Cultivating Joy

Jessie: In New Hampshire where most of the trees are bare and the birds have started prowling about the feeders.

Most of the time I think of myself as a fairly positive person. I prefer to look for the bright side of most situations and to strategize how to get there. But, I have to confess, it has been feeling like more of an effort than usual lately.

I don’t think it is just me. In fact, I am fairly certain that a general feeling of low-level meh is visiting most people that I know. It has occurred to me recently that some of the sparkle has gone out of my cider. But, like all of my sleuths, I am a person biased towards action, and since I prefer to live with effervescence something just had to be done.

Last week during one of my morning thinking sessions I pulled out a notebook and started a list of things that are building blocks of joy for me. The list was as follows:

  • Sleeping 7.5 + hours each night
  • Walking outside daily
  • Working up a sweat
  • Throwing a party
  • Enjoying a meaningful conversation
  • Helping someone else to solve a problem
  • Singing to my dog
  • Creating something, even if it is just at the rough draft stage
  • Reading something that is well written
  • Eating foods that truly nourish me
  • Meditating
  • Writing a letter to a loved one
  • Spending time in a sauna
  • Bathing in the sea

The list is a good one, in my opinion. Any of the items do the trick. But that last one took on a whole new level of joy when one of my beloved sisters invited me to swim in Saco Bay, Maine, with her on Saturday. Yes, this past Saturday. As in the 11th of November.

I’m not going to lie; I was a bit worried. As much as I adore sea bathing I haven’t done so between October and May since I was a teenager. But, Larissa had been in several times over the last few weeks and assured me it would be a lovely experience. I agreed that it would at least be memorable. She provided scuba-type booties and mittens and I came prepared with my bathing suit, a towel, post-dip sweats, and a hat.

My sister recommended that we remain in the sea for at least 10 minutes. We managed 15. And we both submerged beneath the waves 3 times. I haven’t felt so alive in ages! All the way home I shivered and quaked and felt sparklingly invigorated. My car heaters were all cranked to maximum and it took the full hour drive back to get warmed through. But, it was worth it! In fact, I am looking forward to doing it again!

Readers, what is on your list of things that create joy? Have you ever gone swimming when the temperatures hover around 40? Do you like to swim in the sea under any conditions?

32 Thoughts

  1. A lovely list, Jessie, but no cold swimming for me!

    I’ve been getting joy lately from my in-person intermediate Spanish class. It’s fabulous to stretch my mind around a foreign language again and hear myself improve. I’m always smiling driving home.

  2. Oh my, that was brave of you! I would have frozen solid lol! I used to work for an attorney in Maine who took a dip in the ocean every single morning and he swore it kept him healthy. I agree with you about the prevailing sense of meh! Not sure it’s due to the burdens of the world right now or just the winter coming and the darkness, but I do sense it. I find joy in my yoga, daily walks, cooking, and working outside. Trying to get into some holiday spirit!

  3. JESSIE: Good for you, but there’s no way I would willingly take a prolonged dip in the ocean at this time of year. I thought the Pacific Ocean waters in late August would be warm so I waded in while in San Diego. NOPE! The water was 61F … too cold for me!

  4. Good on you for taking the plunge, Jessie! You’re a much more hardy soul then me. I get a lot of daily joy sitting with my kitty cat Maria on my lap, giving her scratches while she purrs away.

  5. I don’t mind swimming in the sea, but 40 degrees is more than a little too cold for me. 🙂

    I get my dose of daily joy sitting with Koda and giving him pets.

  6. Yikes! I’m a scuba diver and I love to be under the sea, but I freely admit I am a warm weather wimp. My hat is off to you. It does sound like fun, though 🙂

      1. If you were in for a bit, yes. Wet suits work by allowing water in and then allowing your trapped body heat to warm the water. That first trickle down the neck is rather unforgettable! Once it’s warm, the neoprene keeps the cold from affecting you for a while.

  7. My top item of my list of what brings me joy is always dogs. I am lucky enough to have two dogs that live near me that are friendly and I get to pet them often. That always makes me very happy.
    I like to swim in pools but am not really a sea swimmer. I love sharks too much and know they are close by so it takes away any joy. I really love the sea from the sand view. aprilbluetx at yahoo dot com

    1. How lovely that you are able to get frequent doses of dogs! And the shark thing did have me feeling a bit concerned on Saturday. After all, there was no one else in the water, at least no other humans, for them to eat should they wish to vary their diets!

  8. What a brave soul you are. I’m not fond of any water (except to drink!), and the sea doesn’t interest me at all except to look at.

    I get great joy doing anything with my adult daughter. Being outdoors. Snuggling with my kitty. Accomplishing anything. Reading the Wickeds’ blog. :). Ginny

  9. I love this Jessie! But I’m a big no for swimming at that temperature. I thought the Atlantic (and the Pacific for that matter) were too cold in the dead of summer. I do like swimming in the Gulf of Mexico although I haven’t for years. But I much prefer floating in a pool.

  10. I don’t think I’ve ever gone swimming when it was in the 40’s. Maybe the hot tub. But I get cold so easily.

    Having said that, I did swim in the ocean on New Year’s Day one year, but I was in So Cal, so it wasn’t nearly as cold as you are talking about.

    I need to work on getting more sleep. But I’m such a night owl it’s always a fight to get me into bed.

  11. Photography in any form brings me great joy. Being able to capture something I’ve never gotten before or an old critter friend in some odd pose or doing something completely out of characteristic always brings on the big smiles and the aha moment. Of course, as soon as I accomplish something, there’s always something else to capture with the lens of my camera. Add to the elements the idea of a road trip to some place new and I’m in heaven.

    Baking also does that to me too. Trying some new recipe or sharing the bounty of the kitchen with someone that I know will enjoy it and possible be their only home cooked meal that day or week, brings me immense joy. After all, I love to bake/cook more than I could ever eat or I’d wobble more when I walk than I do. LOL

    Use to love to walk. Walking was my thinking time and brought me joy. Unfortunately, walking now is limited to getting around best I can. Not complaining, but it taught me that if something brings you joy – then to it while you can. Tough lesson to learn – so learn it from me. 🙂

    Hubby never had the opportunity to learn to swim. Literally no where around to do it if he had. I always thought anyone could float, but I’m here to tell you – that’s not true. He had no fear of water but will sink no matter how relaxed he gets. Says he swims like an armadillo – floats to the bottom and walks across the bottom. So no swimming in the ocean or anywhere else for us. Probably why I love a motel with a pool when we travel. 🙂
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  12. I’m super glad you came and made the dip even more joyful! The ocean is always at the top of my list for beating away the blues as are my sisters – what a treat to have you and the sea at the same time!

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