover that each joyfully crafted day lasts an extraordinarily long time.

About the author:

The question, "How does she do it?" seems to float spiritedly around author Susan L. Colantuono. Since 1979 when she left her management position with one of the countryís most progressive insurance companies, Susan has followed a risk-taking (and sometimes tumultuous) path that has included roles as: writer, management consultant, speaker, single parent, horse breeder and trainer, website designer; marketing guru, entrepreneur, international traveler and training designer. Her experiences give life to her new book Make Room for JOY! and anchor the advice in her acclaimed book, Build Your Career. Her Make Room for JOY!ô and Womenís Time-Outô workshops have been described as "life-changing experiences". Her own life continues to change and unfold as she and her son, Justin, grow, learn and play along the Rhode Island shore. Visit http://www.roomforjoy.com for more about helping in the healing process of chronically ill children.


Second Helping: Have You Taken Your Bliss Break Today? by Marnie L. Pehrson
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I woke up this morning to the television. My husband has it set to turn on like an alarm. Itís always on NBC when it powers up, greeting me with the local NBC "Storm Alert." It doesnít matter if itís sunny and beautiful; their weather report is always the "Storm Alert." As I kicked back my covers and looked at the screen I thought, "How ridiculous!" Itís not even storming. Why canít they call it something neutral like the "Climate Report" or something positive such as "The Sunny Alert," or "Everythingís Coming up Roses?" Why focus on the storms?

Then, of course, that set me off on an entire train of philosophical thought. Some people only see the storms in life Ė the negative aspects. They pick things apart looking for the bad and rarely praise the good. Why do people focus on what they donít want? When we gripe, complain, and talk about negative news, weíre giving energy to all the things we donít want and bringing more of them into our lives. Itís a law of nature Ė whatever we feed grows. Why feed the negative in your life? Do you want more? I certainly don't!

Joseph Campbellís statement couldnít be truer, "If you follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and donít be afraid, and doors will open where you didnít know they were going to be."

He didnít say follow what makes you aggravated. He didnít say, "Expect the worst" or "Expect people to do you dirty." (That's Southern slang for treating you unjustly.) No, he said, "Follow your bliss!" Expect people and opportunities to come out of nowhere to work together for your good and your blessing. This is something Iím consciously working on . . . doing those things that bring me the greatest happiness on a daily basis and expecting the best.

Throughout the day, I take mini "bliss breaks" that keep me focused on the positive and beautiful in the world. Some things I do are:

Iíve found that sprinkling these "bliss breaks" throughout the day not only makes me feel better and more grateful for what I have, but also brings more good things to me.

I challenge you to make a list and start the habit. Ask yourself, "What brings me happiness? What brings me true joy?" Sprinkle your bliss breaks through the day and watch wonderful things unfold in your life. While youíre at it, think bigger . . . point your entire life and focus toward what brings you bliss. Itís a miraculous way to live!

About the author:

Marnie L. Pehrson is a wife, mother of 6, author and consultant who helps talented professionals deliver their message to the online world through sites like IdeaMarketers.com, BelieversAtWork.com, 1ChapterFree.com, and more. Visit her projects through pwgroup.com and read her books at MarniePehrson.com.


Soup to Nuts: From the feedback button
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Just Desserts: Also Highly Recommended
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