52 weeks of simple joy

– Posted in: inspiration, photography, Simple Joy Photo Project

If there’s something I believe wholeheartedly, it’s that there is always something for which to be grateful.

In 2013 I dedicated myself to taking a self-portrait every day. Truthfully, I’m glad that project is over and done. As with any undertaking it had its highs and lows. I wanted to feel more confident in front of my own lens. I do. I wanted to learn some new technical camera aspects. I did. I wanted to jump into the frame and be present and show that I am a part of my own memories. Day after day, that very thing happened.

I am grateful for the self-portrait project experience. If you are searching for a photography project,  I do recommend some self study.

But by the end of three hundred and sixty-five (friggin) days, I’d rather grown tired of myself. I knew that 2014’s photography project would look outward and have a focus that was, perhaps, greater than me. Or just different from me? What I’m saying is I craved the opposite of self. So, this year I’m aiming my lens at others. 

While I do have a p r e t t y BIG idea in the works for a photo project that involves all three aspects of what I focus on through this blog–motherhood, photography, and inspiration–I’m going to wait until I have more details hammered out and chiseled away and fine-tuned and…you understand what I’m saying…just more details PERIOD before I let everyone in on that one. If what I hope happens, the “motherhood photography project” I’m dreaming of will bring about some good and positivity. Because I do believe we humans just can’t get enough of those things. What the world needs now is love, sweet love, amiright? More about this very, very soon. I have a meeting set up later this week which might lead to some collaboration from more members of the community, which might lead to….[insert some other vague words. Now something ambiguous. I know, I need to move on if I don’t have anything specific to add.]  JUST GET EXCITED with me.

…..To be revisited.

Now, on a smaller scale–I wanted something else. Another photography project that would elevate me on the daily. Get me thinking because I am a thinker. Get me feeling because I am a feeler. What is it that I truly want out of 2014? The answer came quickly and easily.

I want happiness.

I want to feel it, really feel good. More often than not. More seconds and minutes and hours and whole days than not. I want to feel happy about my life and where I am and in my skin and here’s the important part–I want to feel happy without any other complications or special circumstances.

No– If x happens then I’ll be happy.

No–Only when _________ begins/ends/whatever, I’ll be happy.

No conditions. Not then, now. Not when, now. Just easy joy. Loud or quiet joy. Big or small joy. Ordinary or unconventional joy. The other essential element to this? Rediscovering and noticing what is already uplifting me. So, feeling appreciation. Oh Gratitude! You again, eh?

I realized though that my want of happiness wasn’t anything new. I mean, isn’t that what I already do? Photograph our joyful moments? Our real moments? And reflect? Share the story behind the image? Yes, I do. I have been doing that picture-sharing/story-telling thing here at LWW for six years strong now. But after thinking about it a moment more I came to the realization that that’s okay. This year’s project will continue right along with my intent. This project’s focus then should only amplify the joy and the love already present and draw new joy and love and goodness to me.

And for the record, desiring joy for one’s self isn’t bad. You won’t convince me that wanting personal happiness is ever stingy or silly or meaningless and moronic. Here is why: if I’m happy than others around me are more likely to be happy. Vibrations in close proximity tend to align and match. Joy or any feeling has to start with self. It’s a pebble making a ripple turning into a wave into a movement. Because connection. We are all connected.  Now, no worries. I won’t bust out Circle of Life from Lion King. We can leave it at that. But to conclude I’ll just tack this on–feeling personal joy might be the most loving thing we can do for one another.

Be aware of the fact that every choice you make, every word you speak, every action you do, has a consequence and an impact on others.–Layne Beachley

So my personal photography project for the year?

The quick and easy answer was :


And these are my regulations:

This isn’t a photo-a-day project. Several photos can be from the same day. Maybe some days won’t have any. I’m breaking this year up into WEEKS and taking the days as they present themselves. Throughout the week I’m expecting a theme to emerge specific to the past seven days. I thought about having a set list beforehand–a word to focus on each week ahead of time–but I’d rather the theme and subsequent reflection come about naturally, and unfold on its own. Ready?

***************Here we go!****************


Lazy Joy.

At first, I fought this, this thing. Lazy joy. I can only stay closed off in my house and not doing for so long. I try to find contentment under blanket forts and throughout slow afternoons, but really I like daily outings. I like a little sense of adventure. Not a whole lot, but a little. But the first week of January wasn’t exactly full of adventure. We stayed inside so much. We played games and watched movies and screamed and fought and made up and drew pictures and jumped on the beds and dressed up and then we played more games. I drank one soy chai tea latte as permitted by Cupcake per day. I journaled and read, but mostly I felt antsy. Let’s DO. Something.

It wasn’t until in a split second of watching Leo teach Matilda how to play chess–that I thought AH. We’ve being doing something all along.

Lazy joy. There is joy to be had in these lazy, laid-back moments. I watched big brother helping little sister. Leo wasn’t on his iPad. He was engaged with HER and Matilda! She wanted HIM to teach her chest. No, Matilda it’s CHE-SSsss. See, this is a pawn. That is a rook. This is the Queen. Her favorite piece of course was the queen. So how great. My kiddos in a moment with sweetness sprinkled on top. Lazy joy for the win. Right then I stopped waging the battle against what I perceived as nothing. Stopped looking at my car keys and wondering when I could pack everyone up and hit Starbucks drive-thru. Just. This. Lazy joy.

Instead I pulled up a chair and watched them play chest, I mean chess.

And I’m so glad I did. Because the very next moment? The one after this image was taken? Matilda pushed the game away, frustrated. She yelled at Leo that she wasn’t playing anymore. Hmmpf. And she clickety clacked away in her high-heeled  dress up shoes and joined her Barbies back in their Dream House.

Such is life around here. Split second temperaments.

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“Send this picture to Daddy. He’ll say ‘Oh Red, you’re so beautiful’.”

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Mitchell keeps asking to let him know when Cuppie is moving around. I think it’s still too early for him to feel on the outside, but we try.

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Climbing ladders at the new house. Never gets old.

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Reading a book called “Mitchell’s license.” Mitchell is the main character and Gus likes this one because obviously it’s about Daddy as a little boy.

I’m still feeling grateful that I caught on. That I pulled up a chair. That I watched and listened and enjoyed some of the laziness from the week. I felt nothing turn into something. And that was something.


What simple joy did you experience last week? And what in the world will next week’s simple joy be? Do you have a photography project for 2014? Tell me about it below!

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I'm a mom of five, wife to one, life-long Louisvillian. Six years ago I put down the key to my middle school classroom and picked up a camera instead. Now a pro photographer, writer and activist, I blog to share with you those passions and to spread good feelings through the words and pictures you find here.

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23 Comments… add one

January 7, 2014, 5:09 am

Reading this made me happy.
So your joy finding has translated to my happiness. Win/ Win!
Love your project. xo
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Alma January 7, 2014, 5:24 am

“I felt nothing turn into something. And that was something.” best line! This project is a perfect transition for you, I know I am going to love it.
Oh that Matilda knows how to work the camera too.
Alma recently posted…Through the Lens Thursday : week oneMy Profile

January 7, 2014, 1:23 pm

Oh I do the same thing. I feel like it’s the way with little people – always wanting to be out and about because hanging around at home isn’t exactly the relaxing time I imagine (and oh how I envy your Starbucks drive thru!) But I did the same last week – slowed down and enjoyed the lazy. And it was lovely.
Cannot wait to hear about your next big project! But I love this joy thing you’ve got going :)
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Kim January 7, 2014, 1:41 pm

I love this idea, Sarah! I am always looking for the happy in those little moments. I find it there so often.
We did the same thing last week and I definitely felt moments of an antsy “but shouldn’t we be doing something?” feeling. But those lazy days don\’t last long and no we are back into the routine and I am glad that we had that time, those moments.
Kim recently posted…Their TimeMy Profile

January 7, 2014, 2:29 pm

This might be one of my favourite blog posts ever. I love every single happy word in it.
Yes to gratitude and joy and yes to starting with ourselves – I am a big believer in that (and I also believe that climbing ladders never gets old :) )
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Lady Jennie
January 7, 2014, 2:36 pm

I’m going to love this project I can tell. :-) How can you go wrong with capturing simple joy?
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Galit Breen
January 7, 2014, 2:52 pm

I love this so very much, sweet Sarah! Focusing on happiness and training yourself to view life through a happiness lens, le sigh, that’s just perfection! xo
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January 7, 2014, 3:49 pm

This is simply awesome. I cannot wait to see how your project and your weeks unfold!!! Wishing you nothing but joy – in all it’s forms! Happy New Year! :)
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Jennifer January 7, 2014, 4:54 pm

Lazy joy is probably my favorite thing, and one of the reasons it is so hard for me to go back to work after winter break. I miss that. The snuggling in and being with the people that I love most for hours on end every day.
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Sarah January 7, 2014, 5:33 pm

Lazy joy is nice. I just needed a brick to fall on me to realize it.

Elaine A.
January 7, 2014, 5:22 pm

This makes complete sense, Sarah because you exude joy, always. Such a wonderful way to go through your new year which will include a new life in your family. Talk about JOY!! :) xoxo

Sarah January 7, 2014, 5:32 pm

Thanks Elaine! This year is one of those BIG years for us. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to it! I feel the excitement deep in my bones :)

January 7, 2014, 6:18 pm

Love this project… simple joys are the very best joys. Can’t wait to watch your year unfold!
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Andrea January 7, 2014, 6:19 pm

Accepting joy as a gift and sharing it with others is a wonderful idea, especially for us grumpy grumpertons (ahem). I’m all in for a little bit of contagious joy. Bring it on!!
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Laura January 7, 2014, 7:05 pm

Excited to read more about your project as it develops! You should make your joy photos a linkup project :-)

January 7, 2014, 8:54 pm

Such a fantastic idea, and something that I know I’ll look forward to seeing/hearing!
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January 8, 2014, 12:45 am

Wow – the blue of your son’s eyes on the ladder – just wow! I’m late to the photo project party, so this year, doing a Project 365. I’m 6 days in, and I can’t wait to see the pics get better. :)
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Gwenn Panny January 8, 2014, 10:53 am

Awww. Beautiful. I want to enjoy 52 weeks of simple joy too!
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January 8, 2014, 2:23 pm

what a wonderful project! I can’t wait to see more! Love what you’re doing.
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Shell January 8, 2014, 7:33 pm

I absolutely adore the idea of looking for the joy in the everyday, not just waiting until (whatever) happens.
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January 8, 2014, 8:40 pm

I had 20 days of Christmas break and I did zero work that whole time. I had laziness and it was wonderful. Until it wasn’t…heh.

I love your photographs! Can’t wait to watch this project all year!
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Carolyn Y January 8, 2014, 11:46 pm

Oh Red is beautiful 😉
I love her.
And I love this project. Looking forward to following it.

Amanda Jillian
January 11, 2014, 11:30 pm

Beautiful! And such a wonderful project!
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