Advent for Thirty: Joy!

I wasn’t really sure what to write about joy. But I got home from work one day last week and had a package waiting for me on the counter. It came all the way from Alaska and this is what was inside:

Treat yo self! In cross stitch! omg!!
Treat yo self! In cross stitch! omg!!

My friend Aimee (yes, that Aimee!) sent me a treat yo self cross stitch! I’m so in love with it! It’s just genius! And it brought me a ridiculous amount of joy! Such an awesome and unexpected surprise!

I sent my sister a picture right away (she was super impressed and super jealous, as anticipated) and then set about deciding where to hang it. I wanted to see it pretty much all the time and to be awake while near it… so I settled on my office. Right by my monitor.

I hung it there. It made me smile– and does so again every time I look at it. And then I realized, in my office, I’ve surrounded myself with little items that bring me joy!

Surrounded by joy... in my office!
Surrounded by joy… in my office!

You can see my treat yo self cross stitch to the left of my monitor. Above that is a line from the Mumford and Sons song Roll Away your stone about grace. The best picture ever of my niece and my puppy makes up the background of my desktop. Other family photos (including one of four generations including me, my mom, my grandma, and my great-grandma) are above. To the right is the super clever science clock my brother made me when he was in high school… apparently my sister picked up on my love of science at some point too and the stuff gonococcus (the bacteria that causes gonorrhea– do STDs bring me joy? Yeah, little bit…) on the left is from her. I’ve also got a Michigan Tech husky pup and lots and lots of pictures from the UP (also taken by Aimee). What you can’t see are all the other microbiology and squirrel jokes I’ve got tacked up, the hand drawn pictures made by another Aimie’s kids, the framed fall leaves from my grandma’s house, or the quilted pine tree with an inspirational message sewn on the back (I can’t even talk about it– it makes me cry every time) that my friend Jess’s mom made for me that hangs by the door.

(I’m suddenly noticing a severe lack of dinosaurs and Harry Potter… will have to do something about that.)

Work can, of course, be tough at times. But the environment I have created for myself is one that is jam packed with joy. And when I thought about that, the more I realized that my house is the same way. So many reminders of the things that bring me joy in my life!

Things like my family. All of it!

The whole big Vonck-Stankowski-Drengler-Krueger-Space clan!
The whole big Vonck-Stankowski-Drengler-Krueger-Space clan!

There has been no greater joy in my life thus far than the day I married Seth and got to celebrate with all of our family and friends! All in one place! So much happiness! It was perfection!

And books, so very, very many books. I love books and they are everywhere in my house.

So many books... in so many places...
So many books… in so many places…

Apparently, some things never change. When I was really little, I didn’t sleep with a stuffed animal or a blankie– I slept with a book under my arm. For me, reading books is a huge source of joy!

And of course, these two, they bring me joy every single day!

My snugglers!
My snugglers!

The way my husband and my pup snuggle just kills me– it’s the sweetest!!

And there are a million other little things that bring me joy…beautiful dishes (especially Polish pottery), when it snows so lightly that you can see each individual flake perfectly formed on your mitten or your windshield, when my puppy tries to catch leaves in her mouth, connecting with other Michigan Tech grads, tinsel, making someone else laugh, and I could go on and on of course, because the list of things that bring you joy should be a long one!

Despite my long list, there are definitely times when I simply cannot find joy… in anything. In fact, it happened most recently at the end of September– we talked about that here. Intellectually, I know that there are a lot of things that should and usually do bring me joy. But I’m not always capable of feeling it.

I am doing well right now as I approach 30. Joy comes easily and I’m feeling pretty good. But I can hear the voice of depression inside me. It’s suggesting we perhaps try to go drug-free… which at this point in my life I know is as ridiculous as a type 1 diabetic listening to their pancreas tell them that they need to go without insulin. Nice try, brain. It’s just not going to work for me.

I was trained in chemistry, then in microbiology, and now I work in medicine. I know better than to think I can outsmart my brain chemistry… and yet those insidious thoughts sneak in, hell bent on robbing me of my joy. But at 30, I’ve finally learned that I cannot let that happen– because what’s life without joy?!

Thanks to Advent for Thirty for convincing me to reflect on that! Advent for the win!!

4 thoughts on “Advent for Thirty: Joy!

    1. Genius, Dad… I had not thought of that. But it seems to be a recurring theme right now. Reading Occupy Spirituality and was struck again by the ideas of Via Positiva and Via Negativa as discussed by Matthew Fox… life needs BOTH to be a full life, to be balanced. Yin and Yang. Thanks so much for pointing that out!

  1. You’re right, depression is so insidious. Kudos not listening to the wicked whispers. Been nice to see your office become more about you.

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