In the wake of a personal ode to the strawberry, I invited Pause e-zine readers to share their everyday treats and juicy joys – those experiences, tastes, smells, sights and sounds that prompt smiles and lift spirits.
Read on for a compilation of their contributions. I hope you enjoy this behind the scenes peak into the everyday joyful experiences of others. They may help you recall memories and unique experiences of your own. Or even better, you might be inspired to make time and space to appreciate more of those special treats that grace your days.
The contributions are grouped in no particular order by type where possible. So click on a category that catches your attention – or read them all from top to bottom. Enjoy.
- Children & Grandchildren
- Mixed & Other
AP: A juicy joy in my life is the Mango Tango smoothie from Pete’s Frootique, a local market in Halifax. It’s healthy, filling and oh so Tasty. I call it the nectar of the gods! At nearly $6 for a large, my budget doesn’t allow for one every day so it’s a special treat once in a while – sometimes to pick myself up when I’m down – but more often just to celebrate a nice sunny Friday or Saturday morning.
SH: My life’s juicy joy is Philippine food. When my husband and I got married, I got it in my head that we should have a pig on a spit for the supper meal. My mom was very good at making every thing I wished for come true (all on budget of course). So she found a little Philippine lady who did all the catering, pig and all. We have been married 15 years this year and our friends still talk about the food. I get teary when I see mangos in the store (something else she served), because then I know my anniversary is coming soon. I am also one of few people who the owner of the Philippine restaurant in our town hugs every time I go in there.
CM: My all time favourite summer treat is raspberry milkshakes. My children have always picked the raspberries in my patch – eating as they go – and saving just enough for the after supper milkshake. It has become a ritual that we guard jealously. Throughout the summer I try to freeze a few raspberries so that in the dark days of winter we can dig them out, sit in front of the fireplace and pretend we are on a picnic. Gotta love it!
AW: My personal favorite is raspberries straight off the bush.
KS: Over the long weekend I caught myself pausing when I realized blackberry picking is another summer tradition in our household. Fresh blackberries are a family favourite, and the homemade jam is a coveted treat. We have a summer cottage in Pender Harbour and it’s an annual forage to collect the tasty berries. I realized yesterday when I was out picking berries that my pace slowed right down and I was completely in the moment – my mind emptied. The only thought I had was how to reach that elusive ripe berry just out of arm’s reach. If I hurried, those prickly bushes would remind me to slow down and take my time. When I open a jar of that blackberry jam on a winter morning I can still visualize the hot summer day I risked flesh to pick those delicious berries!
CS: One of my absolutely favourite treats is dark chocolate. I am especially fond of the Lindt in the grey/silver wrapper. Each time I crave it, I recall a book I read not that long ago that talked about a way to improve your eating habits – by never denying yourself something that you really and truly want to have. This helps you to avoid the bad habit of denying yourself the thing you really want only to replace it with an unsatisfying substitute that you then eat five times as much of. So, I relish my dark chocolate and remember that there is no guilt in enjoying something so great.
SWT: The satisfying, fulfilling sight of a simmering pot of homemade soup. The aroma of homemade stock, vegetables lovingly grown and thoughtfully chopped, parsley, dill, all melding and prepared with pride. I find this labor most relaxing and soothing. It’s one of the small things that nurtures my soul and erases less rewarding requirements in my life.
KS: For me the taste of summer is walking down to our vegetable garden and picking a cherry tomato off the vine. The sun is shining brightly and the fruit – warmed by the sun – bursts when you bite into it. That simple pleasure brings a slow sweet smile to my face every time. Hooray for the sweet joys of summer!
VG: Winnie-the-Pooh’s greatest pleasure was in sharing tea and honey with a friend. And, everyone was his friend. Like Pooh, my juiciest joy is in the simple act of sharing food and conversation with a friend.
SC: I love and treasure the contact I have with my girlfriends from Montgomery School. We all were born in the area and went to grade school together. Somehow we lost each other a little in high school. Then we went through marriages, births, some divorces, and deaths of loved ones. All of us are the same age. All of us now live in different parts of the country, are of different financial status, and different levels of education.
We have something so strong that has brought us back together….our childhood, our sisterhood. When we are together we are reminded of the fun and innocence of our childhoods. Our mischievous projects and our never-ending attempts to get out of Montgomery Place as young girls. Now we all miss our neighbourhood and treasure pictures of our old houses. We share our diaries – secret stories about playing spin the bottle and wearing certain styles of clothing like toe socks! We go back and visit whenever we can and appreciate, like never before , the faces of the veterans and neighbours that still live there. We embrace the reunions and the teachers when we cross paths and we giggle into the night when we can all be together.
We now connect on a daily basis through the internet sharing all our little jokes and secrets. We have even met in different parts of the country for our 40th (Calgary) and 45th birthdays (Niagara Falls)! One for all and all for one!
JH: My life’s joy or treat is the sound of my partner’s voice at the end of a day. That first call of “Hello, I’m home, where are you?” reminds me daily of the best things in life and brings a smile to my heart.
DJ: I like to go camping one night on the weekend in the back of nowhere with the man I love. It gets us both out of our every day stresses and completely focused on each other. We can enjoy being with each other, uninterrupted by the phone or the demands of others. It’s only for a short time but it puts the rest of our lives in proper perspective and the week just flies by till the next time.
PM: My simple joy is holding my husband’s hand as we hike in the mountains. We have been doing this for many years now. This year was no exception. We went on a hike at Castle Mountain to Rock Bound Lake. There we sat on a rock (surprise surprise) having our sandwich lunch with a $100 million dollar view of a gorgeous blue lake, rocks all around, surrounded my mountains and blue blue sky. I can still close my eyes and hear the sounds of birds, bees and water running over a small rock stream. It was wonderful.
LK: I have been with my Shelley now for 18 years. Shelley has the most infectious laugh, for me!! Many folks out there have several laughs in my opinion, there’s the “Yeh that was funny laugh”, there’s the “That was really funny laugh” and there’s the “That was hilarious laugh” which is now bordering on being a true belly laugh. Then there’s the one every person in the world has, the one I long to catch and hear from my Shelley. It stops me in my tracks; it brings peace to my world instantaneously. It’s not a laugh like any other she has, but you know that something has truly struck her funny bone. It sounds so innocent. Don’t be fooled. There is a seductive playfulness to it and it leaves me with a smile for hours, always wanting more! When I hear this laugh from my Shelley it is truly one of God’s gifts to the world. I love my Shelley dearly, as everyone says about their partners in life. However, I’m also in love with her! I tell her this often. She thinks I’m crazy!
GH: Who could imagine anything so sweet as little Ryan’s squeals of glee while blowing bubbles on the deck? He puffed clouds of shimmering blue, red, purple and rainbow bubbly globes that lazily floated towards Barkley, his dog, who took great joy in popping them! A hot summery afternoon’s delight that will make me glow like a fresh, ripe strawberry, for months to come!
SO: My daughter Megan, age three, is my greatest joy. I have always wanted to be a mother because of the relationship I have with my mother. Every day, but especially when I’ve had a really stressful day at the office, just to see her huge smile, and see her running to give me a hug and yelling ‘Mommy’, just makes the bad day I have had vanish. To hear her say ‘I love you’ brings tears of joy to my eyes and makes my heart lighter. When she snuggles up to me to read, it makes me pause and realize that it doesn’t get any better and puts things in perspective. She is good for my heart and my soul and I thank God every day for allowing me to be her mother.
LP: I can’t help but think of my friends’ two-year-old foster son. My heart just melts away when I see his big smile as he runs toward me with his arms raised. Then he puts his head on my shoulder because he feels safe and loved.
JM: One of my top moments in life is as a parent of young children. My youngest is five years old, and she still loves the security of holding my hand wherever we go. When I am walking beside her and that little soft warm hand slips into mine, it overwhelms me with feelings of joy and love. At the same time, a little voice is telling me this won’t last forever. So I give thanks for it every time!
BT: I really enjoyed your newsletter this morning, and apparently needed the reminder that there are so many wonderful things in my life to appreciate. I woke up this morning much earlier than I had wanted to – tired and with a headache. Instead of just getting up and having a headstart to my day, I lay in bed trying to get back to sleep, to no avail. As a result, my morning was rushed. I struggled with my two year old son for his cooperation, and was late for work, again.
However, before leaving the house, I picked three beautiful, huge red tomatoes from my tiny garden. I will enjoy one for lunch. But certainly my juiciest joy of the day will be the big, sloppy, juicy kiss my son gave me when I dropped him off at his daycare. Life truly is a blessing.
GC: The juiciest joy in my life right now is my three year old daughter’s budding sense of humor. She has just discovered that she can say things that genuinely make other people, especially her Mom and Dad, laugh. The best part of this new attribute is how she starts to giggle and laugh before she gets all the words out. So, as a Mom, I get to watch my little girl discover her own sense of humor, her own voice, her free spirit, and be confident in herself all in the same moment. Now that is juicy indeed!
BR: Once again the cries of our three month old awaken me from sleep. As I stumble to her room in a daze, I am grumbling in frustration about how unfair life is. If only I had a couple more hours sleep. Then it happens. I pick up my daughter and she calms. My grumblings begin to subside. She looks deeply into my eyes as if searching for some connection – that special moment between her and me. She finds it, and it touches my soul. As she begins to feed, she gives me the most big and beautiful smile. It melts my heart. It is in this moment I see life through her eyes. In this moment a three month old reaffirms each day how wonderful life can be if only we just stop and cherish each moment, each time we are together.
CM: I could not pass up the opportunity to express how my grandson gives me that little lift just at the right time. Three years ago, when my son-in-law left our daughter, Connor and his Mom came to live with my husband and me.
As my daughter works about 25 miles away and my husband is semi-retired, we have Connor after school for a couple of hours before his mother gets home from work. It is a time that we both cherish very much. Poppy has a shadow whenever Connor is around and is an encyclopedia on two legs who never tires of answering why, what, where and how.
My favourite time is when I am quietly sitting in my chair and Connor climbs up on my lap. He lays his head on my shoulder and says “I love you Gramma”. It just melts my heart away. A day hardly goes by when he doesn’t just walk up to one or the other of us and wraps his arms around us and hugs us so tight we can barely breathe. At times like this I can only say “Life is good”.
I keep his pictures on my desk at work and take a few moments several times a day just to look at them and smile and thank God I have been blessed with such a sweet natured and loving little boy to light up my life.
RR: One of my life’s greatest treats is getting some “sugar” from my three-year-old grandson. Sometimes he’s a little stingy and will only give me “cream” (that’s hugs instead of kisses).
MP: We (my son, daughter-in-law and four children, Grandpa and myself) are enjoying another hot day at the beach. The children have been in the water for as long as their little energizer batteries will stand. So off we go to the canteen for something cold and wet.
The treats are purchased, and we sit down on the grass in the cool shade of the trees. Soon, the children are lying on the grass, eating their popsicles, and searching for recognizable figures in the fluffy little clouds bobbing their way through the deep blue summer sky. In order to get the same perspective, Mom, Dad, Grandpa and Nana soon assume the ‘reclined in the grass’ position.
Suddenly, a big, cold, juicy kiss from an almost-two-year old with red popsicle spread from ear to ear lands on my hot cheek. You just gotta love it the most!
RC: One of my greatest joys is the pure and unconditional love of my granddaughter. I treasure her every growing day. She is two and a half years old and lives about six hours away from me. This morning, she called at 7:05 a.m. I answered the phone (excitedly – because I knew it was her). “Good Morning Grandma!!” Does the day start any better than that? After our conversation about the red ‘matoes she picked in her garden, she says, “They are ‘liscious Grandma. Have a great day, Grandma. Are you sad I’m going, Grandma?”
I am very thankful for this wonderful love from a wonderful little granddaughter and for the sweet consideration and love of her mother (my daughter-in-law) who nurtures our relationship.
AH: My true tastes and simple pleasures are enjoying eating strawberries and being with my family, especially my grandchildren. My grandchildren love strawberries too. They have some growing under their living room window and like to go out and pick them and eat them as they play. When they come in with stains on their faces/fingers/shirt/pants, there’s such a look of surprise on their faces when you say, “Soooo you were eating strawberries, were ya? “They look at me and think: how does she know this? I chuckle every time this happens. They laugh and laugh and say – Nana, you’re so funny!”
ML: Life’s juiciest joys can be summed up for me in one word – family. They are with me always. Whenever things in my life are great, I know they are happy for me. And when things go horribly wrong, I only have to close my eyes to sense that wonderful love and support that is coming to me from people near and far. Family is the light that guides me, comforts me, rejoices with me and supports me.
The sound of children laughing takes me back to my carefree childhood days playing with my cousins. There were a LOT of us. The smell of roses instantly places me at my uncle’s house where I stayed as a busy teenager participating in drama, yearbook and pep club activities. And the taste of sugar cookies brings a nostalgic tear to my eyes as memories of my Grandma flood through me. All that is good and comforting in my life, all that brings me peace and pause, can be linked back to my family. I am truly blessed!
RR: It strikes me that there were some very joyful events in my life. One that I remember was when my dad, just after heart surgery, ended up with short term memory loss. He was unable to put new memories into his mind and we were told that we would be looking at long term care for him. We were walking down the hospital ward when my brother asked dad what his room number was, and dad told us. He is a healthy, well functioning 76 year old man who is enjoying life, forming memories and having fun.
LC: My life’s juicy joy is being able to spend my Sunday mornings lazing around with my husband and three year old son. I work an 8 to 5/Monday to Friday job and my husband is a business owner so mornings together are rare. There’s nothing better than enjoying a cup of coffee, with the sun coming into the living room, sharing small talk and watching our son play with his beloved Cars characters!
Of course there are many other things that I could add to a list of everyday joys, including spontaneous kisses and hugs from my little boy, cuddles from the dog, a meal out with my husband, and meeting girlfriends for lunch!
K: One of my simplest joys is the sound of a cat purring. I live with two cats and if either or both are in the same room as me, purring – it just feels like all is right with the world! Sometimes curling up with a blanket, a cat or two, a good book or a movie makes me feel like I could purr myself!
AF: One of my life’s juicy joys is watching my dog, Winston, greet people who come to our house. It is comical because he is a pug. Gasps and snorts escape his smiling jowls. His whole body shakes with delight and he scurries in circles around our guests. If I pick him up, he wiggles and whimpers until released. It’s also enjoyable to be on the receiving end of Winston’s welcome, especially when returning home from a long, arduous day at work.
LMS: My juicy joys all have four legs. At my home/homeoffice, I have four sets of legs who can offer up their joy to me whenever I need it. Two dogs and two cats give me plenty of opportunity to get loving licks, rumbling purrs or just happy faces that seem to smile when I lavish them with my attention. However, I am truly spoiled when I leave home to go to the stable where there are two more sets of very big feet and two nickering faces to greet me. My two horses are the ultimate juicy joys of my life. They let me kiss their velvety noses and lean up against their warm and comforting bodies when I need a bit of support. Best of all, when I ride them, we ‘loose the surly bonds of earth’ and truly soar beyond the cares and worries everyday life. Can’t get much juicier than that!
MMS: Three years ago, my husband gave me a cocker scandle (spaniel) for my 50th birthday. Casey, my dog, provides me with something funny to laugh at or smile about every day. He is a happy gregarious little dog. When I come home after work he is always happy to see me, no matter what. One of my real joys is to take Casey for a walk on the beach at Candle Lake where we have a cabin. In the spring and fall the beach is quiet and it makes for a relaxing walk. In the summer on cool windy days it can also be a relaxing walk and makes for a good outing when sitting on the beach in the sun is not an option. Casey loves to run with his ears blowing the wind ,sniffing at the bushes in the dunes, watering grass and bushes as we go. Every once in a while he charges into the water, lays down, and has a big drink of water. The other thing he loves to do is find a stick and have me throw it in the water so he can either run or swim to retrieve it. He then comes out and shakes vigorously and rolls in the sand. As often as we do this walk, he never tires of it. Each walk is as exciting as the last one. His enthusiasm is contagious. Sometimes I don’t feel like going, but I know how much he enjoys it and it helps to motivate me as well. It is a time for reflection, for being quiet, for being in touch with nature and remembering what is important to life.
KK: I have a little poodle cross. She often jumps on my lap and throws her head into my chest and looks up at me with such love and trust, it brings a smile to my lips and warmth to my heart.
CL: My juicy joy is giving my 180 lb St. Bernard his morning belly rub. It lasts a solid five minutes. It’s only complete when there’s a handful of hair lying on the floor afterwards, with a corresponding amount of happy drool. The puppy, Whiskey, (who really isn’t a puppy anymore) is completely and totally oblivious to any of life’s challenges and issues, His entire focus for that moment is on relaxing and enjoying his belly rub. And, for those five minutes, I join him.
MTH: In the past couple of weeks, my joy and treat has been watching the newborn calves on our farm romp and play like little kids. They are so precious, and they grow up so fast that it is a rare treat lasting only a few weeks. Our golden retriever, Sandy, and I go walking every evening, and check out the baby calves. We had two new ones born just last week, and there have been six born in the past three months. For the first week, they are the same size as Sandy—just imagine a calf being the size of a small golden retriever.
CB: I have a dog and she’s hilarious. She’s a basset hound, which to me is living proof that God has a sense of humor. There are a number of things that she does that can make any stone-cold person smile whether it be from stepping on her ears when she walks, getting excited about her favorite green frog toy or the hilarious realization in her puppy eyes when she’s made a fool out of herself (such as scarring the living daylights out of herself thinking that there is something attacking her backside and realizing it was just her tail).
KS: For me, a gardener with a slight daylily obsession, my juicy joy would be seeing a new daylily bloom that wasn’t there the day before. Seeing the buds waiting on their stalks starts the anticipation, and checking to see what’s happened each morning is a wonderful way to start each summer day. I have about 16 varieties in my garden, each with their own colour and charm. Every year when each of them ‘goes’, I am delighted once again.
VB: Our Saskatchewan winters, usually long and bitter, create gloominess by the end of February. My spirit welcomes the heartwarming caw of a crow which announces spring in my mind and my step, whether its officially spring or not. The sweet rendition of the meadowlark’s song in summer never fails to cheer me up, not just because the sound is so soothing, but also because the song is especially for me!
JB: Life’s juicy joys: Nature! The sparkling sunlight, whether it’s on leafy green treetops or dew kissed blossoms, on branches clothed in hoar frost or over serene water. The sunlight amongst God’s creations. The sun in a bright blue sky with puffy white clouds soft enough to cuddle in! Add the trill of birds and what more can we ask for? Such joy! We have so much to be thankful for in our daily surroundings. Just must remember to pause and note these things.
EB: Watching the sunlight bounce off the rock cliff on the other side of the lake. My husband and I are sitting on the deck of an old log cabin (owned by my ex-brother-in-law) on a private lake. No phones, no electricity but it has a flush toilet. What bliss!
YT: When I work at my computer in front of a window, I can see a birdbath we’ve put up on the top of our deck railing, about 12 feet away. As I type, I can see a titmouse in the middle of its bath ritual, while a Carolina wren is waiting in line and a more assertive pine warbler is sitting on the rim, hopping around, trying to get into the water next to the titmouse.
The titmouse, like all other bathing birds I’ve seen, wiggles around in the water and fluffs up its feather to at least three times its size, so it now looks like a very wet, scruffy, fur ball. It’s wiggling motions sprays the water about, and once it gets out it flies to a nearby branch and furiously pokes its beak all about its body, preening and airing itself out, still doing its wriggling dance until it flies away.
Who can possibly continue typing away or staring at a screen while this is going on? Definitely not me! What a welcome distraction, every time; my heart smiles as I watch these antics.
KR: This spring I planted purple and white pansies around purple morning glories to wind around spiral tomato stakes in a large too-heavy-to-move clay pot. Now the stakes are completely covered, forming a living pillar. Each morning, since planting, I have looked at the flowers. Nothing more. I just look, without deadheading pansies or pulling a weed. I see the grackles, sparrows, robins, redpolls, doves and woodpeckers just behind it – in the feeder and on the ground below. My thoughts are versions of “Life is good” and “This is so beautiful”. Many of the morning glories are still open when I go home for lunch. Again, at lunch, I just look. When I am at work, I can call the memory back in a heartbeat. It reminds me that the best things in life are free and that I have a good life. This simple memory and the thoughts generated are the pause that refreshes no matter what the circumstance.
AO: When work has been strenuous and the rewards hard to find, I look forward to an evening sojourn on my deck which overlooks Lake Ontario. I enjoy the sights and sounds of nature…the lap of the waves, a raccoon emerging from the hollow oak tree in the yard, and the quiet voices of evening strollers in the nearby park. And I wait, watching for the shooting star that is the ultimate juicy joy on a summer evening.
SJ: What comes to the top of my list of life’s juicy joys actually happened last week on our wedding anniversary. We got up early in the morning and went for a kayak on the river which backs on to our property at our home in the country. We enjoyed the beautiful sunny morning without a cloud in the sky with only the sounds of the birds singing. Our trek up the river took us to a sand bar in the middle of the river (which almost seemed like our own private beach) where we launched our kayaks, enjoyed a hot cup of coffee from our thermos and watched 16 baby sandpipers with their parents snack on the edge of the sand and water. It was fabulous. The sun shone on the rippling water of the river sparkling like diamonds. How much nicer can you get? It was a great way to begin our special anniversary day.
LN: I find that one of my life’s greatest joys is to get my hands into the warm earth in planting season! The smell of the earth in my hands, the birds singing all around, the bees buzzing lazily, and the warmth of the sun on my face. The sound of a meadow lark sends my heart soaring! Rocking in my rocker on a summer’s eve, listening to sounds of nature all around me soothes my soul completely. I don’t need to have other distractions, or people around me at such blissful moments. It is at these life’s moments I feel completely alive and totally blessed.
JC: Your email came at the perfect time! I was just sitting at my desk after having walked to work on this beautiful 1st of August, not dreading a day at the office, but wishing I had today for myself: to spread out my old outdoor quilt on my freshly mowed lawn and smell the fragrance of cut grass while watching the wild daisies blow in the breeze. There is nothing more joyful than enjoying a day like today outdoors. It may be a small and simple thing, but I can’t think of anything that makes me feel more connected to this world of ours. That is truly a juicy joy in my book!
SC: I work in a hot unconditioned office and for me one of the greatest little joys and pleasures in my life is the place I go to in my head whenever I can. At our camp in the country right on the Atlantic Ocean, my husband fashioned for me between two trees a hammock that swings out over the water and overlooks our little piece of heaven. On a warm sunny morning the sun hits the hammock just right. When the ocean is calm and I swing in that hammock with my tea and book, life is grand! If I am lucky I spy an eagle or a blue crane catching fish. No computer, phone, or work from the work world dare intrude.
DW: One of the things that I eagerly await every summer is the return of the hummingbirds. I faithfully get out my hummingbird feeder from the cupboard, scrub it up and wash off the winter’s dust, boil up the water and sugar to make a yummy sugary treat for the hummers. I add just a drop of red food colouring, to make their feed seem a bit more appealing and of course easier to locate. Then I hang the feeder up on the east side of the house, in front of the kitchen window. You never know exactly which day, at what time, a hummingbird will come soaring in to check it out. They are so timid the first visit, not sure if they should try it out, almost flying in as if it is a trap. Usually the first few times they come in they don’t even rest on the perches, just in case they have to make that quick getaway. Their wings flap so quickly you can’t even see them. Sometimes the birds are all green, shimmering in the sunlight and sometimes they are the ruby-throated kind, their red necks truly iridescent in the sunshine. Sometimes when you are outside watering the flowers, you can tell a hummer is coming in for a landing at the feeder because it sounds like a giant mosquito has zoomed by. I always freeze my activity and slowly and carefully turn my head towards the hummingbird feeder, hoping that my movements have not disturbed its supper and scared it away. They are truly a marvel to watch, so small but so quick. Eventually, if they stick around the summer long enough, they build a nest and have babies. Then the fun begins. They become much more competitive at the feeder and spend more of their energy chasing each other away from the feeder than they do eating. You almost want to tell them, there are four perches and plenty for everyone to share. But no way, they chase each other like kamikaze pilots, dipping and diving. I am amazed they don’t fly into something at the speed and the half-crazed way they fly. Their anticipated arrival seems to signal the start of spring and summer, but so quickly they decide it is time to make the journey south. Amd as eventful is their arrival, so, too, is their departure. Now you see me, now you don’t. Hummingbirds don’t seem to linger around like geese before they head south. All of a sudden they are gone. You leave the feeder hanging there for a few weeks longer, just in case a hummingbird sticks around longer than anticipated, but rarely do you ever see one. Then, just like every season has its end, so ends the season of the hummingbirds. I reluctantly take down the feeder, scrub it up, dry it off and carefully put it back in its place to await the warm weather of next year when, once again, the hummingbirds will come back to entertain us with one of summer’s simple joys!
TJ: My personal simple joy is being in my garden early on spring and summer mornings. My family and everyone on the street is still asleep. The neighbourhood is quiet, but not my garden. The birds are chirping. Sometimes I just sit on my patio that faces east and watch the sun rise and the garden come alive. Other times I walk through the garden, smell the flowers, trees, the fresh of the morning (that I can’t put into words). When the time is right, I eat some of the many different berries that grow there.
CM: No question about it! Raindrops in the dust! My dad was a carpenter and went where there was work. So, as a young child, I lived in a variety of interesting rural locations. With four children, money was very scarce and self-entertainment was the norm. They were happy days. One of my most vivid memories was walking barefoot down a country, dirt road on a summer afternoon with the rain just beginning. A dusty, musty fragrance gathered in the back of your throat. A dusty street can’t replace a dusty rural road, but those beginning raindrops always take me right back to those happy days.
TS: My favorite summertime treat is being at the lake – whether it’s at our cabin, camping, or being at Camp Oshkidee family camp. There is nothing so peaceful and soul-inspiring as being on the dock or on the lake early in the morning (not too early but earlier than the majority of people) when the water is like glass, the sun is shining. I can just sit there and drink it all in!
SF: This summer I have really enjoyed taking some time to sit quietly in my flower garden enjoying the floral delights, both visual and fragrant. When there is a slight breeze to caress my skin and lightly ring the wind chimes, it adds another layer of pleasure to the experience. With my two dogs stretched out nearby, enjoying laying in the sun, their companionship is the final touch. I think that this is a small taste of heaven.These perfect moments are something that I treasure. They lift my spirits, both at the time and when I reflect on them.
ML: Life’s juicy joy is the sight of leaves dancing in the wind.
JEP: My simple joy is the shade on a sunny day. I go for a walk in the park to think about nothing but what is around me. I usually stop under a leafy tree, feeling a small breeze upon me, and just embrace all that is available to my sights. The cool of the shade, yet the warmth of the summer breeze, makes it so simple to enjoy. I hope this inspires someone to drop that channel changer, and enjoy the beauty of the shade.
MS: I work in the field of parks operations. We design them, build them and take care of them. Pretty rewarding stuff one might think! The reality is a little less altruistic and involves dealing with lots of community concerns (some might call than complaints). There are endless phone calls, e-mails, the hot weather, vandalism, etc.
BUT there are rewards: the kids playing ball and soccer, the Boy Scouts and community tree planting events, the joy of flowers and green spaces, and our truly dedicated and committed staff. The fact that we are truly enhancing and protecting these green spaces for future generations is, as the commercial says, priceless!
At the end of the day when the phone isn’t ringing and the computer is turned off, in the evenings when the parks are busy, or in the quiet of the morning hours, it brings me great joy knowing that we have collectively provided these wonderful spaces.
CB: I am a community dietitian and sometimes it feels like (more often than not) the reason that people come to see me is “because my doctor told me to come see you”. They often do not see the importance in what I do or feel that they do not have the time to make lifestyle changes to improve their health. Basically, I am the evil food fairy who takes away all of the tasty food that they love. Every so often (it’s becoming more frequent lately) I will have a somewhat resistant individual in my office and after a bit of probing and questioning the conversation changes and the person becomes very honest with me. It’s at that point that they usually make the realization that making changes in their life may not be as difficult or detrimental to their life; and that they have the power and control to make changes. It is when they get that “realization look” in their face that it makes me smile. I smile because I feel like I finally helped someone.
MS: My family and I love to go camping. Whether it be with friends or just on our own, it is a way to get away from home and leave your worries and troubles behind, even if it is only for a weekend. The best part of the weekend is in the evening when everyone gets together around the campfire. We visit and share stories and laughter. But every once in awhile there is a lull in the conversation and all you hear is the crackling of the fire and a few night sounds, possibly the sounds of other neighbouring campers sharing the same experience. It is during these few moments that a sense of calmness and peacefulness comes over you and everyone gets lost in their own thoughts for a minute or two. Although these moments may not last long before the conversation strikes up again, everyone is comfortable with one another and at ease, and you know that in a short while it will all happen again.
DO: We live in a gorgeous part of the country with hills, trees, birds, and wildlife. We can’t see a neighbour’s yardlight or hear anything but the sounds of nature. Even so, I sometimes allow myself to get caught up in the work, either indoors in the office, or outdoors. There is always more work to be done. Now and then we start a campfire late in the afternoon and cook our evening meal. Or we start the fire later in the evening after we’ve decided to stop for the day. I find a campfire to be soothing, relaxing, and mesmerizing. We have wonderful, deep conversations. I am able to really get in touch with what is important for me, and often my creative ideas begin to flow. The campfire is almost a tonic for reflection and inspiration. It’s a treat. It’s easy. I don’t have to go anywhere; and it is a good opportunity to pause and reflect.
RK: The juiciest joys are the ones that pack a multiple punch and tingle all of my senses. They only happen on rare occasions but when they do; whatatatow! Are you ready? Sitting by a campfire on the beach, wiggling my toes in soft warm sand, listening to the tango of the winds and the waves, taking in the soothing sight of a sunset, catching a few whiffs of sweet clover of a nearby field, savouring a perfectly roasted hot dog followed by melted chocolate, marshmallow on a graham wafer, and knowing that for those wonderful few minutes that everything in the world is okydoky.
CS: A calm beautiful day at the lake and, as the day is drawing to a close, an outstanding sunset of varying shades of pinks and oranges against the blue sky. In the distance you hear a loon and in the background you absorb the sounds of your family and friends chattering and laughing around the crackling fire. There is nothing like that sound of crackling and the fine smell of a campfire in the great outdoors. Feel the warmth!
TR: I would have to say that my simple treasured pleasure would be music. Even though I can’t play a single instrument, Music reconnects me like nothing else. A special song for a special friend. An unforgettable dance. The reminder of a special day. The memory that brings those dear to us, back and warms the heart. Whether it is a smile, laugh, story or a tear it brings, hearing a fond tune makes my moment and day that much more meaningful.
BE: A beautiful song on the way to work to start your day just right!
LF: Last fall, we replaced our old beaten-up piano with a new-to-us Yamaha that I had been trying to find for months. It is a wonderful instrument! One of the things I enjoy is playing late at night, sometimes in the dark, and enjoying the rich sound of five-finger chords below the melody line. If I’m lucky, I will go to then go to sleep with a certain old popular standard running through my mind . . . and sometimes, rarely, wakeup with a reminder of the same song!
CG: For the heart – a really good hug! When someone (your spouse or a friend) can see by looking at you that something is wrong and gives you one of those long real hugs that just makes you feel truly loved. It makes you realize that having them in your life makes whatever is wrong seem not quite so bad. The look on the face of a baby when you are feeding it. That look of pure love and trust on their face. Each time, it feels like their eyes are just reaching right in and squeezing your heart.
For the taste buds: a glass of really good red wine, on the deck with a fire lit in the company of good friends, or with your spouse, holding hands. Really good sushi. A juicy medium-rare filet mignon with sautéed mushrooms (and a glass of really good red wine).
Thank you so much for this. I have been feeling somewhat down in the last couple of weeks and writing this has brought tears to my eyes and made me realize I have a lot to be thankful for.
PL: A hug at the end of a long day from my special guy. Nothing lifts me like this. It makes me feel like I can tackle anything. Little donuts at the Ex. I have a friend who will only eat them at the Ex, even though they are available everywhere now. She doesn’t want to destroy their specialness. I am not nearly so virtuous, but they still taste best at the Ex. A fresh crusty bun with real butter (maybe accompanied by a nice glass of red wine).
MB: Snuggling up with an affectionate cat, feeling the soft fur against your hand or cheek, just being in the moment, purring together. Holding hands with my husband of 26 years, or sharing a spontaneous joke. Really fresh orange juice…icy water on a hot day…the comfort of my bed with crisp clean sheets after a long day…the sound of waves on the shore at a lake or ocean…dark chocolate coated orange peel…a new book by one of my favourite authors…a ripe tomato fresh of the vine on my back deck, very warm from the sun…candlelight and firelight on a cold winter night…the smell of wood smoke in the air in the fall…oh, and fresh ripe strawberries!
DH: For me, one of the greatest little pleasures is the smell of a new shampoo. When traveling, each hotel has a different shampoo and, while taking a shower, I often luxuriate in the aroma for half a minute.
CD: For me, a true treat is the smell of rain. The only thing that comes close to that is bread baking…especially when it’s cold outside.
R: Here’s my list of things that bring me joy. My daughter’s beautiful smile. Being followed around given unconditional love by my girlfriend’s dog (I’m ‘dog-sitting’). A ride on a sunny day on my new scooter. Rafting down the river on a sunny Sunday afternoon with my daughter. Being able to say I have a ‘girlfriend’. Being single & enjoying it. My volunteer position as an event co-ordinator and all the people I get to meet. Time off from the office and able to do what I want & when I want. Picking fresh raspberries from my girlfriend’s garden and eating them with very good vanilla ice cream. Memories of my mother. The fact that my best friends adore my daughter. Being here right now.
FH: On my motorcycle. Stiff, cool breeze at my back. Long highway in front of me. Full tank of gas and no particular place to go. Absolutely euphoric.
JL: I love going for a walk holding my husbands hand. After 29 years of marriage it’s still a thrill! Sharing an inside joke with him or a smile across the room that’s meant just for me. Visiting the Maritimes for our 25th anniversary, sitting on a rock at Peggy’s cove sharing a picnic lunch with my husband, listening to the waves crash and the sea gulls calling above, with the warm sun and summer breezes caressing us. Inhaling the fragrance of a peonies blossom or the scent of sweet peas. Going for a pedicure with my daughter and daughter-in-law and all three of us getting pampered. The peaceful feeling of wanting to freeze-frame the moment when our family sits around the living room and we get to be together. Seeing the joy on my parents’ faces and the love they have for each other as they just celebrated their 60th anniversary. The joy of seeing and holding my first grandchild’s ultrasound print to my chest and anticipating the birth and falling in love with this baby already. And yes, the occasional serving of Chocolate Fudge Crackle Ice Cream served in a special dish. Having friends over for a dinner party or going out with friends. An unexpected phone call from one of my wonderful sisters or a thoughtful gesture from one of them even though we are separated by distance. Receiving a hug from my eighteen year old son who initiates that. Not saving special tableware for important occasions only but celebrating the big and small moments of life. Getting called at work that supper will be ready when I get home, prepared by my husband who is still on holidays and our son who has a day off work. Seeing our children grow into responsible caring adults. That first sip of Chai Tea at the end of a long day. Walking along the river or through a beautiful park enjoying the beautiful summer weather. Reading a good book on a rainy day. My blue and white bedroom with freshly ironed and spray starched white Battenburg pillow slips and throw pillows. A lazy Sunday afternoon, watching golf on TV, snoozing, watching golf, snoozing, etc. Walking through my flower garden. A fresh bouquet of flowers on my table. Consuming a piece of juicy, delectable fresh fruit- like pineapple, cantelope, nectarines or mangoes. Having my family treat me like a queen on Mother’s Day! The mmmmm I hear when you make your kids favorite dish or baking. Receiving an unexpected card or letter in the mail. Grateful reflections of how blessed I am.
SV: As I left my hog barn at 9:30 tonight after putting in a few extra hours work, my tired feeling left me as I realized I was just in time for a gorgeous pink, blue and orange sunset, Saskatchewan style! When I get a moment to relax, you can find me in my swing on my front lawn. With a tree for shade, and enough space to stretch out, I can let go of the day’s stress as I listen to the sounds of the neighborhood. I always make time to read the comics in the newspaper, and take the time to laugh aloud when the feeling hits. In the winter, a mug of hot chocolate always hits the spot.
NY: I have three treats that can turn my day around. An unexpected random act of kindness (either given or received). A simple sincere smile from someone. When I’m really looking for something to cheer me up, I turn to one of the numerous notes my eight year old writes to me simply stating: “I love you mom more than you know. Have a great day everyday!” I keep one in my office, and the rest posted around my home.
DG: Nothing brings me more pleasure than swimming. The feeling of oneness with the water as I glide along, giving thanks for all the wonderful people in my life & praying for abundant blessings on each of them. There’s no better way to start my day! I focus on each person during a different lap. No need to count laps anymore; when I get to the last person, I’m done! Each time I add a lap, I add a person. I feel God’s presence so strongly in the water. he water supports me as God has always done & always will.
AJ: There are so many simple joys that I have, but here are a few. Watching my children (ages three and five) play together nicely and listening to their banter and laughter; reading a magazine or book for half an hour (or longer – dare to dream); a long, hot shower; commuting to and from work while singing my head off to one of my CDs; spending the weekend in Vancouver every year for my husband’s work Christmas party (we take an extra day to spend time together and shop at IKEA).
One of the things that feeds my soul is playing my guitar. I got it almost two years ago. Initially, I practiced almost every day, then it went down to three times a week, and now it has dwindled to once a week – maybe. I’m learning how to play on my own, with the help of “Playing Guitar for Dummies.” Because I have only been able to practice intermittently, my fingertips get sore because the calluses need to re-develop each time. Despite the soreness, I really enjoy playing because it it something that I do just for me. I practice for 15-30 minutes each time and just surrender to the smell of the wood, and strumming of the strings.
Another thing that I brings me joy is baking. I prefer baking to cooking. I particularly enjoy baking things that I remember my mother baking when we were growing up. She used to make pan dulce, a Mexican sweet bread. It is a sweet bun topped with a streusel topping. The kneading of the dough, the smell of the yeast and the final baked product bring me back to the days when I was a little girl helping my mom in the kitchen. The warmth of the oven and the delicious smells envelop me like a cozy blanket. It lifts my spirits to share the finished product with my family and neighbor, and see that they enjoy the fruits of my labour.
VT: I’m interested in your definition of juicy. In my circle of girlfriends, juicy has always been ….well like a nice butt in a pair of Levis. But in the context of your e-zine, I don’t think this is what you mean by juicy. Even though a nice pair of Levis can’t be denied, my ultimate joy, my totally terrific treat, my most delicious days are like this: Take me away to my special place. Hot sun, m-m-m-m-m. Hot, soft, inviting sand. The susurration of the poplar leaves, ruffled from the gentle breezes that come and go. The busy laughing and chattering of children (not my children) playing and splashing. The lapping of the lake water on the shoreline of the beach. My blanket, my book, my coffee, and Tia Maria. I stay until the sand beneath me is molded to the weight of my beach blanket and my horizontal body, until the sun sets, to dreamily (and slightly drunkenly) watch in awe at how beautiful it all is. I love this annual cleansing of my soul. Warmed from the sun, brain-drained, with a bit of a backache because I’m getting too old to lay that way. Ah it’s my way to spend the perfect juicy day.
TGD: This is a short compilation of my juicy joys: a leisurely walk after supper, drinking a cup of tea on the deck, listening to crickets at dusk, eating fresh, plump blueberries in a bubble bath, making jam from fresh strawberries to be savoured now with a jar reserved for January, purchasing fresh produce at the vibrant farmer’s market, organizing my filing cabinet, giving away toys my children no longer use, reading aloud with my children, making sun tea, receiving a letter in the mail instead of a forwarded email.
LKB: For me a cup of tea on the verandah, watching the sunset, discussing the day’s event’s with my husband – heavenly.
TN: Life’s greatest treats and joys are many and profound if only we take time to pause and reflect on them. First and foremost on my list is my wife of 39 years. She is my true soulmate and inspiration.
That being said a close second is my dog, Birk, who happens to be a standard Schnauzer. Birk has taught me, and continues to teach me, so much about life: taking time to roll in the grass, the importance of a walk three times a day, how good a cold drink of water really is, the joy of a car ride and how soft a blanket really feels.
Birk recently lost a leg to cancer but never once has he looked back or complained. He is so accepting and simply moves on. He has adapted and chooses to make the best of whatever life presents. And what does he ask for? Nothing but a kind word, a hug or two and a pat that says I love you.
CP: Joy for me is when I have had a struggle of some kind and suddenly I am at that ‘moment’ when you know everything is going to be okay. I have worked through what I needed – whatever the situation – and it is going to be okay. Joy is the moments you notice and appreciate – a squirrel running along a fence, a child playing in a puddle, seeing an elderly couple holding hands, a relaxed visit or unexpected call from family or friends, a sunrise or sunset, or a piece of beautiful music, the first flower you see in the spring. I am blessed that the list could go on and on and on.
LR: Spending a day with family. Watching a good movie. Getting a pedicure. Getting a massage. Having extra money at the end of a month. Time and money to go shopping. New potatoes from the garden, cooked with dill and cream. Fresh garden vegetables. BBQ (anything). Chocolate!!!!!! Pizza. Baby after a bath. Coffee. Fresh baked bread – any baking. Fried onions. Chocolate!!!!! Family laughing together. Weddings. Crops and garden coming up. Flowers. Raise on paycheck. Traveling. Children laughing. Anyone laughing. Music, singing. Birds singing. Train whistle. Funny thing, nothing really related to work!
DC: To wake up every morning with all five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell intact and working as nature would have them – a wonderful cacophony of lovely and beautiful feelings and living in the moment 100% is my first joy. A home serene and tranquil with an atmosphere of love and caring anchors me and girds me as I go out into a world of challenges and adventures with the firm hope that I contribute something and in the process be nearer to the image my Creator is molding me into is my second joy. Thirdly, I’m thankful for my attitude of blending idealism with reality holding firm to the values of truth, honesty, compassion and gratitude as I go about my worldly business of living and being at peace with God’s creations.
LE: My grandchildren – so full of energy, curiosity and imagination, but collapsing into sudden sleep in whatever position when the need hits them (talk about balance!). A walk along Broadway Avenue in summer – also buzzing with a vibrant energy, so symbolic of the wonderful quality of life we have in Saskatoon (as are my friends, family and the special people of Saskatoon). An evening sitting in my backyard on a clear summer evening – akin to meditation. So many things make me smile. We are lucky to live in Saskatoon, in Saskatchewan, and in Canada.
MK: Gifts That Fill My Soul. High on a hill on a stormy day. Hair whipped by wind; the anticipated, never expected crash of thunder; awesome jolts of lightning; healing smell of wet earth. The force of the black storm. Breath catching with exhilaration.
Deep in the forest in summer. Shoulders warmed by filtered sun; unexpected coolness of dappled shadows; whisper of leaves; small creatures watching too shy to be seen; humid smell of the underbrush. The natural order of the green forest. Peace from a sense of oneness.
Silent in a field by moonlight. Senses sharp in the night; ground still warm underfoot; wildflowers distorted by moonshadows; goosebump call of an owl; vision stretched by the dark. The peace of the grey night. Serenity through stillness.
Alone by a stream gurgling past. Skin alert in the cool dampness of the air; sunlight glinting on the water surface; slippery smoothness of stones between toes; nose tingling with clean air. The laughter of the silver stream. Spontaneous gaiety.
Still on a frozen pond on a frosty morning. Cold air sharp in the lungs; unearthly creak and groan of shifting ice; steely taste of snow; overwhelming hush of snow silence; mystery of shrouded shapes. The challenge of the blue cold. Satisfaction in overcoming.
Dwarfed at the foot of the still mountain. Security of the valley; crow calls ripping the stillness; majesty of the mountain; deceptive calmness of the slopes. The sleeping power of the brown earth. Humility through smallness.
Thankful on my knees in the evening. Comfort for a troubled heart; receptacle for unspoken fears; direction for an uncertain path; acceptance; throat choked with gratitude. Safe in His rainbow. Security through faith.
Held in your arms and your heart. Exhilaration, peace, serenity, laughter, satisfaction, humility, security. Trust. The gift of love. The gift of self.
GN: What brings energizing juice to my life?
Many co-workers to people a new work choice past mid-life. who daily stop at my work station, bringing their positive attitudes and smiling greetings, building the most upbeat work culture I have experienced in my life! Be a fountain, not a drain!
Five delightful grandchildren to provide presence and memories and photographs. My somewhat withdrawn and speech-delayed three-year old grandson wishing to speak to me on the phone with the request, “Me come to your house?” A place where he can choose a purple polka-dot dress from the tickle trunk and wear it with a wide brimmed hat trimmed with a red flower. Encourage movement beyond fixed parameters! My seven-year old out-of-town grandson promptly setting his Game Boy aside for some “Grandma Time” including, at his suggestion, a snuggly two-selves portrait – taken with my digital camera. Always make time for snuggling! My six-year-old granddaughter’s picture on my desk, taken in front of a bank of flowers at the Mendel Art Gallery, with her index fingers pulling her mouth wide, her tongue stuck out between them, and her eyes rolled back. How I resisted her desire to pose like that all afternoon on our walk, insisting that she smile properly, and how very grateful I am now that I finally gave in. Let go of control and live in the moment, accepting the surprises that life offers! My eight-year-old going-on-sixteen granddaughter conscientiously spreading popcorn (previously used as packing peanuts) in the back yard for the birds and rabbits or posing for a portrait while wearing a very tall silver hat with flowing fabric falling out of the top, that we crafted after a very enjoyable viewing of Paper Bag Princess at the Children’s Lunchtime Theatre. Allow the creative juices to flow! My one-year-old granddaughter, wearing a blue dress that Grandma bought for her, face framed by her pink summer hat at her birthday picnic, enthusiastically attacking her birthday cake with both hands, a wide swatch of green icing from the top of her nose to the bottom of her chin! Live in full colour and avoid being a beige person!
Four sisters to provide continuity who meet annually for a sister’s retreat-from-the-world-into-our-own-space weekend, whether at a mall or in a garden or in a spa,hanging out with each other, laughing until we cry at memories of our childhood, being silly and serious, sharing the life we share and making great memories that sustain when we are apart. Remember your roots!
One husband to provide daily skin time who gifts me with peace and acceptance on an ongoing and healing basis. Ahhh!
The sacred to provide a place of dynamic buoyancy who grounds and embraces and leads into greater balance. Rest!
Dan-D-Pak dehydrated strawberries with no preservatives or additives, kept in my desk for a delightful and healthy mid-morning pause! Bonus! In my mind, life is about great relationships, with some luscious strawberries thrown in for refreshing breaks!!
An Invitation: If you enjoyed these reflections, you’ll really enjoy my latest book, Press Pause & Press On – Bringing Balance & Perspective To Work & Life. Each chapter contains brief contributions from Pause e-zine readers that relate to the 64 concepts featured in the book.
See Press Pause & Press On details and order your copies at: http://www.pauseworks.com/shop/publications.php#presspause