Dakota’s July Joy Report

joy /dʒɔɪ/ (n.): the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires

I first encountered this idea from a friend, Chelsea, who published her first “joy report” on her blog, sounding lustig. (Be sure to check her out on Instagram and Twitter!) I could go on and on about how she heard about “joy reports” from someone, and that person heard about them from someone else. But that’s not the point.

The point is that it was a fantastic read. To just escape this crazy world for a minute and read about things that bring someone joy was exactly what I didn’t know I needed.

I don’t have to tell you that things are just unbelievably bonkers in the world—especially the United States—at the moment. I’m not going to get into all of it, but here are some links to get you started: Black Lives Matter & Coronavirus Pandemic.

So… what brings me joy?

A Socially-Distanced Getaway

Fresh air and nature can do wonders for one’s mental health. After the COVID-19 pandemic put all of our summer plans on hold (which included a two-week trip traveling around Europe following my dissertation defense), my husband and I decided we needed to do something.

We have both been working remotely since mid-March. Being cooped up in our house in front of our computers for three months had given us some real cabin fever. To combat this, we planned a trip to rural southern Missouri. We booked a cute Airstream camper through AirBnB and planned canoeing, kayaking, and hiking adventures in the Current River/Ozarks areas.

Traveling during a pandemic can be highly uncomfortable and difficult. We specifically chose this trip because we did not have to come into close contact with people. If we did, we wore masks and sanitized.

Our trip lasted about a week, sandwiched between two weekends in Shawnee, Kansas visiting my mother and brother. We spent three days doing various outdoor activities: canoeing, kayaking, and hiking. Check out the pictures below from our float trips along the beautiful Current River. We saw natural springs, caves, cascades, and various other beautiful sites.

After current river, we made our way to Hermann, Missouri. It’s a quaint little wine town. We stayed at the Hermann Crowne Suites. It’s a beautiful boutique hotel in the center of Hermann. One of the perks of staying here was the door-to-door shuttle service. All we had to do was call Lisa, and she’d pick us up at one location and take us to the next. We had a great afternoon of wine and cheese tastings.

Some of the wineries we toured include:

Some people will say, “Stopping in Hermann isn’t worth it.” I can tell you, though, that we really did enjoy it! Check out some of our pictures below.

Family Time & Memory Lane

As I said earlier, our travels to Current River and from Hermann, Missouri took us through Shawnee, Kansas. This gave us the opportunity to visit my brother and his fiancée, as well as my mother, sister, and stepfather.

On our way down, we spent the weekend with my brother. His fiancée, Lina, is an LPN, so we felt very comfortable visiting people who have also been taking the COVID-19 pandemic very seriously. Luckily, Tanner and Lina have their own pool, so we were able to spend the entire day outside relaxing. It was definitely much needed after the first six months of this crazy year!

Two other important things happened while I was in Shawnee: I got to (window) visit my grandmother and I retrieved a box of old photos from my mother.

For those of you who don’t know, my grandmother had throat cancer quite a few years ago, and the damage resulted in her losing her ability to speak. Honestly, I don’t remember exactly when she lost her speech, but we have adapted to texting and some homemade sign language to communicate. What is particularly difficult about the window visit, though, is that she can’t talk on the phone.

Normally, during the pandemic, you walk up to the window and call your loved one. This allows you to look at them and talk. My Grandma Carolyn and I can’t do that. Instead, I stood at the window and we texted back and forth. It was so good to see her, and she as clearly VERY EXCITED to see me. I don’t make it to Shawnee very often, but this definitely made the tip worth it.

Visiting my mother also meant that I got to retrieve and old box of photos. I’ve been waiting for this box of photos for quite some time, so I was very happy to get to go through them. There’s something very special about sitting around a table with family and thumbing through photos. “Who’s that?” and “Where was this?” are common questions. “Oh, I remember visit Grandpa in Las Vegas!” As you can see, this brought me a lot of happiness which is why it made it into this Joy Report. See some of my favorite pictures below.

Final Touches & Printing

The last thing I want to touch on in my July Joy Report is the finishing of my doctoral dissertation. As you may have read in my previous post, Work-Life-Study, for the past (nearly) four years, I have been teaching full time and working on my Ph.D. full time. In June, I finally finished writing my entire dissertation. That meant it was time to send a few parts off for someone else to have a look.

I chose to send my work off to JEK Proofreading & Editing, and I cannot even begin to say how happy I am with the results. Jessica is an old colleague and dear friend of mine, so I knew I wanted to hire her services. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but she completely exceeded any expectations I could have had. The attention to detail and effort put forth in her revisions and comments were second to none.

After reviewing the 300+ comments and suggestions, I finally sent my dissertation for printing on July 23. With the help from another friend, Sarah, I designed a super cool cover. My dissertation will be in two volumes, and I cannot wait to see it in it’s printed form!

Now that it’s off to the printers, I can take some time for myself and focus on other creative activities. Stay tuned to see what fun hobby I’ll pick up next!

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