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Finding Joy in the Little Things By caitlin mcgarry

I have chosen to take photos of different ways joy is represented in my community. I think that this topic should be emphasized at this time because many of us are facing challenges during this pandemic and staying positive is very important. I have seen many people around me doing things that possibly bring them joy over these past couple of months and it makes me happy to see how my community is able to find a silver lining during this time. I know that feeling joyful is contagious and by taking pictures of different instances where it is represented, I can make viewers feel joyful.

I think it is very easy to disregard all the joy we see around us. The little things in life are constantly being taken for granted, like signs that have positive messages on them, time spent with pets, and walks around the neighborhood. During these unsuppressed times, it's important to appreciate what we have. From a healthy family, to shoes we can walk in, there is nothing we should be taking for granted. In the photos I took, I tried to capture these moments that people tend to take for granted; treating yourself to ice cream, playing with your dog, enjoying a meal at a restaurant, and spending time with your family. During this pandemic, I have had time to reflect on my life and realize how much I have to be grateful for. These small signs of joy are what kept many people feeling positive throughout quarantine.

I hope that when people see the images I’ve captured, they feel encouraged to spend more time focusing on joy. Everyday, it is important to do tasks that make us happy and to be able to notice the joy that is all around us. These pictures should also bring people joy. Seeing how the community continues to stay positive when it is considerably easy to not do so, is heartening.

Patrick Raddatz, a 4th grader, makes a run for it with his dog’s toy at Forest Hills Park on March 11, 2021. Pets often bring joy to their owners, while owners also bring joy to pets, making their bond so strong. (Lead)
People spend time enjoying the nice weather at the Forest Hills Park on March 11, 2021. Letting loose and spending time outside are great ways to feel joyful. (Scene)
Patrick Raddatz’s puppy, Buddy, who is a Labrador, enjoys a peaceful day-nap on the couch to recuperate from playing outside so much on March 11, 2021. Sometimes joy is found in the most quiet times. (Close up)
My 13 year old dog, Toby, who is a toy poodle, relaxes on the carpet with his paw out after eating dinner on the night of March 11, 2021. The cracks in his paws have formed over many joyous years in our home and represent his positive impact on my family’s life. (Detail)
Patrick Raddatz shows off his gymnastic skills on the Forest Hills playground’s monkey bars after school on March 11th, 2021. His face lights up with joy as he skips a bar! (Portrait)
While I was taking a walk on March 7, 2021, a sign of joy was spotted; Through the dirty sidewalk in Downtown Western Springs, a smiley face is drawn on, reminding passing people to stay positive. (Detail)
William Diver, who’s 5 years old pushes his 2 year old brother, Quinn, on the swing at Spring Rock Park on March 3rd, right before sunset. Brothers bonding at the park is a joyful sight to see. (Portrait)
A woman enjoys her time working through a cross words puzzle on February 27, 2021 at Panera in LaGrange. Being able to find peace in all the chaos around us is truly a gift and sign of joy. (Portrait)
Customers enjoy some ice cream at Oberweis during the warm afternoon of March 3, 2021, while being surrounded by colorful decorations. Pops of color around town help put a smile on everyone’s face and ice cream undeniably brings joy to many lives! (Signature)
A positive reminder for everyone to consider is hung up outside of Park Middle School off of Ogden road, which I spotted on February 25, 2021. A boring drive home can become so much better after reading these inspiring words. (Clincher)