A mother of six and farm wife from a nearby state recently asked if it was wrong to wake up with joy and anticipation as she took a road trip without the family. It caused me to pause and ask myself why it is that we, especially as women, feel guilty for having joy or allowing ourselves to do things that produce joy.

The source of joy is infinite and readily available, but so often I rush past it in the busyness of life or ignore it in light of stresses that are screaming at me. I give preference to the to-do list and listen more closely to the “should” voice. It is easier for me to keep it moving than to pause and choose the moments that fill me with joy.

Recently, a new puppy has been added to my life. She is joy wrapped in a furry package. I laugh when she pounces through the snow or scampers after a toy. The warmth of joy comes in little licks on my face when I snuggle her close. Her boundless energy and deep, dream-filled sleep inspires me to play hard and rest well.

Joy shows up in many ways. For some, it might arrive as the awe of a star-filled sky or the brilliance of a full moon. Maybe joy visits in the form of conversation and catching up over drinks with a friend. A new baby, a fun project, the start of a new relationship, an unexpected visit from a cardinal, or a long soak in a bubble-filled tub are great examples.

As I’ve said before, what I focus on grows. When I focus on the stress, the burdens, the busyness, and the problems, they become all that I can see. When I lift my gaze to focus on the gifts being offered to me throughout the day, I experience joy growing.

I went for a walk with the new puppy and saw a robin, greeted a neighbor, gazed on the radiance of the sunset, and filled my lungs with the freshness of warmer weather. To me, that is experiencing joy.

Contact Roxanne Converse-Whiting at roxanne@gothenburgleader.com, or call 308.536.6499