Lesson One: Prioritize the Joy in Big and Small Ways

Lesson One: Prioritize the Joy in Big and Small Ways January 8, 2013
My son is a living joy

Last year was the first year since I was 7 years old that I didn’t ski at all.  The timing of my pregnancy was such that I was out for the entire season.  I feel as though the Lord is being very kind to me right now, because that baby is so easy that we can work skiing around him.  My daughter can push his stoller around the lodge while I teach his big brother, a sitter can happily keep him at home while I get in some runs of my own.  It is a miraculous gift to have an easy baby.  Today he even spent half the day in the Ergo while I walked up and down the beginner area coaching Jimmy through his turns.

Anyway, back to the topic, which is how this sabbatical is teaching me to prioritize JOY.

I had to be pretty willful about the things that we would miss while we are here.  I couldn’t do this every year, but this year I have drawn a line and said that this is my highest priority.  I am coming home 3 times, each for just a day, and to me that is really too many, but they cannot be avoided.  Otherwise, I cancelled everything.  That is one way to prioritize joy – we have to make room for it in our schedules!  Swim practice and ballet and doctors appointments and returning emails all have their place, but I think it is actually really healthy to say, from time to time, I am on vacation and I am not doing that.  You don’t even have to go away, you could just clear the family calendar for one week (one day!) and do the things around town that give you joy.  Actually, I first learned this in the fall when, in the depths of a postpartum meltdown, I dropped everything and spent the day taking pictures of my children at the apple farm.  Those pictures still recharge me.

Second, since I am in vacation mode, I am taking more joy in the everyday things.  If you go to Disney World, even when you are giving your kids a bath in the hotel, you try to make it part of the fun, be present and joyful while doing it.  That was how I treated bath time tonight.  It was not a chore, it was a fun time to be with my little boys, scrub them up and listen to their silly games.  Look how cute Teddy was in his towel after his bath!  On vacation, I take pictures of everything, because I want to treasure all the little moments.  I need to get back to doing that in life!  Treasure the moments, be present, be fun, enjoy it!

Third, I am remembering that it is easier for me to be joyful (and patient) with the children because I am getting a little bit of what I need every day. When we get home, I hope to figure out the best way to make this happen.  Maybe it is making time for a walk or bike ride in the park, sometimes with children along and sometimes alone.  I need exercise and nature every day.  When I have a sitter and I get errands or appointments done, that doesn’t lift my soul.  When I have a sitter and I go to social stuff, that is fun but for me it is also kind of draining.  Quiet time with nature charges me up so that I can be open to the grace of each day.


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  • AB

    This is very inspiring! After reading your post yesterday, I was wondering about your thoughts on skiing during pregnancy and nursing. With six pregnancies, it’s amazing that you’ve only missed one ski season. I’d love to hear how you’ve made that work, if you don’t mind sharing.

  • I didn’t time my pregnancies to avoid the ski season, but it has sort of worked out that way — until my youngest, who was born last June, all of my children were born in September or December, so I could ski a little bit in the season before I was pregnant and then ski when I was post partum.

    The year that my twins were born, my husband and I got $100 student weekday passes to Wintergreen in Virginia. We went one day a week with another family and usually traded off in the lodge with the kids.

    I chose not to ski when I was pregnant, but I know other people who stick to easier trails and ski slowly. To me, it never seemed worth the risk.

    With a nursing baby, I have had a lot of ski years where my husband and I have traded off in the lodge, I’d take a few runs, then come in to nurse, he would ski, etc. This time around, my baby takes a bottle from time to time, so we have been doing that. I started giving him a bottle because I knew that while working I couldn’t stop to nurse.

  • Juris Mater

    Love this. For me, it’s running, and we have a sitter come 3 weekdays mid-day so I can run and shower uninterrupted without having to worry about squeezing it in before kids wake up, at nap time, because that often fails when I’m factoring in 5 moving parts.

    While we’re on the topic, how do you feel about skiing/running/etc as prayer? I do say a rosary while running, but that’s not exactly what I mean. My moments of greatest clarity and closest to God are almost always while I’m running. In Chariots of Fire, the protagonist runner has the best quote: “God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” Lord knows I’m no theologian or spiritual doctor, but I think outdoor exercise may be prayerful in itself, even if I’m not doing any formal or mental prayer while I run. My footfall on the earth beneath me is a prayer of gratitude and praise for God’s creation, my health, and an experience of Him.

  • maryalice

    The exhilaration of it is totally prayerful for me, especially if I can drag my butt out of bed to be there in the early morning. I don’t usually do any form of recited prayer, but I do try to remember to put myself in the presence of God, to invite Him to be with me, and then I treat it as my prayer time. Insights come about, and big decisions are sometimes made. I am such an over-thinker, that it actually helps my prayer to have my body engaged so that I am just looser and more open to inspiration. When I try to pray sitting alone in my bedroom, it is very hard for me to quiet my brain, but when I am doing physical activity, this is not a problem.