“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” so goes the adage that has been instructive to me since childhood. If we are to create our own joy and our own lives with our own hands, then it has done me well to remember to be grateful for what I already have. A bird in the hand represents, to me, the idea of appreciating what we’ve got. Of looking around and finding contentment in the people, ideas, and moments we hold dear without trying to apprehend more than our share or risking the beauty we already have for selfish or needless pursuit.

It is the lesson Dorothy learned in The Wizard of Oz. To gather our joy, we need to begin in the home, inside of us, in that place deep within where the authentic self dwells. We recognize the birdsong—the freely winging sounds of joy—that are part of all of us if only we take the time to listen to ourselves.

The image of a “bird in your hand” conjures for me, also, an ancient writing tool: the quill. I imagine taking a bird feather, dipping it into ink, dripping that ink a bit onto my writer’s bump, and writing my own story—usually in the thick cover of night, a silent time, a time to hear one’s inner singing voice.

We must each hand a hand in writing our own narratives. As I begin the new year, I am enjoying my first freelance editing client, a friend from Toast of the Valley Toastmasters, Dr. Sana Johnson-Quijada. Sana, a psychiatrist, writes a tip a day on how to be a friend to yourself at http://www.friendtoyourself.com . What moves me most about her work is her authentic voice, a voice which urges readers gently toward self-care. Self-care, like writing, is a process of constant revision. We must constantly revise ourselves, hone the language of our personal stories, and gather our authentic joy.

Blogging for many years, I have most recently been keeping our McGaugh Family blog at  http://sarahmcgaugh.blogspot.com.  Focused on finding beauty in daily existence with my husband and children, it is time to merge my interests of gathering joy, writing, and helping others with their writing into one location: birdinyourhand. Writing is a way to keep our eye trained on our authentic selves, and I would welcome the chance to help other writers to find their voices while continuing to find my own. Periodically I will post excerpts of the work Sana and I are doing together—well, really, she is doing all the work of finding her innermost thoughts to help others, and I proofread it. Other times, I will post my own writing, reflecting upon the way our actions and our perspectives write our history.

The first action is to cultivate a spirit of gratitude, and in this, to remember the bird in your hand.

As the new year begins, we know we have many opportunities to create for ourselves, and to give to others, new joy.

Let us gather our joy through writing together and through listening to our birdsong voice that flutters in our hearts.

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