Finding Joy in Small Places

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking to a small gathering of aspiring writers hoping for publication. I have to tell you, I really didn’t know what to expect and I was somewhat apprehensive that I had anything to offer at all. Writing is such a weasely, singular activity. And getting published (as my agent tells me all too often) is like winning the lottery, “You rarely win twice …” he always warns.

With that bit of encouragement swirling through my head, I made my way down to Vino 100 to meet my new friends. I stepped through the doors to find a smiling group of moms, chatting happily and sipping wine. We made introductions and started an easy, enjoyable dialogue about the writing process.

Just for kicks, I gave them an assignment. I asked them to write about finding joy in small places. I think you’ll like Diane LeBleu’s literary answer. She writes:

“I was headed down the Capitol of Texas Highway last weekend with my ten year old daughter to the mall on a dreaded but necessary chore – finding some casual, spring clothing appropriate for a ten year old ‘tween.’ She is tall and muscular, an athlete with shoe and clothing sensitivity issues so shopping is always an ordeal that results in one of us crying and screaming (usually me) and sales clerks embarrassed for both of us. Today proved to be more daunting because she is no longer accepting of my clothing decisions. Now she has an opinion.

I looked out my window and saw a small swath of Texas bluebonnets waving in the warm March breeze. I caught my breath and exclaimed “Look – the wildflowers are out!” It was my first sighting of the year which is always a thrill. Admittedly, I used to be a bit of a spring foliage snob. Growing up in the Northwest, springs were alive with daffodils, tulips, and gorgeous shrubs of rhododendrons of all colors of the rainbow. Now, however, I have come to appreciate the small, hearty bloom that just weeks before were covered under tangled grass, unnoticed by the passing drivers. Were they here yesterday? I didn’t notice – the noise of busyness drowns out these simple pleasures.

The very pleasures that can take the edge off of an errand that at first seemed irritating are now an integral component in a fond memory of an all-too-infrequent occasion to spend some one-on-one time with my eldest child of four. When I recall this time together, I will not remember the number of articles tried on and returned or time spent waiting outside the dressing room. I will instead remember the precious conversation I had with my daughter as we pointed out the colorful blooms dotting the roadway.”

I like her gentle reminder – that the smallest pleasures in life can awaken our sense of joy and increase our appreciation of one another. I hope you’ll spot some of those colorful blooms – and remember that there is joy to be found in the smallest of places.