Gifts to Laugh, Pray & Be Quiet

Today’s January Joy Dare is to look for a gift that makes you laugh, a gift that makes you pray, and a gift that makes you quiet.

Laugh – I loved this post by Kate from Chronicles of a Country Girl.  She titled it “Let the Good Times Roll” and it shows her dog rolling around on his back.  Unfortunately, my picture of the beagle doing it looks like a beached whale and is not quite something I’d use anywhere to advertise my blog!

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Pray – I’ve found a Christian writer’s conference in May.  I’d given no thought to something like this (nor is it on my wishlist of travel this year either!), but other things are falling in line for my writing.  I think this may be a path in front of me.  For a number of reasons, my favorite boy toy thinks I should go.

I’ve gone to some of the weekend classes at the University of Iowa for their writer’s workshops.  They were fun and I got a lot out of them.   I’d always wanted to go back for a full week, but never did.  Although my writing has been a goal for quite a few years, this is the year it’s gaining momentum.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Quiet – I’ve taken down some of the Christmas decorations, but left up the lights.  The other night, my favorite boy toy went out to do some errands.  I sat there quietly in the dark, enjoying the fire and the lights, and just relaxed as I cuddled the dogs.  It was a wonderful gift of solitude.   I did some praying, but mostly I just sat there and absorbed the silence.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Thank you to my new subscribers!  I look forward to getting to know each of you better.  I’ve made so many new friends through this blog.  I hope to visit your blogs shortly, if I haven’t already.

Three Yellow Mercies

Ann Voskamp, author of the book “One Thousand Gifts”, has a January Joy Dare to help her readers achieve a goal of noticing three gifts a day from God.

The one for today was “3 yellow things that strike you as a fresh mercy”.

When I first read it, I thought no way. Then I thought I’d better look up the definition of mercy and keep it in front of me as I contemplated three yellow things that were a fresh mercy.

Mercy is defined in Wikitionary as:

forgiveness or compassion, especially toward those less fortunate

So. . . forgiveness, compassion. Am I less fortunate? Generally, no. But that is not relevant to this exercise. We are all less fortunate before God. That’s why he extends his mercy to us.

So here are three yellow things that I think are a mercy in a way than I had not previously thought of them as being:

Yellow Post-it Notes – my favorite boy toy and I love using Post-Its because they don’t blow around or get lost. They’re also a great way to say I’m sorry, I love you, or you did a great job! They’re more than for just writing – they’re also a way to communicate forgiveness and compassion, and to show affection to each other.

Yellow Hi-liter – another tool I love to use. It says PAY ATTENTION. THIS IS IMPORTANT. When I read, I like to highlight my books so that later, I can quickly skim and reread important concepts. My Bibles have multiple colors of highlighters; so does my copy of Walden.  If I’m tired at night, I just read the highlights.

Yellow shine on brass instruments – listening to brass instruments says to me to slow down, relax, and enjoy the journey. The sound of brass is just beauty and a time to stand still in the flow of it, whether it is Kenny G. with his saxophone, Chris Botti with his trumpet, or the school band playing a John Philip Sousa march.  Of course, Sousa music leaves me feeling highly energized afterwards :)

So those are my ways to find fresh mercies. I hope you enjoyed this patter for a few minutes!

Here’s a shot from a conference room at work, showing night lights during the rain.  It turned out pretty good considering it was my cell phone.

Engraving Our Heart

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

I think Emerson’s comment above is a great one for engraving on our heart.  Every day IS the best day in the year.  There will be days, of course, when we can’t make that happen.  But in general, every day should be the best day in the year.  That’s what we have is today – today to live, to love, to enjoy our life.  No matter how crummy the day, something good happened at some point, from a random act of kindness to an unexpected blessing.

At the beginning of 2011, I used an exercise in my journals that asked these four questions each day:

  1. What was the best part of today?
  2. How did I feel after writing that?
  3. What was the best moment?
  4. How do I incorporate this into my life?

On January 2, I wrote:

Best Part of the Day – Eating breakfast at Cracker Barrel with my favorite boy toy.  He was so relaxed, as was I.  We talked about all kinds of things (written about above).  He was so smiley and happy for nearly the entire breakfast.  The fire on my back was warm, the restaurant was not overly crowded, the food was fixed good and tasted good.  The Christmas tree is down, but the pine needle garland and red bows are still on the fireplace.

Thoughts on the Exercise – Bit hectic.  Not sure if I will keep doing this long-term.

Best Moment – My favorite boy toy agreeing to go to Starbucks so I could write for a while someplace different than at home.

Incorporating Into My Life – I need to enjoy precious moments and good moods while they are here.  So often either he or I are tired and crabby and unfortunately, our mood impacts each other.

Within a few more days of the exercise, I realized that the best part of many days was having breakfast with my favorite boy toy.  As the year has gone, we’ve made it a point to go out for breakfast several days a week before I go to work.  There are so many advantages to it.  We’re fresh and relaxed, leading to better conversations and less bickering.  The day hasn’t started yet, so we have patience for whatever is being discussed, from galleries for his art work to how many days we spend visiting our child.

Gretchen Rubin’s experiment that resulted in the book, The Happiness Project, consciously undertook to make each day a best day.  So did Ann Voskamp in her book, One Thousand Gifts.  Both are worthy of reading if you want to improve your contentment with your life as it is right now.

An unknown author once wrote,

We can’t adjust the wind, but we can adjust the sails.

And that is something within our control – adjusting our attitude towards life.  For other ideas on this topic, check out Leo Babauto’s entry on 10 Simple, Sure-fire Ways To Make Today The Best Day Ever.

This picture is from earlier this fall, taken when we drove a bridge over a bay that went out to the Atlantic Ocean.  It was part of a series, another of which is posted here.

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Word for tomorrow – TRANSMIT.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.