Create Joy

Photo by Joshua Knipfer

I had wanted to go to the beach. 2019 had had its ups and downs, but we were set for 2020 to be a fantastic year, we haven’t taken a proper vacation in a while, and so I had decided in December of 2019 that I wanted to spend New Year’s Day of 2021 somewhere on a beach – preferably tropical. Josh thoroughly dislikes the beach and abhors all things sand-related, so I fully acknowledge that this fantasy of beachy bliss was not super realistic.

Then 2020 came round, and like many others I spent the vast majority of it at home. We celebrated holidays with family via video conference of different sorts, finding our own unique ways to make things special. We created really enjoyable times together, and while not what we initially envisioned, we found ways to make our times truly lovely.

Initially I was going to be spending New Year’s Day by myself, but thanks to Mother Nature and Father Time, we got snow AND ice and I got my wish of starting 2021 safely at home creating joy and laughter WITH Josh. I was totally stoked as I padded out to chirpily start coffee and waffles (the breakfast of Champions, people!) and get both the celebration and the year started. I skritched the Kitten, I got hugs from the Dog and Josh, and even though we were not on a beach anywhere tropical, I was in that snuggly place of joyous gratitude that comes with being happy in the moment.

After lunch, we went out to build a snowsomething. Anyone can build a snowman, and we wanted to do something different. With buckets and pails, shovel and spade, we headed out to the front side yard to begin our non-beachy adventure. We opted initially for a snow fort. YES! An epic snow fort, perfect for snowball fun! We packed buckets with snow, plunked them down in a row, and were in the process of building up when we realised we had effectively built a wall in front of our gate. Not the message we were intending, honestly. We live in a wonderfully diverse neighbourhood, 2020 brought a lot of things up to the surface for awareness and the beginning of healing, and the last thing we wanted was an accidental tone-deaf reminder or visual step backwards…so we stopped for a regroup. We’d been so excited about the idea of an epic snow fort – the details like hidy windows for spying, creating brickwork and turrets – we’d forgotten about location!

We stood back and surveyed our partially carved bricks, the overall shape, and opted to change it to a fun castle. We made a Super Mario Brothers Bowser Castle! Red bricks, multiple layers, carved out and painted windows, goofy digital block bushes, and of course a sculpted Mario. Our friend Mario passed on in 2020, and so the idea of a small homage to him also added to the fun as we bounced around saying “MAH-dee-oh!” like the video game. We got really into it – food colouring in water sprayed on worked for large area painting, and then for smaller areas we used non-toxic paint thinned down with water applied with brushes. We had a total blast coming up with ideas, making adaptations, approaching and overcoming challenges as we created our own little world in the snow. I decided it was fitting: 2020 had very much felt like a Bowser castle, so what better way to start 2021 than by seeing it implode and fall down with sunlight and the progress into 2021? PERFECT!

Then something unexpected happened: a kid shrieked from their yard across the street that their Dad had to "come see it." I heard a car slowly driving by in the snow and looked up to see the driver leaning back while the passenger leaned forward to grab photos. They both waved. Other drivers waved, snapped pics, gave thumbs up, and honked their way by – some of them coming back for a different angle and more photos. A guy walking up the hill called out that it was “really spectacular!” Josh and I looked at each other and grinned. We'd become "those" neighbours - you know, the goofy fun-loving neighbours flinging joy out into the world with artistic glee. We finished up, grabbed pics of our own, and went in to create another epic masterpiece: dinner.

Josh sent the pictures to our parents and his mother told me that his grandmother used to say that whatever you do on New Year’s Day foreshadows your year. I’ll take it! We hung out having a grand adventure, facing and creatively overcoming challenges as they arose, with joy, laughter, love and fun – and that rippled out beyond us to bring joy to others.

What on Earth does this have with jewelry? Everything and nothing.

I’m an artist who makes jewelry, which is something we use to adorn, accentuate, beautify, share messages, and bring joy to ourselves and others. First and foremost, though, I’m a human. I’m a human trying to human in my best way. There is a quote about doing things that make you feel alive because the world needs more people who are alive. There is another quote about being the change you want to see in the world, and yet another about committing random acts of kindness and beauty. (See below for quote infos) I feel like all of these important. When we feel alive and inspired by what we are doing, that energy spreads. We inspire others, we bring joy and needed change, and that helps beautify the world. It's not a reckless abandon - there is definitely a focus to it, and it radiates out. And on the off chance that Josh’s grandmother is correct and whatever you do on the first day of the year colours the rest of your year, well I will gladly take co-creating with loved ones and friends, having fun, being creative, overcoming challenges, and spreading joy out into the world.

Info on quotes mentioned in post:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~Howard Thurman

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~attributed to Gandhi (record of actual quotes this potentially was condensed from vary, but there is not a physical record of him saying this exact phrase, which I learned this morning as I was writing this post.)

Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” ~ Anne Herbert (possibly left on a diner's place mat!)