A retrospective look at 2021’s pops of elation.

At times it feels like a lifetime ago. Another life, another me. At other times it still feels raw, like I’ve just left, just said my goodbyes. Yes. On 12 November, it will be a year since we arrived in Canada. I drive on the right-hand side of the road now and increasingly say ‘ya’ instead of ‘ja’ and ‘perfect’ instead of ‘cool.’ I call the loo the washroom and a serviette a napkin. I swim in lakes, not the sea, and fill my car up with gas, not petrol. I buy lottery tickets and still don’t win, so hey, not everything has changed.

Knox Mountain. Where I contemplated and jotted down my joy-starters.

Presumably, it’s natural that I’d become nostalgic at this milestone time. The melancholy for the familiarity of my ‘old life, especially the deep connections I had with friends, still periodically hits me in the solar plexus – birthdays, ladies’ nights, and not being there for friends going through hard times. However, these pangs occur less frequently. Time heals, as they say. I am fortunate that a lot of the writing work I do is positive in content – it realigns my thinking (which often goes astray) to focus on the GOOD that happens in life. This blog, for example, has been inspired by Celynn Morin, a Wellness Professional.

Celynn is one of the most exceptional clients I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Probably because developing her Wellbeing Clubhouse content feels like a process of enlightenment rather than work. She introduced me to the concept of ‘joy-starters.’  Her latest drive is 100 Days of Celebration (24 September marked 100 days until the new year). Each day you do or observe something that inspires curiosity, connection, or celebration in you – check out the details if you’re keen to participate at  celynnmorin/100-days. She also put me on to a podcast: Where Joy Hides and How to Find it. I love how it explains the difference between the pursuit of happiness (how good we feel over time) and joy (the spontaneous moments of joy that add up, creating happiness).

Due to my emigration milestone, I chose to take a retrospective stance and to consider some of the unanticipated joy-starters that crossed my path this past year. The ones that made me grin, snort-laugh, happy-cry, and pause during a year of profound personal adjustment. Turns out these moments were far more abundant than I realised. It’s been a cathartic, powerful exercise and one that I highly recommend doing. What were your unanticipated joy-starter moments? The good news, is you will almost certainly discover that there were far more than you realise – perhaps far outweighing the ‘bad’ events that came your way. Here are a few of the joy-starter moments from the last 12 months that I have identified:

1. Snow moments

Arriving at Kelowna International Airport to a winter wonderland. A soft landing, if you like. I had never been in snow. I felt honoured that snowflakes had chosen to fall early in the season, touching our upturned faces in a soothing ‘welcome’ gesture.

Snow continued to charm. One of my stand-out memories is our first drive to Big White when I became entranced by the monochromatic artistry that snow creates. Seeing in black and white for the first time in my life? Surreal.

Snow delights the senses! I loved the unanticipated squeak of fresh powder beneath my snow boots and the toffee-apple crack of ice underfoot. When standing at the top of a ski slope for the first time, I felt as if I had been transported to a land made up of magical, sparkly glitter that extended for as far as the eye could see.

Flowering Dogwood.

2. Flowery, leafy moments

The showy vibrancy of picture-perfect springtime tulips dotted around Kelowna and the burst of flowers in well-tended gardens continues to delight me on a daily basis!

Then there’s our magnificent Flowering Dogwood Tree. It only blooms for 3 – 4 weeks out of a year – what a privilege to watch it do its thing and to see passer-by’s react to its unique beauty.

I was handed a frail sunflower clipping as I walked by a wizened old man that was potting around his garden. Imagine my joy as I witnessed this little slip grow and multiply to well over 7-foot when replanted in our flower bed. It actually became a spectacle on our road, and it gave us great joy to cut off fresh flowers and hand them to delighted, wide-eyed, passer-by toddlers.

3. Driver’s license moment

At my tender age, I had to re-do my Learner’s (referred to as knowledge test here) and Driver’s license. After doing one lesson with, wait for it…The Young Drivers. I felt like I was 18 all over again, but despite extreme nerves, I passed my test! But only just. I was almost failed for driving too slowly. I did a happy dance of joy. Pure elation! What a freaking relief.

4. Friend moments

My first and SO thoughtful Canadian friend, Amy, bought me Marmite to remind me of home, Cherry Syrup (a Canadian staple), and wine from her favourite estate when we’d only been in Canada a few weeks. It helped to lift my spirits enormously. We met when her parcel was delivered to our door in error. Clearly a friendship that was meant to be.

My long-time school friend, Karen, who now lives in Vancouver, came to stay with us for my first-ever Canadian birthday. Imagine the joy of having an ‘old’ friend with you when you’re so far from ‘home’.

Meeting my kind-hearted, whimsical neighbour, Carly, seemed fateful. We share a love of yoga and all things zen, and the little moments and the little thoughtful gifts have meant so much to me.

AND our good friends (South African) have just moved to Kelowna! How lucky is that?

5. Furry and feathery moments

Watching the variety of little birds at our birdbath and feeder bought me endless joy. Anyone who knows me knows how birds feed my soul. Moms feeding their highly demanding chicks amused me and reminded me of being a young parent. And the innocent trust of the babies who hopped up close felt like a gift from heaven.

One of the little feather-puffball-chicks, that became a tame frequent visitor.

Then the other day, when riding at the Myra Canyon Trestles, my friends and I had an extraordinary interaction with the teeny chipmunks.

Did you realise that chipmunks are so delicately small? Too precious.

6. Microscopic home-garden/patio moments

My buddha. My fairy lights. My hanging baskets. My flower boxes. My bird feeder and bath. Our little stamp-sized sanctuary may be tiny but this oasis has bought an abundance of joy and serenity when I’ve needed it most.

7. Knox Mountain moments

Any exploring outdoors brings me joy, but Knox Mountain is practically my backyard. When I need to breathe and regroup, it is my impromptu go-to. Watching the Bald Eagles soar the other day is one of the highlights of my year. Not accidentally bumping into any bears is also a pretty joyous thing!

8. Lake moments

I don’t even know how to begin to describe the lake I dived into in Whistler. And that’s because its energy and beauty is indescribable. I have NEVER seen or ‘felt’ anything like it.

Then there was this moment – dancing on the jetty outside our first rental. There was music booming from the boats on the lake. Maybe it was the isolation that made me do it, but I broke out into spontaneous dance – I felt free, despite the then-intense COVID restrictions. If you’re not allowed on a dance floor – create one.

9. Toby moments

A Great Dane pup? I could go on forever, but essentially seeing first-time experiences through his innocent, effervescent eyes delivered a constant stream of elation.

Meeting, stroking, and snuggling him for the first time. Seeing him run on the beach and brave the lake for the first time. Seeing him interact with the babies at Karis Support Society. And last but not least, receiving the email congratulating Toby for making round 4 of the UBC BARK  program (Building Academic Retention Through K9s). He’s going to do great therapy work, I just know it!

But the simplest joy? Having him snuggle into my lap on the couch.

10. Doc Martin joy-starter moment

Mom and daughter. Say no more.

11. Okanagan Beach Club day

Alex drove like a bat out of hell. I gritted my teeth at the speed. BUT what supreme joy to play on the lake with this precious daughter of mine. One of the happiest moments of my life!

12. The Weeknd spontaneous ticket purchase moment

Yes! Alex and I are going to be ‘Blinded by the lights’. Mid Jan, we head to Rogers Arena in Vancouver for The Weeknd’s concert. Ah, man, it’s going to be epic!

So, Fall has arrived. Witnessing the summer blossoms begin to close and the gentle red, brown and orange ‘bruising’ begin to show on the edges of the leaves, brings no angst. Yes, the barmy, fun summer days have begun to retreat. And, yes, winter is approaching. However, because I know now that with the cold comes a unique beauty, I feel excited. I choose to respect that it is nature’s chance to rest and incubate the fresh life it so selflessly brings each and every Spring. We are lucky. All of us are lucky. Look back over your year and you will see that despite challenging times, life fizzes over with little, underground fountains that burst through the tough surface to bring us moments of unexpected joy. All we need to do is notice and practice acknowledging them more.

Let’s just coddiwomple

x Keryn