Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.
Mary Oliver

We must admit there will be music despite everything.
Jack Gilbert

It has been a long year. No idea when the spread of this virus and its variants will end; none the less, we’re in a different place as we move through this time of COVID-19. We have lived through a journey of twists and turns, but the disruption of COVID has made me realize there is a lot of great stuff in my life. Much of it is ordinary and has always been there.

As we begin emerging from a long hibernation that has challenged many of us, I want to keep the focus on those seemingly small but not so small ordinary extraordinary moments. May I not lose sight of them in the days ahead.   In thinking about this, I was prompted to ask you, my readers:

What brings you joy? What do you do to replenish and feed your soul?  
What is important to you going forward?

Your responses warmed my heart!  A basket of joyous contributions that runneth over. I hope many will resonate with you.  I have clustered similar responses.  Here’s what you said:

Nature- in all its forms

  • being outside (many people said this one)
  • breathing in fresh air
  • enjoying the surrounding greenery
  • hiking and taking in great views 
  • being active in nature -hard not to be awed by a carpet of trilliums, magnolia trees in full bloom or the fragrance of lilac bushes
  • sunshine
  • trees, the sky (many people said this one)
  • daily walks (also popular)
  • autumn leaves and the colour
  • the four seasons and seasonal changes
  • a fresh snowfall
  • watching plants bloom right now
  • bird song (many people said this one).
  • the smell, and feel (warm breeze), of a meadow or wooded area
  • rabbits sighting in the backyard
  • watching perennials my late mother planted years ago come up every year- like a visit 
  • walking in the woods and listening to the rustling sounds of the forest 

“Twice yesterday….. I stopped and just settled into the experience.”

Play

  • music- both listening and playing
  • reading
  • singing
  • dancing
  • enjoying a walk along the boardwalk by Lake Ontario
  • enjoying games with family and friends
  • laughter 
  • returning to art- painting especially
  • dancing in the kitchen when no one else is around.
  • silly rom-com movies -no one wears a mask, stupid story lines, and if Hugh Grant or Ryan Gosling are in the movie … well what more would a girl want.

“Tonight, when I was out walking the dog, I heard the sound of live drumming on a neighbouring street!  I followed the sound as if I were following the music of the Pied Piper.  As I turned a corner, I found a group of drummers sitting in a circle on the sidewalk playing and singing together.  There was so much joy and energy in that group that it was hard not to feel light and happy in that moment.  Everyone who passed by wanted to move or dance to the beat. After a long, long period of being cooped up at home, this live jam session felt like a tonic!  It was a moment of pure joy!”

Relationships

  • my kids (and my family) – can’t wait to hug them all and never let go!
  • seeing what an amazing, loving parent our son is
  • family and friends- many responses to this
  • being with grandchildren
  • sharing good times with people we care about
  • watching my grandson grow by leaps and bounds and just hanging out with him at the playground with no agenda
  • sharing a good belly laugh with friends
  • expansion of my circle of companionship! Walking with the people and animals that I love!
  • seeing (through zoom) my kids, family, friends can make the day amazing
  • a wonderful wife, good friends, and family
  • holding hands
  • doing acts of kindness for (my) kids
  • hugs
  • knowing families are safe and healthy
  • walks and phone conversations with dear friends
  • FaceTiming with a granddaughter while cooking together
  • “What makes my heart sing: (hearing) I love you Nanna.”

“I am friends with a Syrian family who came to Canada as refugees 5 years ago.  There are 8 of them living in a two bedroom apartment very close to me. The mother has a newborn and can’t get out with the kids much.  Once or twice a week, I go out with some of the girls -there are four of them, aged 11, 9, 4 and 2–to our local park. Just walking into the cool, green space of the park, with no goal other than to hang out and play, and with other parents and kids doing the same, is so soothing and relaxing. It takes me back to when I did the same with my daughter (who is now 23).  Time stops, and you can just be in the moment. There is nothing like being in a park with kids to soothe and uplift the soul.”

Let’s Not Forget…

  • afternoon naps
  • the vaccine (cheers for COVID shots)
  • good health
  • good food
  • science
  • young people
  • hearing truth
  • learning new things (through webinars, zoom, reading)
  • decluttering- having less stuff feels good and much of that “stuff” is going to great causes
  • creating gifts for people 
  • peace in my mind, 
  • balance in life with simple pleasures.
  • reaching out to help other people in whatever way I can
  • repairing a broken item instead of throwing it “away” (there really is no “away”)
  • learning to live more simply by using less and appreciating more
  • good memories; feeling thankful for the memories.

“What a miracle this vaccine is!”

Going Forward? Here’s What I Heard:

  • What is important?  I will never take another family gathering for granted!  I will forever hug my loved ones for an extra second or two before we part.  I will try to slow down, appreciate the small things and not be too focused on trivial matters.
  • Try to keep life simpler. I enjoy this so much more.
  • Appreciate what I have.

I loved reading what you had to say! All of what brings joy is easily available to us. All speak to a simpler life that is authentic and true. None of it costs anything. 

The monumental disruption of COVID awakened us from the slumber of habit and hurry. We didn’t ask for this disruption, but here we are. The good news is that with disruption comes possibility–  for whatever grand ambition holds a place in our hearts and the joy of what is before us now. We just have to notice.

 Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

*The term grand ambition, referred to in a previous post, was coined by Kristine Oller, coach and strategist- https://kristineoller.com/

7 thoughts on “Experiencing Joy in the Time of COVID-19

  1. Thank you all, Joy is an emotion that is often forgotten because it is so simple. Children express it; adults forget it.

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  2. Thanks Audrey for this wonderful compendium of joyful ideas. Just reading them is a joyful experience!

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  3. Audrey, reading this blog brings me so much joy! Thank you so much for pulling together this compendium of joyfulness. It’s like a tonic!

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  4. What a lovely tribute to a new reality after this one leaves us behind (and good riddance to that)! Thanks for capturing how we all feel…and good to know the company we are all in!

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  5. Thanks for all your contributions! Keep them coming. I will continue to share your ideas. For this post, the most popular experience of joy was being with family followed by listening to birdsong!

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  6. Thank you Audrey for putting this list together; all of which speaks to me. Such a lot to be so very grateful for!

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