Busting Through Barriers
What's Sparking Joy For Me Right Now
A few years back, a little Japanese woman with OCD wrote an unlikely best seller about organizing your sock drawer. Her mantra was “things should spark joy” and, if they don’t, we should purge those unhappy objects from our home for an uncluttered space.
For the past two weeks, Steve and I have been decluttering our garage and basement. In fact, as I’m typing this, Jonah is bang-bang-banging in the basement and bringing down an ugly drop ceiling, so I can install new lighting and reorganize the space. I need room for my book business. Ian needs a workbench to rebuild computers. And Steve wants a worktable for growing seedlings. We need room for our new lives, so we must purge our old lives — bins of baby books, forgotten musical instruments, and grandma’s tea cups.
While I have some heavy things on my plate right now — a sad article, the exhausting search for a good school for Ian, the uncertainty of how I’ll keep him busy this summer — more things are making me happy. Because this newsletter has covered so many heavy topics for months, I thought I would simply talk about all the things that are sparking joy in my life right now.
Meatloaf. What? Okay, let me explain. Jonah is home for the next year. He still has a few more classes to go to finish his BA; the college shutdown really knocked him sideways. So, he will work full time and take the remaining classes in the evening. That sounds like a bummer, right? Well, we love having Jonah home, and know that this time with us is temporary. Having my son at home sparks joy.
With two young men at home, I have to cook massive amounts of food. Like last night, I modified Anthony Bourdain’s meatloaf recipe (modification below). They nearly polished off 3 pounds of meatloaf. Watching my skinny boys scarf down food sparks joy.
Vacation Planning. Research shows that planning a vacation is almost as much fun as taking the vacation itself. Sure, it’s a bummer that we don’t have huge amounts of funds for a vacation this year and the uncertainty around the boys’ schedules meant that we are only just organizing plans now. And let’s not talk about gas prices. But there is still so much to do even with all those constraints. Steve and I started making our summer bucket list, and the anticipation of adventure is sparking much joy.
Because Ian can’t go away to college or work, he will be our +1 on vacations. Yes, it’s a bummer that the lack of resources for people with autism, even his high function variety, means that he’ll be with us for a long time. But he, like his brother, sparks joy. We all enjoy doing the same vacation activities, so he’s not a burden. So, it’s all great.
Shedding Pounds. I was under so much stress this winter, I stopped sleeping and gained five pounds. Now, I’m having a lot of fun getting back into shape. I go to the town park every day. If I’m in the mood, I run. If not, I walk. I keep track of my progress using the Strava app.
I joined the a masters runner’s club for those over age 40. Every Tuesday, I get my ass kicked by some very fit 60-years olds, which is humiliating and funny at the same time. Over the past two months, I’ve run a couple races and am slowly getting back into a less humiliating shape. While forcing myself to get to the park every morning doesn’t spark joy, the adrenaline rush when I’m done definitely makes me happy.
And there’s so much more: Ballerina Farm meat, tonight’s free talk at the Morgan Library in New York City, new shoes, juicy onions at the farmer’s market, dinner outside on the patio, a set of antique leather books — all these things are sparking joy at the moment.
I will continue to chase these little moments of joy. Sometimes it’s just a matter of perspective. After you accept an obstacle, you can find a way to make it work for you. Under those layers of old sheetrock and boxed-up dreams from the past is a whole lot of good moments and joy.
Saute vegetables. Because I just went the farmers market and its onion/fresh garlic season, I used: 2 scallions, 1/4 fresh garlic head, 3 celery stalks, 1 onion, and lots of fresh herbs from the garden (sage, rosemary, oregano). Let cool down.
Add 3 beaten eggs, 1 cup of good bread crumbs, salt/pepper, and 3 pounds of meatball mix (beef, veal, pork)
Put in a loaf pan. Cover with foil. Put on a sheet pan. Cook for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
Take off foil. Cover the top with tomato paste and/or ketchup. Cook for another 30-45 minutes. Internal temp should be 150 degrees.
Optional: Bourdain’s mushroom gravy. Last night, I followed his recipe. Sometimes I simply sauté the mushrooms with butter and Marsala wine.
Here’s the latest installment in our ongoing saga about finding a place for Ian: