Tag Archives: Happiness

Inviting Joy…

21 Dec

JoyI have been working on this particular post for the past few months. 2015 has not been an easy year for me.  Since August 4th, I have lost four very dear friends. Our dear friend Jim passed away on August 4th from liver cancer, leaving a hole in our hearts. A week after Jim passed away my friend Ross, whom I was friends with for 20 years, died of pancreatic cancer. Naomi passed away yesterday and I will miss her terribly. Another significant loss was on December 3 when Beth died of liver cancer. Beth and I had been friends for over 30 years. She was my college girl friend. She would have been 52 yesterday. At times, it is all I can do just to get up in the morning. Throughout the day, it feels as though I have been punched in the stomach. Sadly, it also puts me back in touch with the loss of Bonnie, who was like my twin sister. This much loss is so unsettling that I am working exceedingly hard at staving off depression.

I have been watching and observing friends of mine and my husband and am in awe of their resiliency. These observations have led me to question how do I — how do we all —  invite and make space for joy. For me, this is a task that at times escapes me and seems to grow increasingly difficult.

Being aware of the embarrassing pustule on humanity known as the current Republican party (GOP) only adds to my sense of loss — the loss of common decency in our discourse.  It is exceedingly easy for me to give way to a misanthropic abyss when I think about how the discourse from EVERY Republican presidential candidate participates in and perpetuates racism, homophobia, misogyny, classism, and all of the intersections therein. Let us not forget, this is not just the nefarious Donald Trump, since every candidate believes as Trump does. They may not be quite as vociferous, but they share the same racist, homophobic and misogynistic beliefs. Sadly, even those Republicans who condemn the horrific rhetoric by these presidential hopefuls, still maintain that they will still support the Republican nominee. Yes, even while Paul Ryan slams Trump for  his racist, even Nazi like approach to this race, Ryan will still vote for him. This is more than just a little nonplussing.

So how do you, how do I invite hope, not just hope but how do I invite joy? Here I will share things that actually do bring me joy and I invite all of you readers, how do you invite joy? I want to learn from all of you!

Being in my classrooms teaching MSW students brings me great joy, such joy that I don’t have language to fully articulate how giddy I feel when I watch these students and how they reflect and leverage their privilege for equity. I am in awe of these people and they bring me joy and give me hope.

Spending time with my friends’ children next door brings me joy. Hank (who is only six years old) who grabs onto me and most insistently tells me stories brings me joy. Spending time with my amazing colleagues and friends as we are vulnerable with each other and support one another brings me great joy. Spending time with my husband as we talk, listen, drink wine, and support one another, and watch RuPaul’s Drag Race brings me joy!

My failing seems to be how do I hold on to all of this? How can I keep in contact with all of this joy and sustain my gratitude?

How do all of you do it?

A Wonderfully Sweet Moment: Redeeming My Faith in Humanity

26 Apr

ChildrenSometimes I have to just grab hold of very sweet moments and treasure them, for they prove to be a salve for my misanthropic woes at times. I suspect many of us have moments when we experience kindness and generosity of heart from someone — this is a great privilege and I hope people cling to these moments and embrace them.

Thursday I was leaving Portland to go to Bend where I teach a graduate class a course called Social Justice. While in the airport in Portland, I went to buy a bottle of water. In this simple process, I somehow cut my finger. How? I have no idea. Sadly, I was bleeding quite a bit — more bothersome than anything else. Being on a blood thinner (Coumadin) makes me bleed more easily and it is then difficult to stop the bleeding. While trying to pay for the water, the cashier looked at me bluntly and said sternly: “You make sure you don’t bleed on the counter.” How rude of me to be bleeding at all!!!  I grabbed the water and went to the gate.

I had a bunch of napkins and was trying desperately to stop the bleeding, for I was now very embarrassed and the napkins were completely red.

Then, a young girl, I would guess four or five, approached me with a cherubic face and voice to match and with a look of concern asked: “Would you like one of my band-aids?”  She pulled out a band aid from her box and handed it to me. I said: “Thank you. Thank you very much. You are very kind.”  The band-aid was rainbow colored and I wondered how she knew I was gay and how appropriate for her to have picked a lovely and sensitive band aid.  She smiled and waited for me to put the band aid on my bleeding finger, knowing she could walk away with her new skill of saving fingers.

I must confess, this touched me in such a way that I started to cry and felt like I was melting. This kindness from this little girl warmed my heart so tremendously, I knew I had to treasure it.

As I was getting off the plane in Bend, I went to grab my bag from the overhead compartment and saw the little girl just three seats behind me. She looked at my bandaged finger and then looked at me. I winked at her and said thank you.  What a lovely little gift. I am so glad I have now recorded it.

May all of you enjoy some happiness today and everyday, in whatever fashion that kindness reveals itself to you. I am thinking of that little girl that made this old man very happy and listening to Sweet Honey in the Rock’s song On Children. I would like to think that if I had had a child, that child would have been as equally generous and kind.

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