A Special Thursday Visit from My Bestie, Joy

I am absolutely delighted to have my dear friend, Joy, guesting in this space. 

We met shortly after I became a mother and her sage advice on reframing maternal guilt remains one of the most helpful (and impactful) insights I’ve ever received. 

I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life to find a friend like Joy; if I could clone one person to share with the world, it would be her!! Just a few of the (many) things I value about her friendship:

  • She is probably the most gracious and lovely person I’ve ever met. She is kind, gentle and warm. She’s extroverted in all the best ways, with an incredible ability to make others feel relaxed in her presence (a superpower I do NOT possess).
  • She is hilarious. Every day seems brighter when we’ve exchanged a funny meme or silly YouTube clip. We laugh at the same things; I think a shared sense of humour is an underappreciated magic glue for great friendships. 
  • She gets me. Our personalities overlap in significant ways, and I feel like I can be wholly transparent. 
  • She energizes me. I’m an introvert at heart and crave alone time but that never includes time away from Joy. Going for a walk with her is one of my favourite mood boosters.
  • She is happy to exchange the most random assortment of paraphernalia imaginable. A running inside joke is the sheer scope of things we have traded back and forth over the years. Again, this feels like an odd – but unmistakable – “magic glue” element in our friendship.

I can’t imagine life without Joy and even though we make a point of seeing each other every week – and typically communicate daily – I loved reading her answers to the questions below. I genuinely wish everyone could experience the joy that is the gift of this friendship and I thank God for the honour of calling her my best friend (a title she shares with John, but in different capacities).

Q. What seemingly “little” moment have you observed or been a part of lately that brought a disproportionate amount of joy?

Something in the late winter air feels like a spring cleaning for my head – truly life-giving. I need to get outside for morning walks as often as possible between March and June.

Hugging a stuffed animal. Affection from a living being is preferable, but in a pinch, squeezing a large stuffed polar bear or sloth is surprisingly soothing. I guess my children are on the right track. [Joy has 4 adorable, spunky kiddos!]

Q. What aspect(s) of your current life would most surprise 20-year-old Joy?

  • I live in Atlantic Canada (originally from Southern California) and I’m now a dual citizen of the US and Canada – didn’t see that coming at 20!
  • I don’t homeschool even though I was homeschooled K-12 and spent 5 years post High School helping other people homeschool their children.
  • I’ve been to Green Gables and walked in the haunted woods. This after having almost no inkling as to where Prince Edward Island was in the world at 20. [The Haunted Woods is a surprisingly lovely hike whether you enjoy Anne of Green Gables or not!]

Q. Do you have a go-to reset when you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling to stay focused?

Water and 10 minutes of stretching/Pilates do wonders for me! It’s not very original but always makes me feel at least a little bit better. Cleaning or organizing something, brushing my teeth, or fixing my hair usually helps too.

Ideally, a long walk in the sunshine or a good talk with a friend or one of my sisters is soothing to my soul, when either of those things can be arranged.

Q. If you could add (or subtract) one habitual behaviour in your life, what would it be?

Regular reflective writing would likely be beneficial. I struggle with wanting some perfect system for it but really just need to start somewhere.

I would subtract emotional eating.

Q. Please describe your seasonal menu plans! Even though I’ve never gotten my act together to copy you, I think you’ve come up with a brilliant idea that needs to be shared with the world!

Seasonal menu plans have been so much fun for me! I’ve always enjoyed having a menu plan for the week but in the past I would usually just choose items based on what I had on hand or what was on sale at the grocery store a week at a time.

I’ve set up my seasonal menu plans like this:

Each season (Winter: January – March, Spring: April – June, Summer: July-September, Fall: October-December) has 6 weeks of meals repeated once for a total of 12 weeks. This leaves one week at the end of each season to clean out the fridge/freezer of extra dribs and drabs that have built up. There are some things that carry over for most of the year i.e. pizza on Fridays, batching meals for multiple days (I’m usually only planning 5 meals for 7 days).

As each season winds to a close I revisit the menu and make adjustments based on what we liked (or not) and add new ideas, and then I look over the new season making changes as necessary. I try to take inspiration from the produce in season, the holidays, the weather and the general feeling of that time of year. For instance, fall is a cozy time so comfort food is in order, summer is usually the time for spontaneous adventures so food needs to be easy and portable. In the summer I would try to avoid meals that use the oven and heat up the house, in the winter I would make more soups and roasted veggies.

I don’t use the menu plan religiously – if I really feel like making something else I will, but it’s nice having a template to fall back on and I enjoy the process of reflection and planning for the upcoming season.

Q. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Tipping – I would 100% change the current system if I could. Not to worry, I tip appropriately in the required circumstances but I would find it much less grating if it wasn’t a choice. No one wants to spend 20% more money on anything, but if it was just included in the price it wouldn’t be so bad for some reason. Just me? [Not just you. I love having tips and taxes baked into the displayed cost in most parts of Europe.]

Q. What international destination – that you’ve never visited – do you most want to see?

There’s a song with the line, “A house in Iceland was my heart’s domain, I saw your eyes now castles rise in Spain” – the Spanish influence in my childhood home and a general desire to visit more places in southern Europe has always made Spain alluring to me. That being said, Iceland sounds interesting too!

Q. If you could snap your fingers and have all the capabilities necessary to excel in any career or hobby (e.g. if your wish was to be a famous rockstar, you’d magically have the necessary vocal/instrumental skills), what would you choose and why?

I would be a professional swing dancer tomorrow! Or a jazz pianist. Maybe both. [I had no idea!]

Q. List five things that would happen as part of your idealized “perfect day”?

Is it very negative that I’m mostly thinking of the things it wouldn’t include? No caregiving, no housework, no regulating of others’ emotions. [Amen. Me too.]

OK, on the positive side here are my perfection points: Sunshine and blue sky, a long walk with a good friend or my sisters, food and coffee prepared and cleaned up without my help, and a cool, clean space to sit and read/rest.

Q. Favourite movie, song, or book from 2022?

Blessing Offor has been at the top of the list in 2022. Brighter Days is a staple in my house (Manny [her too-adorable-for-words toddler] even knows the words) and we listen right away as soon as a new song comes out. His song Believe brings me to tears (in a good way) almost every time I hear it and The Goodness makes me feel like a kid!

Thanks, Joy!

Your turn. What habit would you love to drop? Any recurrent pet peeves? How do you feel about tipping and are you good at calculating tips in your head (I’m terrible, and really appreciate the tipping systems on modern machines that automatically calculate various percentages). What’s the “magic glue” in your closest friendships?

Header photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

22 thoughts on “A Special Thursday Visit from My Bestie, Joy”

  1. Magic glue is helps, I think for me it is curiosity that I share with a couple of close friends, walking and loving good conversation. Also you can feel the love in all of this post.
    It is not so much calculating but the “idea” of having to add 20%, it is a psychological thing more than not wanting to tip.. I think I would rather have it included as well.

    1. Curiosity! What a great “magic glue.”

      Tipping psychology can feel convoluted; I would far rather pay a higher price (and know that the person serving me is getting paid well), than having to figure it out myself. And while I know there are many, many layers to this (different working wages), it does baffle me slightly that we tip the barista for plunking a tea bag into a cup of hot water (and yes, I do tip the barista for this!), but we don’t tip the cashier who rings through and bags our groceries at the store, or the retail worker who helps bring clothing items to me in a change room at a clothing store?!

    1. I love her menu plan idea; I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants girl, but someday I’m going to sit down and do this because I think it would take a lot of guess work out of meal prep (the most frustrating question to me in life is: What am I going to make for supper tonight?). It’s a bit like my travel planning; I can be spontaneous when I need to be, but find it liberating to have a fall-back plan.

      Joy is such a gem <3

  2. As an introvert, I can really appreciate the fact that you feel energized, rather than depleted, after spending time with Joy. That might be my magic glue- as well as a similar sense of humor. When I’m with someone who makes me laugh, it really boosts me up.
    I have a different view of tipping than most people, probably, because I work for tips. My hourly salary is small (considering the service I’m providing) and the rest is made up in tips. Now, if the whole system were re-done and people just paid one price upfront, didn’t have to tip, and I made the same amount, I would be fine with that! It’s one of the things that’s so ingrained in our culture though, I don’t see it being changed anytime soon.

    1. Hi Jenny, I should have written more clearly: 100% in favor of the worker making a fair wage. It’s not the money as much as the ambiguity of when it will be expected and always feeling like an additional fee that is technically optional but not really optional if that makes sense. I definitely tip appropriately when prompted but I’d rather just have the total cost integrated into the listed price.

      1. Yes – agreed on the ambiguity. A few times I’ve offered to tip in certain circumstances and been rebuffed and it has felt…weird/awkward.

        I have to admit I loved eating out in Rome and not having to do the mental gymnastics of calculating tips. Same at the grocery store (and restaurants for that matter): no mental calculation of tax because what you see listed is the price you pay!

    2. Yes! As much as I love many wonderful people, for the most part, relationships feel like a lot of “work” to me. VERY worth it, but I have to be intentional about pursuing friendships and often leave interactions feeling satisfied and happy…but “tired.” So it’s such a blessing to have a friendship where it really does always feel energizing. It’s not something I could recreate elsewhere, it’s just the magic combination of things with Joy <3

      In an ideal world (to me) we would re-do the system. I appreciate that tips are a wonderful source of income for some (I once met a university student who made her entire year’s worth of tuition JUST from her summer tips), but tipping is so hit-and-miss and a lot of people in lower-salaried positions don’t necessary get the windfall?! It’s interesting that I always tip my hairdresser and barista and waitress, but never tip my mechanic or the cashier at the grocery store or the person making my burger at McDonalds. We’ve drawn up social norms on what things we do/don’t tip for, but I’m not convinced they always makes sense? Here in Canada, I’ve never heard of tipping for alternative medicine treatments like massage, chiropracty, acupuncture, or osteopathy. I’ve been to all of these practitioners and there is never any prompt or option for tipping. But the hourly rates are relatively high (e.g. my osteopath is $115/hr + tax; chiro is $65 for 15 minutes) and many people have the full amount covered by medical insurance?

      Agreed that I suspect tipping is here to stay and I tip regularly (and really appreciate how easy it is to include now via the digital prompts)…I just think that European nations are on to something with paying competitive wages for service-driven jobs.

  3. I’m so thankful for our friendship! Thank you for your sweet words and giving me the opportunity to guest post on your amazing blog, bestie!

    1. Thanks for guesting here today!

      Here’s to many more years of funny memes, bizarre exchanges of random items, and thousands of miles spent walking together <3.

  4. What habit would you love to drop? I’m too frugal, I need to spend a bit more and enjoy what I buy.

    Any recurrent pet peeves? Drivers on their phones, texting probably, who pay no attention to the light that has turned green. Let’s go people, I have places to be.

    How do you feel about tipping and are you good at calculating tips in your head? Tipping is awkward but thanks to my fourth grade teacher I can calculate tips in my head without any trouble.

    What’s the “magic glue” in your closest friendships? Time

    1. There is no substitute for time in relationships! It is a magic glue, indeed. Maybe the concrete foundation underneath it all, too?!

  5. I love this! The meal planning idea is genius, although I could never stick to that. The weather dictates my life too much! (As someone who is married to a farmer + has kids that want to spend every free minute outdoors.)

    I have heard spouses start to look like each other, but I often see this with best friends too- I think you guys look like you could be sisters!

    1. I think the initial input of time would be a bit daunting for me – to generate six weeks worth of ideas – but I’d love the flexibility of having a specific framework to fall back on. I’ve really struggled with coming up with meals this winter; not necessarily dreading the actual prep work, but just the mental headspace it takes to come up with ideas/plan. I really should adopt this meal plan, at least for certain seasons.

      We do look alike; Joy has three daughters and people have frequently assumed Abby is a sibling to her girls.

  6. Oh, what a lovely post and friendship! I l would also pick reflective writing as a habit – but, I always get too specific about it: write for 10 minutes, but my handwriting’s awful; if I’m typing, I’m revising and editing it down to nothing. Writing this, tho, makes me think that free writing really would be good for me! To let is just be what it is and walk away each day…

    1. I find that blogging is a great way to get some of those feelings/observations out that I used to try to achieve via reflective writing!

      I found that the Morning Pages App (https://morningpages.app/) was a great launch point; it gives you a 500-word “goal” and also organizes things SO well digitally. Highly recommend…

        1. I haven’t stuck with using the Morning Pages App now that I blog 5x/week, but it’s based off the idea of Julia Cameron’s of doing Morning Pages (15 minutes of longhand writing every morning) which I think is a great idea for creativity and mental health hygiene. I couldn’t stick with doing things longhand (and it always felt a bit precarious because I wanted to get everything out of my head but didn’t necessarily want to risk someone finding what I wrote). The Morning Pages App is a bit of a “cheat” on this, but I loved the interface and would often use this to get jumbled thoughts out of my head onto “paper”.

    1. This has been a struggle for me since I was a child; I will say that working toward more intuitive eating has made me feel a bit bitter about the fact that sometimes I want to eat to fill an emotional void and that doesn’t make me a bad person or mean I lack willpower. I know it’s all semantics and mental gymnastics, but giving myself permission to eat because it helps me feel better…tends to make me eats less emotionally overall?

      And, when I do eat emotionally, I label it upfront! Last night was rough, and I drowned my sorrows in a soft-serve ice cream at McDonalds and it helped <3

  7. Oh, I loved this, Elisabeth. You and Joy look like you could be sisters! (I imagine you hear that a lot…)
    I am in awe of and also envious of your close relationship with Joy. It’s clearly a relationship you both treasure and nurture, which is so important as life gets busier and busier. I also really appreciate how you differentiated between your two best friends and the different roles they play in your life. Perspectives on “best friendship” are so diverse, but it seems to me that the more room we make in our heart for true lifelong friends, the more our hearts will grow.
    A habit to start or break? Oh, I’d love to start a habit of daily journaling and reflection time. I am trying, I tell myself, but I must not be trying very *hard*, as it’s not, um, working. Sigh.

    1. I’ve never thought about us looking alike, but when I dropped in that picture into her guest post it seemed SO obvious. Our kids often get mistaken for siblings.

      Outside of blogging (and my One Line A Day journal but it is not self-reflective at all it is just a collection of statements about our day), I don’t do any writing or journalling. I tried for years but it’s just not my thing, at least for the first 30+ years of my life. But blogging has definitely become a form of journalling for me in the last (almost!) two years.

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