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On the theme of joy this month, 

guest contributor Cheryl Farrell writes about 

how a small word delivers big things in life. 

Journals Over Time

I have been writing in a journal since I was a pre-teen. In those early years, it was called my diary. The palm-sized book had the words SECRET and DO NOT OPEN embossed on the front. The cardboard security flap had a tiny lock to be opened with a tiny key. It was probably easy to break open, but at the time, I was confident my inner thoughts were safely guarded from a nosy younger brother. 

My journal is now recorded in Word documents as I let thoughts flow to my laptop keyboard. The posts are purposely accessible these days as a resource for essays I write and a book in progress. What remains constant is recording my feelings and observations.

My Blue-Streaked Moments

After each post, I use a blue highlighter to mark events that lift my spirits—that give me joy. I marvel at the pattern behind the blue streaks as I stroll through decades of journal entries. I would have guessed topics of joy would be from milestones like job promotions, travel to exotic locations, or moving to a bigger house. 

To my surprise, paragraphs swathed in blue highlights had to do with small things. One journal entry was from the time I found birds nesting in a flower pot outside my kitchen window. This was in the early months of the 2020 pandemic. I saw a mama and papa bird descend into a twig-thatched nest of chicks with opened beaks awaiting incoming food. The birds had no care for quarantining, face masks, or concerned that a human peering through the nearby window would disturb them. It was a joy to see nature taking care of its own. 

Insistent, Ever-present Joy

Another journal entry came after I noticed a hearty batch of weeds growing on a berm along a busy highway. I marveled at how these plants would grow despite lack of regular watering, fertilizer, or (intentional) pruning. The floral stems pushed through hot asphalt and withstood car exhaust to greet each new day. It reminded me to insist on joy every day. 

In a highlighted journal entry from a few years ago, I chronicled the adventure of finding my misplaced credit card. I retraced my steps countless times and frantically searched my purse and pockets for the lost card. I called retailers to see if the card was left behind after a transaction. Such a tiny card was causing me major stress. Then something strange happened: I just decided not to be anxious. I stopped the panic. Before I could call the card issuer to replace the card, I found it sitting on top of the washing machine! The dark gray credit card was “hidden” on the dark gray laundry equipment. What I had been seeking had been there all along. Kinda’ like life.

Joy—it’s a small word, but delivers big things. Let’s share that good news. 

RELATED: Cheryl Farrell’s Where Were You When?

Cheryl Farrell is a guest writer for

Cheryl Farrell

Cheryl Farrell is a corporate communications consultant and performance storyteller in Southern California. She has decades of experience in healthcare, education, and financial services. Cheryl was an original cast member of the Jeopardy! Clue Crew and toured the world appearing in more than 1,000 video clips. As a public speaker, she often examines how older black women excel at the intersections of race, gender, and age. Cheryl has a master’s degree in Communication Management from USC and a bachelor’s degree in economics from UCLA. She is married and has two adult children.

Photo credit - NiketaCH Photography

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