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Get your joy back in 2022

Mindy Ward crooked letters hanging on the wall spelling out the word JOY
PUT IT BACK: 2022 will be the year that I find my “why” in living out joy every day. It will not be easy. It will take practice. But I will right my “y” in my own joy journey.
End-of-year struggles caused my “why to choose joy” to slip.

I turned the corner of my stairs and started across the dining room when I noticed the “y” on the wall was slanted, a tick off and barely hanging on. It was the last letter in my holiday decoration spelling out “joy.” I stood back and laughed. It reflected how my 2021 ended — the why in my joy slipped.

Generally, I consider myself an upbeat, happy person, someone who finds the joy in everyday life. But to be honest, the end of 2021 was hard.

Hard times around

If you are like me, I was excited to return to normal, in-person farm meetings in November. I reconnected with farmers and researchers and gained so much insight — a little too much. I found myself bogged down by information that I could not turn around quickly, and I was overwhelmed. My joy for the job, my joy for writing, was off.

Within that stress came news that a family friend, from our sheep family, passed away unexpectedly. A man who invested his time and effort into kids, causing them to excel and bringing them joy. Attending this funeral of a husband, father and grandfather — hugging his children who our daughters have grown up with in the show ring — proved so difficult. It burdened my soul and caused my heart to ache.

It wasn’t until 12 days before Christmas that I mustered up the resolve to at least put up the tree and a few decorations, including the letters J-O-Y.

Change can happen

As I sat at the dining room table looking at the word I did not care to fix, I was reminded of a passage I read just a week earlier. It was the story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers, and only one coming back to give thanks and express joy in healing. Yup, it smacked me right in the face — I was the nine!

So often, I get bogged down in my own angst, I forget to see the joy around me. Worse, I’m not even grateful.

The fact that I can return to meeting farmers face-to-face. Joy. That researchers are still working on ways to make farm operations more profitable. Joy. I have a job. Joy. That I can share what I have learned through writing. Joy. You see, my focus was wrong. I was not grateful.

Death is always difficult to comprehend. That I’m encouraged to have a time to mourn. Joy. That I knew a man who changed so many lives. Joy. That I know his sons will care for their mother. Joy. That I know his wife is strong enough to be all the grandparent her grandkids need. Joy. That his sons will continue his legacy. Joy. But honestly, I’m still working on being grateful after a friend’s death. Simply, it is hard, but it is possible when we find our why.

So, why choose joy? For me the answer to that is simple: I want to be the one. I want to be the light in the world.

We are surrounded by so many with negative thoughts and attitudes. Lamenting on these things so long, we forget to live with joy. We are ungrateful for what has been given — whether large or small, difficult or hard, painful or wonderful.

We forget there is a purpose for everything, and we may not yet know it. But we must find the peace in the process, and better yet, share it with others and be grateful for the opportunity to do so.

I will not be the nine in 2022. I hope you will join me in righting your “y” in the coming year. Wake up grateful every day. Pursue ways to share joy. Be the one.

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