I’m reading a book called Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness, by Ingrid Fetell Lee. If you need a lift (who doesn’t now?), get yourself a copy of this book immediately. I bought it awhile ago, feeling somewhat abashed that I’d been convinced by slick marketing to spend money on a superficial “feel good” book with little substance.
Oh, how happy I am to have been wrong. Joyful is a wonderful combination of stories, experiences and science that truly does have the power to make our lives better, without massive investments in time, energy or money. The author has spent a considerable amount of time figuring out what actually, truly makes people happy, and her conclusions are head-slappingly obvious–once stated–but usually overlooked.
I’ve only read the first three chapters, and I frankly can’t wait til five AM tomorrow morning (my time to read non-fiction, fiction is for nighttime) to pick it up again. Chapter One is about energy. “Color is visible energy”–no wonder we love multi-colored balloons and colorful M & M candies. Chapter Two is about Abundance (poo on minimalism, yay for confetti, rainbows and Dorothy Draper’s designs. See her decoration of the Greenbriar Hotel, and Moureaux’s design of the Sugamo Shinkin Banks in Japan.)
Chapter Three is about Freedom, and the reason I’m writing about Joyful in a blog about people and animals. Watching dogs run and play brings me joy, pure and simply. I get depressed when my dogs are injured and aren’t allowed to run free and play together. Reading this book has helped me understand why a bit more.
As Lee says, “In a moment of joy, we say we are carefree, freewheeling, footloose and fancy-free.” I remember dashing ahead of my parents in a national park when I was five-years old, exuberant and unleashed from constraints. My strongest memories of that time include a feeling of pure joy, balanced by confusion as to why my parents would walk stodigly behind me, saying “Slow down”. Slow down? Whatever for?
I can’t run like that now, but I can stroll through the countryside and watch my dogs dash and leap and pivot and run run run for the pure joy of going as fast as they can with nothing to stop them. Freedom.
Maggie finally got some freedom last week, and she is now up to 30 minute walks off leash, along with her PT exercises morning and night. If only I could bottle the look on her face when she first realized she was free. The radiance of joy on her face would brighten any day, cure any sadness, at least for a moment.
Play is often all about freedom, and yet we so often demean its importance. Friend and colleague Dr. Karen London and I believe so strongly in the power of play we wrote a book about it, Play Together, Stay Together, with lots of ideas about how to engage in healthy play with your dog.
In the spirit of freedom and play, I’ve included photos of dogs playing. Maggie still can’t engage in completely unrestricted play with Willie, so new photos of that will have to wait. (But not for long!) I might add some videos to this after a bit, but right now I need to go outside in a brief moment of rare sunshine and watch dogs be joyful. Lucky me.
And so, it’s to you dear reader: What brings you joy? What makes your dogs joyful? (Tootsie’s answer is simple: FOOD.)
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: We are building an ark. I’m only half joking, it has rained here so much that the earth is a sopping, wet sponge. More sand bags are being filled in surrounding towns. More flooding concerns (we had a horrific flood here not long ago, bridges still out, houses destroyed…). Seven inches of rain last Monday (we got over 12″ during the flood). Four inches in the rain gauge last night, emptied it Sunday afternoon. Many inches of rain in between. More rain coming tonight.
But we have managed some walks in the countryside between the rain drops, and it has been heaven to let Maggie off leash. And the fall colors are just beginning. Here’s a bit of muted color on a very soggy and misty day last weekend: