Joy Journal

Joy Journal #26: May 25-29, 2022

My two sisters and my niece came to visit us while we were living in Aix this spring. Our plan was to spend a few days together in the city and then head down to the coast to stay in a popular seaside village, Cassis. Our family had vacationed there fifteen years previously, so it holds a special place in our hearts. We booked our accommodation months in advance, as it was a school holiday, and a very busy time of year in France.

The night before we were to set out, the VRBO owner called to cancel our booking. No real explanation was provided. He just cancelled. Needless to say, it was very upsetting, and everyone was incredibly disappointed as my family had travelled all the way from Canada to return to this special place.

We started researching our options. We looked at hotels. AirBnb. VRBO alternatives. At first, it appeared that there was nothing, as most places were booked up. It looked like we were not going to be able to go. At the last moment, I reached out to one owner on AirBnB, and I explained our situation. It turned out that she had just joined the site, and her rental was not quite ready, but she was willing to make it available to us, due to the circumstances.

The house was located in Saint Cyr-sur-Mer, a charming little town on the Mediterranean. It had a pool and it was within walking distance of the ocean. The place was lovely and it actually surpassed our original booking with its amenities. We all felt very fortunate to have found it and we enjoyed our time there together immensely. During our stay, we took a day trip to Cassis to ocean kayak in the calanques, and we visited our special town.

Although it was a bumpy start to our vacation, the experience turned out to be very memorable and wonderful in the end; and this was entirely thanks to the kindness and generosity of strangers. #JoyBlogging

Something to Inspire

“Stop trying to control other people. Stop it. I was at an event in Los Angeles, with my friend Cathy Heller, and we took a bunch of questions from the audience. I can’t stop thinking about this particular question from one woman. ‘How do you stop controlling your friends?’ You stop. That’s how you do it.

When you catch yourself trying to control someone, and then you let go of the desire to change them, and you redirect all of that angst and energy towards caring, listening, supporting: creating this reciprocal exchange of allowing them to show up, exactly as they are, you get connection back. Your attempt to block somebody, blocks connection. It blocks the exchange between people.

And here’s one more thing about letting go when it comes to relationships. Maybe, sometimes, the purpose that some people play in your life is simply to teach you how to let go.”

Something to Inspire

Photo by Viktorya Sergeeva on

“Paying attention requires conscious effort. Your default brain activity is not attentive. Your inattentive brain is zoned out, daydreaming, on autopilot, and full of constant background, repetitive thinking. You can’t create a new memory in this state. If you want to remember something, you have to turn your brain on, wake up, become consciously aware, and pay attention.

Because we remember what we pay attention to, we might want to be mindful about what we focus on. Optimists pay attention to positive experiences, and so these events are consolidated into memory. If you’re depressed, you’re less likely to consolidate happy events or pleasant experiences into memory because happiness doesn’t jive with your mood. You don’t even notice the sunnier moments when you’re only focussing on the dark clouds. You find what you are looking for.

If you look for magic every day, if you pay attention to the moments of joy and awe, you can then capture these moments and consolidate them into memory. Over time, your life’s narrative will be populated with memories that make you smile.”

~ Excerpted from Remember by Lisa Genova

Heart Centered Learning: Parenting with Perspectacles

Gentle parenting is an umbrella term for a parenting approach that aims “to recognize and meet the needs of children in a gentler, more respectful way without using traditional, authoritarian-style discipline and punishments.” The gentle-parenting framework focuses on raising children “who feel seen and loved” and “teaching parents how to allow kids to have their big feelings while setting and holding strong boundaries.” Through this framework, parents are taught how to maintain boundaries with their children without the use of traditional discipline methods (e.g. time out, a “naughty chair,” spanking, “Go to your room!” etc.).

Maggie Nick, MSW, therapist and founder of Parenting with Perspectacles, contends that while gentle parenting is often misconstrued as letting your kids walk all over you, it is the biggest misconception. Many people think that because gentle parenting advises against harsh discipline, kids will become entitled or spoiled. However, Nick says, that is simply not the case.

“Meeting kids’ emotional needs helps them feel safe and secure, not entitled and spoiled,” she says. “And punishments are terrible teachers. It is completely possible, and not that hard, to hold kids accountable for their behaviour, teach them about the impact of their actions, while making them feel loved and supported.”

Something to Inspire

Photo by Matt Hardy on

“Instead of asking ourselves, ‘How can I find security and happiness?’ we could ask ourselves, ‘Can I touch the center of my pain? Can I sit with suffering, both yours and mine, without trying to make it go away? Can I stay present to the ache of loss or disgrace—disappointment in all its many forms—and let it open me?'”

~ Practicing Peace by Pema Chödrön

Something to Inspire

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on

I am making a home inside myself.
A shelter of kindness where everything is forgiven, everything allowed— 
a quiet patch of sunlight to stretch out without hurry,
where all that has been banished and buried is welcomed, 
spoken, listened to—released.

A fiercely friendly place I can claim as my very own.
I am throwing my arms open
to the whole of myself—                                                                                                                                                                 especially the fearful, fault-finding, falling apart, unfinished parts,                                                                                                                                  knowing every seed and weed, every drop of rain, has made the soil richer.

I will light a candle, pour a hot cup of tea,                                                                                                                                       gather around the warmth of my own blazing fire.                                                                                                                                  I will howl if I want to, knowing this flame can burn through
any perceived problem, any prescribed perfectionism,
any lying limitation, every heavy thing.

I am making a home inside myself
where grace blooms in grand and glorious abundance, 
a shelter of kindness that grows
all the truest things.

~ Julia Fehrenbacher

Groundless Ground

Photo by Valdemaras D. on
I stumble along a cliff's edge 
Tracing its rocky border, 
I gauge one step,
and then the next.
My arms 
grasp at thin air.
I have spent a lifetime

Until one day
a question emerges.
What if?
What if there is no edge, 
no cliff,
no ladder to climb?
What if 
there is no ground?
What if?

The quest for certainty
and stability
and permanence
is a lie?
What if
the point is not
to cling to the edge
but to lean further forward
and fly?