Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

Where Do You Find Joy? It’s In The Little Things

Where do you find joy? Is it in something small, something that catches your eye and suddenly takes your breath away? Or are you searching for something bigger, something more tangible and shiny? Are you reaching for something beyond the stars or do you feel it when you make it through a difficult day?


When was the last time you felt the kind of joy that fills your heart and lifts your spirit? That kind doesn’t come along often, but when it does make sure you grab it! It’s precious and rare.


I have no illusions of becoming rich and famous. My needs are simple: to be happy, to love and be loved, to do good for others and to be as healthy as possible.


Finding joy in my life is the icing on the cake with a big cherry on top.

I recently read an article about a woman who, at midlife, realized the many virtues of moving to Florida. That’s something I realized as a child the first time I saw palm trees. It seemed magical to be surrounded by those fan-shaped leaves with their tall, columnar trunks. Along with the vibrant colors of tropical flowers dotting the landscape I felt like I landed in the Land of Oz.


When I got home I’d dream about lying in the shade of a sprawling palm on an empty beach covered with luminous white sand while sipping a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice .


The thought of that dream always brought joy to me.


As luck would have, when I was engaged to my husband my future in-laws purchased a lovely condominium in Florida. I’d been to Florida many times with my family, but now I had the best reason to visit on a regular basis.


It seemed beshert.

I’ve visited countless times over the last three decades and whenever the airplane lands on the runway in West Palm Beach I silently murmur that I’m home again.


I can’t explain it but somehow I feel happier in Florida. Being in a tropical area fills my soul. I’ve spent my whole life in New Jersey; my history is here. But I’m tired of the cold weather, of living in black-and-white days that force me to stay indoors. I’m tired of wearing two pairs of socks and being cold all the time.

Sometimes I feel like my best days are slipping away. When I’m indoors, day after day, I miss the smell of fresh air and taking walks on local trails. It’s not until the first buds of spring begin to sprinkle life back into the earth that I feel whole again.


I recently felt a sense of great joy and I know you won’t believe me because it’s sounds so sappy and ludicrous, but it was when I was in Florida last Thanksgiving. My husband found somewhere new for us to visit.


Green Cay Wetlands Nature Preserve. It was paradise to me.

Green Cay has 100 acres of constructed wetlands with a 1.5 mile elevated boardwalk and dozens of gazebos that gives visitors a front row seat to observing Florida’s wildlife and vegetation.


The park is also a water reclamation facility that naturally filters millions of gallons of water each day.


We’ve seen purple gallinule, black-belly whistling duck, black-crowned night heron, great egret, white ibis, roseate spoonbill, Florida redbelly turtles, marsh rabbits and American alligators.


The flora is also magnificent with sabal and royal palm, live oak, bald cypress and duckweed.

It’s an honor to walk the boardwalk while feeling at one with nature.


I think this guy had me in mind for his lunch.

This year hasn’t been the kindest to us, so finding Green Cay felt like an answer to a prayer. It felt as if it was meant to be. It’s so restorative, so relaxing, so meditative.

When we returned to Florida in early March we walked Green Cay every morning, savoring each sight and sound. Being there feels so right. I never want to leave.


One of the greatest joys for me is be a quiet observer of the extraordinary blessings surrounding us in nature. I miss Green Cay. It makes me feel lighter. I hope we’ll be able to return soon. And then, somewhere down the road, perhaps we’ll be able to live nearby permanently. Only time will tell.

In the meantime I’ll hold on to the joy I felt to get me through difficult days. I think we all need to hold on to the joy we find in our loved ones, in our work, in our passions, and in our hopes and dreams. Hold joy close to your heart. In the words of Buddha:


Where do you find joy?

NOTE: All photos were taken by the author. They are of  Green Cay Wetlands Nature Preserve and The Chester Residence in Florida. All rights reserved.



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49 thoughts on “Where Do You Find Joy? It’s In The Little Things

  1. Carla

    I adore this and you live this was totally captured yesterday in your exchange with Tamara on Facebook.
    You do choose joy and you influence others to do the same.

    1. Janet tancredi

      Cathy, I know I don’t always leave comments. However, I have to say,” how much I look forward to reading your blog.”Ican’t wait to read what you have to say.Your gift of words and how eloquently you write them is beshert for you. MY first time seeing Palm trees as a child, was a true joy for me also.

  2. Alana

    Where do I find joy? A lot of my joy is right here in upstate New York (especially when we’ve had a mild winter) – a beautiful sunrise, maple syrup, a day of picking blueberries, making a good apple crisp in the fall.
    Alana recently posted…Spring Things – ChiaMy Profile

  3. Leanne

    so many gorgeous pics! I love living in Australia because it is warm for so much of the year, so I understand Florida’s attraction for you. I hope you get to retire there one day and live out your years in the sunshine 🙂


    The nature preserve is beautiful. I lived in Florida much of my adult life–almost half of it. It’s affordable, for sure, and a good place to retire. California is what soothes my soul (wouldn’t you know it, the cost of living is out of control) and Florida doesn’t always do that for me. But plenty of my friends love it and it’s possible to build a great retired life there.
    CAROL CASSARA recently posted…Heart-Mind -Soul’s new lookMy Profile

  5. Jennifer

    Joy for me is a beach in Florida……many of them. We haven’t decided where yet, but the next move will be one to Florida. In the meantime, every vacation has been a different coastal area in Florida to help us decide.

  6. Glenda

    Living in Southern California, I understand why the warm climate of Florida brings you joy. I don’t take where I live for granted. I am thankful. It brings me joy. But also spending quality time with my husband and sons. I adore them.

  7. penpen

    Being in the mountains brings me a similar sense of peace as Florida does for you. My other staple for a sudden need for joy is to re-read a funny email one of my Grands sent me. It was so zany and so to the point that it’s become my own private giggle. Little things mean a lot.

  8. Nancy Hill

    Cathy, your writing always speaks to me. It is a celestial synchrony. Cross my heart and for reals. I was trying to remain calm during a recent migraine when the Hubster announced that he may become bi-coastal, well almost. If Arizona, where we are now, and Virginia can be considered coastal. LOL. University here and a Research Institute there. Panic attack and more stress. Then upon reading this, I thought about the cool green beauty of the Virginia mountains and the streams, and the ability to grow things I just cannot master here in the Sonoran Desert. Those images instantly made me smile and think how wonderful being there would be, if this venture comes to me. Thank you.
    Nancy Hill recently posted…Fifty Ways I Love His MotherMy Profile

    1. Post author

      Nancy, your first two sentences touched my heart deeply and “for reals” made me chuckle! Thanks for your kind thoughts. Take joy wherever you go. The images you wrote about sound magical. Honor them with your pure joy!

  9. Cathy Lawdanski

    What a lovely place. You have beautiful photographs and create such beautiful word pictures. I would love to visit there some day.

  10. sue

    Hi Cathy I’m Sue from Sizzling Towards Sixty and I discovered your blog through Midlife Megaphone FB. I’ve subscribed because I feel we are both on the same page in our thoughts and I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts. Sometimes we forget that joy can be found in the simplest things. My greatest joy is spending time with my two year old grandson each week and discovering life through his eyes. Have a lovely day x

  11. Tamuria

    Your pictures are beautiful and that nature preserve looks so lovely. I would love to visit there one day. I live in the Blue Mountains, Australia, and get so much joy from the nature beauty I am surrounded with. I love being in the garden but I feel extra joy when bushwalking and seeing all the majesty of this beautiful world.Another constant joy is spending time with my little granddaughters who constantly remind me to find joy in the simplest things.

    1. Post author

      I’ve met so many midlife bloggers who living in Australia and I always tell them it’s on my bucket list. It sounds and looks extraordinary. You are blessed to be there enjoying such incredible nature AND to enjoy magical time with your granddaughters! Good for you.

  12. Rosemond

    What a beautiful spot. yes, being out in nature like that just refuels me too. I just got back from northern California with desolate beaches that stretched for miles. It did wonders for my soul!

  13. Helene Cohen Bludman

    So lovely, Cathy. And you are so right about the little things. Seeing the first spring flowers pop up in the soil makes me happy. Looking at the trees that are now budding — same thing. I share your affection for Florida and I know what you mean about feeling happier there. I hope you get to move there and invite me down to visit!

  14. Kathy @ SMART Living

    Hi Cathy! Your love for Palm Trees comes through loud and clear with this post. And you’re right, it’s the little things about our lives and experiences that add up to so much. I tend to believe that your intention about moving there is very clear so it’s bound to happen sooner or later. And as Abraham says, “Feel appreciation for what is, and eagerness for what is coming!” Looking forward to seeing how that all unfolds for you Cathy! ~Kathy
    Kathy @ SMART Living recently posted…7 Simple Ways We Can All Lean Toward HappinessMy Profile

  15. stacy

    thank you for sharing, i find as i get older (43) i find it to be pure joy in or around a body of water. thank you for sharing, i look forward to reading all of your blog in time, have a great day

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