Friday, October 30, 2009

The Joy Diet - The Trick to Treats

While in the past weeks it has often been a challenging shared journey through Martha Beck’s book, The Joy Diet, this week on “Treats” was a bit different. The Joy Diet definition of a treat? “Anything that makes you feel like smiling.” While the lists of favorite things were a bit slow to compile early on, as I went through the week more and more simple treats would just pop into my mind.

I have to admit I felt a bit like a slacker this week, indulging in a few of my favorite things on a daily basis. I’m learning that perhaps my work ethic cramps my happiness a bit. Even if I’m not doing something on my list, my guilt or anxiety about not doing it often kills the joy I’d otherwise have indulging in a treat. It looks like I need a lot more practice on balancing between doing not-so-enjoyable things and treating myself well.

One of the exercises this week was to catalog our sensory delights. While the exercise called for five things, in the spirit of simple extravagances I decided to add a couple more:

I love the taste of:
1. Dark chocolate
2. Congee with pork and thousand year egg
3. Vanilla ice cream
4. El Presidente’s arroz con pollo (in my neighborhood)
5. Our homemade mushroom risotto
6. Cherimoya
7. Empanadas from La Continental (in Buenos Aires!)

I love the sight of:
1. An older couple holding hands
2. Puppies playing
3. My guy’s smile
4. Flowers in a garden
5. The light playing on buildings as the sun begins to set
6. The Mountains out west
7. The Pacific Ocean

I love the feel of:
1. Cashmere
2. Sun on my back
3. Being massaged
4. A good tango dance
5. My man, holding my hand
6. Soft, furry, warm kitties (or puppies)
7. A nice comfy bed

I love the smell of:
1. Coffee
2. Norma Kamali’s perfume
3. Nag champa
4. Meyer’s geranium scent washing liquid
5. Oatmeal cooking in the morning
6. Thé des Lumieres (from Mariage Frères)
7. Homemade bread in the oven

I love the sound of:
1. Wind chimes
2. A running stream or waterfall
3. Bird songs
4. Rain
5. Wind in the trees
6. Thoughtful, emotional music
7. An old-fashioned stovetop coffee percolator

One interesting experience I had this week was a risk that morphed into a treat. I participated in a workshop offered by Mark Lamb, called “Inside Out, Moving in the Moment.” The class explores ways to generate movement in the moment, along with improvising text, and personal story. In the class we were to explore the possibilities of movement invention while moving non-judgmentally and with a deep sense of play. This sounded like just the right step to take on my desire of heading in a direction that brings together music with performance art or theatre. I’ve wanted to explore and learn more about disciplines beyond music making, particularly storytelling and movement. It was my small scary step in the direction of a big desire.

Interestingly, in this setting I had a chance to use Martha’s suggestion to practice divine decadence. My invented movement motif flipped me 180 degrees and turned my back to the audience – and it reminded me of Miles Davis. Years back I’d attended a concert and he played almost half of the performance with his back to the audience. Years of training to give to the audience, to connect with them, to never turn your back were tossed out in mere seconds. My spontaneously improvised text and movement came together in a mini-performance that felt authentic and powerfully freeing. What a real treat! I came out of that class excited, feeling like I’ve just discovered a much BIGGER playground. This new adventure brings with it many new things to learn and ways to grow into myself. I have a feeling I'll be going back to this risk-treat again and again.


  1. What a delightful post - & wonderful insight from the class! Love your collage, esp the flower umbrella. As much as I enjoy doing collage, I haven't done any for the book yet - what's up with that??
    & Tango - oh, yes!

  2. What a fabulous list, Helen! I love percolators and mushroom risotto, too! And I love to watch the tango, but when I do it, it's not something anyone is going to swoon over.

    How wonderful your workshop turned out for you! It reminds me of an improv workshop I took one time - scared the daylights out of me, but such a great experience.

    Thank you for your visit to my blog and your comments. I'm enjoying sharing this book with you! On to play!

  3. This is fabulous! I love that you, too, had a risk that turned to a treat...And what a fun risk-treat! I hope you do get to revisit it. :)

    Have a good week journeying through Play!

  4. What a beautiful list of treats... and what a wonderful-sounding workshop you got to explore! And how magical when the risks turn into treats... and oh, what a rich and colorful collage! :)

  5. fabulous treat list! it was a treat just reading about your treats :)

  6. I absolutely love the list of treats that you have compiled. Thank you so much for sharing your week with treats.