Monday, May 20, 2013

The Power Of Joy.

A dear friend wrote to me this morning to tell me a little about the sermon at her church yesterday - it was about 'enthusiasm'.

Reading about ‘enthusiasm’ made me think about my NIA teacher and her relationship with joy.

I was talking with her about another of my dear friends, who works hard, up and about and moving all day long, she eats relatively little, and yet she is heavier than she would choose to be, and she hates it.  I said that for the amount she eats relative to the amount she moves, it makes no sense for her to be so uncomfortably upholstered, and my teacher said ‘well yes, but what does she do for joy?’. The more we have talked about it, and the more I have put names and physical attributes together with lifestyle and behaviour, the more I have realised that those who move with joy are the ones who lose the weight they hate.  Those who move with joy are the ones who beat cancer.  Those who move with joy are the ones who live well, love wholeheartedly, and are happy, in feast and in famine.

I have noticed that we often wear our moods like a badge of honour, and that, sometimes, that badge is actually poking a hole in our soul with the sharpness of it's pin.

And so, I threw out a challenge to my dear friend, and it went like this... you should read it like I'm talking to you, because this is a universal challenge, open to all who dare to step out of their routine and live a different life.

Dear friend, my challenge for you, be it a new way to exercise or something else entirely, is to find something, anything, however small, that brings you joy, and spend a little time with it every day. 

Some people move, some people write, some people put their hands in the dirt, some people meditate, some people cook, some people have pets - it doesn’t matter what it is, but it must be there just for the joy. A pet is a big responsibility, but that feeling of being unconditionally loved is joyful. Cooking for the family is a daily requirement, but some days, just getting out in the kitchen and creating something beautiful for the fun of it can be joyful.

I do NIA, and I watch my friends little ones, and I work at the yarn store, and I rep for my friend Karin and her yarns, and I raise my daughters, and keep my house, and some days it feels like the world is tugging at my skirts ‘mum, mum, can you help me with…?’, all the time. 

But there are always joyful moments in there, moments in NIA where the movement feels so free, so cheerful, moments with the young children where the baby falls asleep on my shoulder or the little 4 year old boy climbs into my lap and pretends to be a little mouse and there is pure happiness. Moments at the store where I remember who I am and that I am strong and capable and clever and a good teacher and a calming influence and a good organiser and a fun person to be around, and all of that feels good. Moments with friends where we’re just so in tune that we don’t need to finish the sentence. Moments, many moments, with my daughters, where they are just sunshine itself and all the worries and anxieties just fall away, powerless in the face of happiness and laughter. Moments where even cleaning the house can feel successful and cheering and uplifting - we are slowly going around painting over all the dark brown depressing doors and trim with shiny white paint, and the whole mood of the place is changing, not only because of our sunshine but because of the light and the colour that is pouring into our lives from outside.

Find your joy, I wrote to my friend, wherever it is hiding, look for it, find it, label it ‘joy’ and then immerse yourself in it. It’s incredibly empowering, wonderfully uplifting, and I have a feeling that your weight will no longer be a burden to you, emotionally or physically, if you can find a way to focus on the sunshine rather than the chores. It’s easy to go along burdened and weighed down by the daily grind of chores and maintenance and health needs and phone calls and emails and and and, the media shows us that everyone lives that way - but it’s not true, the smart people don’t live that way, they live in a place where gratitude and enthusiasm and joy are the cornerstones, not debt and burden and failure.

We can’t be irresponsible, we can’t let go of our responsibilities, our chores, our bills, but we CAN and we SHOULD move them to a lower level of importance in our day. They need to be taken care of, but they’re just details, what REALLY matters today?

For me, what really matters today is that my fabulous pet sitter understands how very welcome she would be here as part of our home and family - she’s a young lady from the yarn store who I work with on Sundays, she’s great and she was in a panic because she has nowhere to stay after the end of July… except now she has a room in my house while she looks after our pets and we get to go on vacation! Everybody wins!  :-)

What really matters today is that I get some time to hug my girls and catch up with what’s going on in their lives, I had 15 minutes with Becca this morning where she told me about her courses for fall and how excited she is to have got the courses she really wanted, and her wish to go to camp overnight in mid-June, and her hopes of having a job as a TA in the fall, and that her papers are falling out of her accordion file so she really needs a new one!

This afternoon, I need that time with Caity.

What really matters today is that I get 90 minutes at the park with my little friends, where we can enjoy the sunshine, and I can watch the beautiful little girl's hair get blown around by the wind, and I can watch the wonderful 4 year old boy run for all he is worth, and be reminded of the joy of just being alive.

What matters today is that I connect with you, for a little while, and remind you that you have so much to offer the world that is important and life-changing and invaluable to us all.

I need a new checkbook, I need to book the dentist, I need to clean the house a bit, I need to move some furniture to make room for our new petsitter , but those things are not the cornerstones of the day. The joy of the four young people who inhabit this day, the love of you, my dear friend, the encouragement of my friend who needs a place to stay for a while - THOSE are the cornerstones of Monday, those are the gifts I can give and the blessings I receive.

What are yours? Can you identify the difference between the chores you need to get done today and the things that really matter to you today? Can you find the joy in the things that really matter? Can you find satisfaction in crossing off the chores? Can you spend a little time in a place where your heart is full, and then take that feeling on into the rest of the day with you?

You and I may never be in the same room at the same time, but it will never matter, because we are always going to be friends, the world is not big enough to keep us apart. And the world is not big enough to keep you from living the life you want to live, so pick one thing, today, one small thing, for the love of it, and let yourself feel positive things.

It feels a little strange to start with, this act of purposefully putting joy into your day, but it will become a habit. Choose happy, my friend, actively choose it, every day, I think it will make your journeys MUCH more successful.

Much love to you, and grateful thanks for the journey that you helped me get started on - your faith in me, your encouragement, your love, they all helped to keep me moving forward in positive and strengthening ways, even on the darkest days, and I hope that one day I am able to reach you in the same incredibly powerful way and offer back to you the strength and courage you have given.


I hope that, by sharing what began it's life as a personal message between two friends, I have given you all something to think about today, and that you will find the courage to change one small thing about your day, in order to make space for some sunshine.

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