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“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”
― Mary Oliver
“Defending My Joy” is a term I have been using for the last few years whenever I have to take action to keep things positive. Not to be confused with “Sparking Joy”, which is totally cool too, but this is different. I’m taking about protecting and defending your joy—as an act of resistance. I wrote a little bit about it last year, and it’s something that I am constantly unpacking. But the latter half of this post will give you some silly and fun examples of ways I’ve found joy during the coldest winter months in Minnesota, and I hope it will bring you some joy as well.
I don’t know if we made up the phrase “defend your joy”, but I recall a conversation with a friend when I was going through some tough life stuff 3 or 4 years ago. I was worried that I was burning the candle at both ends and that the strategy of playing and loving proportionally harder when life’s challenges came my way was just going to blow up in my face one day. We decided that it was my best defense, my superpower…a boundary that was worth defending…and that the action of pushing harder into joy when life gives you a handful of poop, is more than just ‘thinking positively’, it is a purposeful, disciplined strike….an act of resistance.
Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist, life coach, your mother or really have any business giving you life advice and I certainly don’t have it figured out. But here’s what working for me, maybe you already do this too? Life can be hard and overwhelming sometimes, don’t be afraid to do what you need to do to take care of yourself (remember my helmet?). Get help, go outside, find that little thing that brings you joy, hold onto it….and defend it with all you’ve got!
So, with defending joy in mind, here are a few videos of some playful activities besides hiking , camping and snowshoeing that I have done this winter that still fill my heart every time I look back on them. Enjoy!
Make a Cloud!
It was -40 degrees with the Windchill on the day I finally tried this and it worked marvelously! Boil a small pot or cup of water and throw it out your backdoor to see what happens! The water instantly vaporizes and POOF! A cloud appears! This may seem like common sense… but make sure you toss it away from yourself and friends.
Frozen Long Johns!
Same subzero day. Soak your clothing in water and watch it freeze standing up in 3 minutes! I laughed at this one for a long time. The dog wouldn’t stop barking at “the intruder in our yard”, so I had to go back out and move “it” out of her sight. My neighbors got a good chuckle out of this one and the BSA featured it on their instagram page!
Play on the Trail!
We need more play, wonder and dancing…all year round! Plus, It’ll keep you warm and embarrass your children! I also think we need more stopping to goof around, look at tiny things, sing some songs…spend more time being light and frolicsome (as Mary Oliver says). And more snow angels. Way more snow angels.
Roof Raking Mindfulness!
I love raking my roof just as much as I hate water leaking into my kitchen. If you are not familiar with Ice Dams- google them… and I hope you never have one. I have found joy in this task by slowing my breathing, making deliberate movements and watching the snow cascade delightfully down my roof. Hey! Some people enjoy sand zen gardens, I have a roof of snow…and I have learned how to love this task – it’s all how you look at it!
My light therapy light’s name is “Lampy”. It’s the first winter I have used one, and I scored it it at a garage sale. It’s great for reading, AND it makes for an awesome photo light. Why not take a selfie while getting 20 minutes of therapeutic light and eating that leftover oatmeal from the thru hike that ended early (true story).
Here are a couple of other thoughts I will leave you with:
How wonderful is it that we laugh because our bodies cannot contain the joy?
Don’t let someone dim your light simply because it’s shining in their eyes.
Hang in there! Winter won’t last forever, and soon we’ll be complaining about the heat!
How do you defend your joy?