Pockets of Joy
Kathleen Adams, LPC, RPT
I remember the blazing hot
Julys of my middle childhood as magical. The school year
just past was a distant memory; the school year to come
was in the far future. My suburban neighborhood, once
fertile farmland, was friendly, safe and slow-paced. I'd
mount my bike in early light and roam the creeks and
cottonwood thickets until hunger drove me homeward.
After lunch, I'd do it again.
I was a collector of all things
interesting and random: Seedpods, rocks, shriveled
cocoons, squashed pennies, bottle caps, pencil stubs.
All of it got crammed into the pockets of my shorts.
These were also the summers my mother taught me to do
laundry, so once a week I'd dump my shorts and tops into
the washer and pour in a measureful of Tide, mindless of
the trail of debris I left behind.
My mother's task was to rescue
her washing machine from the flotsam and jetsam of my
travels. "I see you've got pockets of joy
again," she'd say wryly, reaching deep into the
basin to retrieve my treasures.
My carefree Julys are gone, but
I've carried forward some habits: I'm still a wanderer,
I'm still a gatherer, and I still seek pockets of joy to
surprise and delight me. Here are four ways I create
pockets of joy in my journal.
1. Treat your journal like a
scrapbook. Buy a 3-pack
of gluesticks and keep one in your purse or briefcase,
one in your stash place at work, and one in your
favorite journal spot at home. (If you keep one in the
car, make sure it's in a baggie in case it melts.) Now
you are free to paste in mementos of your daily
wanderings: A comic strip or cartoon that tickles your
funnybone, a movie ticket stub, your fortune cookie
fortune, the photocopied lyrics to your favorite song
from your new CD, a post card from the country inn where
you had Sunday brunch with out-of-town friends. Writing
about the event is optional. There's not a word in my
journal about my lusty cheers and squeals during Tom
Cruise's motorcycle chase, but the M:I-2 ticket stub is
an instant return.
2. Log your joy.
Keep a Joy Log. Start by listing three pockets of joy in
every day. Anything counts that brings a smile to your
eyes, a lift to your heart or a stirring to your soul --
a sunset, the laughter of a child, an answered prayer,
feeling at home in your body, the scent of roses in your
yard. As you develop the habit of joy, expand your
repertoire to five daily joys, or even ten. Or you can
borrow a spiritual practice from Brother David
Steindl-Rast, who strives to find one new thing each and
every day to praise. He says he was worried at first
that he might run out of fresh ways to be surprised,
delighted and grateful, but it hasn't happened yet.
3. Delight in sensory details.
Indulge in the pleasures of the sensual, sensory world.
Take time to fully appreciate the taste and texture of
an exquisite piece of exactly ripe fruit. Breathe in the
luscious smells of summer: Burgers on the grill,
chlorine from the pool, freshly mowed grass. Put on
music that transports you back to a carefree, joyful
time in your life. Write about your joy.
4. Capture a moment of joy.
The Captured Moments journal technique is a short
vignette that freezes a moment of time permanently in
prose, just as a camera shutter capture a moment of time
on film. Captured Moments are characterized by their
intensity of description. This is a place to allow
yourself to use all the luscious, rich, evocative
images, adjectives and verbs that you can call forth.
Choose something from your Joy Log -- a moment of pure,
unadulterated joy, beauty or bliss -- and write about
it. Be flowery. Be intense. Be dramatic!
As a journal therapist who
spends a good portion of every day working with people
in pain, I know how easy and effective it is to turn to
the journal as a never-ending friend in need. But any
friendship needs balance. A little pocket of joy every
now and then will go a long way toward bringing
necessary balance to your journal. And your soul and
spirit will thrive!
© 2000 Kathleen
Adams. All rights reserved.
Kathleen Adams LPC, RPT is a
Registered Poetry/Journal Therapist and Director of The
Center for Journal Therapy in Lakewood, Colorado. She is
one of the leading voices on the power of writing to
heal and is the author of four books, including Journal
to the Self and The Write Way to Wellness.
Her upcoming seminars include the annual 5-day women’s
writing retreat in Colorado July 8-13, and a one-day
Journal to the Self workshop in Denver in late July. She
would love your feedback on this column; please e-mail email@example.com
or stop by her website, www.journaltherapy.com.
Kathleen's "Scribing the Soul" Columns:
"Scribing the Soul" Column
2000 "Five Ways to Scribe Your Intuition"
Kathleen's Feature Article on Dream Journals:
in the Dark: Cracking the Soul's Code Through Dream