Celebrate Joy Day: June 27th
Announcing a new special day to celebrate the joyful things in life
by Lucy Baum
In a world of distraction, bad news, and an endless list of obligations, carving time for joy is now a must for our well-being. Let’s make it a date.
Despite the pandemic having kept us home in large part over the course of the last year and a half, most of us are busier than ever. Our working environments may have shifted to home, where there is also a measure of child care and schooling taking place, on top of our typical daily home activities. The dishes piling on the counter and piles of laundry stare accusingly at you all day long, where before you may have shut the door on the mess on your way to pick up a Starbucks before heading to the office and forgetting about it all for a least a little while!
Even before the pandemic we were time-starved and harried with work, home obligations, kid’s activities, community, friends and family. It seemed impossible to schedule that dentist appointment, do the groceries, plan a week’s worth of healthy dinners, give quality attention to the kids and care for senior parents, all while trying to find a sliver of time to yourself to exercise or read a book.
As a mom of one young teen, I describe my own life in the paragraphs above, and that’s just with one child. Juggling part-time work in non-profit, a career as a photographer and keeping up with all else, there seemed fewer and fewer opportunities for self-care and true connection and time for family. Even when we were all home! Phone calls from my mom in St. Catharines felt they always came at a time I was otherwise occupied. Scheduling time to visit – a 7-hour drive, was difficult – although we brought her home for Christmas and that was wonderful. Then came the worry of her being far away as the pandemic hit – how could she, with a bad hip and a bad heart, manage to even do groceries when she would be so vulnerable to COVID? The stress mounted. And then it all evaporated in an instant when her Cardiologist called my sister, that she had missed her appointment. After asking a neighbour to look in on her, the dreaded phone call came. She had fallen in her apartment and had hit her head. And then a new journey began; one that erased all the seemingly other urgent things in my life.
We ironically ended up taking several trips to help manage her recovery – somehow the time was magically found when it needed to be. With significant cognitive impairment, we prepared ourselves that she would never truly return to her former self. We had to vacate her apartment and moved her to a care home in Cornwall, still in Ontario but only an hour’s drive from Montreal.
My relationship changed with her significantly. Any troubles of our sometimes-rocky relationship disappeared, and all was left was love. Her cognitive impairment caused her to be more blissful – she found joy asking us to buy candy for the grandchildren, seeing pictures of the kids, and having a good cup of coffee at Timmies (that she complained about at the care home!). We visited frequently when the weather permitted, and because we couldn’t enter the premises, had iPad conversations when snow came, or we brought her to the mall, all of us masked.
As a child living in Poland in WW2 and losing her father in the war, my mom had always carried difficult times and memories. She was highly affected by all tragedy and had trouble shaking it; glued to news of disaster with a heavy heart. For her, all that dissipated with the brain injury, the burdens lifted. I think she too found joy in her last days.
My mother passed away in December of 2020. In a year of loss already, I lost even more, and it was hard to breathe at times. I realized it shouldn’t be a crisis to help me understand what’s important – I should have prioritized time and attention to my family all along, a non-negotiable top priority, forever and always. As a photographer who promotes connection, I found myself guilty of allowing ‘busy’ to slowly take over, the urgent but not important stuff that keeps us all in overdrive. And I struggled to live the life purpose both as a photographer and a human that I was sure was mine – to radiate pure joy. In the weeks and months that followed, I did a lot of reflecting. And something started tugging on me.
Through the course of my non-profit work, on the date of our board meetings, I always called out what other wacky, fun, or bizarre holiday that date shared, just for a laugh. From “If pets had a thumb day” (March 3rd) to “Elephant Appreciation Day” (September 23rd) and everything in between and out of this world (I bet there are days for those too!), it seems there is a holiday or a special day for just about anything! And then I noticed that March 26th is “Make up your own holiday day.”
I would create a special day, to Celebrate Joy. I chose June 27th, my late mother’s birthday, to honour her. On March 26th, I officially declared my day!
While we don’t need a special day to celebrate and spend time with family, a designated Joy Day (#joydays) is a reminder for us to take a step away from busy schedules and obligations and reflect on what truly matters most to us – our family and our children. June 27th is now Celebrate Joy day (it also happens to be National Onion day – and we used to joke about my mom’s over-the-top love of onions so this is a fun synchronicity!!) I’ve submitted it to become as official as it can be – approved and listed on the Brownielocks website, submitted to the National Day Calendar, and also submitted to the top authority on holidays and observances, Chase’s Calendar of Events. I’m also looking into making it a national holiday, which requires a legislative act. That one will take longer, but I’m up for the challenge.
I’m coming into my own as a joy advocate. I’ve had my share of life challenges and sorrows, as we all have. I watch the news and see the terrible things happening right in our backyard, and my heart breaks. And I decided that I must ruthlessly pursue joy, as a means to counteract the negative in this world. Despite the bad news that seems to swirl around us at all times, we are allowed and deserve to be happy, and I’ll argue, even must find joy, to feed our souls amidst challenge and to help us act in loving ways. Joy is critical to our well-being and we must nurture and protect it. Our collective joy has an energy. If violence begets violence, then let’s use that expression towards a better concept to be amplified: Let our joy beget more joy. I want to leave a more joyful world for my daughter. I am a light-worker as a photographer and now with a mission to be a joy-worker too. Join me.
June 27th is summertime in Montreal. A perfect date for being together and doing something with your family. Mark it on your calendars and plan a family activity! Messy pancake breakfasts. A hike. Breakfast for dinner and in front of the TV. Backyard camping. A day at the Splash pad and mum and dad are right under that bucket filling with super-cold water!! Dressing up for Halloween in summer. Snuggling in bed ALL DAY with the dogs and the cat and watching movies. Ice-cream with every topping possible. A special visit with grandparents. The goal is to laugh and to love (and maybe to eat) and nothing else. Just joy. Then use the tag “#joydays or #joydayproject to spread the message of joy.
THE JOYDAY PROJECT
The Joyday Project (#joydayproject) has launched. Please visit this post on my Facebook Photography page and submit your joyful photos! All submissions (or set of submissions) will receive one entry to receive a complimentary photography session and your photos will be placed on a web page with all others – to keep the message of joy going. I will select the winner on Celebrate Joy Day, June 27th – the very first one! A special location has been scouted, and the selected family will also receive some special gifts. *Please note that it must be your own images submitted.
As our first June 27 day approaches, I will be looking to see what you planned for Celebrate Joy Day 2021. Be sure to give my Facebook or IG pages a follow and you’ll be notified of gathering more joyful images and stories of your June 27th activities!
Lucy is a Montreal-based Wedding and Family Photographer who specializes in creating joyful and distinctively creative photo-stories and portraits. Her style is vibrant, soulful and eclectic and she aims to cause ugly-cry-level joy through her work.