The ordinary is extraordinary.
Joy is what happens when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things are.
I awoke one morning recently, stepped outside to admire the trees and sky, and heard birds singing! It was a delightful start to the day.
Listening to birdsong may seem very ordinary, but it’s a wonder just the same. We too often take ordinary moments for granted and overlook their power to change the tenor of the day. And for good reason. It’s not easy to be in a state of hypervigilant attention and gratitude all the time. Life happens. Places to go. Things to do. And yet, everyday moments can be extraordinary.
They can also lead to grander extraordinary moments in ways we cannot imagine. It’s usually when we look back that we can see with great clarity a sequence of events that quietly fell into place, taking us hither and yon to where we are at this moment. You realize it was somehow destined to be. All you can do is be astonished.
Many of my extraordinary moments started out quite unremarkably.
The ordinary moment that launched a journey of writing, was the decision to email a few friends about my experience training for the New York City Marathon nine years ago. I could not have imagined at the time that the emails would become a blog which would become another blog and later, a book. One never knows…
The writing process happened to coincide with a time of transition as I embarked on my sixth decade. There was finally time to pause and think about what mattered to me at this juncture in life. But what was that? Somewhat to my consternation, I did not know. Writing helped me find a path forward, planting seeds of ideas and insights. Sometimes the story would take a surprising twist, landing me in a new place.
What writing did was open new questions: How did I want to live or be at this stage in my life? How was it possible that the wisdom, knowledge, and life experience I witnessed in so many women, was being taken for granted or even dismissed? How could that wisdom be harnessed to fulfil a few dreams lying dormant for a long time?
I had no answers but concluded there was value in asking the questions. I knew- and know- that at this life stage, responsibilities, challenges, and loss, are part of the fabric of life. And yet there is much to be celebrated. I came to see this time in our lives as one in which dreams and possibilities could be imagined and even realized. That it was possible to do so even with obligations pulling us this way and that. I decided the best way to honour the questions was to write about them.
Life may look much the same on the outside, but our interior lives can transform how we look at the world and our place in it. We can be inspired to undertake something new that brings us joy, whether it’s to learn a language, meet different people, volunteer somewhere, or try an unfamiliar cuisine. Maybe what we do sparks that Oh no! What have I got myself into now? But that’s the thrill of something new.
The third stage in life, as I call it, is the story of the heroine’s journey. It is one that women live and create every day, regardless of how ordinary it may appear. It can be a source of our joy.
Hopefully, we don’t do any of this alone. If we’re fortunate to have a supportive family, that’s great. But what has saved me time and time again, is a community of women friends who have my back. As allies in the journey together, my friends listen without judgement, lend a helping hand, and tell me what I need to hear. All of us are forever figuring it out as we go along, not always sure where the path will lead us, but going forward anyway.
Joy can be experienced in everyday experiences. Sometimes those joyful moments lead us along a circuitous path to who knows where and something much more than we could have imagined suddenly reveals itself. All you can do is be astonished!
For those interested in obtaining a copy of my book Becoming of Age, contact me at email@example.com.
5 thoughts on “Experiencing Joy”
Have a joyful day!
Such a lovely reminder to experience joy in our ordinary lives!
Thank you for your beautiful words about such important moments in our lives. Joy can be all around, we just need to see it.
Hearing birds sing in the early morning is one of my favourite things, and I am thrilled if lucky enough to actually spy who’s singing. Thanks, Audrey, for reminding us that the ‘ordinary’ moments of life can thrill the spirit.
Audrey, thank you for the reminder to open our eyes and see what is right in front of us. Noticing and marvelling in the miracle of spring is a pathway to joy!