One thing I know for sure, joy is waiting for you to discover her. She is not elusive or hiding, she is right beside you. Most of us spend our lives thinking I will be happy “when” I lose 20 pounds, “when” I earn 6 figures, “when” I have time freedom. But here’s the thing; while you are waiting to achieve said milestone, your life is happening. Your opportunity to be peaceful or joyful is now, as tomorrow is not a guarantee. I am not writing anything you do not already know. We all know this. It is like losing weight or saving money, we all know what we need to do. But sometimes hearing or reading this message in a new way or new form helps it to sink in one level deeper.
I do not know about you but lately I have been feeling like it is becoming more difficult to find joy and much easier to feel the pain of this world, especially as of late. Partly I believe this to be true because as I approach my late 40s so does my inner circle of friends. My tribe is circling that age where parents are aging, all too common mid-life diagnoses are popping up unwelcomed, and big shifts are happening as families transition into the next phase of life with kids leaving for college. Mother earth also seems to be on a mission to hit the reset button. I do not mean to be chide by this comment but truly, the past few weeks of fires, suffocating smoke, violent hurricanes and earth quakes has been, well let’s just say a little over the top.
We all have life circumstances that challenge us on a daily basis. All of us. No one escapes life unscathed. Complicated and difficult relationships, finances, chronic pain, addictions, you name it. Even the people out there driving Land Rovers and wearing Lulu Lemon have difficult life circumstances, it just may not seem so. I remember a few years back when I was going through a particularly challenging time I could not keep my mind quiet while in downward dog at the Union. I would think to myself all these women, perfect bodies, decked out in Lulu, driving their Land Rovers… their lives must be blissful compared to mine. The whole point of going to flow yoga at the Union was to help my body and mind transcend into a higher and more positive frequency and instead I left the yoga studio feeling inadequate and frustrated. Blah Blah Blah. Get a grip Shelley. Fortunately with steady self-work and the tincture of time the negative self talk has subsided and I am finding that I am coming more and more into my own as I approach the later half of my 40s. Thank God and knock on wood !
Seeking or acknowledging joy in the simplest aspects of life is one of the ways I stay centered. You might assume based on some of my writings and the simple fact that I have a daughter with a significant disability that my life is filled with hardship and despair. I would be lying if I said you were totally wrong and that my reality is actually all about feeling #blessed and pink unicorns. I guess the truth lies somewhere in the middle and I owe Elle a huge amount of gratitude for showing me every day that joy is just waiting for me to welcome her into my life. For example, last Sunday morning while I was putting clean sheets on my bed, I could hear Tim and Elle in the bathroom taking a shower together. Yes, Elle takes showers with us on a regular basis. All of the sudden I heard Tim and Elle singing a little song they made up “Clean out the cracks… I say clean out the cracks”. I started giggling to myself. Oh my gosh how ridiculously cute is that… a 40 something year old papa in the shower with his 15 yo daughter singing a little tune of clean out the cracks. If you can’t find joy in this moment then you may want to schedule a visit with a therapist.
I guess what I am trying to convey today is if you are struggling with where you are at in life, do a self check and examine whether or not you are making time for joy. I know this is kind of an old cliché self help theme and it has been written about a zillion times … but it really is a thing. Take time to really appreciate what is golden in your life. Take a moment to truly feel your spouses warm embrace. Get excited with your child when he shares something funny that happened at school. Run your fingers through your daughter’s silky hair while you watch America’s Got Talent on the well loved sofa. This is what matters. This is what’s precious. This is what life is about.
PS. I love this picture of my mom and all her sugar cookies… this is one type of Joy.