Joy Unexpected

I had a text to send before catching the bus, so I sat down in the shelter and sent it.  As I put my phone away, there at my feet was a large cicada.  I don’t know how I missed stepping on him!  I scooped him up on my bus pass and carried him to the safety of some bushes, pausing long enough to admire his gossamer wings and green and black mottled body.  Of course I told him how beautiful he is and to thank him.  Thank him for a moment of joy.

Nature has a way of giving me joy when I least expect it.  A chickadee alights next to me while eating lunch.  A dragonfly flits by.  A brightly coloured leaf floats down at my feet.  I come across an old apple tree heavy with fruit.  I glance out the window and see a red sun sink into the horizon.  All these momentary things add up to daily joy.

It saddened my heart to hear someone say nature is icky.  Yes, it can be.  But don’t let that rule your heart.  It is also unspeakably beautiful, extraordinary, amazing.  You choose how you see life, negative or positive.  Guess which one brings joy?  The more you appreciate beauty, the more you will notice and experience.

It is okay to be a Pollyana.  Don’t let naysayers tell you that being negative is being realistic.  The two points of view are realism.  Negativity just seems more real because it evokes a strong emotional reaction, a survival response.  Joy will bring you peace, and the more you focus on finding joy, the more peace you will have, and then you will have peace when you are in a crisis.  Joy makes you strong.

Choose joy.  Be grateful.  Keep those things in your heart.

Next week I am going to write about some more truths about negativity.  Negativity is ugly.

Some photographs to bring you joy at

Joy Expected

My cat Sam can play the same game for hours and repeat this every day and find the same joy each time.   Sure, he is excited for the odd treat or a new toy, but everlasting happiness comes from what he likes best and does the most.

The continual happy feeling I have during the day is a result of morning routines I perform.  These give me a joy that lasts all day.  These routines are things I love to do, that contribute to my well being. They are not the things I must do, or things I deplore.  I make sure I do what I love first.  I treat myself very well before I go to work.

Something unexpected can bring a surge of joy most of us crave, but it is fleeting.  Everlasting joy comes from a daily structure that ensures you put yourself first before you must sacrifice yourself for others.

That is why getting up very early is so beneficial.  It gives you a block of time to do your joy and does not take away anything from others.  While everyone else is asleep you are doing something special, just for you.  What a big difference this will make to your entire life.

It affords you to get your dreams.  A half hour every morning will finish your novel, complete that university degree, get you back in shape.  All before all your have too’s for the rest of the day.  All before anyone else is awake!

There are three rules to this.  This half hour must be your hearts desire, something you truly want.  It must not disturb anyone else – like playing the tuba at 4 a.m. – um, that doesn’t work (but you can practice the finger keys or learn how to read music).  And, it can’t be negative.  If what you desire is to destroy or to hurt anyone or anything then forget it.  Stay in bed.

What we forget in our busy working lives is to take care of ourselves.  If we are constantly looking after others and other things, eventually we have nothing left to give.

Give yourself to something that is just for you, at least one half hour, first thing in the morning and watch the transformation that happens to the rest of your day.

And buy yourself some roses.

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What Are Vacations For?

From your employers point of view they have to pay you money to not work so they don’t find much value in vacations.  The only exception being that you come back refreshed so you can work harder.

However, if you look at this picture, this is pretty much what will happen to you if you don’t take a vacation.

You’ll seize up.

Okay – I seized up about 5 weeks before my vacation.  Poor planning on my behalf.

So now I use my vacation to get better.

Now I know what vacations are really for.  Healing.

Most vacations it takes about 2 weeks for me to totally de-stress, and then I can try to remember who I really am and what I truly enjoy doing and then go do it.  Fortunately, as I am older, I have insisted on 4 weeks vacation, so I have 2 weeks, usually, to enjoy myself.  Maybe not so much this year.

I had not anticipated a holiday in which I am trying to get well enough to go back to work – but I suspect that this is exactly what most people do in one way or another.

Since I am now the Tin Lady, not unlike the Tin Man who made the mistake of being out in the rain, I’m a wee bit stiff, and a hell of a lot slower.

My physiotherapist can appreciate this picture.

As my friend said, he can do the hundred yard dash in 3 days.

Which is probably a day less than me.

I am getting better, but I also may have a new reality.

My vacation has a new meaning – but I must admit, a better meaning.  I have learned so much from being disabled, way more than when I was an able bodied, and active person.  Valuable lessons I could not have gotten any other way.  I discovered also there are some very genuine caring people in this world who have given their time to help me, despite my pride and stubborn self!  And some have inspired me in new ways.

I have learned the true definition of resilience, and it is not what you think.  Courage is not being Wonder Woman 24/7.  It means you get out and do what you have to do while your brain is whining all the time, you’re totally despairing, you’ve lost all hope,  ready to curl up and die, you’re having pity parties, screaming in pain or yelling at your spouse or any other hapless creature in your way.  You grumble, you plod and you are miserable but you keep pressing forward.  You put yourself on auto pilot and never stop.

I am grateful for the experience and the education, but next time, I think an exotic locale with 5 star hotels might be a better choice!  My lessons will go with me even there, and enrich all my future adventures.

Performance Appraisals

There is a reason employees hate performance appraisals.  It is not a time to shine, it is a time when authority figures can judge, condemn, shame and guilt, with the odd compliment thrown in to make it all seem okay.  Worst of all, tiny seeds of doubt get planted in a persons mind which can jade their entire future.

In a world so intensely focused on the negative, it is far too easy to slash the hearts of good people and deeply wound them with unfounded criticism.

Criticism is unfounded because we all have strengths and weaknesses.   Zoning in on our weaknesses makes us believe we are faulty, unworthy and not enough.  We will struggle to fix these so called issues for perhaps the rest of our lives.  And the even more damning part is, it is usually a totally inaccurate assessment in the first place, because appraisals are from some other faulty person judging another.

Appraisals force people to work harder for less.  They make people work on things that perhaps cannot easily be changed, or worse, on a condition that doesn’t even exist.  Many times that same problem no longer exists in a different environment.  Appraisals wound.

What is needed is a change of focus to positive things.  What are a persons strengths that can be developed and encouraged?  What things would this person like to try, learn or grow in?  Are they happy as they are?  Is there a better place for them in this company that could use their talents? This should be an ongoing communication, not a dreaded once a year sit down with the boss.

Many places I worked at where I enjoyed my job would try to promote me into positions doing something entirely different and I was quickly very unhappy.  Instead of giving me more opportunities to do what I enjoy and shine at, they have their own agendas that have nothing to do with my happiness.

However, one place I stayed at for 20 years because they kept rewarding my strengths and interests.  For instance, when they discovered my love of photography they got me a little camera and made me official photographer of their company events.  Knowing I enjoyed drawing, they gave me the duty of making posters and forms.  When I wanted to learn something new, they sent me on courses.  These were the gems that enabled me endure other duties I did not so enjoy.  When management changed, I was put in charge of scheduling and arranging meetings for 9 committees and I quickly died.

I loathe the last part of appraisals; what are your five and ten year goals?  Easy, in 5 years to be long gone from here, and in ten, forget I ever worked here.  At eighteen I applied for a cashier job at a drug store, and the manager wanted to know what my future was with the company, my five and ten year goals.  Seriously?  At 18?  A cashier job?  My goals were how I was going to spend my cheque on the weekend, how much fun I could have.

Right up there with performance appraisals are the motivational staff meetings.  The message at those is clear.  We are not good enough.  We need to do ridiculous and embarrassing things in public to prove we are part of the culture.  It is humiliating and degrading.  Just stop that stuff.

Managers, stop being assholes.  Reward your employees by looking for their strengths, the things they love, and promote them to positions that utilize their abilities, and ultimately make them outstanding employees, because they love what they are doing.

You’ll be amazed at what happens.