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?

joy

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)

What’s Beyond Our Comfort Zone? Maybe A Welcome Surprise

Comfort zones for most people extend well beyond billowy soft cotton tees or bed linens. Well beyond our physical body. And well beyond the walls we call home. As I ventured out for my first visit to a new hair salon – which demands that comfort is key – I got more and more prickly as I drove the six short miles. The scenery drastically changed, so did, well, everything.

But let’s back up. I love the city and proclaim to be an urban girl. I am, within limits. But I stepped outside my comfort zone when I got out of the car at this center city salon. It’s Aveda – a well known, upscale, organic, chi chi international chain that is fairly overpriced yet interestingly desirable.aveda

I started going to an Aveda salon by mistake, when I lived in the ‘burbs about 50 miles from our new digs. Back in the day, Aveda was just coming on the scene and everybody wanted its botanically-based products, especially those of us with an aversion to chemicals. While I welcomed that, when my longtime stylist said she was switching to Aveda I was naturally a bit hesitant. I’m a creature of habit and worry about change. But I trusted her, and after the first round I was hooked. It smelled better, looked better, even felt better. So I sucked up the cost every few weeks to ensure I didn’t sport any gray.  (And a quick side note – I feel very fortunate, this is a first-world situation I know.)you smell like aveda

Through the years and several moves I frequented the local Aveda salons nearest me, and grew accustomed to the the familiarity. My color formula transferred easily from place to place, I never really missed a beat. I was comfortable.

But now, out of the burbs – I’m actually embarrassed and ashamed to say – I had a little hesitancy as I drove through some unfamiliar-looking territory. I don’t pay much attention to lifestyle but sometimes it catches my eye. We live in such a different world now, pretty much nowhere is technically “safe.”

Whatever it is that knocks us out of our comfort zone – and it can be anything really – we notice. Our senses heighten, our posture straightens, our mind and heart may start racing, it’s really only natural, and admittedly happens to everyone.

perfet hairI drove around the block in circles at least four times looking for a parking space outside this new salon. I parked the car with hesitancy, went inside, and decided at that moment this place was not for me. Sure it was Aveda, but it didn’t feel the same. I couldn’t leave though, I would be charged for missing an appointment.

And here’s the crazy part. As the experience unfolded, much to my surprise, it was simply wonderful. The stylist and I were totally compatible and chatted as if we had known each other for years. The crew was just my speed, the expertise beyond compare. I felt completely at home in that Aveda salon. That’s a pretty big endorsement coming from a new but seasoned color client.

Life has a learning curve, and for some it may take years. When it comes to comfort we need to learn to stretch, because it may reveal something we never knew was there. Growth is pretty amazing. And good hair color definitely is too.

comfort zone is a beautiful place

I Wasn’t Prepared For Red-Level Security When I Registered My Kid For School

red alertWe hear on the news what has become of the world – our national security, our cyber security, even our privacy. It’s disconcerting to know that we are not particularly safe on any level. Ironically, technology is supposed to help us be more safe, more protected, from secret intelligence to microchip credit cards, but nothing would have prepared me for what I went through to simply register my kid for high school.

Sixteen years ago I moved away from my quiet little town, just 10 miles outside of the big city I now call home again. A lot can happen in 16 years, and a lot did. I just didn’t know that as much as it has not changed, it’s really a whole new world.

Boston skyline

First I noticed increased traffic. This state is known for its traffic, but I thought we would relish in our quiet side streets like we used to. Nope. Then I noticed the small local businesses that I used to call for my home needs are now big businesses that don’t return my calls. Some family businesses survived through the years, but even they are different – nearly a generation gone by – grown children running the business their way.

The town has not changed in beauty, but has changed in numbers. That became clear when I saw that the high school that used to abut my neighborhood is now the middle school, and a big, shiny new high school stands where a plot of trees used to be. I was in awe of the new structure. But it was the inside that surprised me.

We had a registration appointment for my now-junior son. First we had to be buzzed through two sets of doors. Then they took my driver’s license and scanned it into a device that not only made an electronic copy, but printed out a special badge with my picture on it. At the same time that machine also let the administration know if I was a criminal.

paperworkWe had to provide more than 50 pages of signed documentation as proof of everything – residence, citizenship, marriage, language, driver’s licenses, notarized affidavits, utility bills, pay stubs, W-2s, home insurance, bank statement, house payment, and that was just for the parents. The registrar said that if they have any questions, they actually send the police to your house to be sure that you truly live there and with the people you say you do. I have never gone through anything like this to enroll my boys in school. It blew my mind.

My son did better with it than I did, I felt fairly invaded. Why would I lie about who I am, where I live, or anything relating to our identities? Apparently people do. It was like a government agency background check. Then I learned the school re-checks periodically to be sure we’re still good.

That was just for high school. When I learned what we have to do to get our driver’s licenses and car registrations I was shocked again. We don’t live in a police state…or maybe we kind of do. I’ll be so glad when the administration of moving is done and we’re finally real residents here. I must have been living under a rock before, but I bet now even that’s not too safe.

welcome rock

 

What’s My Definition of Cool? Not A Mouse In The House

Some people are just really cool and are phased by very little. Like my childhood friend who lives in New York City. People who can live in the heart of New York City to me, are the epitome of cool. It’s the place of infinite everything from good to bad, I could not live there. Although I’m a city girl, we all have comfort levels in our location that match our personal vibe.

I have several friends who love the countryside – another location that at various times I have had the pleasure of experiencing. That’s where I first learned about mice when we had them in our big farmhouse barn. They didn’t bother me, and I didn’t bother them.

Unless they are your pet in a cage, nobody really wants to deal with mice. But they’re a reality whether you live in the city or the country. And yesterday I had the pleasure of a real life Tom and Jerry experience that left me wondering if the cosmos are having a field day with my recent intention to be more calm and cool.

When I got up and went about my morning routine I wondered why the cats were hovering around the sofa and not their empty food bowl. So I reached underneath to rescue what I FullSizeRender-3thought was their favorite jingly ball that gets stuck under there IMG_2237a thousand times a day.

You know where this is going.

At first I shrieked and ran when the grey furry rodent made a dash from under the couch to under the nearby chair. Then I called Sir Husband at work and begged him to come home and get it. (Yes, gender roles are real.) Of course he didn’t and said he’d do it after work.

FullSizeRender-1For the next hour I sat on the stairs overlooking the living room like it was a lookout perch – hoping the mouse would not climb up – and trying to calm down. Self dialogue went something like this:

  • It’s just a mouse, it’s small and scared….Oh but it’s probably pooping everywhere in fear.
  • Maybe the cats will get it….What’s taking so long, are they are not ferocious killers? 
  • This after Monday’s post about my personality Type A wiring?…Not embracing the irony.
  • This is a perfect opportunity to change….Grrrr. Sigh. Ok. Thank God it’s not a rat. 

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FullSizeRender-4Eventually I went Home Depot, bought traps and set them around the living room. As the day went on I got more comfortable with the small, scared city mouse in my living room, hiding under furniture, watching the cats circle around its hiding spot like lions waiting to pounce.

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I never shook my own scaredy-cat fear of the little creature, but I sort of learned to live with it. Did that improve my less-than-calm m.o? Or was it a life test mandating I once and for all rid myself of my semi-princess personality – the very one I blogged that I want to dial down? Maybe it was an exercise in self-sufficiency…or futility.

Whatever it was, I tried to channel both my New York City friend and Oprah who I recently heard share one of her favorite Eckhart Tolle quotes:

“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.”

I bet the mouse’s consciousness expanded. Mine definitely did. Who knows, maybe it will become our pet. Kidding. But that would definitely make me cool.

(At the time of this post the mouse was still hiding in my living room…)

 

experience in the moment

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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This Move Nearly Killed Us, But Hooray! We’re Finally Home

It doesn’t matter how many times you have moved, each time it reveals a unique blend of mystery, mayhem and occasionally miracles. My vote? Don’t move unless absolutely necessary, it might just about kill you.

For six exhaustingly long yet blink-of-an-eye short weeks, our lives were upside down. A little like immigrants of a past era, Sir Husband went ahead to our new home in Boston and worked his new job while I stayed in Maine managing the house sale, the packing, organizing, shifting, lifting, removing and eliminating of our stuff. He came home each Friday night for the weekend, then trekked back on Sundays with a Jeep full of boxes. It IMG_2840wasn’t easy for either of us.

Finally when the big day came, we loaded the UHaul, teenager and two cats, and turned the page. We thought.

I’ll skip over the part about what it felt like to walk into our new home too tired to really see it, function or breathe. Or the part about movers arriving at the crack of dawn the next day to unload our truck, and the furniture didn’t fit up the tight staircase so we had to saw the bannister out. Or how we tried to direct them where each box and piece of furniture went knowing they were not really listening, later finding our underwear drawers in the kitchen, our dishes next to the bed, and our cat stuck under the furnace.

FullSizeRender-1   moving    IMG_0201

But we managed. Three days later and in so much physical pain because honestly we are too old to keep doing this, we drove back to Maine to pass papers on our house. We opted to sign a day ahead of the buyer due to conflicting schedules, took care of business, sighed a breath of relief, and headed back to Boston.

An hour later we got the call.

Our house – that had been sitting empty and closed for four days – was filled with gas to such dangerous levels the firefighting hazmat team was shocked it didn’t blow up. Allegedly there was a precarious leak at the stove that no one knew about until the buyer opened the door to do her final walk-through and smelled the gas. Not only could the house have been matchsticks within minutes according to the fire department, the leak may have been going on while we lived there and we didn’t know it because we kept the windows open.

We could have all been killed.

She bought the house anyway, as scheduled.

That’s more than one miracle.

The magnitude of the gas incident did not hit me until the next day. How do you wrap your brain around something like that? Especially removed from the situation. We were not allowed to go to the house since we had already signed the closing papers due to liability, so we heard it all through the real estate agent – her muddled play-by-play leaving us hanging and confused for hours.

But it’s over. All of it. Other pressing matters ensued after that – like my 31-lb Kitchen Aid mixer dropping on my leg when the box broke. You should see the bruises.

This was by far the hardest, most exhausting, most trying, nearly-debilitating and absolute best, happiest, exciting life-changing move for us ever. So, life goes on. Never, ever underestimate the meaning and miracle of that.

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Our Personality Has Layers, It’s Just Which One Opts To Comes Out

This is me before selling my house.

snow white

 

This is me during selling my house.

snow white attack

Anybody have dual personalities….that can turn on a dime….and make people around you think you just channeled a hungry bear or you’ve simply lost your mind? Raise your hand.

I’ve been a little edgy lately, not to mention exhausted, hormonal, and still recovering from a scorching case of PTSD from my former life. TMI? Sorry, stress takes time to resolve. Then add real estate agents, buyers and lawyers with our impending move, and it can get quite kooky.

I’m so sorry, I am just not myself…I apologize for my upset – venting – language – tone…oops did I say that?  I say all this a lot.

While I like to consider myself a seasoned homeowner, selling a house and moving is a ginormous ordeal. And of course in the midst of all that, life still goes on. We still have all the regular things we manage everyday. I’ve finally hit the wall and can’t do another thing.

mood swing

But it’s all good, even when my body aches, the fatigue is deep, and the mood swings prevail. Hence the dual personalities, which I know on the flip side of this big change, will naturally level out. I don’t mean real dual personalities as in a psychological diagnosis. I mean the multiplicity of ourselves in different situations, especially under stress.

We all act out various aspects of ourselves as we face different roles each day. Our feelings shift, our moods shift, we kind of bob up and down given our circumstances. I don’t know how many times I have apologized to my good friend who is working on our real estate deal and told her, I can’t wait until this is all over and I go back to being myself.

multiple personalities

At least I’ve acknowledged that during this transition my personality is maxing out. Sometimes it’s calm and rational, sometimes emotional, and sometimes it’s crossed its own personal limits. I’m not sure if it’s conscious or subconscious, but this concept of multiple sides to ourself has been studied by experts for years.

Human brains, according to neuroscientists, do not reveal one particular self, but instead a whole lot of programmed responses that turn on when different situations call for it. Nature or nurture they do not know, they just know these different wirings turn on and off in our consciousness as we need them throughout each day. The key is being aware of how we respond.

Thank goodness.

On some level we already know all this. These responses are what get us through the nitty gritty of our day and eventually we recalibrate. Whether it’s big stuff or it’s small, we’re just being ourself in that very moment — although some of us are better at showing ourself than others. Or should I say ourselves.

 

quirky self