Musings: Moments of Joy on the Mid-Shore by Angela Rieck


I have had a tough couple of years, with the death of my Dad, my husband and my beloved dogs. Basically, my losses (there are too many to list), required me to end my career and move back to the Eastern Shore to start over.

The hardest part has been dealing with profound and unrelenting grief. After reading over 20 self-help books, I came to realize that they didn’t really help because all I wanted to know was when this grief period would end. I discovered that everyone’s grief is unique, so I began to search for tips from the positive psychology field that could help me move forward.

A particularly helpful tip was to record moments of joy. Unlike grateful living (another good tip), the moments of joy technique has me write down each moment of joy that I experience, no matter how trivial.  The goal is to find at least 3 each day and watch my entries improve. It allows me to see my own growth, but also changes focus from sadness to joy.

Moments of joy can be as simple as the smell of coffee in the morning, a cardinal at the bird feeder, a smile from a sales clerk.  But my shroud of grief was virtually impenetrable and I struggled unsuccessfully to find any joy.

It was early December when I began my quest for joy. After a couple of fruitless days and nights, I was driving toward St Michaels one evening and I crossed the Oak Creek bridge. On the left I experienced a fantastic display of meticulous lighted trees sparkling in the cold clear air, the brightly colored lights of blue, red, green and white reflected flawlessly on the water.  

And there it was, my first moment of joy.

I write this to thank all who spend time and money putting up holiday decorations, you may not know it, but you may be providing someone their moment of joy.

Angela Rieck was born and raised on a farm in Caroline County. After receiving her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland, she worked as a scientist at Bell Laboratories and held management jobs at AT&T, HP and Medco. Angela is also a wife, mother and an active volunteer serving on the Talbot County School Board for 13 years and fostering and rehabilitating over 200 dogs. After the death of her husband, Dr. Rieck returned to the Eastern Shore to be with her siblings. With a daughter living and works in New York City, she and her dogs now split their time between Talbot County and Key West, FL.

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