On Daily Joy and Fresh Perspectives

by Abby on February 23, 2015

Last week I read a blog post that really spoke to me. It was about feeling stuck, in writing and in life. It’s about broken washing machines and insomnia and other everyday inconveniences and frustrations that the author called “puzzles we have to figure out in order to get to and maintain our Daily Joy.”

Winter has hit me hard this year, and that daily joy can be tough to find. My life is full of everyday frustrations, from school delays and leaking chimneys to how to rekindle my love of blogging when I don’t feel like I have much to say. I’ve made it an active daily practice to try to break out of this seasonal rut. I force myself to go outside and walk the dog, go to the gym, go to bed early.

Travel has always been a way I escape and regroup, but now is not a good time. I did, however, gain some of the same benefits when my blogging buddy Angie came to visit me this past weekend. You may recall that I visited her last May when she launched the Listen to Your Mother show where she lives. Charleston welcomed me with blooming jasmine, warm breezes, and sparkling water views. Baltimore welcomed her with single-digit temperatures, a blizzard, and knee-deep slush. Charm City, indeed.

Baltimore blizzard

While I didn’t exactly get away, I did get a break from the weekend grind of errands and entertaining children. Unexpectedly, I also got a fresh perspective of my husband and kids by seeing them through someone else’s eyes. Rather than screen-obsessed mess-makers, I was able to see them for who they really are – fun, welcoming people who are authentically, endearingly themselves, whether sword-fighting at the dinner table or pulling over to help push a car out of a snowbank. They’re not so bad, these guys I live with.

Family dinner

At other times in my life, I gained a new outlook by traveling to tropical beaches and soaking up culture in European cities. These days, I enjoy weekend road trips with the fam and the occasional overnight getaway with friends or the hubs. I would not turn down a trip to the hot springs in Costa Rica where I honeymooned, but I have come to recognize that vacation is as much about a state of mind as a stately setting.

It may not be possible to live your life like you’re always on vacation. But I do think that subtle shifts and tiny tweaks can help us take steps in that direction.

My husband and I once spent a relaxing night at a local hotel when my in-laws were in town to watch the kids. I liked the hotel’s bedding so much I checked the label (West Elm!) and bought it for my own bed at home. For another trip, I made a mix CD that I keep in the car. Whenever I play it, it takes me back to that weekend. A scented candle, a snapshot, a visit from a friend – can these things really help us maintain that vacation state of mind and rediscover our daily joy? I say yes.


Olfactory memories are often the most powerful. I haven’t found a scented candle that captures that Charleston jasmine, but these are pretty darn delicious-smelling:

This candle from Anthropologie smells amazing.

So does this clean and fresh-scented candle from Stella & Dot.

So do these Rewined candles, made from recycled wine bottles (made in Charleston, sold at Trohv in Baltimore).

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie Mizzell February 24, 2015 at 7:07 am

That’s exactly how I saw your family! Welcoming and endearing. I think the contrast in weather was perfect actually. 🙂


Lou Mello February 24, 2015 at 9:51 am

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall listening to you and Angie chat about life.


Abby February 24, 2015 at 10:58 am

Funny you say that, Lou. Exciting things in the works… stay tuned!


Sarah February 24, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Screen-obsessed mess-makers! Did you abduct my boys? 😉
Good to hear your voice! Thanks for the smile. Also living in the frozen tundra known as Chicago. Just saw on the news feed: high for today 29, tomorrow 21, Thursday– 15. It always just helps me to know I’m not in the boat alone. We’re pushing ahead despite the tantrums, low energy, and low temperatures. A friend recommended a video recently online called 365 grateful and I rea enjoyed it. If you’ve got a minute (ha!) google it. Hang in there.


Abby February 24, 2015 at 2:09 pm

Thanks, Sarah! I will check that out. You’re so right – having Angie here and realizing we’re going through the same stuff definitely made it more bearable. Poor you in Chicago! I’m sending you warm thoughts from 23-degree Baltimore. 🙂


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