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Be a Joy Seeker, Not a Worry Warrior

By Lori Welch Brown

Be a Joy Seeker, Not a Worry Warrior

August has turned from the dog days of summer—carefree days spent floating on the lake or dipping your toes in the sand—to the anxious days of a pandemic that won’t leave us alone, political division, civil unrest, etc.  To some, it feels like the darkest of days, an unprecedented era the likes of which the world has never seen.  I call baloney.

During these past few weeks of quarantine, I have exhausted Netflix, but finally made my way around to Downton Abbey.  Yes—I am very late to the party, but I was amazed at how timely it felt.  In case you’ve been living under a rock like me, the series which aired on PBS is set in the fictional country estate of Downton Abbey between 1912 and 1926 and follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic staff—of which there are many.  It depicts the events of the time to include the sinking of the Titanic, World War I, the Spanish influenza pandemic, the Irish War of Independence.  As I was watching, I couldn’t help but think about the generations before us and the challenges they endured.

My own grandparents lived through the Great Depression and sent two sons to the Korean War.  My grandmother lost three babies in childbirth and buried a toddler.  They couldn’t email their sons and get immediate notification of their safety.  They had to wait for snail mail letters from far off places.  My grandmother wasn’t able to talk to a therapist about her grief or pop a Prozac, and she definitely wasn’t Zooming with her BFFs, wine in hand.  I’m pretty sure my grandfather didn’t provide much comfort beyond helping her saddle the horses or carry water from the well.

Tough times are not foreign to anyone.  People have been known to survive horrible things, and actually come out on the other side stronger, and dare I say, happy.  My grandmother didn’t let her tragedies define or break her. She was a strong, resilient woman still carrying water back to the house well into her 80s and writing me handwritten letters that I cherish to this day.

I won’t stand on a soap box of ‘we are too soft’ or ‘we’ve shielded our children too much,’ as everyone has their own crosses to bear.  What do I know?  I’m a middle-aged white woman who has never birthed a child let alone buried one.  I drink my water from a bottle, and have enjoyed many creature comforts to include indoor plumbing.

That being said, these are not the carefree days of summer of which we are accustomed.  Many of us have been feeling “angsty” as our usual routines have been disrupted for such a prolonged period. I recognize that some people suffer from chronic anxiety, including a family member, which may make our current situation unbearable. I can see the strain this has been taking, and his struggle to cope over the long haul.  It’s hard, but we are humans.  We are resilient, and to quote Glennon Doyle, “We can do hard things.”

It is summer.  Beyond exotic locales and tropical drinks, it’s a time to take a breath, rest and relax.  Whether it’s for a week, a day, or 15 minutes, take a break from work, worry, social media, the news, or whatever is heavy on your mind.  Give your brain a much needed and well-deserved rest.  Be sure to keep in touch with loved ones, your tribe of trusted confidantes, online spiritual communities, and the likes.  Also—remember to reach out to your ‘strong’ friends because even their shoulders may need some boosting.

Remember to have some fun as well.

Invest $6 in a kiddie wading pool, fill it with cold water, and let the steam drain off your body.  (Walmart has them for under $6).

Put one of those cute drink umbrellas in your morning coffee.

Paint your toes neon green.

Wear a grass skirt just because.

Turn your kitchen nook into a tiki bar.

Send a postcard to an elderly neighbor or write a letter to your grandma.

Buy a hula hoop.

Break out your crayons.

Make homemade lemonade and deliver it to your neighbors.

Blast some Beach Boys or Jimmy Buffet.

Make a pitcher of strawberry margaritas.

Read a trashy novel.

Buy yourself a new beach towel.

Pretend you could go anywhere in the world and plan that dream trip down to the hotel, restaurants, and excursions.

Pack a lunch, jump in the car, roll down the windows, and head off on a day trip adventure.

Take a break to play fetch with your dog or cuddle with your cat.

Sort through your old magazines to find inspirational quotes and pictures.  Cut them out and tape them to your fridge or build a vision board.

Grab your mask and head out to your local farmer’s market.  Treat yourself to some freshly harvested summer fruit.

Learn to bake a pie.

Treat yourself to an ice cream cone.

Create your own version of summer camp.  Immerse yourself in an online watercolor or photography course, or plan a small group drawing camp and head out each day to a different local destination.

Most importantly, live in the present.  Be a joy seeker not a worry warrior.  These may be challenging times, but we will not only survive, but thrive.  The world works in mysterious ways, and like Grandma Welch, I think we are all gonna come out on the other side just fine.

If you would like to read more of Lori’s work, follow her on Medium at Lori Welch Brown

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