"The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things."
~Henry Ward Beecher
Grandma loved to sew. If my house ever catches on fire, two of the items I am grabbing are the quilts she stitched over the course of several years. I can see the thread of joy in every stitch she made with her two hands and one heart. She lived her life much like her Creator, finding pure joy in creating things.
Most of the dresses she wore were birthed at her sewing machine. Their colors and patterns are imbedded in my memory. Grandma was a lady, and never wore pants. Even when working in her garden, she was clothed in a dress or a pretty housecoat.
Something else she wore everyday was a smile. It didn't take much to bring it out. Author Anne Lamott once wrote, "Joy is the best make-up." Grandma wore it well. And she wore it daily.
I want to know her secrets! I can find dozens of things to complain about as I go about my day. Not grandma. She took things in stride and kept a cheerful outlook. What I view as menial chores were simply a part of her daily rhythm. She was content to cook, clean, mend, pay bills, and putter in her garden. She never appeared burdened, overwhelmed, or exhausted by her daily demands.
Grandma took pleasure in the simplest of things. A smile and "Well, would you look at that," was her response to a humming bird buzzing on her patio, and the first blooms of sweet peas gracing her garden. Even a simple meal of soup and sandwich was met with a smile of appreciation. She knew how to pause in those moments and enjoy herself.
Grandma loved her life and the people in it. Her generosity was an outpouring of this love. She gave of her time, her talents, her energy, and her heart as part of her daily round. She didn't set aside one day a week to "give back". It was an integral part of who she was and how she lived her waking hours.
Grandma's contented spirit helped her keep perspective. She didn't allow limitations to dampen her mood or her lifestyle. Not having a car meant she'd have opportunities to see people she loved. A tight budget challenged her creative and mathematical skills. As she began to deal with health issues, she simply pressed through them and continued to do what she loved, focusing on her passion instead of her pain.
"Scatter joy," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. And who better to learn from than my grandma, who daily dressed herself in joy.
"I think I began learning long ago that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others."
~Booker T. Washington
"The sweetest joy in life is to love and be loved."
"I have God's more-than-enough, more joy in one ordinary day."
"You have shown me
the path of life,
and you make me glad
by being near to me.
Sitting at your right side,
I will always be joyful."