Living my list

Jun 09

Living my list

Lately I’ve been making a list of words and things and actions and fluff that bring me joy.  It’s a mish-mash of inspiration: the trendy word art that is everywhere these days, my own in-process word wall, and an exercise in joy-seeking.  That’s how I see myself: I’m a relentless joy-seeker.

  • swing high
  • climb mountains
  • say cheers
  • share dessert
  • twirl
  • watch the sunset
  • dare to be silly
  • write in the sand

I’ve no doubt I will come up with more, but this is what was on my list in the middle of last week.  I’ve only written down a few things: the ones that are striking and poignant and personal to me.   I do hope to add more if they are worthy of the others.

Also in the middle of last week I got together with some of my very best girlfriends.  As good friends do, they probed at how am I doing.  I brushed them off and I said, “You know how I am.  I’m Doing Today Well.  I’m finding joy.  I’m Momming.  I’m loving my life.”  All true.  And then they asked the “Yes, but…” questions of what about cancer the elephant.

And I got really, really sad.

And I don’t really think I need to explain the sadness to you O People of the Internet–because you read this blog, you know.

And, I’ve since gently asked those friends to stop poking the elephant because processing it and sharing it and weeping over it does not make it better.  My problem is unfixable: the only choice I have is to walk it out with as much joy and grace as I can.  Discussing the ugly side of things only leaves me with a headache and the wistful thought that I wasted those sad minutes when I could have been doing any one of a million things that would result in change/joy/empowerment/goodness.

Many tell me: it’s good to process and get-it-out.  I’ve decided to push back and say, “No.  I AM grounded in my situation.  I DON’T feel better.”  I’m too busy living to let “what ifs” come in and mess with my head.

When I was feeling sad that night, I escaped.  I was feeling so sad I was choking on sadness.  I drove away without a destination in mind.

It was dusk, and I was not far from my old elementary school.  I pulled into the parking lot and headed straight for the playground.  I found the swings: the swings I swung on in fourth grade.  The swings I rediscovered my senior year of high school.  The swings I did my very best thinking on through my very young adult years.  I swung myself to peace, and contentment, and joy.  I heard God whispering to me on the swing: peace restored.  I know how to do this life, this gifted life.


Sadness can seep in to all of our lives: expected/unexpected, fast/slow, deep/shallow.  The choice is ours for what to do with it.  Wallowing is tempting, but wallowing breeds more sadness.  On this night I unconsciously went to my list of joy (because that is what I’ve conditioned my brain to do), and it paid out in folds.

As I got off the swings, full of fresh air, new perspective, and peace from God, this is what greeted me:


Another from my list of happy things: the sunset.  As I watched the colors changed, I leaned on the sign to my left.  As the colors ran from violet to orange, I noticed what I was leaning on.  The sign.  A sign.IMG_0024

Yes, you got that right.  I was leaning on FREEDOM.  It scissored the last of my worry and I breathed in life.

I walked away that night with my resolve restored: Do Today Well is a worthy mission.  I am enough.  I am beloved.

And this week, I’m continuing to put joy-seeking practices to work:


I’m (hopefully) teaching these two about finding joy, feeling joy, and creating joy.


**Many of you ask and tell me “How do you do it? / I don’t know how you do it!”  This is a very real account of how I do it.  I choose it.  I work hard for it.  I fight with everything I’ve got to Do Today Well.  There is no magic; I’m not special.  It’s plain old-fashioned hard work.  And so. very. worth. it.



  1. Lisa Smith /

    It’s like before we were parents and we had very strong opinions about how we would ‘parent’ and what our kids would be like…. right? Well-intended folks can just be downright full of crap… until they are in the situation and they realize how very different things are in a different reality. I’m so sorry to hear you were choking on sadness my sweet friend. I will be the first to admit, at one time, I wanted you to ‘deal with things’ more than I thought you might be and possibly be a little less cheery about it all. What the hell do I know?!? Absolutely fricken nothing about living through stage 4 cancer, menopause, post-chemo and the list goes on. I’ll tell you what I DO know: I want to be more like you Jen Anderson. May I have a shred of your work ethic and relentless-joy-seeking character, Dear God! Bless you sweet friend. Sending all the love I have to you. xoxo

  2. Jennifer /

    You are an inspiration Jen. I continue to pray for you – may you live and do today well for many, many, many moons.

  3. Lori6NV /

    I remember sneaking off and swinging on my elementary school swings after my high school graduation. It seemed so soothing and grounding in a time of (what seemed then like) upheaval. How profound that you chose to swing away your sadness in such a nostalgic place. Know this: you make a difference. What you do doesn’t just work for you, it empowers so many others — right here — even those of us who only know you electronically. Stay happy and twirly, my friend. 🙂 And put a trip to Vegas on that word list / wish wall. 😉

  4. Swinging is so very therapeutic that we have one right in the yard. We babysit and the kids love it as much as I do. To swing away the pain and frustrations that are inevitable in life is a sweet sweet luxury. Not everyone has a swing. Thank you, Jen, for your continued inspiration.

  5. Hannah /


    You have always been and continue to be amazing and such an inspiration!! I totally get your position on the elephant, when I was going through my own journey riding my own elephant I got many comments / concerns about me being in denial simply because I was putting my Jen hat on and ‘Doing Today Well’ or as I like to say ‘Dancing in the Rain’ and I had to very politely say to people, on the contrary, I know EXACTLY what is happening / could happen but this thing is simply too big for me to think about all at once and doing so would make me sad / possibly make me crumble with the sheer weight of it and I simply refuse to both crumble and give this thing any more energy in that way than it deserves i.e. none. Being sad about it isn’t going to change the outcome it simply changes the life you lead in between.

  6. Rebecca /


  7. Kris /

    Swinging. Something that only requires the will to want to swing and you determine how high or how low you go. More people should take time to swing through the air; it’s healing powers are amazing.

    As I read your post, I’m reminded of how this past weekend at church, we are told of how Jesus visited the disciples in the upper room and tongues of fire appeared to each of them. Thank you for being the disciple in our lives; reminding us to live each day, well.

  8. Bonnie J /

    Just looked out of the window and saw the rain and the following came to mind. … Hosea 6:3. So let us Know, let us Press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as Certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain. Like the spring rain watering the earth.

    This is a worship song that I find going through my heart when I feel overwhelmed by life. …. I sing it out LOUD !!
    Love you Jen

  9. Karen Almand / You are so right! None of our lives are perfect. We all live messy lives full of problems. Satan wants us to wallow in them. Thank you for reminding me of that. Thank you for reminding me to enjoy every day. We can do that if we choose to seek Him and look for the goodness. I love your beautiful soul! Enjoy your day!

    Karen from Memphis

  10. I don’t often comment. I don’t remember how I found your blog (maybe from Glennon’s blog?), but I want you to know what an inspiring woman you are. My Dad went through chemo and radiation and I could tell from his personality during that time that he was showered with such amazing love and caring from everyone helping him. However, he still went home without all those people and had to buy groceries, do laundry… Life is tough at the best of times, but you are obviously a very strong woman, thanks be to God! Thank you for sharing your life with us. I am sure I can speak for many that you are an inspiration and held in the prayers of so many people who love you without even knowing you! What a wonderful role model for those two lovelies of yours, and for us too!

  11. Thank you for this life lesson. People want to help and mean well but really don’t know how unless they have walked in your shoes.
    You have been an inspiration to me and because of your willingness to share your inner feelings, I am trying to live more in the moment after all, none of us are promised tomorrow.
    Keep swinging on swings, watching the sunsets and making memories.

  12. Julie /

    Sadness, self-reflecting, sweetness all rolled into one. Love this entry and love you. Forward girly is all we can do and you choose to do it well 🙂

  13. Genora /

    Jen, you are such an inspiration! Stay strong in your Faith and Love for Christ, Self, Family and Life, don’t ever change! God forever, bless and keep you.

  14. Marion /

    Still loving your words! How you are choosing to live life, to mother, to grow is awesome. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Christin /

    I’m so thankful for your words and for the way you live your life for us to see. You lead us into the daily battle to Do Today Well. I choose to follow you, my strong, courageous, and loving leader, into the battle for today. March on!