Thursday, November 28, 2013

Choosing JOY

Today seems like the day to reflect on my OLW: JOY.  I have chosen all year to focus on the little things in life that bring me JOY. Grandkid giggles, Chloe and her silliness, lightbulb moments in my students' lives, friends, family, life.

But, this is nothing new to me. I've tried to do this for many years. Was it easy?


Was my life perfect?


But you have to choose to be happy.

When I chose to be a 23-year-old single mom, I knew it would be hard (granted, I didn't know how hard), but I found those people who supported me and loved me. I focused on a baby who needed me to give him a good life. But, wow. There was no money. There were times I wondered if I could handle it all. I could have sat back and chose helplessness and bitterness. And then, the love of family and friends would show me I had a lot to be happy about, things to celebrate. JOY. So, I worked jobs for little money, subbed when I could, made do with what I had. Christmas's looked pretty skimpy compared to what I was used to as a kid, but we made them happy and joyful.

A wonderful man came into my life a few years down the road, and he loved  me and my little boy with all his heart. How can you not find the JOY in that. We'll have been married for 30 years next May, and for all the ups and downs in our lives, I don't regret one minute.

We were so poor when we were first married. A new baby came and our family of four lived on one very small salary in a small town far from home. We could have chosen unhappiness and loneliness. But you know what? We chose happy. Sharing those years made my husband and I friends. We survived them together. Now we look back and laugh at how we lived, but the lessons learned during them we still practice today. Our lifestyle hasn't changed a lot even though our money situation has. It's why we can afford our trailer at the lake and a trip to Hawaii and still help our kids out when they truly need the help.

Is our marriage perfect? Heavens, NO! There were times it would have been easy to walk out the door. But happiness isn't easy. JOY is hard to find. But it's there if you work for it.

Raising teenage boys who are independent and don't want advice--really hard. Lots of tears and heartache at times. But the JOY of watching them grow into self-reliant young men with families of their own, Priceless.  They are now going through their own hard times now, but their kids are happy and healthy and my grandkids know they are loved unconditionally.

When I finally began teaching, it wasn't the perfect situation (I taught two math classes for Heaven's sake), but I was teaching and there was JOY in that. And, eventually, I ended up at the high school teaching what I love. I am surrounded by friends who share my beliefs about teaching and kids. I have administrators who let me teach with my heart. And I have the best students in the world. I learn from them every day.

I've stretched my wings this year and tried new things. I've made many new "friends" online. People who also stretch my thinking and challenge what I thought I knew.

And there is JOY in all of that.

So today, no matter what else is happening in your life, take a moment. Look at all you have. Eat too much. Watch a parade. Laugh with the people you love.

Because there is JOY in that.


  1. I learned more of your story. Inspiring. Choosing JOY has made you resilient.

  2. I like your post. It is very inspirational. Life not always same. Change is the nature of nature.

    Kopi Luwak

  3. Deb, thanks for your reminder to always look for the JOY in everything we have and do. Nobody guaranteed an easy life for any of us - our lives are what we make of them - look for the good, be positive and enjoy. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

  4. Deb, this is really beautiful! Choosing JOY! Would you mind if I would share your story with some of the single moms at our church??


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