Recently, I found a missing piece of my life. I lacked the appreciation for simple joys. For the longest time, my life was a calendar full of different colored pen marks and no blank spaces. I orbited around a schedule. I always bounced from activity to activity, with barely any breaks in between. When I was home, which was rarely, I normally had a specific task to occupy my time. Within the past month, for the first time in what seems like forever, I have time on my hands. I don’t have any homework to do or a show to choreograph. At first this was a very strange feeling for me and I had no idea what to do. I started to read and read. I’ve finished 7 books in the course of 3 months. I could never accomplish that before. As a child, I could barely sit still, let alone sit still and read a book, hence the reason I can never finish any movie. I would have never imagined myself as a reader. Now, I realize that I never gave myself any time to read. I had this philosophy that I always needed to be the most productive and efficient that I could be. I always needed to be on the go, running around from place to place accomplishing as much as a can. This new activity of sitting still and reading for hours is very different than my usual actions. So about after a week, I began to question if I was being productive enough in my free time. I started creating unreachable goals believing that I needed to accomplish those in order to use my time wisely. After days of trying to reach these unattainable goals, I crashed and burned. It took some time to rebuild myself from the inevitable crash, but what helped me restore my spirit was noticing the simple joys. I observed. I became grateful for all the simple joys in my life.
One thing Mica, my Team Leader, says repeatedly is “We will never be in the same place, doing the same thing, at the same time ever again.” I started making a gratitude notes. It’s similar to my 2014/2015 jar that I have at home. For example, when Victoria and I went to Duke for a Brazilian Dance Concert, I wrote the date and the event on a tiny scrap of paper and put in the jar. In my home in Ecuador, I’ve replaced that with writing in a journal. I try to write something that I’m grateful for or proud of most days. Some of the most ordinary things in my life, like making my bed or cooking dinner have a great impact on me. Another form of my event jar is writing in my journal. A favorite pastime of mine now. At first, I realized I was writing a lot initially because I couldn’t really express what all happened that day in Spanish. I observed more than I spoke and wrote down everything I could remember. Writing helped when I needed to express my opinions or thoughts on occurring events. I don’t have many close friends in my vicinity, so I use writing as a tool. Now, I write because I want to. It has become a habit to write about what happened or what I’m thinking. As of now I’m more than half way through my composition notebook, I’ve run out of pens and I’ll probably need to open my next notebook for Christmas!
Walking is another simple joy of mine. Sometimes, my favorite part of my day is walking home from work. It helps clear and refocus my mind. I walk almost every day. I will only take the bus home, if it is pouring. I love the feeling of leisure walking. I don’t have to worry that it takes 30 minutes to walk home every day, because there is no rush to get home. I don’t have to be home in under 10 minutes, in order to run off to another occasion. I am able to take my time, think and enjoy the little simple things in life. I enjoy the sun beating down on my skin. I enjoy watching and listening to snippets of people’s lives.
As many of you know, I am a little bit of a perfectionist. I set high expectations for myself and get mad when I don’t accomplish those goals. Well, I expressed this to my team leader, Mica, and she gave me a book called “The Gifts of Imperfection”. At first, I was a little wary of reading a self-help book on a topic that is very personal. However, I’ve found many parts that either describe me perfectly or give me guidance on my daily struggles. I realized that I’ve always strived to be happy, to be “Happy Brianna”. However, happiness is only a state of being, an emotion. I can’t pressure myself to be “Happy Brianna” because as a human being, I have so many more emotions that are worth feeling.
What is joy?
“Joy seems to me a step beyond happiness. Happiness is a sort of atmosphere you can live in sometimes when you’re lucky. Joy is a light that fills you with hope and faith and love.”
-Adela Rogers St.Johns
I’ve started to let go of certain expectations of myself and have embraced who I am. I’m taking every day as a brand new day, because there are so little left in this year. I enjoy the fresh air and the rainy days. I enjoy the moments of confusion with Spanish. I am enjoying the simplicity in life because “Simple joys have a simple voice that say take a look around” – Stephen Schwartz.
For those who are living in a world of schedules, due dates, and all things crazy, I encourage all of you to take a few minutes out of your day to give gratitude to yourself and your surroundings.