More often

It was the best of times, soon to be the worst of times. Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Septemer 6, 2012

It was the best of times, very soon to be the worst of times.
Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, September 6, 2012

“Certainly there are good and bad times, but our mood changes more often than our fortune.”Jules Renard

Not only that, but we can have bad moods during good times, and good moods during bad times. Have you ever wondered how this could be? I know I do.

There are similar mysteries in life. I remember, after we had two young children, I wondered how I could have ever thought myself busy before– but I know that I often did. I sometimes used to wonder why I ever thought I had any burdens in life before we dealt with the worries and sorrows related to Matt’s disabilities– but I did. I used to think I needed to lose weight when I weighed fifteen pounds less than I do now. On and on it goes.

For all the ups and downs of my life, my moods have remained remarkably the same; good sometimes, and bad sometimes.  I’m grateful and joyful and blessed. I also feel sorry for myself more often than I care to admit.

It seems too simple to be true, but joy isn’t primarily about the external situation. You can choose to be happy in any circumstances, or for that matter, unhappy in any circumstances. I’m not saying that we don’t ever get hit with great loss, or even tragedy. I know that we sometimes need to grieve, or feel lonely or worried or sad. It’s part of being human.

I don’t live in la-la land, and though my glasses may be a bit rose colored, I can see 20/20 through them. But a joyful heart is a choice, and I choose it as often as I am able. If you are reading this blog, chances are you do too.

So if today is a good day for you, send me some happy! What is putting a smile on your face today?

If it’s not a good day, imagine yourself in the photo above, enjoying a gorgeous autumn day in New England. Or imagine your own idea of a fabulous afternoon, and then come as close as you can to creating it right where you are.

Our moods are going to change. That’s a fact. But we can spend way more of our lives in a good mood if we learn to exit quickly when end up in a bad one. What are your most reliable exit strategies?


  1. Ann

    Today is a good day! My husband is almost completely recovered from his surgery on August 12! So I am no longer “tired and scared” as I wrote in my last post…at least not today. Today he is cooking steaks on the grill and we are appreciating our life together.
    Julia, thank you again for your words of comfort to me. Hope you and Jeff can find moments of cheer today, together

    • Ann, thanks so much for sharing this encouraging news! I’m happy to know your husband is doing so well — grilling out, yet! Wonderful. We are doing OK. Just thankful for each and every day. Thanks for being here with us.

  2. Sheila

    Good Monday morning, my friend. ⛈☔️ When the thunder is offshore, it rumbles it’s own tune and that’s what I’m hearing now. My gift this morning is that it’s raining, knowing that Bill is still sleeping at 8:00, and the only work we face is what we create! My daily thanksgiving comes from living by the ocean. I told myself many years ago to never take that for granted! The Verandah’s that we’ve shared in recent years have been such a “go to” for me, as we meet there often, across the miles! Out on the porch…. I’ll race you! ☕️

    • Sheila, I REALLY needed that Verandah last night; so glad you were there for me. BTW I just noticed that Cunard (the cruise liner) spells Verandah with an “H” – maybe that’s where I got it? We’ve had a rainy couple of days here too. I had planned to work outside, but the rain is cozy and I’m planning to do lots of sleeping tonight, too. Isn’t retirement a blessing? Meet you outside tomorrow morning with a cuppa — or indoors if it’s still raining! 🙂

  3. Cherie

    Julia, sweet southern sister, I am sending you much LOVE AND JOY today and always! My morning walk was such a good time. I am counting my blessings! Ron’s son and step son are reconciled due to his efforts and we are drawing closer to them. His depression is so much better!! Life is good in this moment.

    I thank you so much for this special place to come each week and share our ups and downs! Love to you and the family!

    Love and Light. Cherie

    • Cherie, it makes me feel so happy to know that all is going well with you! I’m glad Ron and his step son are back in touch. I appreciate your being here with us to share ups and downs. Sharing really does double our joys and divide our griefs, as the old saying goes. Love and light to you and yours! I will continue to keep you in my prayers as I know you do for us. ❤

  4. While walking Via Delorosa, Jesus fell three times. The falls were not so important, nor unexpected, due to the scourging and beatings. But what truly matters was that each time He fell, he got up again.
    That is our lesson. That we can choose to lie there or get up. Or, as your said, choose to be happy or not, no matter the circumstance.

    • Alan, just thinking that he could and did still get up despite knowing what he was facing is really amazing, isn’t it? He must have had his heart on the long term outcome, and that’s yet another example he set for us. Eternity begins here and now and it’s never too early to celebrate the joy. Thanks for being here with faith and inspiration!

  5. Jack

    Early on in my professional career, I had a corporate psychologist tell my superiors that “intense emotional experiences are vital for Jack.” At the time, I thought it was a roundabout compliment, but I’ve come to understand how true (and insidious) was that insight. My life has been characterized mostly by joy, with the usual smattering of genuine sorrows and setbacks. My psyche, on the other hand, careens to and fro, all out of proportion to the experience, even in my older age. I’ve learned to handle the pendulum swings of the emotion, understanding now that how I feel in the moment will change, reset, seek its level with the passing of a little time, and that not every peak or valley need find voice. But sometimes I forget!

    • Hmm, not sure I like that psychologist’s remark. It sounds a little condescending, but whatever — you did well to take it as a compliment. Nothing wrong with embracing the highs and lows of emotion, as long as you learn to ride the waves. Daddy used to be fond of reminding us that “nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems at the time.” But we can know that to be true and still be sensitive to the ups and downs. Some of us are just wired to over-react, I think. But that’s not totally a bad thing. (Except maybe if you play poker and can’t keep a straight face.) 😀 Enthusiasm brings great energy to the person experiencing it, and usually to those around him too. So I’m sure there are people who enjoy having your spirit there to keep things lively.

  6. It was a bad one for me. I was in a really terrible mood. Some student triggered it but I was unhappy because I chose to be so.At times I am horribly short tempered, only to regret it soon. I am in the process of analysing the situation in a more peaceful mood this evening. Thank you Julia, for this post which has helped me calm down a bit.

    • Oh, no! I hate to hear that you had a bad day. Shame on the mean student. I totally get it about being short-tempered. I’m a total hothead. Sometimes we just need some quiet time to think it over and soothe our frustration. I’m happy if my post helped you!

  7. I try hard to live by the Dalai Lamas words: “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” It’s not always easy but it’s a goal to strive for. Our sweet old Slinky Malinki died last Monday, and I sobbed and sobbed. She brought joy to my days. I find peace spending time outdoors in the garden, hiking in nature or simply walking where I can. I also find solace in keeping busy and occupied with the day to day of life. Somehow that’s comforting.

    I’m glad to read that you are doing “okay”. Sending love across the waves to you, Jeff and Matt.

    • Oh, Alys, I am SO sorry! I just mailed you a little note a couple of days ago (to thank you for the delightful gift you sent) but didn’t know about Slinky. I am so sad for you because I know how much I always missed our sweet kitties when they died. I do think it helps to immerse oneself in the household tasks. Something about getting little chores out of the way is very therapeutic, as is the actual work itself. Life for us has taken another crazy turn. Jeff’s in the hospital (and Walter Reed STILL does not have WiFi!) so I’m catching up when I can get to a hot spot or (as this afternoon) at home catching up on laundry and household stuff. We should know more tomorrow about the most recent PET scan as well as the CAT scan they are doing today to get more info on his lung situation. They are clobbering him with antibiotics which made him feel terrible at first, but after nearly two days on oxygen he does feel a little better today. I’ll keep you posted as I can.

      Sorry again about sweet Slinky. I hope the memories of her presence bring you great comfort in this lovely season. Whenever I see a pumpkin I think of you! Sending love and warm thoughts. ❤

      • Julia, I look forward to receiving your note by mail, and appreciate your newsy reply, above. I’m sorry to hear that Jeff is back in the hospital and struggling to breathe. That must be exhausting for him and for you. I will await further news once the tests are in. Please know I’m holding all of you in my heart. Thank you for your kind words about Slinky. Animal lovers understand the loss of those special four-legged creatures.

        • Alys, I hope that the memories of Slinky’s company are bringing you much comfort right now. Thanks for your kind presence here and in so many other little ways through our challenges. Your friendship is a treasure. ❤

          • Thank you, Julia. We’re all so happy that you and Laurie will have a chance to connect in person this week. She’ll be carrying hugs from all of us. xo

            • It was so much fun– too brief, just like her last visit, but Laurie can pack enormous sunshine into just a few minutes, can’t she? I was so glad she and Amy got to meet each other.

  8. I believe it is fitting on our mother’s birthday, you quote this truism of our Dad (in your reply to Jack’s poignant comment). I loved Dad’s oft-repeated observation: and many times it had to do with the vicissitudes he and Mom were facing.

    • Yes, I believe Daddy really did live that motto out. One of the things that amazes me most, looking back, is how seldom he lost patience with me (or anyone else, as far as I could see) or freaked out about circumstances, no matter what was going on. I know he must have worried a lot but even though his bravado may have been a cover many times, to a child it is very reassuring. Or to an adult daughter, for that matter. 🙂

      • Our “Daddy” would be so proud of you continuing to count your blessings!

        • Thank you. With a Daddy like ours, counting blessings is a natural lifelong habit.

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