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Wheee-ee-ee! Savoring each moment, finding those springtime joys

By Brenda Riojas, I Start Wondering Columnist

When was the last time you expressed sounds of jubilation? Or delighted while you immersed yourself in a creative project, savoring every moment?

Photo by Brenda Riojas
Photo by Brenda Riojas

No matter what he attempts, my grandson Aquinas does it with gusto y con gusto. His energy and joy are contagious, from the way he dances in place with delight as he eats a delicious treat, how he takes anything that looks like a microphone to sing at full voice, to his trail of “Wheee-ee-ee” when on a swing. 

In this early toddler stage, each day presents him with something new to discover and learn. You can see his facial expressions as he studies what’s before him, and then his delight as he engages in each task.

There is much we can learn from a child. My grandson’s zest for each new experience and boldness inspire me. The word “gusto” sums up a valuable lesson from my grandson as I apply both the English and Spanish meanings to my own response to each day –– do everything with gusto (vigorous enjoyment) and con gusto (with pleasure).

Getting Out of the Box

It’s easy at times to fall into the trap of routine, to forget to make room for our creativity.

During a recent retreat, Father Flavio Bravo, a Jesuit priest serving in Brownsville, guided us through the Daily Examen, a practice of reviewing your day created by St. Ignatius of Loyola. He prompted us, “Think about the rhythm of your day.” 

Photo by Brenda Riojas
Photo by Brenda Riojas

My rhythm up to that point, just before I injured my ankle, was one of constant motion. It took a fall to slow me down. It forced me to step back. St. Francis de Sales said, “We must sometimes take a step backward in order to better spring forward.” While recovering from my injury--this step backward from moving as if driving without brakes--opened time for something else. It allowed me to spring forward with writing I had been putting aside. 

Examining the rhythm of the day spiritually, emotionally, and physically can give us an insight into the areas of our lives that need attention. We can consider if our cadence and tempo are off balance. We can ask ourselves, what do we need to step back from so that we can create space for something else, even if that something else is time to be present in the moment, to delight in what we are doing? This requires that we ask, are we delighting in what we are doing?

I find it healthy these days to step away from work and go outdoors. Each week I try to take a short hike, spending a few minutes in nature. Observing the early shoots of green hinting at spring fills me with delight. The sight of the yellow bursts on the Huisache trees (Sweet Acacia) makes me want to shout “Wheee-ee-ee!” just as do the Texas wildflowers already spreading springtime joy.

Finding a Sense of Flow

We can find joy, too, in our creative work, particularly when we are in a state of flow, completely immersed in the task before us.

In his book, “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience,” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi notes, 

“… the best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times — ... The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen. For a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the last block on a tower she has built, higher than any she has built so far; for a swimmer, it could be trying to beat his own record; for a violinist, mastering an intricate musical passage. For each person, there are thousands of opportunities, and challenges to expand ourselves.”

How do you make flow happen? What are your passion projects? And how much time are you devoting to them? Take a step back and “Think about the rhythm of your day.” Also, be intentional. Make a list of things you can do to find joy in your day.

Here are some ideas.

Ideas in making Joyful moments

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