Warmest regards: Don’t let anyone steal your joy
By Pattie Mihalik
Sometimes someone says a few words or we repeat a quote and it hits home with us.
That’s what happened for me with the quote: Don’t let anyone or anything steal your joy.
I’ve been ruminating on that, thinking about how it applies to me. While I am a joyful person filled with gratitude for the life I have, I realize there is someone who occasionally steals my joy — me!
Sometimes when I have a problem I let it take over my mind and consume all the space. I get so caught up with figuring out how to solve it that I submerge my joy.
That happened when my computer crashed and I lost every story, every contact, every photo and every newspaper column.
For a week I was consumed with the problem. Joy? No room for joy.
When my joy gets wiped out, I find a few fixes. Taking my morning walk of gratitude and thinking of all the blessings in my life normally works.
It didn’t work for long though, because as soon as I walked back into the house I was confronted again with the “no computer” problem.
I do have another coping mechanism that works almost every time — getting outside in nature.
A brief cold spell and bit of rain coincided with my no computer problem. But I picked up my big golf umbrella and went outside to meet the elements. It worked.
I enjoyed playing catch with the wind as it tried to steal my umbrella. I’m not sure if it was just enjoying the outdoors or getting a bit of exercise that improved my mental well-being. But I do know my old friend Joy returned. At least momentarily.
Another thing that often restores the joy I let slip away is being with people. It doesn’t even have to be a long encounter.
Christmas in New Jersey with my family gave me plenty of joy. We all make such a fuss about what we do for Christmas. Yet, year in and year out, I find I don’t need luxury gifts or eating out in nice restaurants.
The most joyful thing for me is being with family.
Being with family and sharing our lives beats any gift that comes in a box.
So I was feeling especially joyful — until it was time for our plane to depart for home.
After a three-hour wait at the airport it was finally time to board the plane. Then the ominous announcement came. The flight was canceled. Permanently.
“We will answer no questions,” said the Spirit Airlines representative.
There were 202 of us waiting in line to see when we could get another plane home. When it was finally my turn at the reservation counter, I was told there would be no flight to my Florida airport for three days.
Worse yet, my family had left that day for the Dominican Republic. We were at the Atlantic City Airport, 1½ hours away from their house. There was no one left to pick us up, and all the rental cars were taken.
We were told there was no shuttle to a hotel because “the airport was in the middle of nowhere.”
It took my wonderful son-in-law working from the Dominican Republic to use his Uber account to get a car to take us back to their house.
That was half the problem solved. But we still couldn’t get a return flight to Florida on any airline until Sunday night, three days later. With that being the biggest travel weekend of the year, everything was sold out.
We waited around for three days with no car to go anywhere. Well, at least we were in my daughter’s home, even if they were far away.
I’m probably the least technology-savvy person there is. I never even used Uber, but we were about try because, again, we had to get to the airport for our flight back.
When my daughter’s next-door neighbor heard what we were going through, she said, “Forget about Uber. I’ll drive you.”
I swear I heard angels sing when she said that.
A caring person I hardly know reached out to help us. What kindness.
It’s not fun driving someone through gameday Philadelphia traffic, but she insisted on doing it.
Just call it another return to joy.
It was uplifting to be around her, too. We had the comfort of a smart and caring woman. I so needed the optimism her upbeat attitude provided.
Finally back home in Florida, we got the chance to pay it forward when a woman in a wheelchair needed help getting home.
While it is uplifting to be the one who is helped, it’s even more uplifting when we can be the one to do the helping.
Sadly, a treasured friend of mine says she never feels joy. Ever since her husband passed away, she says she can’t be joyful.
To improve her outlook on life, we agreed on a strategy. She is to look for joyful moments, even if they are but minutes.
A little joy here, a little there. Perhaps then her joy will return.
Look for the joy every day, even if it’s only for brief moments.
The important thing is to recognize each joyful moment for the blessing it is.
Contact Pattie Mihalik at firstname.lastname@example.org.