A to Z Challenge: Letter J for Joy

Deep, esoteric reading material leaves me feeling dumb and vocabulary challenged as a rule, but there is something that I took away from a recent read that resonates with me. It was about joy. (And I may have gotten it wrong, but forgive me C. S. Lewis.)

He uses lots of big words…

I agree with C.S. Lewis that real joy has a sadness, and a longing behind it that makes it what it is. I have found that to be true about caretaking. Every time I’m doing something for someone, I’m wishing they were well and able to do it for themselves. I’m thinking about what I have that they don’t, what I can do that they can’t, and I’m grateful that I can help them. There is joy in adding to their life something they cannot have on their own.

There is also the joy of coming together, collaborating and accomplishing a task, that is different from anything I can do on my own. I believe we are meant to be in community with others and find our greatest satisfaction in sharing our skills, our words, thoughts, and our time – and that is often what caretaking is about. Almost always, the people I am caring for have something that they give back and share with me. There is joy in that.

I am sad when caretaking seems like a one way street with no feedback, no acknowledgment, no life giving return. But even then, I feel that I am honoring God by caring for a life that he values until he says that care is no longer needed. Caretaking teaches me things about myself that I couldn’t learn any other way. Persistence, integrity, compassion, acceptance, courage are all attributes that get challenged and honed… courses in Caretaking University.

That’s it. JOY. Caretaking is hard work, at times frustrating, exhausting, discouraging and other “bad things”, but joy is there to be found. I have named it and realize that it makes me able to continue taking care of others.

A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter J)

Tomorrow will be another busy day, scrubbing grout in between grocery shopping and a trip to the airport to pick up my cousin. I’m posting early so I won’t forget and be late. 

Junk is a J word

As I consider PAYING to store things during our move, I look at my possessions with a different perspective. I cannot afford to box up and store anything that I consider junk. But the definition of junk is very subjective – kind of like beauty being in the eye of the beholder.  You’ve heard it before, one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. There is a reason almost every house has a junk drawer – true?

I may not be in my next home, one that I will be required to furnish, for months. When that time comes will I have a place for the collections, knick knacks, throw pillows, books, etc… that I have now? I can’t count on that. It might be much better to wait and see, and furnish a new place with things that fit in its spaces. So having adopted this sane way of looking at paring down, why does it all fall apart when I go up in the attic and find this…

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Look at those precious little pig faces, and the rooster and hen. I love the little clear glass pitcher too. I love it all.

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That white vase is so unusual, and the blue and brass Delft vases could be valuable, couldn’t they?

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This vase has always made me happy. I have to keep it. It won’t take up much space in storage (rationalize much? yes).

I just can’t help hanging on to precious, unique things, even if all I ever do is look at them. Like my chickens (or maybe they are roosters), whose heads are salt and pepper shakers and bodies are cream and sugar servers. Or my funny little vases that have a Delft label. They are either things I’ve had passed down from family or things I’ve miraculously come across in a garage sale for almost nothing! Definitely meant to have a forever home with me, I’m thinking.

Then there is my blue glass collection. I love blue. And my John Deere collection which bears witness to my farm girl soul – it’s all boxed up, ready for transport. It’s not junk when I see it and think about giving it away. So then, how is it that some of these things have been put away in the attic for years and I didn’t even remember I had them? Would that be the definition of “junk”, stuff you don’t miss enough to know that you miss it? Maybe.

I have found things that I hope will be someone else’s treasure. In fact, I make such frequent trips to the donation center that I drive to one farther away where they won’t recognize me. But I’m hoping that someday I’ll enjoy unpacking the things I’ve kept and finding just the right place for them.

This moving process is useful in that it has helped me limit those collections to a reasonable number. Best of all, I think I’m really going to avoid that last-minute frustration of throwing all those left over things in a box because I don’t have time to thoughtfully sort through them.

Do you have precious junk? Would you put it in a box and pay to store it?