Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Choosing Joy

Mother and daughter
detail (the daughter's face)
acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2009
(I've been working on the daughter's face today
and I'm almost there -- a joyous feeling!)

I'm reading Alexander McCall Smith's novel The Comforts
of a Muddy Saturday
, one book in the Isabel Dalhousie
series. Isabel is a very serious philosopher who edits The
Review of Applied Ethics, and part of the delight in reading
the novel is thinking about the moral questions she's
wrestling with.

So I'm thinking about joy today because it's my wedding
anniversary. And I think the lesson that my contemporaries
have to learn -- not an easy one -- is to choose joy over
sorrow, or discontentment, or negativity in general.
We were raised in an era that frowned on excesses,
especially childhood ones, so we were taught not to be
overly -- loud, funny, silly -- fill in the blanks. If we
didn't finish our supper we were told to "eat it because
children in (name the country) were starving." We were
weaned and raised on a level of guilt about our every
desire that seems hard to imagine now.

But even when Sam was a very little boy, four or
five, and he's nineteen now, I was frequently informed
by his teachers that he was "silly." I used to walk
home from these meetings thinking, 'good -- I've
done something right.' So celebrating in some ways
goes against the grain -- requiring excess, gifts, joy,
laughter, a bit of abandon. Maybe that's why I've always
enjoyed parties, and being with friends. Deep down
I'm probably rebelling against the strictures of our
childhood life. So maybe a restrictive childhood is
not a bad thing. It's placed a large bell in my head
that I hear every day demanding "Fun! Fun! Fun!

I am happy that it's my anniversary -- and have only
the sweetest of memories of my life with Steven today.
We have been blessed with choosing joy most of the

Have a joyous-celebratory day.


Gwen Bell said...

What a wonderful post! So true about choices and how great it is to choose joy on a regular basis.

Love this portrait! You just get better and better all the time. I like the way you split the canvas with color in the background. Ties in very nicely with your post and title.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Gwen,

I'm glad you like it, I do too. The girl (young woman) is witty, intelligent and beautiful, a pleasure to be around -- and the relationship between the mother and daughter is close. A treat for a project.

Take care,


Melinda said...

Another beautiful post, Barbara. These are important words and I hope you will inspire many to choose joy, just as you have me. It takes strength of character and a strong will to continue to choose joy (not a denial of trouble or the need to fight against inequities) and a steady walk toward the positives in life. Your blog is a testament to that journey.

The portrait is full of light and color--luscious!

Liza Hirst said...

How right you are!
Your portatrit is turning out wonderfully - like the blue spots in the hair and the laughing eyes!!

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Barbara, this painting is fabulous. I love the mother and daughter idea of the painting, and your execution is wonderful.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Liza,

I'm glad you like the portrait. That makes me very happy because your portraits are so amazing.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

For some reason I thought I'd already responded to you. Sorry. Yes sometimes when I know I'm indulging my sad or sulky self I say "no!" and move back towards the joy light. The paintings need it, and so do I.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Thanks so much. I am starting to be almost content with the painting. There's still a bit to do, but the main things are working well.


Take care,


eldon warren said...

You're right! Sometimes it's easy to forget we actually can make these kind of choices. Thanks for the reminder.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Eldon,

You are so welcome. I think it's a constant choice in adult life -- happy versus cranky -- the glass half full and so on.

That doesn't mean there aren't days so bleak or filled with worry that you can't choose. But we do have the choice to be happy most of the time.

Take good care of yourself,


Laurel Daniel said...

A belated congratulations to you!!! What a blessing to each other when you both choose joy! it's a great recipe for contentedness. I am so happy for you on this important day! Love to you both! XO

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Laurel,

It is a blessing. We don't always choose it at the same time, but that can be good too. If one is down, the other points the way back to the good place. You are so wonderful. Thanks so much.


Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at:
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!