Tag Archives: Joy

Where’s the Joy?


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It seems that I have dropped into my – almost annual – birthday funk.

It is not my birthday yet…but it’s coming.

There have been a few years where the day has come and gone without the usual feelings of depression and sadness   but they are a rare exception.

It’s not the age that bothers me.

Sometimes it’s the lack of accomplishment, though that was more pertinent when I was younger. I had a whole list of things I had hoped to accomplish by the time I turned thirty – or even forty – but I never really thought I’d have anything left to accomplish if I was still around at this age (I’ll be turning 63), so I am not disappointed. Still being here, I guess, is an accomplishment!

Sometimes it’s loneliness. My mother used to say I was ” the most anti-social” of all of her children (I’m sure she meant that in the nicest possible way!), and she was probably right. Usually, I’m not bothered by being alone; often I relish it. Not on Christmas, though, and not on my birthday.

Sometimes it’s just that I am generally overwhelmed and exhausted.

Sometimes it’s remembering other years, and the losses that have marked the passage of time.

Sometimes it’s just habit.

I have just had an entire frenzied month that included two trips to the mainland, an open house, a class reunion, a memorial for a dear uncle and three weeks with my granddaughter here on the island. All of my sisters have been here for a wonderful, fun week, as well as nieces and nephews and friends and cousins…and I’m tired.

This is a busy time of year here on Beaver Island. The Fourth of July festivities were followed in quick succession by the Beaver Island Music Fest; Museum Week, including an art show that I participate in; “Baroque on Beaver” concerts and activities; a Bike Fest; “Meet the Artists” at Livingstone Studio, which I also participate in; Home-Coming Weekend, and now Jazz Fest. Add to that the people that come for birding, kayaking and camping, or just the basic warm weather and  beautiful beaches. Visitors to the island mean customers in the stores. Though we appreciate the business and love to see the people come, all who work in the service industries feel the strain by the time August rolls around.

Clearly, I have too much on my plate. I wonder about my sanity in taking on the Beaver Beacon. Even with good help – and my partners are wonderful – it is a huge responsibility that seems overwhelming much of the time. I cut my hours at the hardware to make time for the news magazine, so my income hasn’t changed – except for the things I’ve had to purchase and the times I’ve had to supplement it’s bank account out of my personal funds – but my stress level certainly has.

This month, that features many birthdays and wedding anniversaries in my family, also holds the sad memories of many losses. Both of my parents died in August. So did my sister, Sheila. My Grandma Thelma died around the end of August, when I was a child.

Though I loved my Grandma, I was a selfish child. Her death affected me mostly because I didn’t get a birthday party that year. My poor, harried mother – with seven little children and another on the way, with a husband who worked long hours and didn’t like hospitals, with no brothers or sisters to help, with her mother dying in the hospital – gave me a hug, handed me an unwrapped chapter book (my precious Heidi, that I treasure, still) and said, “This year, this will have to do…happy birthday!”

What?! No party? No balloons? No festivities? Does nobody love me? Does no one care? Am I the least favorite child in this whole family? I embarked on a major “Feeling Sorry For Myself” jag that became so enjoyable in it’s intensity, it became habit, and an almost annual tradition. It is with me, still. I recognize it, and even laugh at myself most of the time for my childish mournfulness (“My sisters will all be gone by my birthday, and I’ll be alone…and my kids will probably forget to call…and I have to work…”)…but I know to be careful, too. What starts as a little self-indulgent self pity can turn into a major depression if I let it go on unchecked.

Clearly, I have matured. I work at avoiding depression; I look for joy. I spend my birthday with good intentions and good memories.

This year, in fact, I think I’ll mark my birthday with a list of 63 joyful things I’d still like to accomplish in this life!


Happy Birthday, Baby!



This is not only my story.

I think every mother harbors the same wonder at the birth of a child.

When I look back to the day Jennifer came into my life, it’s almost like I was a newborn, too, learning about life and the world around me through the brand new lens of motherhood.

Who could guess a heart could hold so much love?

Who could predict the absolute, humbling awe at the wonder of every single expression, each finger and toe, every dimple, every precious hair on the head?

No one could possibly foresee the depths of worry and despair this child could invoke with a fever, a skinned knee or (dread!) hurt feelings.

I, who took this new job – “mama” – very seriously, never saw the laughter, the giggles, the fun and the intense, heart-thumping joy this child would bring.

She still does!

Happy Birthday, Jennifer!




This picture, of many wonders of Beaver Island, still hangs in my kitchen where I displayed it last summer.

There is a poster just inside the door that states “I love Grandma Cindy” in a multitude of bright colors.

There is a note in the bottom of the storage bin, in my granddaughter’s handwriting, that reminds me “Don’t forget dog food!!!”

On the trim board that frames the stairway wall, Madeline’s name, along with the names of her brothers and cousin, is penciled in along with dates, next to the painted, stenciled numbers to chart their growth.

On my desk is a photo of Madeline, receiving a kiss on the cheek from her mother. “I don’t especially like that picture,” she told me last summer, “Do you know I’d been crying?” I still like the photograph, but take less enjoyment from it now, with that information. Madeline is a generally happy, enthusiastic and joyous child, and I like best to think of her that way.

I have a string of photos on my computer that reflect those traits.





In my mind, all that warm, bright summer sunshine doesn’t begin to compare with Madeline’s bright spirit!

Happy Birthday, Madeline!