On Trying to Find Joy When You Don’t Feel It

I almost didn’t write a joy post this week because I don’t really feel any right now. Like I can’t stop crying I don’t feel joy right now. On top of all the stresses of literally doing 4 jobs at work and the continuing pandemic that at least I’m still living in even if no one else is, my 17 year old cat is dying. I can’t remember having to actually go through this before. All the other animals I’ve had during my life have either run away or gotten very sick, very quickly such that we chose to put them asleep almost immediately. I haven’t had to suffer through the slow decline before. I think my parents had to with a cat I got in middle school, but I was no longer living with it when all that happened and hadn’t for a long time, so it wasn’t the same. We’re also supposed to be going to Hilton Head next week, and I have no idea if we should even go. I really need a break, but will I even enjoy the trip if I’m worried about my cat the whole time? Also, I’m worried about subjecting another friend to dealing with a very sick or dead cat. The last cat we had that died had a stroke while we were on vacation and my friends had to deal with taking her to the emergency vet and having her put to sleep with our sign off over the phone. I don’t want to put anyone in that situation again. Even if she’s completely fine while we’re gone, will I regret not spending that time with her since it’s bound to be a very large chunk of the remaining time we have with her? But if I give up my vacation that’s it. There’s no replacement vacation down the line. Our time rolls over at the end of June. I use it now or I lose it.

So that’s all to say I’m pretty much only feeling sadness and stress right now. But I read this article in the New York Times earlier this week, “How to Cultivate Joy Even When It Feels In Short Supply“. It in and of itself was a little joy reminding about the importance of practicing joy even when joy seems hard to come by. So here’s me going through the motions this week as a reminder that there are still joys in the world even if it’s hard to feel them.

  • This first one is a bit of a cheat as it is not something that happened this past week or even in the past couple of weeks. There a few things I added to my joy list that are sort of perpetual joys, so I was saving them for times when I might be short on other things to write about. This one is a little sad because it’s something my cat used to do all the time, but hasn’t been doing the last few weeks since she started not feeling well. It used to be that when I came home from work she would be sitting on the sofa and would meow for me to come pet her and do this little move where she lifted her head up and her nose got all twitchy in anticipation while I was walking over to her. I loved it, and I’m sad that it seems like she might not ever do it again. But it’s a good reminder to cherish these sorts of little things because you never know when they might end.
  • Speaking of the cat, even though it’s a sad plan, I’m glad we at least have the plan to just sort of make her comfortable and let her ride out her life now. For weeks we were up in the air running tests and waiting for the vet to call us back and the not knowing was just stressful. We still don’t know 100% what is wrong, but it’s likely cancer and we made the choice to not continue testing to confirm and do chemo because based on what I’ve seen it probably buys us only another 6-9 months with her and that didn’t feel worth it to put either her or use through.
  • Two toned tulips. The past week or so has been peak tulip season in Baltimore. Lots and lots of people have tulips planted in their yards, and I have really enjoyed seeing all the different colors there are. I’m especially fond of two toned tulips. Some of them are dramatically two toned and some are very subtle, but they’re my favorites.
  • Kwanzan cherry trees. There are lots of flowering trees around where I live as well. There are several different types of cherry trees and pear trees. My favorite though are Kwanzan cherry trees, which bloom a little bit later than some of the other trees and have also been in full bloom in the last week or two. They have these really full, lush pink blooms. I adore them.
  • We usually get take out for dinner on Thursday nights and I was trying to decide between bbq and tacos, so I threw up a poll in my Insta stories on Thursday afternoon. BBQ took an early lead. It was only one vote ahead by the time I ordered the food, but I went with it because it was in the lead at that point. By the time we picked up the food, they were tied. Then because the poll stayed up for 24 hours people were still voting well past when we actually ate dinner and it amused me that in the final tally tacos made a big comeback and won.
  • Speaking of BBQ, I like that we have a neighborhood BBQ place, Blue Pit BBQ, that has a BBQ jackfruit sandwich on it, which means I can enjoy the meat and my vegetarian husband can actually eat there. Most BBQ places are not friendly to vegetarians. Even most of their sides have meat in them. But he can get a sandwich and a side of mac and cheese and be happy, so I get to be happy with some BBQ too.
  • I was out taking a walk this weekend and I wound up behind a couple of older ladies walking together and one of them was playing with a yo-yo as they walked. Why not?
  • We had some really nice weather this past weekend and it brought people outside. My house sits right at the top middle of the T in a T shaped intersection. There is a group ofneighbors on the cross street that sort of dead ends into our house that just hang outside all the time when the weather is halfway decent. In the summer they set up canopy tents. Mind you none of us have front yards. They’re just hanging out on the sidewalk. I’ve always appreciated watching them treat their sidewalk like an extension of their house, particularly because they’re not obnoxious about it or doing it in a way that I think is really disturbing anyone else. It was nice to see them back at it. Though it almost all ended in tragedy apparently because some jerk face who was involved in a hit in run a few blocks away and was trying to get away for some reason drove down their block not on the street, but on the sidewalk while they were all out there. Luckily no one was hurt, but seriously what the hell is wrong with people.
  • And that brings us to our musical delight of the week, which is somewhat related. My next door neighbors have a back porch area that they’ve turned into a little oasis and spend a lot of time out there since they have a house even smaller than ours and multiple generations living in it. I often hear them sitting out there playing music, especially if we have the windows open. If I hated the music, I would probably be annoyed by it. Luckily I don’t. It’s a lot of 70s and 80s soft rock, which I’m all in on. This was the first time I can remember hearing them out there with their music since it got cold, and I appreciated that the first song I heard was “Summer Breeze”. Great song and it felt very apropos for the occasion.

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