“There isn’t time – so brief is life – for bickerings, apologies, callings to account.  There is only time for loving – & but an instant, so to speak, for that.”       –  Mark Twain


It is that time of the year again, time for New Year resolutions.  People are indulging in retrospection and reevaluating life choices.  You may have big plans for 2018… healthy beginnings, a better version of yourself, being the best you can be.  Your list of important lifestyle changes you want to make may include losing weight, becoming more active, eating healthier foods, decluttering your space, starting a yoga class, reading more, stopping procrastination and reducing stress.  Any of these changes could be an important boost to your lifestyle.

We moved in 2017.  It is the perfect opportunity to “declutter”.  And that was the intention we set.  I picked up the book Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It has gained prominence on my nightstand, though I do not follow it to a T.   The premise I used was based on the degree to which you want to declutter by identifying items and “things” that are important to you, which is an interesting exercise.  Is the item necessary? Does the item bring you joy? If not, it may be time for it to go.  What we have found is that our home has less “stuff”, and that there is a calm mindset that follows.  Plus, you have the joy in “paying it forward”, knowing that someone else may truly need and be able to use what you do not.

So, I found that the “joy” principal was something I was seeking in other parts of my life.  What is it that truly brings you joy?  Maybe now is a good time to stop and think about it.

Psychiatrist Dr. Robert Waldinger, has an amazing TED Talk titled “What Makes a Good Life?”  Dr. Waldinger is a Clinical Professor at Harvard Medical School and directs the Harvard Study of Adult Development.  At 75 years it is one of the longest running studies of adult life ever done. I encourage you to take the time to listen to this talk, and the message from this study is quite simple.  Good relationships keep us healthy and happy.  Being more socially connected is very good for our overall health and well-being.  Delving into this study has been insightful and beneficial to my personal and professional life.

It is an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to practice as a faith community nurse in my community.  My position involves being in multiple health ministry sites where I have the opportunity to sit with individuals, listen to their stories and provide supportive measures to address needs.  I have learned so much from each person I encounter.  The needs of those that are homeless, underserved and mentally ill are immense.  Services are often unavailable, or short of meeting their specific needs.  But the consistent thread in the care our health ministries provides is making connections.  Those connections may be between me and the individual, or making connections to address their physical, emotional or spiritual health and well –being.

The last question on our patient record is:  If you could ask for anything for your well-being that would put your heart at peace, what would it be?  You may think that a homeless person might ask for “things”.  But I have found that people ask for healing in relationships, for connections with others, for forgiveness from those they have hurt, bibles and prayer.  Their loneliness and isolation is apparent, effecting every aspect of their lives, health and happiness.

I challenge you as we begin 2018, to look at a spiritual or ministry resolution this year too.  What brings you joy in your spiritual life? How could you share that in your ministry? What innovative program have you explored but not implemented?  Is there a person you might want to share a meal with?  What about seeking a new and unique volunteer opportunity?  Maybe become a mentor?  The possibilities are endless for seeking ways to energize your spiritual self and make more meaningful connections along the way.

Let this be the year that you choose to elevate the joy you find on your life journey with everyone you touch.  Engage others, listen to their stories. Make connections by being present, aware, focused, and accepting.  With practice  and patience you will learn to find more joy in all things along the way.  Wishing you a HAPPY, HEALTHY and JOY FILLED 2018!