August 25, 2014

day 31 journey with joy ~ remembering...

When I made my decision last month to blog daily about joy, I had no idea what it would be like. I knew I didn't want to write posts in advance and schedule them out for each day. I wanted to write every day about what I was thinking or experiencing about joy on that day.

I knew there would probably be days I didn't really feel like writing or posting.

I knew there would probably be days I didn't feel very joyful.

I didn't know what I'd write... but I trusted I'd know when the time came each day to come to my site and open the 'new post' page.

Some days have been only a quote or a photo. Most days have been more than that.

But every day - starting with last month's new moon and continuing until the new moon of today - I have posted here on the blog, I've done this moon journey with joy. Even on days which were difficult and joy seemed far away.

Remembering and looking back over these past weeks, it seems hard to realize the time has gone by so quickly. July felt like a very long month to me... but August has flown.

Today as I come to the end of this personal blogging challenge, I've been remembering the weeks since the last new moon.

And I'm also remembering back to last year.

Today is the first anniversary of my father's death.

I'm remembering his death, his life, the years I spent with him, the changes in my family of origin, the changes in my mother's life, the good times and the laughter (and there were times of laughter with my father, even though sometimes that's been forgotten), the home my parents loved which is no longer part of our lives, the good times in that place, the difficult relationships, the love.

I'm remembering all of it, all parts of the whole.

Because lives - and memories - are made up of so much more than what we sometimes think about. The whole of a life, and the whole of our memories, go so much deeper than our usual focus.

This picture of my parents was taken in early March 2013. A few months before, in December 2012, my father's spine fractured. It wasn't due to anything in particular he did one certain day... it was his 87-year-old body dealing with aging and the effects of severe falls in the past and the softening of bones. He didn't make it out of his wheelchair very much in the time between the spine fracture and his death last August. When this picture was taken, though, he was feeling hopeful about being able to walk again.

A couple of weeks after this photo was taken, my mother had a stroke which has severely impacted her memory and confusion. Last week she moved into an assisted living facility in the town where my brother and her brother live.

The house where this picture was taken held a lot of wonderful memories (and some difficult ones too). This wasn't the house where I grew up, it's not even in my hometown or my home state - but this house, for over 20 years, had been a second home to me and I felt more at home there than the house where I grew up. It was sold a few months ago.

I'm remembering all of it today. All of this I've mentioned, and so much more.

There's still grief. Not the same, but still there - sometimes less but sometimes hitting like a fresh crashing wave.

Grief for my father, for my mother, for the changes.

These changes are part of life, for everyone. But that doesn't mean they're not difficult or painful.

I was with my father - my parents - a lot during the last 8 months of his life. I watched the downhill slide, the struggle, the physical shakiness even to do something as simple as dial a phone, the exhaustion, the depression none of us really talked about but is an understandable and not unusual response to being in severe pain for a long time and losing your independence and knowing life is changing in ways you never wanted to imagine.

This past year, when I remember, when the grief hits, it's been hard for me not to focus on those last months (and what's happened since). It's been hard for me not to focus on the pain and the loss and the hard aspects of it all.

But remembering these past weeks of consciously blogging about connecting to joy, I've been trying to more consciously connect to the memories in a joyful way, remembering them without the sorrow of thinking "those things won't happen again, those people won't be with me again, we won't be in those places or have those experiences again."

It doesn't always happen. I'm not always successful. The sorrow can still overshadow the joy of the memories.

But there was joy. Even with the difficult stuff that comes with dying and death and loss - and even with the difficult stuff that can come with family relationships - there was joy.

There is joy.

Today I honor my grief, not pushing it down or pushing it away.

Today I'm not ignoring or glossing over the difficult parts of my father's life or our relationship.

But also today, I'm choosing to focus on the joy of good times and laughter and love.

my father and me, 1977

my parents, sometime in mid-1970s

No matter what... much love.

August 24, 2014

day 30 journey with joy ~ being grateful...

Joy for me today has been very connected - as it so often is - with gratitude, the gratitude for several things this weekend. For my husband, helping with things around the house and bringing something yummy home for a meal.

For a late-night long phone call with a friend.

For a talk with my mother as she adjusts to her new assisted living space.

For friends who are willing to work through the hard stuff which sometimes happens in relationships.

For drumming.

For mantras connecting me to my self.

For time in front of the easel, painting.

For rest and relaxation and rejuvenation.

For my sweet kitty who purrs and talks and brings extra joy to our home.

August 22, 2014

day 28 journey with joy ~ noticing...

I believe awareness is important. Super important.

It's so important in so many ways and aspects of life, and for so many reasons, I'm not even going to try to list then.

Since I'm blogging about joy, I'm going to talk about awareness in terms of joy.

Noticing what connects you to joy, what brings you joy, what makes you joyful.

And noticing what does not.

There might be things which used to be joyful for you...and they no longer are.

There might be things you've never tried, maybe you thought you'd hate them - and when you explore a bit, you discover they bring you joy.

There might be relationships - maybe important ones, maybe totally casual ones - which bring you joy... or make you feel the opposite of joy.

Noticing is important.

Things can shift and change when we're not even aware of it happening.

We can close ourselves off to new avenues of joy because we're not open to exploring and experimenting.

We might be feeling ick about something but we can't quite put our finger on it... and paying attention, digging into the awareness, noticing, can help us figure out the why behind the feeling.

If something used to feel joyful but now we feel something...different... it doesn't necessarily mean it's time to end whatever it is. Everything - relationships, work, jobs, projects, groups - has ups and downs, hits difficult or challenging spots, tests us or tries us in some way.

Noticing helps bring awareness to what's happening, and whether it's temporary or a sign of something deeper.

Sometimes we simply need to hang in.

Sometimes we need to release whatever it is.

Does this - whatever this is - bring you joy?

If not, look deeper and place your awareness on the surface and the depths. Notice. Check in with yourself.

It might be a cycle that'll bring joy around again (and sometimes it might be difficult, and sometimes it might require work). It might be something worth holding onto, despite the less-than-joyful periods.

Or it might be it's time to release and let go and move on.

Only by noticing will you truly be able to discern and know.

But when something leaves you feeling bad and disconnected from joy, take the time to examine and notice. If something feels painful, pay attention to it and find out what message is there for you to hear.

You deserve to give yourself that time and awareness.

You deserve to feel good about yourself and your life.

You deserve joy.

August 18, 2014

day 24 journey with joy ~ gratitude...

In addition to playing with paint, I like to doodle with pens and markers. I did the below about three years ago.

I'm right-handed, so I traced my left hand (inside the circle) and did a lot of doodling.

Although my left hand is the hand depicted here, my right hand was the hand holding the marker, doing all the doodling.

For several months this year, after I had a hard fall in January, I was barely able to hold a pen.

I could awkwardly fill out a check or write a couple of lines in handwriting or printing that looked little like my usual.

There's no way I could have done any doodling with that hand.

Gradually, very gradually, my right hand improved.

It's still not completely recovered - but it is soooo much better. So very, very much better.

My writing looks like my own again.

I can write for several pages at a time again.

I can hold a paintbrush and paint.

I can doodle with pens and markers.

Am I happy that I fell?

Not at all. If I could go back and do that day over, I'd completely change that day.

But we don't get do-overs like that.

My fall happened.

I had the injuries I had, the injuries I continue to deal with to a certain extent.

Fortunately, my fingers work again. My hand works again. I can hold things.

And I am so incredibly grateful.

And feeling the gratitude helps me connect with joy.

August 17, 2014

day 23 journey with joy ~ places...

It's been a gray day here, with a thunder storm rolling through earlier bringing lots of rain and thunder and lightning. For a few different reasons, it's been hard today for me to make a connection to joy.

Hard to feel the joy.

(even if I know it's there, inside)

On days like this it helps me if I can think of anything - and any place - where I've felt joy.

For me, the beach holds many, many joyful memories and feelings.

At times when you have a hard time connecting with joy, thinking of a place you love might help.

August 15, 2014

day 21 journey with joy ~ Rumi again...

A full day... a helpful chat this morning, painting, doing readings, a long talk this afternoon with a good friend. Later this evening will be crystals and sisters.

And also some much-needed simple rest and relaxation.

I'm continuing to knock. And I'm continuing to connect with joy... some days more than others.

August 7, 2014

day 14 journey with joy ~ taking a break

Sometimes connecting with joy means taking a break and getting more rest. 'Cause if we're exhausted - physically or emotionally - it can sort of block the channel to joy.

(I'm not talking about feeling physically exhausted in that 'good' sort of way, like when you've had a wonderful day doing something that lights you on fire or has been full of fun or good times with loved ones... I'm talking about the not-so-good kind of being physically exhausted.)

Self-care can help with connecting to joy.

And sometimes self-care is getting more rest.

August 6, 2014

day 12 journey with joy ~ hanging out...

Today... partly cloudy outside, hot but not blazing. It was very very late when I finally went to sleep last night but I was able to sleep late this morning - which gave me a really late start to my day, but that's okay because today is a day when I only had a few things planned. And today is a day when I wanted to mostly be in that take-it-easy space.

(fortunately, my schedule allowed for it too)

My husband had an unexpected change at work - nothing bad - and around mid-day he called to tell me he was coming home a few hours early.

Suddenly the afternoon felt sort of like a play day. Or a surprise vacation day.

On his way home, he stopped at a local Tex-Mex restaurant, got my favorite meal, and brought it to me for lunch.

We ate in front of the tv and watched a show we always enjoy watching together.

We've just been watching tv and hanging out.

I realize some people would say watching tv isn't a great way to spend a free afternoon... but I say it's our life, our free time, and there are shows we enjoy. I'm not going to pretend I don't like tv and movies. Entertainment in front of the tube has its purpose.

This was a simple way to spend an afternoon. A relaxing way.

But it felt - it has been - an afternoon of joy.

August 5, 2014

day 11 journey with joy ~ talking purpose...

The idea of purpose (as in: what is the purpose of my life?) is something I've pondered countless times over the years. In the past few days, it's come front-and-center again. As I think about changes regarding my work. As I think about my life overall.

Yesterday, after sending off my responses to questions which had me focusing on what do I want, really, and what's holding me back...

and also thinking (again) about whether my (or anyone's) purpose necessarily has to be connected to business and making money (and actually, no, I don't believe there always has to be a connection, even though there certainly can be a connection and sometimes it's really nice when they're connected - but even people who have no job, or who have no work, or who can't work, or are too young or too old to work or volunteer or whatever... still they have a purpose)...

and then having a very-very-very long discussion with God about this (among other things)...

all of it meant the subject of purpose was very much on my mind.

And then came today.

I'm participating in Lisa Sonora Beam's 30 Day Journal Project and today's prompts were about purpose.

I commented in a conversation about today's journal questions, and I talked about ripples - how everything we do ripples out and impacts people (more people than we ever imagine) in ways we don't ever know.

And I also mentioned something I heard in Robert Ohotto's podcast a couple of weeks ago  where he discussed the difference between living your purpose and living your destiny, and he quoted something Caroline Myss said to Oprah - she said: Life is purpose.

That everything happening in our life is part of our purpose.

Ohotto said we cannot but live our purpose. Because everything is purpose.

And as long as you are alive, your life has purpose. Simply just by being alive - there is purpose.

(this has been on my mind since listening to that podcast... I've been processing everything from that radio show)

Then later today, as I talked with someone about this subject of purpose, it led to hearing this:

There are different purposes that we can have.

And also talk of a slight re-wording of:

Do I have a purpose?


Do I live my life with purpose?

Purpose not as what can I do? - but how am I to be?

And:  If we be that way, then we will carry that into everything we do with the various purposes we have.

(I'm grateful to that person for those words... and for that reminder.)

I want to be clear... I'm not saying don't do or don't take action.

I'm not saying not to dream, I'm not saying don't believe you have a big purpose, I'm not saying your purpose can't be connected to doing large things in the world or making lots of money or touching lots of lives or being what others would consider a success.

But if we connect our sense of purpose to doing... then what happens if for some reason we can't do that thing anymore?

Or what happens if we do it but we don't (in this lifetime) see results of the doing, or it doesn't seem to be working out or having an impact or making us any money or drawing to us the people we want to serve with what we believe is our purpose?

If that happens, does it mean we have no purpose after all?

Does it mean we were wrong about our purpose?

Or if it happens - but on a very small scale, such as for example maybe we work with only a few people - does that diminish our purpose in any way?

What happens if our purpose sounds small or simple? What if our purpose is brightening someone's day with a smile, giving our spouse a hug, sending an encouraging email to a friend? And that's what we do day after day after day. What if that's what we feel called to do? What if, for whatever reasons, that's all we do? Is that enough? Is that enough of a purpose?

For me... I keep thinking about the comments I made earlier today regarding the journaling prompts.

Ripples - we all make ripples, and we have no idea how far they'll reach, how long they'll last, or who or how many will be impacted by them.

And what purpose is too small?

That smile you give to a stranger might come at the moment they've been contemplating ending it all.

That hug you give to a spouse might be the only thing keeping that person's day from feeling hopeless.

That email to a friend might give her the encouragement to do something she's been scared to do.

And then the other thing I talked about, from Robert Ohotto and Caroline Myss:

Everything is purpose.

Everything. It's all part of our purpose. Our life is our purpose.

What does this have to do with joy?

I'm going to speak only for myself here - but I know I'm not alone in this, I know there are others who have questioned or struggled with this.

If I connect my purpose to something I do, to my work, to my finances, to my business (even though those things can be aspects of my purpose)... then if those things don't go well, it can lead me to question my purpose. It can lead to questions like: Do I really have a purpose? Have I missed my true purpose? Did I misunderstand when I thought I believed I knew what my purpose is?

And those questions do not feel joyful.

The self-doubt does not feel joyful.

Feeling like a failure does not feel joyful.

Wondering if a life has a purpose - not joyful.

These questions, doubts, examinations... it's certainly possible for them to lead to good stuff, in the overall context. They can help us define what we really want, and what's truly important to us. They can lead to us making some changes and taking some actions and getting in alignment with what we want to achieve or what impact we want to have.

There is validity and value in the questions about purpose.

But what I've been talking about here is going deeper than the surface question (deep though it can be!) about purpose. I've been talking about another way to look at purpose.

The bottom-line purpose that goes beyond work, business, money, goals, lots of people, doing big things.

(although any or all of those can be connected, and they can be aspects of purpose)

The bottom-line purpose of... I'm here. You're here. Who we are - simply by being who we are as we live - is our purpose.

You have a purpose.

Just by being who you are.

And truly, deeply connecting to the knowledge of that ... also connects to joy.

August 3, 2014

day 9 journey with joy ~ painting, listening...

It's been a low-intensity day. (I'm still dealing with sinus issues, and self-care mode is very much activated.) I've been catching up on listening to some online recordings and watching some online videos. There's so much good stuff. But sometimes I feel overwhelmed because I simply can't keep up with all of it.

I have to choose and prioritize. I have to let some things go, and be okay with the releasing.

It's interesting for me to realize how so many of the audios and videos talk about similar themes. There's a lot of inter-connectedness and overlapping, and it's fascinating to see synchronicity at work this way.

(because I feel like I'm hearing these things, from so many different people and places, for a reason)

So I'm listening.

Listening for the messages, for what I'm meant to learn from all of this.

It feels important.

I've also been painting today.

And again, I listen.

I stand there and I listen to some inner voice (or maybe it's an outer voice which feels internal) tell me what color to use and where to put it and what to do with it.

Sometimes when I paint, emotions come to the surface, moving through me, to be released.

Today I just felt calm.


And painting - and the sense of inner peace - definitely joyful, both of them.

Sometimes it feels really good to simply feel calm and peace.

The inner peace and calm - the inner quiet - make it easier for me to listen.

August 2, 2014

day 8 journey with joy ~ kitty love...

Saturday. Cloudy and hot. I slept for a full 8 hours last night... much needed sleep - rejuvenating, nourishing, healing.

It's been a day of relaxing.

Just relaxing, relaxing, relaxing.

Taking it easy. Watching a tv marathon with my husband.

Enjoying the company of our sweet kitty.

Letting the ick and the dense emotions of the week drain away.


Joy in the moment.

August 1, 2014

day 7 journey with joy ~ cycles and supplies...

I didn't get much sleep last night... although I got more than night before last, when bothersome thoughts kept roaming through my mind and kept me awake until the time many people were getting up for the day. When I woke up this morning, I was grateful for the sleep I did get.

And I was still feeling emotionally raw from the past couple of days.

Old stuff - stuff I've already dealt with on many levels - resurfaced for another go-round of healing at a new and deeper level. Things I thought I'd energetically cleared showed up and said nope we're still here, you haven't totally finished the work of releasing.

Some very important questions around believing and trusting and relationships and emotions and what's real and what's not.

I spent part of the morning doing some processing around what's happened the past couple of days. I did some of the healing work which needs to be done.

This is a process.

This is stuff that's a lifetime old (and possibly even older).

I'm being kind to myself about the fact more healing still needs to be done. I know how these things - and the healing journey itself - can go in cycles, or be like a spiral.

To expect only forward momentum - or for a 'good place' to remain always good, always static - isn't realistic.

Life doesn't usually work like that.

There's light.

And there's shadow.

There are ups.

And there are downs.

There are cycles. There's the spiral of life. Our emotional and healing journeys aren't linear.

After some time spent on processing and healing (work which isn't over, it'll continue), my husband and I headed on a drive in the beautiful sunshine and visited a craft store where I spent time joyfully - yes, definitely joyfully! - exploring the aisles and gathering some supplies.

I was low on a few shades of blue, so I bought new tubes.

I stocked up on more large canvases as well as canvas panels.

And I bought a new sketchbook. (Can I just say how much I love sketchpads and notebooks and journals?!)

And when we got home I spent some time playing with paint.

I still feel a little bit like I'm in an emotional-recovery space, feeling the need to be gentle with myself, feeling the need to do a lot of self-care.

At the same time, I've definitely felt the connection to joy today.

The time of working on processing and healing, driving in the sunshine, walking through the parking lot holding hands with my husband, shopping the aisles for painting supplies, a cold drink on a hot day, standing in front of my easel while I painted...