Just Joy

I’m recycling an old mantra for the new year, one I made up a while back. Just joy.

Just joy comes in really handy for what I like to call those “situations of the moment.”

Like when your cat pukes on the carpet and you step in it on your way out the door…IMG_1517 copyyour to-go coffee lid pops off and spills all over you and the driver’s seat…and you miss your train to work by a millisecond. Take a deep breath. Just joy.

Sometimes they pile up – those little or not-so-little things that make life seem difficult, annoying, or even occasionally unbearable. Some of us have the ability to look at the bright side no matter what, and others of us need a reminder. Just joy.

It’s been a whopping three degrees for a week now, with no end in sight. Climate change or cruel joke from the weather gods, doesn’t matter. It’s absolutely painful to go outside. Just joyIMG_7822

You’re just sitting down to open presents on Christmas Day with your family, and your ex-husband and his wife show up unannounced…and stay for brunch. Surprise! Just joy.

IMG_3654When you have a fire in the fireplace, are pajama’d up and hunkered down to watch a movie and that feeling of dread sets in because Internet TV options are overwhelming. There’s too much to choose from.

And, despite the “turbo blast” internet you pay for, your TV can’t keep up with your scrolling.    Click click click, lag lag lag, ugh ugh ugh.    So you give up and go to bed. Just joy.

When you wake up in the middle of the night with social justice anxiety because you feel like America has become a corporate dictatorship, run by the cable company and a crazy government, and you realize you are whining about First World problems but don’t really care because in that moment it’s all relative. No guilt! Just joy.

When you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions your kids might want to make, then you realize resolutions don’t work anyway…either does judging (or hounding) your kids… Just joy.

When the toilet is clogged, your grey roots sprouted too soon, you’re out of milk, and it’s way too cold to go outside…doesn’t even matter! No need to invest in stress.

Because when life seems unsolvable ~ it’s actually really not.

Say it with me.

Just joy.joy



Partaking In Joy Is Part Of Our Daily Grind

Wisdom food for thought:

Do we define joy by achieving a desired outcome? Or is the joy on the path itself?

soul food 1

I don’t really feel like chewing on that, because like the rest of the human race, I just want to feel the joy whenever I want, which of course, is always. But it doesn’t work that way for the majority of us, so I’m trying to figure it out.

When Sir Husband received the news that he was getting his dream job a couple of months ago and we would be moving back home, we felt this burst of joy coming through us at light speed. Ironically, it was exhausting and we experienced some weird physical symptoms that are typically signs of distress. Bathroom issues…GERD…headaches…and both of us stopped sleeping.

It was weird because we were so excited that our path was finally changing for the better, so why were we so wiped out? Years of heavy stress finally lifting, and cloud nine was wearing us down. Oh we were definitely happy, we just didn’t expect the process of executing the joy to feel different than how we defined joy itself. It didn’t seem to make sense. Joy after all, is a feeling. Or is it?


When I mentioned this to local guru Dr. Christiane Northrup, she laughed and said, “Correct – your body and mind don’t know what to do with all the toxic overload from the past now that it’s over.” As we know, emotional toxicity can cause physical symptoms from stress, and we’ve had plenty of that. So turns out feeling joy is actually a process. Who knew?

pathAfter a few weeks on our new path of joy we noticed something else. That joy doesn’t always override the daily stressors. Life still happens in all of its grit and glory no matter what. That also tripped us up. Hold on – we have joy now, why is sh*t still happening that feels stressful? First we’re joyful and tired, then we’re joyful, stressed and tired, doesn’t joy win out and erase life’s other junk? Easy answer, no.

Intellectually I guess we knew this, but when you get a taste of pure joy, you don’t want it to leave. So things had to become a matter of perspective.

We habitually went to feeling sad or bad when anything went “wrong,” but interestingly yin yangthe joy of our new path was still happening. Is it possible to experience both things at once?  Stress and joy linked in a yin yang circle bouncing like a super ball through our daily existence?

The goal I’m told, is to experience joy as the constant undercurrent that rises to the surface – and here’s the key – when we let it. So that begs the wisdom question again, is joy in the desired outcome or is it on the path? Only we can know.


no guts no glory

(Notes from the Universe)

When Going With The Flow At Light Speed Don’t Forget To Breathe

life struggleWow. Is looking at our life from the outside as exhausting as it is to live it? Because we are in a swirl-wind so speedy that we can barely catch our breath. Only this time it’s all good.

My life has always been a little swirly. We don’t sign up for the lives we have, or maybe we actually do. But I don’t have time to debate where our life stories originate. Right now I’m so busy rewriting ours, I’m having trouble keeping up.

I can’t say it ALL started when Sir Husband secured a new job last week, ALL is a very long time. I’m talking about the latest chapter, that is revealing each page as we go.

His new job is in Boston, so we decided to move back. That decision alone opened up Pandora’s box. Where will we live when we get there, and more importantly how will we pay? Massachusetts is way high up in its cost of living ranks.

After accepting that reality, the search for a home could begin. We aren’t going to buy off the bat, it’s happening way too fast. We have to sell the house we’re in now and he starts his new job next week. We began looking online at rentals in the towns we might want to live. Fortunately I lived there for decades, so I’m familiar with the land.

Here is where “go with the flow” has become our most valuable tool. We’ve struggled with this notion before, but sometimes it’s not a choice, which we’re learning now. Every hour stardustof every day it’s like we’re being hustled by Divine Powers That Be. Doors are opening quickly and things are falling into place. This concept of things aligning with ease is often referred to as “flow.”

Flow is when things go smoothly, when we’re swimming with the tides and the current carries us along without us efforting our cause, worrying or stressing out. And as busy and tiring as it may seem in the moment, flow is life-change for good.

We’ve had to let go and surrender ourselves to allowing it all to work out. That is a big deal, as humans we want to be in control, and we try with all our might. We hear a lot about surrendering, some call it “Let go and let God.” Whatever words make it feel right, it doesn’t change the facts. If you trust in the Divine, yourself and in life, it will likely work out really well.

This a new way to function for sure, because trusting for us takes work. But ironically because it’s all working out, we’re learning quickly to trust.

It’s hard not to smile when we’re feeling the flow, in spite of the breathless fatigue. There’s a happy invigoration that shows to the outside world. When a dear friend noticed our flow first hand she wasn’t sure what to say.

“How do I learn to be your friend when you’re happy and everything’s fine?”

That was the funniest thing I’ve heard in a while, but honestly she was right. For years our life’s swirl was negative, crazy and hard but our new status quo is flow. Sounds a lot like balance to me. Kind of like breathing in and then out. First we’re receptive, then we let go. As sure as our breath our life flows.





It’s My Turn Now, In Spite of My Inner Child

Let me introduce you to my inner child. She’s a people pleaser.

Since I was little I always put other people first – whether it was playing a game on the be happyplayground or choosing what movie to see. They speak up about what they want or need, then I just go along with it – although some may beg to differ. Like my BFF from high school whose home economics assignment was late because I monopolized the sewing machine.

On the outside I appear as an extrovert-taking-care-of-business-and-me type of human, but surprise…I’m a wee bit shy, introverted, and don’t want anyone to hate me. My inner child prevails.

I think this puts me in the “sensitive” category, a trait I don’t deny. Sensitive people can feel victimized by others, their environment, circumstances and situations. We just want to fit in so personal needs get bumped. It’s not necessarily conscious, although we tend to “feel it.”

I’m not saying it’s healthy to live “you first” as a general rule. I overachieved it with my children, which also isn’t good. Of course putting their needs first is normal, but not when doing that means an excessive empathy factor keeps us from being ourselves.

Here’s where I speak my truth – for the second or third time ever. I can’t put my life on hold anymore, nor my dreams, desires or soul plan. It’s literally made me sick. Always catering to others – first my parents, then my first husband, my three children, then Sir Husband’s children – I lost myself along the way. It’s safe to say self-sacrifice has crippled my body and life.

Now it’s time to be the grown-up version of me.

harvard_shield_wreathSir Husband recently secured the job of his dreams and we both felt ecstatic joy, but it rattled my inner child. We will have move yet again, with the youngest still in school. My worry about how that would make him feel shot my empathy meter sky high.

I have worked incredibly hard to provide a stable life for my boys in spite of the addiction and abuse that surrounded us for years. Like most mothers do, I took on all their pain and harbored it in my heart. Although those days are over, it still quietly resides then comes up when challenges arise.

bostonWe won’t be moving far – two hours across a state line – but this is move number six in seven years, so my inner child spoke up. Only this time, adult me decided to have her say. I can’t wait to go, because this is going back to my home sweet home.

Sir Husband can’t wait either. We both postponed our dreams for the greater good of our families. We’re now literally touching our fairy tale and it’s imperative we take our turn. But what about our boy? He doesn’t want to go.

I have to be an adult now, without apologies or guilt. It’s ok to stop saying no to my life and letting others interrupt my joy. It’s trial by fire for my sensitive inner child, who must learn to be soothed by her soul. But I also know by doing that, it will help our youngest son.

When we claim our own needs, our children feel it too. That’s how we teach them the value of honoring our dreams, of confidence, strength and trust. The message itself is priceless.

So I’ll live from that place of inner joy then share it with the world. I’ll always be that little girl, finally all grown up.



My List Is So Long, I Just Want To Do Air Angels On My Yoga Mat

Here’s the thing. I couldn’t get to my list today. It’s rare, but my mind simply refused to opt-in with a lethargic resistance that left me lying on my yoga mat making air angels. Yea. I just lay there making invisible angels wondering what the hell was going on.

snow angel

This inability to task-manage was a big deal to me, especially lately as I’ve tried to keep my daily planner full of any required tasks that would help create the life I imagined. We all want the life we dream of right? I only recently learned that in order to get it we’re supposed to write things down – daily, weekly, yearly goals, priorities, agenda items, obligations, TO-DOs.

to do list

I’m not a fan of the planner. I’m not a planner, so why would I want to write down plans beyond whatever is on the family’s calendar? A planner is a giant to-do list. Which I decided today, is wretched. A to-do list puts a pressure on, that for some of us can weigh heavily on our very existence. For me anyway, for as long as I can remember, I have prioritized The List like it’s the giant Oz behind the curtain commanding my  supposed to’s…you better’s…and don’t forget’s  every single day.

I’ve worked the whole program to enhance managing both my tasks and my dreams – from my Desire Map planner, to vision boards, self-help card decks full of predictions, horoscopes, mantras, and all the soul algorithms we need to keep us on track. But O-M-G, we better have it all on the damn list.


I never, ever understood that the list technically is optional.

So without my regular level of habitual self-imposed pressure, I shifted into a hazy consciousness and flipped my list. I decided to try a NOT To-Do list. I looked at my planner opened to today, and closed it.

This whole opt-out thing must be some of build-up from the last several months of intense mental, emotional and spiritual work to take my life as a writer to the next level. I’ve had a lot of advice on how to move forward and what I need to do in order to make that happen. So I am signed up on so many social media lists, public groups, secret groups, forums, e-subscriptions, all of which take information overload to new heights, and succeeded in making me think I am doing it wrong. 

Everybody else’s way is right. They offer the key – the most optimal, coolest, quickest, easiest, super-duper, best-of-all plan to succeed, and if you just read, follow, sign up, watch, listen to, download, or buy theirs, you will certainly create the life you imagined in no time at all. Add to that the required list of important daily nutritional supplements, ideal foods, eight glasses of water, exercise, meditation, journaling, and don’t forget writing the to-do list, the gratitude list, and eventually sleep – you’ve now squeezed every ounce of energy out of yourself. I forgot about scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, responding to texts, emails, snail mail, and living.

boxA good friend said something that struck me the other day, “We have to let you out of the box.” Referring to a writing project I am working on that she is close to, she felt the parameters of the assignment were too defined. But something about her words struck a serious chord.

I’ve been boxed in for forever, defined by must-do, should-do, can-do, to-do lists that continually set limitations and removed my options. Until now.

I just wrote a new list. It’s called: Want To. And making air angels is on it.


anything but not everything

Changing The Lens of Loss Brings Focus to Life

The other day I received two texts from two husbands – past and present – at the same time. Bing bing. I didn’t know they were both texting me, I was precariously in plank position on my yoga mat in my bedroom, solid on my left toes and balancing on the big toe of my right foot – the one with a broken fourth toe. I’ve gotten really adept at using my big toe to manage the needs of my decrepit foot. It takes some concentration, and feels like I’m tempting fate.

Bing bing.  Bing bing. Ok ok. I stayed balanced in plank, reached for my phone an arm’s length away and put on my glasses with one hand. They wanted to let me know the father of someone who is like family to me had just died in a car accident.

I got off my toes, sat down on the mat and pet the cat who was curled up in the sun stream shining along the floor. I thought about my friend. Although I never thought our lives would disconnect a few years ago when I moved to a new state to be with my new husband, they did, which felt like its own death that I worked hard to accept. Now his father was gone, and so much emotion suddenly came back to life. That’s how it happens – mortality events swirl it all up and we’re left to sort it all out.

No one is exempt from loss. No one. It’s just about what we lose and the degree we feel it. As I thought about that, it occurred to me that I could write a 15-page list of the loss I have experienced in my life, and all of it matters. From pets to grandparents to my childhood and innocence, emotional safety and security, to every dime I ever had, my car, my marriage, home, my business, my mentor, my clinicians, my friends, some family, my in-laws, my step-children, my emotional health, my physical health…so much. And so much of it was lost at the hands of others, most of it out of my control.

Loss – especially when it comes out of nowhere – feels devastating. As we grapple with it and try to make sense of it, the heartbreak, pain, anger, sadness, shock, confusion, it’s brutal. Even when loss creeps up on us – slowly losing touch with someone, a derailed relationship, terminal illness – it can suck our life-force right out. And the aftermath can last, no matter how we try to assimilate it.

After a few flooded memories and a couple of deep breaths, I got back into plank, balanced on that toe, and finished my yoga. We went to the funeral a few days later, completely unsure what to expect as I had not seen or talked to my friend in six years. The more time that passed, the worse that loss felt.

When I saw him at the funeral he walked over and hugged me tightly for a long time. Tears filled our eyes. He whispered that he missed me and loved me. And when we stopped hugging he looked at me and touched his heart with his hand. The loss of his father brought us back together after years of separation and loss.

In that moment it all became clear. Time passes, but it’s about our lens, and the focus between our loss and our life that matters. Loss hurts and there’s no way around it. But we can feel it then change the lens, adjust it as often as we need to until we’ve shifted our focus from the loss to our life. And that focus comes from our heart. We must find that precarious balance in the present moment – no matter where we are or what we are doing – and embrace it.

Life always finds a way to lead us out of our loss, we just have to believe that and let it.


Hash-tagging As Fast As I Can: Contemporary Woman Can’t Keep Up


We live in a #hashtag #world that makes it #easy to become #overwhelmed #reading #socialmedia posts with everything #hashtagged. #wow.

I am pretty sure I’m doing something #wrong to not #hashtag #everything I #write. Anybody else #feel this way?

I #remember when it all started. I thought my #hipster son was just using one of his #idioms to be #cool. Little did I know that he was on the #cuttingedge of #existence as we #live it #today.

But in all seriousness, I can’t keep up with the hashtags. I’m told by my teenager I’m #doingitwrong. I believe that is the case, because I almost don’t get it. I do understand that this tags the world at large, and gets posts “out there,” but do I really need to do that? #why?

I don’t want to sound like one of those #old people who does not keep with today’s #modern youth. But I find myself sounding more and more like the generation who uses the words “I can’t keep up with those crazy kids.” That’s #crazykids.

When Facebook came on the scene, I held back, sort of not interested in reconnecting with old chums. Turns out I married one, so it was actually the best thing I ever did. But it took awhile to get on the #bandwagon, it seemed like one more thing to do. Since the launch of social media, it’s a lot more than “one thing.” It’s effectually the most time consuming endeavor of my life.

Not sure if I’m the only one who feels this way, but nobody really talks about it. Oh sure there are articles out there that advise cutting back on social media to improve #timemanagement #mentalclarity #bettersleep and #productivity. But does anyone #payattention to the #advice? I don’t see my hundreds of friends backing off of their social sites. How do people have the energy to post so many things #all-the-time?

I’m finding myself conflicted in a definable triangular vortex. One side is measured by stress-reducing advice: Relax about social media, it’s just there for what you make of it. Another side is labeled: Be sure you are active on any and all social media if you want your business known and launched. And then there’s the third angle: I want to keep up with the news – of friends, of people, of life. At the end of the day I still don’t know where the #priorities lie.

Here’s the bottom line (minus some could-be hashtags).

As long as I can remember, I have been trying to keep up with my life. There are many reasons for my anxious soul, that go back to the age of five. I have always felt like I was running from an often painful present toward some kind of calm and peace. But in spite of that running, I was able to productively function in a healthy way that worked. Without getting too complicated in analysis (#analysis,) I was able to manage the dysfunction around me, chronic pain, cancer, three children, divorce, near bankruptcy, remarriage, police protection from a psycho, six moves, working, and still bake cookies. Really good ones. #delicious.

But I’m older now, and sometimes find social media as paralyzing as it is enlightening. So I’m trying to figure out how to remember who I am, even reinvent myself because I want to not just #keepup but #thrive and #shine.

So I’ll look at social media as being an open door instead of an obstacle, which no doubt I’ll frequently choose to walk through. Our #decisions are up to us, regardless of #pressure from the world. Did I meet my quota on #hashtags? #bringiton


The Painful Lesson of A Broken Toe

Just when you think you have mastered the tricky balance of a broken toe – which by the way seems insignificant and you wonder why you are struggling so – you crack. Not just the psyche but the even the damn toe again.

What on earth caused me to wake up after the midnight hour with such debilitating pain I felt like a boulder had just smashed my foot? It certainly was not the light of the full moon glowing behind the sheer curtains and shades that cover our big bedroom windows.

I actually love moonlight. I just wasn’t planning on soaking it up as I quietly whimpered and wept in the wee hours from the pain. I actually did re-break my toe in both places, from simply moving around in my sleep. I didn’t know that our toes are fairly mobilized by our calf muscles, and when we flex them it pulls on the old metatarsals.

I’m perplexed why toes seem discarded when it comes to fixing them. My doctor was less than helpful, “There’s nothing you can do,” she said. So Sir Husband and I spent days after the unfortunate incident trying to find a way to splint the fourth toe on my right foot, which became maddening as we exhausted my options. A walking boot – didn’t help. Special tape – not so special. Buddy taping – made it worse. Ice, ibuprofen, valium, elevation, rest, wine. Nothing.

It’s now worse than ever and I’m getting worse for the wear. Typically a tough cookie, I’m feeling broken to the bone. A tiny toe…such big pain…I don’t get it.  What do you do with that when there is nothing you can do. No options? No choices? Now what. Please not a cast, I’m claustrophobic.

Even the simplest of functions, the ones I took for granted, are now hard. And I feel like such a wimp to boot.

“It’s tough to keep plugging away when life should be a damn bit easier,” a good friend texted when I told her my plight. She hit the nail on the head.

All I do is plug away but I think we’re supposed to plug in, to both our bodies and our lives. Ancient teachings of both East and of West talk about the body being a temple of sorts, one that is to be revered and respected, cherished and honored. I thought I did that, and I do, but maybe not enough. We’re a culture so focused on beauty and simultaneously on excess, so the message gets lost in the mix. Be sure you do all you can to be thin, but supersize everything else. I don’t do either, moderation is key, but it’s easy to get carried away.

Since the body houses the soul they say, which itself is a wondrous being, we need to honor ourselves as the vessel for which its contained. That’s a pretty big deal, housing our soul – a piece of the Divine – we are not separate from the Source.

So why do I keep plugging away, pushing and pulling in a tug of war with my body, its pain sending loud and clear messages. Slow down. Pay attention. Notice the stuff that I do for you – I keep you alive for crying out loud, did you forget about that by chance?  I’m actually a miracle.

Well now, that’s pretty significant and soothing. But so was the text from my friend. Sometimes all we need is a shoulder to lean on, and a soul prompt feels pretty good too.

toe walk

The Story of Love and Cable

One of the rarely discussed joys of a second marriage is cognizance. Being able to see things how they really are, not just how you hope they will be, is fantastic.

I especially love it when my friends who have been married to their original husbands for decades, share things like how Sir Husband and I will eventually tire of each other, want space in retirement, or my personal favorite – lose romance. I doubt it. We trudged through unhappiness to get to this point, it’s nothing but bliss ‘til eternity.

Married for several years now, we really only have one discrepancy. He wants enhanced cable TV, I am fine with bare basic. We both agree on no DVR, but he likes to have a choice of 70 channels, although he only watches five. What’s the issue you ask?

It’s expensive. The price point for cable TV is so high that it’s a questionable at best expense…to me anyway. To him it’s a pretty big deal. We aren’t a His/Hers type of marriage, we are united on most every front. But when it comes to this line item, it trumps even more useful-type things. Like vitamins. To me health comes before channels, but to him more channels helps health.

A year or so ago, I joined a team that sells what may be the most expensive vitamins on the planet, but are unmatched in purity and effectiveness. To be on the team we must purchase a monthly supply of the vitamins, which after trying them was fine, we noticed a marked improvement in how we feel. But then we ran into some home repairs that put a big dent in our budget. It came down to vitamins or cable, and the standoff continued for weeks.

It needs to be equal footing of course, but why not in my footsteps? If he just comes over to my way of seeing that cable is not all that, cognizance will prevail. Just kidding of course, our footing is both equal and fine. The real issue at hand is lack, and moving past our personal definitions of it. Lack can tug at your soul, and shadow the abundance you have.

We both came from marriages where love wasn’t real and truth was obscure, but money was plentiful. In fact, I think I had a thousand channels back in my other life and I didn’t understand it then, what’s the draw to excessive TV? So the money status of our marital pasts pokes at our psyches. Now we have nothing but real, honest love, and a much tighter belt on the budget. Choosing our expenditures carefully is a bit like learning to dance.

Who takes the lead? Whose toes get stepped on? And why are we so tuned in to this feeling of lack? It’s easy to pinpoint some answers, although I think they run more deep. My ex was a gambler, his ex a manipulator, so lack can feel quite real. We then cling to things that matter to us, like our vitamins and cable TV.

But as much as they matter, they really don’t we decided, because we’re not lacking in what truly counts. Plenty of love, romance and cognizance. When we noticed the abundance we already have, the standoff was quickly resolved. Vitamins are replaceable and less channels are fine. We’ve mastered our perfect dance.

029 hands copy

A Broken Toe Can Snap Your Balance

When the one thing that helps my body each day like a soothing medicinal elixir – yoga – propelled what I thought was a sprained toe into a snap-crackle-broken one, I was bummed. So bummed that I pretended it didn’t happen, until a couple of poses later when I couldn’t get off the floor without squealing.

I had tripped on our heavy iron boot tray just an hour before, and I didn’t realize how hard it hit. An athlete I am not. A seasoned and solid yogi and pilates connoisseur, I am. So I know that feet matter, they are the foundation of everything. What I would do now without my daily dose of whole-body zen? I’m not a yoga addict, I’m just attached to healthy habits and feeling better.

Healing is not a foreign concept to me – the body, the mind, the spirit – I have honed enough how-to-heal skills to know I need to take the break seriously. Literally. It’s a message of sorts, all of our woes and maladies offer us a chance to stop and reflect where we are putting our time and our energy. And our body often decides for us.

After the ice pack and ibuprofen took some of the sting out, I gave the issue some thought. We spend a lot of time running around on our feet, they pretty much carry the load. Our feet help keep us grounded, they’re our solid footing, offering stability and connection to the earth, wherever we may go. Our toes – vital parts of our feet – keep us balanced. They actually help center our feet on the floor, centering us in our daily life. When they give out, we notice.

It’s possible that we take our feet for granted. We are often running, all the time, on the go, maybe not even paying attention to whether we are on track or off-kilter. I clearly wasn’t paying attention when I broke my toe not once, but twice. I was so focused on my pace that I lost my sense of balance. My pressing desire to move forward threw me off center, literally.

It took a few minutes to come to my senses although the excruciating pain persisted. I didn’t want to waste time going to the doctor or have any x-rays done, but I did because that little voice in the back of my head nagged at me… what if…what if…what if. When I realized how much we rely on our feet in the day-to-day, I decided they’re a big deal.

Maybe that was the message, to notice the little big things that really make a difference. I’m now rethinking my feet and renewing my commitment to recognizing the value and importance of grounding and balance each day. That perpetual gratitude list now includes my feet.

But my yoga…what would I do? In my newfound paying attention I thought of something else. My broken toe and weakened foot can rest, but what about the rest of my body?

Hello arms and hands. Welcome to my list. It’s all up to you right now, thank you for your help.