:: We don’t get many opportunities to seize pure joy. And this was the purest.

This is an essay in two parts. One about anxiety. One about Joy.

I.

This short essay I was inspired by my friend Sherri Spelic’s blog (https://edifiedlistener.blog), which she writes more frequently than I do mine, more meditative, and less formal. At least she has recently—I could find four posts in January 2022 alone.

I post less frequently because I feel what I post must be fully-formed essays. I agonize over them, and then I end up posting once every three months or so, if that. But I still have these smaller ideas, and I need a place to put them. In fact, I’ve taken to Instagram (instagram.com/krgpryal) to share my shorter thoughts—a less formal place to write mini-essays about things that are on my mind.

But I’m starting to see that the right thing to do is to set aside my worries about perfection, and just write.

Just write. No perfectionism. Lordy, couldn’t we all use that advice. Especially right now, when we are under so much stress just to be, let alone do.

So here I will try to just write, sans perfectionism, and work on my status of “recovering perfectionist” as my friend Susan put it (buy her books, http://susangloss.com).

II.

I have a story to tell you about joy:

Last year, here in Chapel Hill where my family lives, we did not get a single flake of snow.

My kids were very sad about that. Like, really sad. They never stopped talking about it, even in summer, even in fall. If you are a parent, especially a parent of kids who really, really focus on things and have big emotions, you know what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about whining.

They missed the snow. They mourned it. For months.

Then, two weeks ago, the first storm of the winter was predicted. My spouse and I closely watched the weather patterns.

And as the storm stayed west of us, we quickly made reservations at a hotel in Asheville, NC, chasing the snow for our kids. The hotel was eerily empty (thank crackers, given Covid), and we spent most of our time outside or passed out in our room, because…

It was a biggest snowfall Asheville had seen in at least five years. The sledding was epic. The hotel we stayed at was at the top of a giant bowl, and we had our pick of gorgeous slopes to sled on. We sledded until we couldn’t stand up.

(Not me though. I had surgery in December* and I have to take it easy for one more week. It was HARD to restrain myself.[1])

It might seem like a waste to take time and money just to get stranded up in a town in the mountains so that our kids can play in the snow. But my husband and I thought about it carefully. We asked ourselves: what else should we be spending our time and money on?

We spent it on joy. For them. We don’t get many opportunities to seize pure joy. And this was the purest. No agenda. No blended work trip to get a tax deduction. Just joy.[2]

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[1] Regarding my surgery: My surgery was a hysterectomy. I had the surgery because I had truly massive fibroids that were making me miserable. I’m so glad I had the surgery! It’s a good thing! During our trip, I was only four weeks out so there was no bombing down giant hills for Mommy.

[2] Regarding privilege: We know we’re lucky to be able to do this thing. Both my spouse and I are self-employed with flexible schedules, and we have enough money in the bank to pay for a hotel. Not everyone can do what we did, and we recognize and respect that.

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If you enjoyed this piece, you will enjoy my book, LIFE OF THE MIND INTERRUPTED: ESSAYS ON MENTAL HEALTH AND DISABILITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION, available at lifeofthemindinterrupted.com. Buying my books is a great way to support the online writing that I do for free.

Thank you.

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