Finding the Joy Place

“Hustle” is the word for my household between November & February. The holiday season tends to be packed with events nearly every weekend with some part of our large family. And all four of our birthdays are in this zone, too.

I’ve had to learn energy management for this season over the last bunch of years. This year, I was particularly good to myself. I’m only now, at the end of January, feeling pretty stressed by the number of balls I’m juggling and the worry over dropping one (or three). So, when all of the clutter of events does start to stress me, I remember this is just one part of my year. This year, I actively sought out a joyful mindset and really embraced what the holidays are about — showing our people that they matter and we care about them. I also realized when I was doing too much, and pulled back to maintain my sanity.

old deer in the ferns

I’m not willing to spend my life stressed out by the natural cycle of things. Yes, it’s the holiday season and there’s lots of stuff to do. And that’s how I want it, because I wouldn’t change our large family, especially the momentary condition of having so many young kids around — it’s changing already; our kids and the nieces and nephews are growing so fast! When I get to spend time with them, I’m going to have fun and enjoy it. This is the good stuff!!

Yes, it’s the rainy season, which in Oregon lasts for seven months or so (by now folks have started to complain and we don’t get relief until May). The rain is a great excuse to make a big pot of soup and read a book. Look at all of this GREEN we get as a result.

Yes, it’s the middle of another busy school year. Coaching, volunteering, keeping up on what the kids are learning, fundraising…it all takes time. And it’s so important to show my kids that what they spend their days doing is important to me. That their learning is important to me. That I’m interested in their interests and what they’re doing about them. It’s important to show them that we CAN manage all of this with grace.

Yes, I don’t have a lot of time for ME in this chunk of the year. This year, I embraced it and didn’t worry about it until mid-January. And I think I’m going to leave January feeling healthier than I often do. As of right now, I’m trying to flip this mental script and remember: I’ve been doing important stuff, the part of my life’s work that centers on lifting others up and showing them how much they matter to me and my world.

These are parts of my life that I’m not willing to give up, change, or waste stress on! That’s my commitment to myself: I’m not going to stress over the daily details that add up to a happy life. When I start to stress, I’m going to find my joy place.

How have I been finding my joy place?

  • Well….no surprise here. I’ve been reading A TON. Cozy mysteries have been my fun way to cuddle up and de-stress during this busy season. I re-read Yasmine Galenorn’s Chintz and China series, and I read Sofie Kelly’s Magical Cat Mysteries. (And ordered a couple of new series, so apparently my cozy mystery binge is not yet at an end!)
  • I also started the show Parks & Recreation on Netflix. Ron is my favorite. I love Leslie’s eternal optimism and her dumb mistakes. This show just makes me smile.
  • I took a watercolor and design class with my nine-year-old. I mostly went to support my budding artist, since it was a class for people seven and up and I wanted her to know someone so she’d be comfortable. It was fun to think about the way our instructor talked about painting and how similar the mindset stuff is to the writing life. I ended up buying supplies and have been doing some painting and thinking about visual arts more than usual.
  • Walking in my rainy woods is another way to let the tension of the day slip away. I tend to open up and remember what’s important when I’m outside, with the fir trees towering and the wild turkeys clucking at me. We’re part of something so much larger than ourselves. It’s easy to forget that as a person who’s happy living in my own head.
  • In January, I re-prioritized my writing and got back in a productive groove. I’m almost finished drafting another novel (which is probably part of my angst these last couple of days). I did not attempt to catch up with goals I’d missed. Instead, I reset my goals in light of what I actually accomplished in the fall.

So…that’s how I’ve been finding my joy place and remaining a positive person when I have a bit too much to do. I’m so thankful for all the madness filling up my crazy life. It’s a beautiful thing.

Wishing you a wonderful winter, full of productivity and plenty of trips to your joy place.

About J.R. Pearse Nelson

J.R. Pearse Nelson is a native Oregonian, residing in the beautiful Portland area. She lives with her husband, two small daughters and the family dog. J.R. is always searching for the magic in our world. She weaves tales rooted in mythology, bringing legend to life in modern-day and fantasy settings. J.R. is the author of the Children of the Sidhe paranormal romance series, the Foulweather Twins fantasy series, and the Water Rites fantasy series. You can connect with J.R. online at her website. Visit jrpearsenelson.com.