Viewing entries tagged
joy of nature

Granny Joy

Granny Joy

When thinking about what I would write on the topic of joy, my mind immediately landed on my paternal grandmother. Her name is Simcha, which means Joy in Hebrew. I used to call her “Granny Joy.” She would have been 100 years old this past year if she were still here in physical form.

[Joy] seems like an internal state that comes from our being, and it seems tied to being able to feel present in the moment.

What strikes me as significant about my grandmother and JOY, is that she experienced tragedy and struggle in her life, yet, by the time I got to meet her, her joy seemed to be so available regardless. Granted, she had seven children, 16 grandchildren, and twenty-something great grandchildren to feel joyful about, (well, and to worry about), but there was and is something very meaningful and significant to me about my grandmother and joy.

If my grandmother were alive and I asked her what gave her the most joy, outside of her family, she hands down would have said gardening. And why gardening? Because it took her mind off of everything and brought her into the present moment with beauty, with the earth, with the roses, with the poppies, the squash, the green beans, the peach tree, the avocado tree, plum tree, and the fig tree. It brought her hands into the earth – into the soil with the seeds.

My grandmother could laugh, and she did – a lot. She laughed in conversation with others - this joyful laughter that seemed to come when she was in the company of others.

As I mentioned, she experienced loss and heartache and pain, just like the rest of us, yet this didn’t seem to interfere with her ability to feel joy. Yes, during those times of great suffering, I imagine it absolutely interfered. But in her life, in general, there was this ability to find the joy again and again by doing things that spoke to her soul, to her being. Gardening and family were those things for her. She didn’t seem to need to chase the joy, she seemed to connect to what she loved and the joy would start coming through her.

In thinking about my grandmother, how I experience joy, and how my friends have described their experiences with it to me, it seems like an internal state that comes from our being, and it seems tied to being able to feel present in the moment.

The safety, security and feeling of love I feel when I think of my Granny Joy, of Simcha, feels deeply rooted in her love for her family, her ability to nurture us and her own ability to connect to the JOY that she could bring through her. There is something safe and nurturing about joy - something that feels organic, authentic, deeply alive, and available to everyone.

Michelle Levy, PhD, is a Registered Psychological Assistant #PSB94024010 working under the supervision of Gabrielle Taylor, PhD. Dr. Levy’s clinical interests focus on parenting practices, attachment, child mental health and developmental concerns, as well as the effects of trauma on youth, families and communities. 

Inherited Joy

Inherited Joy

For as long as I can remember, I have heard how special it is that I share a middle name with my mother. While I have always felt it to be true, it was only recently that I have embraced the particular significance of sharing our name “Joy." I have realized that in the passing along of the name, my mother also imparted the tools in which to access joy, and that is through play. One of my earliest joys was playing with my mom - running, jumping, laughing, dancing, exploring nature - she never held back with me when it came to having fun and playing hard.

Joy is the feeling of freedom I experience when I reconnect with my more child-like self.

Now, in the juggling of adult responsibilities and everyday stressors, along with overwhelming media stories of the pain and suffering of others in this world, it has become increasingly important to feel connected to that deep, inner child-like joy.  While it’s tempting to chase the most exhilarating, joyous heights, I recognize that finding joy in the mundane is what brings me buoyancy; shielding me against all the things that can mar my fullest perspective on life.

Joy is the feeling of freedom I experience when I reconnect with my more child-like self, often times through play, but sometimes even just in the reminder of things that I loved as a child. These moments are available to me as long as I create the space in my day for them. A great example, and a peek into my silly world, is how I stop to say hello to the squirrels on my daily, on-foot commute around town. I’m well aware this may sound a bit kooky, but I find great joy in connecting with one of my favorite animals and reminding myself of the fun I had chasing and playing with the squirrels in the trees that surrounded my childhood home.  

What’s in a name? So much more than I had recognized before.

Lauren Joy Furutani, MA, LMFT, helps individuals and families of all ethnic and faith backgrounds maneuver through the unexpected turns in life.