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I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, April 21, 2017

A box of JOY

Did you ever have a "pen-pal"?  There was something magical 
to me about getting mail from someone I had never met.
I loved the exchange, the doors of curiosity that were opened, and
the almost-weekly treat of a new story to read.

Those were the days of "snail mail" and as much as we maligned the postal service I could hardly wait til he came each just never knew what might land on your doorstep.  So it was with that same giddy enthusiasm I read about Anne Butera's "Joy Exchange" idea.  You can read here how she issued an invitation; it was only minutes before I signed up.  Yeah, it was partly selfish: I do like receiving surprises in the mail (Amazon is rarely a surprise).  But I also thought it would be a neat way to connect to other "makers."

Anne planned it by leapfrogging the assignments.  I would send to someone who sent to someone else.  In other words, at the least you would have contact with two people.  So when I got my name I contacted her to send a little pre-joy joy and let her know her package would be on its way shortly.

I made a little card she would find when she opened the box, I didn't want
her to miss any of the goodies packed inside.

Since my field is mainly painting I decided to include a small painting of the sunrise
from my bedroom windows (sunrises are pretty joyful, no?) and then
threw in some other doodads just for fun: handmade cards, fire starters,
bookmarks and so on.

So just like the child who loved pen-pals I had my eye on the mail box for a couple of days...excited, curious and intrigued.  With 40 participants we were told our joy could come from one of either 16 states or 7 countries.  Would my box offer a trip to the atlas?  no was not long before I received a gracious email from the recipient of my box.  Boy, that made me feel good, even joyful.

So one week passed with nothing in my mailbox.  Oh well, anticipation is part of the fun, right?

Hmmm, two weeks went by and I quit looking for the postman.  Disappointed, I consoled myself with the thought that the bigger lesson here was to learn the joy of giving joy. That finding happiness in preparing and gifting should (should) provide all that was needed for JOY in capital letters.  Still. Still...

OK by week three I was totally convinced, and convicted, that I had learned the lesson of giving and it had NOTHING to do with receiving or exchanging.  So I began to spew out one-way joy everywhere I could: extra eye contact and chatter with my waiters, quips at the hardware checkout, love at the gas station when I got my soda and even longer, personal exchanges at the grocery checkout.  I was a rolling box of JOY and it felt kinda nice.  This was cool.

And then one day....when all expectation had vanished:

a small package with a ton of lovely stamps appeared in my mail box... from Algeria!

it was wrapped like a spring basket, all colorful and whimsical...

and a dose of joy emerged: a tiny handmade journal and 3 gift tags all embellished with delicate, hand crocheted flowers..... but along with the gifts was no identification, not a name, not a story, not even an email address so that I could thank this crafter for taking the time to send me her offering.  She sought nothing in return from me....the true essence of giving.  so wow.

Thanks Anne Butera for this timely spring "devotional."  I not only enjoyed the exchange but it made me think about numerous things.  And as I use my gift tags and write in my new little book, I will also be mindful that the joy we spread with absolutely no thought of a kick back should be its own reward.

Joy Fully Yours,

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