A Vessel for Joy

I sat on my front step in morning meditation, a practice I’d observed for nearly 10 years.

“I am joy.” I ran the affirmation through my brain as a mantra.

My shoulders shirked it off.

Nope. Not joy. I had no idea what joy felt like. I certainly couldn’t conjure it. Happiness I knew, but what was joy?

“I am joy.” I tried again.

My tummy tensed.

I committed to invite the foreign feeling into my life through my practice, but it wasn’t going to work if my body kept rejecting it. Perhaps a softer approach.

“I am a vessel for joy.” I waited. No response. No joy came but at least my body approved of this particular reframe.

It was settled. I recited my morning mantra for over a month, determined to invite joy into my life.

I stood in the doorway of the basement spare room. We used it as a space to watch movies and shows in the evening after the kids went to bed: far enough removed from their bedrooms so as not to wake them. Christmas was only weeks away. The kids were not toddlers anymore and I stood, considering the room as a spare bedroom for my parents to enjoy during their annual Christmas visit.

Within the week, we had sold the awkwardly heavy hide-a-bed and moved the television upstairs. I taped off the baseboards and window frames with green painters’ tape and was ready to give the room a fresh face.

I overestimated my abilities and painting dragged on into day 2. The bed arrived and the kids happily set it up in the main area of the basement – my yoga/writing studio – while I raced to ready the room before my folks arrived.

“I have a Christmas present for you,” I said as they came through the front door, carrying Mom’s body pillow downstairs – she needed it for her hip which often ached in the night from years of golf. “Ta da!” I opened the door to reveal their new room, complete with artwork, new paint and curtains, and a proper bed.

“Well isn’t this nice!” exclaimed Mom.

I paraded about the room using Vanna White hands to showcase the details.

“What’s this your mother tells me about you writing a children’s book?” asked Dad as he set his suitcase into the room.

“Yes, I’ve decided to publish one of the short stories I’ve written.”

“Well, I know this lady,” he continued, “she’s quite the artist. I know her husband. They were in the store the other day and she showed me some of her drawings. They’re really good. The details she got in the one of a dog…”

“That’s cool, Dad.” His comments seemed random to me. “I’ve been painting some of my own. I’m not sure exactly what it’s going to look like yet. I think I’m good.”

Christmas was lovely as always: mainly about the kids but that’s the fun of Christmas, really. The spare room linens were laundered and the room was returned to its showroom state while I returned to the children’s book: another watercolour painting of children without faces.

The phone distracted me, giving my art time to dry while I talked to Mom.

“Hi. Your dad is wondering if you want the phone number for the artist he told you about. You know, to help illustrate your book.”

“Oh! Um … I wasn’t really, I mean I’m not that far along to … okay,” I said, “I’ll give her a call. What’s her name?”

“Her name is Joy.”

*Earth Angel image by Joy Bickell, from Anna and the Earth Angel

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