Building Sand Castles

Building Sand Castles

Watching my children work together to build a sand castle this weekend filled me with such hope.  Focused on a joint vision, the dynamics between them reflected partnership and a near divine level of giving–both to each other and the project at hand.

Where often there is competition between them, magic bubbled up so iridescent and shiny I felt I could reach out and touch it.

If this wonderful mix of creation and love can be felt from two children working together to build a castle made of sand, imagine the mountains that can be moved when hundreds or thousands of passionate people join their hands, heads and hearts.  What a world we could build if we collectively focused on everything we want to create (healthy and educated people, clean water and air, nutritious food, abundance and joy) instead of all the things we want to avoid (crime, disease, pollution, lack, pain and suffering).

What a world, indeed.

So, what do you say?  Shall we get some brightly colored buckets and a few shovels and get to work?

Joy Quote

Joy Quote

Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.   – Erma Bombeck

It’s Friday.  Not that that should matter so much if we’re living in the moment; but for those of us who are still climbing the slippery slopes of enlightenment it serves as a reminder.

Say it with me joyous people: Today I will enjoy each and every moment.  Especially the ones that involve chocolate.

I spy joy turns 1!

birthday cake_stockMy very first post on ISpyJoy.com was one year ago today.   Creating a space to affirm and share all the places joy is found became my temple, my place to worship and appreciate this amazing life. It has played a vital role in my journey toward happiness.

When I’ve needed nudging, this site has served as a reminder of my commitment to purposely look for and feel the joy that is available at every moment.  It’s my touchstone.

Today, and everyday, I am grateful for this gift I have given myself.

Happy birthday.  …And many more.

(cropped) Bloom True - painting by Flora S. Bowley

(cropped) Bloom True - painting by Flora S. Bowley

Beauty is a source of great joy for me. I find beauty in color and space, lines and angles, circles and odd shapes, wide smiles, deep eyes, and Flora’s paintings.

I found Flora S. Bowley’s paintings this week in a treasure trove called Hunt and Gather. Instantly, I fell in love.

Her art is bold, colorful, rich and complex. Simultaneously soft and strong, decisive, confident and meaningful.  I gazed at the large, visual feasts for a good long while, moving in and out of them, exploring.

It wasn’t until days later that I realized all the things I love about her work are things I want to be. What I find beautiful, it seems, is what I wish to find in myself.  I may have known that already, and tucked away that little pearl for safe keeping. But that is neither here nor there.

The gem is this: if I can find the echoes of beauty within—the moments of boldness, the confident actions, the colorful character traits—I can begin to see myself as a work of art, precious and joyful as Flora’s paintings. And my life, in turn, as a masterpiece.

(cropped) Manifest, painted by Flora S. Bowley

(cropped) Manifest - painting by Flora S. Bowley

Jill & Kevin's Wedding Entrance (compiled from jkweddingdance.com)

Jill & Kevin's Wedding Entrance (compiled from jkweddingdance.com)

One of the best ways to be happy is look at every thing in a fresh and open-minded way, without the bias of what has been.  Circumstances change and people change; which means outcomes can change.  If we can be willing to begin a meeting, a discussion, a day unfiltered–knowing that every aspect has had an opportunity for growth–our openness leaves space for possibility and surprise.  And a lot more space for joy.

I don’t know Jill or Kevin, but I know they are willing to look at things with a fresh, open mind.  The way they began their wedding attests to that.  Weddings are ceremonies steeped in tradition, from the entrance of the wedding party to the introduction of the newly-joined couple.  Jill and Kevin began their life partnership differently.  They began it with a bright and joyous dance.

Their exuberance for life and love is not only apparent, it’s appreciated and adored by millions.  Nearly 18 million people have watched this video on YouTube.  I’ve seen it at least seven times and their joy, along with their friends and family, makes me cry every time.  The good kind of crying.  You know, the kind where your chest aches from the pressure of your rapidly expanding heart.

Give yourself a gift, watch this video.  Watch it a few times.  Then, when you get out of bed tomorrow morning, before the filters of last week or last month or last year creep in to predetermine your day, remember how Jill and Kevin and their wedding party entered the room, and how beginning the ceremonial start of their life together with an open mind and joyous heart spread a bit of happiness and love to 18 million…and counting.  Then begin your day in joyous dance.

I spy joy in titles

Director of Smiles

Director of Smiles

Titles are interesting things.  Technically a descriptor, they also tend to create a sort of social hierarchy; ranking a person’s position, and consequently their value,  in the company.  At least, this is the traditional model.  Some (dare I say most?) companies–and people–take titles very seriously.  Every once in a while I see a company break the mold, if only around the edges.  Umpqua Bank, it turns out, is one of those companies.

On a mission to pick up donated items for goodie bags, I was distracted by a digital picture frame on the reception desk in the downtown Portland offices of Umpqua Bank.  It was scrolling images of community service by groups of employees.  Below it was a glass block proudly stating “Director of Smiles.”  Instantly, I smiled.  Uncontrollably.  In sheer delight I asked Bev Masters, the woman sitting there who was in fact full of smiles, if that was her real title.  Sure enough.  She even pulled out her name tag in verification.  I was almost giddy.  For a good 20 minutes afterward, even.

It occurs to me that while I am increasingly skeptical of titles, I hold immense value in this one.  Director of Smiles.  I’m certain Ms. Masters feels happier each and every time she sees those words following her name.  How could she not?  Just learning that somewhere there really is a Director of Smiles lightened my day considerably; and I don’t have any idea what she does all day.

I would wager that every person who sees that beautiful block of glass can’t help but grin and feel a little lighter than they did just moments before.  And a ripple of joy and smiles must inevitably follow.  If that’s all Ms. Masters does all day, I’d say she has one of the most powerful jobs I know of.

sidewalk art_full NK080109 sm

Sidewalk Art - NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR

There are many things that make us wealthy.  The abundance and variety of beauty that surrounds us is one of them.

I find beauty much like I find joy–sprinkled lavishly as freckles on the golden cheeks of a child at summer’s end.  Finding beauty adds dimension to the moments of our lives; making their relative shortness wide and deep.

Yesterday I found loveliness unexpected in the form of sidewalk art. What must have taken a fair amount of time, artistry and chalk lingers for countless passers by to appreciate.  What a wonderful, surprising gift.

Life is rich, indeed.