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?

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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?

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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)

It’s Ok To Be Happy Even When We’re Not

A heck of a lot of people seem miserable right now, and until recently, I used to be one of them. It’s so easy to get caught up in our stressors and not realize how impacted we are or even who we are because of them.  And because birds of a feather flock together, we gravitate toward others who are equally miserable and support us in our unhappiness. Then we call them our tribe, our community, and we feel better about ourselves and our life. After all, misery loves company.

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A long time ago I became part of a special needs advocacy group that had thousands of parents all fighting the same process to help their child diagnosed on the autism spectrum. It felt good to belong to a group of like-minded parents on the same journey. I made quite a few close friends and we banded together in determination and support.

mazeRaising a child on the autism spectrum can feel like living in a dark maze that takes an incredible amount of effort, diligence and hope to survive. There are so many pitfalls along the way, but we have that community of supporters who hold our hand, sometimes even carry us, without asking for anything in return.

Through the years it was interesting to watch how other people coped. As time went on our children grew up, but some of us stayed friends maintaining a special timeless bond.

The trouble is, that the misery that we felt going through the toughest times with our children became so habitual that for some of us, it stuck. We lived in daily turmoil, so much so that our mindsets settled into that pattern of darkness and despair, pessimism, fear, sadness and pain. We never came out of the dark hole long enough for the light to make a difference.

This can happen with anything in life, whatever our issues and circumstances – health, family, work, relationships – doesn’t matter. We can get stuck without realizing it, looking at our life and the world around us wondering when it will all change for the better.

happy againBut it’s not the world that has to change, it’s us. And it took me a lot of years to really see that. Our actions and responses are rote. The way we think, feel, see, hear – we perceive our entire life through our misery filter. Eventually, when it goes on long enough, we forget that it’s ok to be happy. Question is, are we willing.

After losing most of my friends and life as I knew it, it finally occurred to me that my misery was inside of me. That was huge. But ironically the road to happiness was actually harder to navigate than the road to raising a child on the spectrum. I had to examine and shift every, single aspect of my thinking in each moment, every, single day. I had to re-route my habitual way of existing mentally, emotionally, even physically. It was literally “starting over” all the time – catching myself and what I said, thought, felt, and reaching for a better option.

I did the work and feel much better. But I’m not sure the work is ever “over.” It’s all about how we look at things and whether we can find the goodness, even when it’s minute. When the goal is happiness, the path is deciding it’s possible right now. No matter what.

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Written yesterday on my son’s 23rd birthday. We both made it to the other side. 

Home Is Where The Cat Is

This post almost didn’t happen. As I was in the thick of a personal emergency I kept thinking, what will I write in my blog tomorrow?

Sorry, no post today… We had an emergency… Be back soon. If I can function. 

The day started out busy, we sent the teenager on the early train to his friend’s for a long weekend out of state, a locksmith came first thing to change the locks, a painter was on his way to give us an estimate, along with carpet cleaners who were going to remove the film of filth our movers left on it last week.

The new house to-do list is quite long. I am stretching it out, but getting the the upstairs carpets cleaned was a priority – mostly because it’s not our carpet – we rent.

After the arduous task of moving all of the furniture and closet items I possibly could to expose the carpet – the carpet cleaner arrived, giant hoses in hand trailing miles behind him, down two flights of stairs to his running truck outside.

IMG_1517So far this all seems benign. And in the great scheme of things maybe it is. But it also isn’t. Because for a few long hours in the midst of everything I thought my little cat escaped our new home and ran into the big world – gone forever. It nearly killed me.

There are certain beings in our lives who are part of our family as if they are human, who we hold in our hearts and feel profound love. My cats are those beings to me.

Some would say, ridiculous, it’s only a cat, get over it. But that person may not have experienced the unconditional love of a pet. Ever heard the phrase, pets are people too?

I’m not a novice when it comes to protecting my indoor cats from escaping when workmen enter the house. I’m a mama bear – firmly telling them that we have two cats that cannot under any circumstances go outside. I fiercely protect my fur babies because I love and adore them. Maybe unreasonably so. Yes, I’m pretty sure I’m a cat lady.

cat copyBut when we saw her blur of fur race by at lightening speed so fast that we didn’t even see where she went, I panicked. The doors were open because of the big carpet-cleaning hoses. Her unplanned escape was inevitable, while the other cat hid under the bed.

My reaction to her disappearance began as a quiet panic, that quickly escalated into an uncontrollable sobbing – blubbering – whimpering – short of breath kind of crying where you can only get squeak sounds out in between the gasps for air. Not to mention she was stuck under the furnace last week when the movers were here and we thought we lost her then too.

IMG_0809I have had so much heavy, continual trauma in my life and especially over the last few years and even throughout our entire recent move that I just could not emotionally tolerate losing the kitty that snuggles with me night and day, rarely leaves my side, and next to my husband is my mainstay of support. She’s like my secret bestie, my shadow, my sidekick. We are truly bonded.

I’ll spare the conversation about cosmic connection – like maybe my cat is holding the reincarnated soul of someone close to me from lifetimes past – who knows. But I know that we can become quite attached to our pets, and vice versa.

This is about reaction to loss. Everyone responds differently, and I’m not sure there is a way to predict how we will react in any given situation. There are way too many factors – from who or what, how, when, where, why – what our circumstances are or were, what we can or can’t withstand, so many variables contribute to our reactions. Our reaction to loss is organic, it comes from deep inside having a life or span or cycle of its own that we must not only allow, but also honor.

IMG_2251 copyThe carpet cleaner guy and I turned the house upside down looking for her. We lay on the wet carpets to see every low-lying crevice, nook and cranny. We combed the bushes outside, crawled through the mulch to look under porches, searched every nearby open garage. I called the microchip company who activated her search. Animal control was on their way because they can scan a two-mile radius with the microchip technology.

Three hours of deeply intense upset later, I saw my cat’s little head pop up from behind the toaster in the corner of the kitchen. It’s such a tiny space, invisible to the naked eye, I would have never dreamed to look there. That started a whole different kind of crying. Reaction to relief.

We’ll save that post for another day. I’m off to pet my cat.

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Fresh Start In A Familiar Place and Hopefully Familiar Faces

bdayA long time ago I ran away from my life when I could not take one more second of Mr. Ex’s absurd gambling addiction. His personal turmoil left our whole family in a shredded heap on the floor. It was ugly. I needed safety, sanity and peace for myself and my children.

When I left to set up in another state with my high school best friend and soul partner, I also left people who mattered to me back home. All the people I was close to – friends who were like family, neighbors who were friends, everyone in my personal orbit from my handyman and car repair guy to hair stylist, even milkman.

IMG_2019It was hard. And despite my situational amnesia brought on by the trauma and drama, I never forgot one of them. But they seemed to quickly forget me.

It’s not uncommon when people are going through personal difficulties for those around them to distance themselves. Humans can only take so much before they turn away from strife and turmoil.

IMG_1464But let’s back up – when we are going through crazy times, we can also change, sometimes drastically. Our temperament, vibe, even personality can morph into an unrecognizable state. So I don’t blame those who disconnected – they were essentially saving themselves from the mess both my life and I had become.

That’s not to say it didn’t hurt. We count on people to be there for us in our time of need. But it’s not always in sickness and health ’til death do us part like the saying goes. So seven years ago, I lost most of my tribe, except for the ones I could count on one hand, and for whom I am eternally grateful.

IMG_1522-1One of the best things about being human is that we have these opportunities for fresh starts. Sometimes we take them over and over until we feel like we got it right. Other times life gives us the chance for a do-over, or a magical portal opens.

I recently walked through that door with Sir Husband, and am back home. This time the view is quite different. The past is revealing itself – so much has not changed since I lived here years ago…but so much has.

10417018_10201470902129241_3006093295010639328_n copyAnd I want to reconnect with people who mattered to me. So I got brave and cautiously took the leap with a few I left behind. It took some guts, some faith and the tricky skill of not having any expectations.

By the way how do we not have expectations? I mean come on. I missed these people, I would love a big, happy reunion. How could I not? I’m different. Life is different. All is right with the world now and then some.

IMG_1434The point is, I did it. Cautiously. I started with a benign text to the numbers that were still in my phone, I sent emails to the old email addresses I had, I even called and left a couple of messages.

And it happened. Not right away, but I heard back. With open, welcoming arms. There are many others, but I will baby-step my way down memory lane and see how it goes.

People are people so you just never know. But that’s the allure of friendships and the enchantment of human fresh starts.

 

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When Destiny and Fate Meet For Lunch

lunch tableI think that’s Dr. Northrup over there, my friend said when we were waiting to be seated for lunch.

Oh let me see…yes it’s her. That’s great I wanted to chat with her and tell her we are moving back home.

Three years ago I never would have thought I would see Dr. Christiane Northrup in a local eatery, let alone walk up to her table to say hello. I followed her work for years as my health declined, hoping one day to meet the renowned physician who is changing the way the world thinks about women’s health.

I finally did meet her, and yes, she is an enlightened and brilliant soul.

IMG_1201We live in quite a small town and she’s a local here, and not even a local celebrity, although some would call her that. I met her through another friend, the two are quite chummy, I found the whole thing special. Eventually I landed on Dr. Northrup’s local team that distributes nutritional supplements, although for me that didn’t work out.

Several social gatherings later, we got to know each other a bit. I hoped she might consider my writing for her, health and wisdom writing is sort of what I do. In fact, it was a starlit dream of mine, one that never flickered.

Now we are moving away, so we won’t be attending any more team events, and I wanted to thank her for her kindness and support. You know, closure.

I had been thinking about how I might contact her for several days and then ~ voila ~ there she was, waiting for her friend. I introduced her to mine, and I told her about Sir Husband’s new job and our plans. She was thrilled of course, she lived right where we’re moving for several years herself.

newspapertypewriterAs the conversation progressed she learned my friend standing with me is also a writer. An amazing one I might add – a sought-after author and journalist who is as humble as they get. She is truly gifted and softly downplays her talent and intellect. She spoke with my friend for a few minutes then asked her for her business card for her writing needs.

In that very moment – as my friend was on the receiving end of the words I had longed to hear – I felt a wave of peace and joy come over me that was incredibly pure. It was if the angels began to sing, and the heavens began to clap. I knew right then that my job here was done, although I can’t really put into words why.

It was a wonderful feeling to think perhaps I was a vehicle for them to meet. All the time I had spent hoping for the opportunity to work with Dr. Northrup came to a roaring halt right then, and instead it felt complete. Kismet at its finest.

I don’t know what will happen with Dr. Northrup and my friend, but it doesn’t really matter. Because deep down I knew that connection was completely meant to be. It’s very rare to feel joy as you hand your dream away, but that’s how we know it’s right, when it’s perfectly okay.

I don’t think it’s a dream for my friend, but I know that what may come of it is part of her personal path. Mine is shifting yet again and in such a joyful direction. The takeaway from that afternoon was as simple as can be.

Don’t chase joy ~ follow it, and see where it might lead.

fairy tale path

 

The Gap Between Reality And Relaxing Sometimes Can Feel Huge

FullSizeRenderWe take vacations to relax. But I failed at that last week when we were away, and I’m not alone. Why? Because we can’t always get away from ourselves. It took four days and a hand-in-hand barefoot stroll with my man on the surf-side dunes of the Cape to finally unwind. Relaxing wasn’t easy no matter how hard I tried.

I’ve caught myself a lot lately in the thick of a nervous-system buzz. It’s like a fast-moving electrical current that goes speeding through my body keeping me revved up even when I’m sitting down. It comes naturally, from a lifetime of trying to reach a better destination – only the destination in this case is comfort, contentment and peace.

The good news is, I’m shifting it. But until recently, for the last forever years I have been living in what we un-fondly refer to as The Gap. It’s not an easy place to live. gapIt’s that land between reality and desire. Despair and hope. Existence and belief. And it can be uncomfortable, even when we’re determined to come out of it.

The trouble is, when we live in the gap for a long time, we can get stuck there in a comfortable discomfort that keeps us treading water when we aren’t drowning or desperately swimming trying to get “there.” This almost-there land becomes our focus, all the while our nervous system maintains its buzz.

I know a few people living in the gap. It’s self-defined, but we know it when we’re in it. It can be when we’re in between jobs, or homes, or life circumstances. If only  fill in the blank …  When  fill in the blank … As soon as  fill in the blank … happens, I’ll be all set/good/happy/healthy/fine. It can be temporary, but I’ve spent most of my life trying to fill in those blanks.

Lately I’m realizing something huge that wise people already know. The destination is actually now.

jimcareyWe hear about living in the present moment, or peace and happiness come from the inside – there are a myriad of memes out there telling us how to feel good. They make sense in the moment and can feel like our Jacob’s ladder out of the gap. But it’s not until we recognize it that we can do it.

The to-do list is a perfect example. That list never ends, but I have continually believed if I get through my list all will be right with the world. Mundane tasks become massive priorities, so I stay revved-up as I’m running toward the finish line. I know I can make it…I can do it…I’m almost there…just one more thing…Keep.On.Going. It’s almost subconscious.

Workaholics live in that habitual space – in between here and there, then and tomorrow, busyness and bliss. The question is, when is it good enough? When are we satisfied? When can we relax? 

Call me crazy, but the answer is now. And we don’t even have to go on vacation.

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Life Can Feel Like A Speeding Train When Changes Keep Coming So Fast

sanityA case of the nervous shakes came on quickly after a lengthy conversation with Time Warner Cable about decreasing our services to lower our bill. For nearly an hour I logically conversed with the agent, explaining we don’t need 200 channels or even 20, we just need high-speed internet. Then my iPhone crashed.

There is no logic where Time Warner is concerned, cutting back actually increases your bill, they’ve got you by the balls. While that may not sound very ladylike I am struggling with the facts. Nothing is easy or affordable with cable or even cell phones.

I’m working with that word “easy” as best as I possibly can. But some days/weeks/months/years leave you feeling life is like living on train tracks. Whether we are the train trying to pull a long load, or are tied to the tracks with a train coming at us, we feel the rumble and shake.

train track

Part of my nervous shakes are probably PTSD. We’re rounding the bend of life changes again, and the impact is once again huge. New job, moving, selling, shifting, the vortex of change persists. Especially with our house. It seems like we just bought it yesterday, and truthfully we sort of did. In spite of prevailing amnesia, I remember our recent moves well. IMG_1021

Due to job and status shifts, each time we’ve moved we’ve done so with the intention of positive change. That’s what most people do – move to improve their lives. But it comes with its own layers of impact, whether the situation is good or bad.

Let’s not forget it’s all about the journey, whether tied to the tracks or not. Life happens, jobs change, marriages rearrange, and the sacred sanctuary we call home isn’t always permanent. Or perfect for that matter.

Every house we’ve ever owned has come with its own circumstances, which contributed to the PTSD. After selling my forever house, the one I never would part, it was a series of ups and downs so steep it took me years to recover.the barn copy

First we bought a haunted old farm that apart from the ghosts fell to pieces when we moved in. The well went dry, the boiler blew up, windows fell out and more. It involved an ugly lawsuit and wasn’t a pretty scene.

After several more houses with plenty of intense repairs, we finally bought the one we’re in now and thought it would be fine. Nope. It was about to go into foreclosure so the owner let it decline. By decline I mean the chimney collapsed and the roof came apart only a few weeks after we moved in. She had precariously disguised a lot of issues and our inspector wasn’t too keen. Sucking it up and making oodles of improvements became our middle name.

This renovated train is about to depart its station, we’re listing the house next week. But I’m back to that word “easy” to quell more than the nervous shakes.

First I’ll start by forgetting Time Warner and just deal with our current plan. But more importantly I need to remember how to work with the status quo.

I once heard the phrase, Don’t try hard try easySo I’m getting on board that exact train, it knows the perfect way.

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