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A Resolution of Joy

Image of Kishu Mandarins
I start the year looking back to look forward. This past year my colleague Sam Vandegrift and I traveled far and wide, teaching a workshop called Bringing Joy to Work. Sam and I trade off guiding the group with stories, produce, pictures, hands-on exercises and materials to craft their own narrative of joy in service of their day-to-day life and operations. During our sessions, we go through the six types of joy as described by Stephanie Harrison as a way of getting us started.

The joy of our senses: The taste of food, the sound of music, the feeling of touch, the sight of beauty.
The joy of growth: Focusing hard to learn something, listening hard to give, putting a good day’s work in, the feeling of overcoming challenges and of pride in achievements.
The joy of awe: Being connected to things so big that we feel small—like family, community, country, nature, and faith, of witnessing beautiful gestures and acts of kindness.
The joy of relationships: Being seen, seeing others, being helped and helping, holding and being held, of love.
The joy of play: Of laughter, of amusement, of excitement, of silliness.
The joy of being yourself: Taking what you’re great at and offering it up to others.

These help us engage with our fellow seekers of joy through “a-ha” moments of laughter, memory, reflection, flavor and fellowship. Each time Sam and I present this workshop, we come away changed for the better, and have grown by immersing ourselves in the joy of others.

This leads us to the year ahead! With reminders of New Year’s resolutions all around us, I’ve decided to follow Stephanie’s wisdom and dive into a resolution of joy for 2024.

The joy of our senses:
I’m going to continue to revel in the small things that make me smile. The taste of Melissa’s winter citrus, the tangy-sweet flavor of mandarins, the feel of their zipper skin as it easily breaks apart in your fingers, the burst of juice as you bite down on the first slice, and the smell that reminds you that even in the cold days of winter sunshine is within reach in your countertop fruit bowl.

The joy of growth:
Listening to listen—to truly hear without judgment— is a carry-over from this past year, but still in my learning curve. On the produce side of things, I’ll continue to try and explore new apples (it's hard to keep up these days!), dates, berries (I tried my first huckleberry this year), and vegetables that have not been on my radar until I expanded my range.

The joy of awe:
This covers many things for me: looking for ways to be kind, taking time outside every day, smiling at kids when they are in their own worlds acting without a care, and sharing the perfect piece of seasonal fruit or veggie with someone who has never experienced a perfect peach, a brand-new melon, or a carrot so delicious that they stop, smile, and wonder why someone had never shared this experience with them before.

The joy of relationships:
I’ve been working on this all year long, starting every meeting with acknowledgments, celebrating wins and opportunities, slowing down to be present with what is being said, and asking what is wanted and needed at this moment. I’m focusing on being thankful for the people who gently guide and support me month after month, like Lauren and Deb, who do their great work behind the scenes to help bring this column to life every month no matter what I throw their way.

The joy of play:
During the pandemic, I started a new fun way of being silly and sharing that silliness by hiding googly eyes around the building, office, or produce department of a client before I leave a job. While I’ve personally had a blast doing it, I can't tell you how many calls of laughter or emails with big smiley faces I have received as they have found their googly treasures in the most unlikely places.

The joy of being yourself:
I love teaching new produce team members and customers alike - sharing my passion for the seasons, the flavors, smells and textures. Have you tried a passion fruit? No? Let’s check it out! What about a lychee? It reminds me of an eyeball—yeah, me too!
Lean down and take a whiff of this box of Melissa’s organic Bartlett pears I just opened, isn't it heavenly?
Have you ever noticed the texture of organic green chard? What’s it feel like to you? My grandmother's hands. Wow, I would have never thought that, but I can totally see how it would remind you of that!

I also had fun challenging a new team member to a produce-stocking challenge to see how many boxes each of us could stock in 4 hours. Spoiler alert: they won 42-40 and took home the Wing Stop gift card, but I did get the comment of “damn, I didn't think you could move that fast” as my runner-up prize.

Joy is contagious and can become part of our lives simply by creating space for it, by noticing all of the good that already exists. Joy-ifying the ordinary parts of your day can always begin with a single bite of produce in my world— perhaps it can in yours as well.

How does that old song go?

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

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