joy connections...


I wrote the following for my Subtle Harmony letter and emailed it to those folks on the 1st of this month. (If you'd like to receive my letters - and also get the private resource library, Etsy discounts, and other goodies - all you need to do is go to this page and sign up.) Usually I don't post the same thing on my blog that I include in my letters - but sometimes I do when it feels right to share it here as well...

And this is one of those times. I wrote:

Joy has been on my mind a lot lately. And not only lately, to be honest - a few years ago, I realized in a deeper-than-before way that I needed to consciously and intentionally try to connect with joy as much as possible and in whatever ways work for me... I need this for my own well-being and quality of life. (Which then spills over and impacts everything in my life.)

And sometimes I need this just to simply make it through the day. (Because sometimes simply making it through the day is hard - and doing only that is enough.)

There's a difference between happiness and joy.

You've probably heard that before, but do you really (really and truly) believe it and feel it?

Joy can definitely be there in a happy time.

But joy can come unexpectedly, seemingly out of the blue.

And joy can be there even in the dark and the difficult.

I remember the morning my grandmother died, a sunny August day in 1997, and my husband and I walking in our neighborhood after getting the phone call, and talking about our plans for making the trip to my hometown for the funeral, and how it felt so surreal and so sad - that this woman who was a second mother to me, caring for me and my brother as both my parents worked fulltime as I was growing up, was no longer on this earth... and at the same time, along with deep grief and sadness, there was joy too.

Unexpected. Inexplicable. But... yes, joy.

I remember the evening my father was transported by ambulance to the residential hospice facility for his last night on earth - again in August, but this time in 2013 - and after spending time with my parents in my father's large and beautiful-but-awful room, we finally left to have a late supper, me and my husband and my brother and my nephew, sitting around the table at a fast-food restaurant while we ate chicken wings, exhausted and feeling unreal while laughing at the lovely absurdity hardness of life, but sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying (and crying can be a good and needed thing, but sometimes the laughter is what carries us)...

And even as my heart was splitting open and breaking apart - as it had been doing for the many months leading up to that night, that weekend of my father's passing - and even in the moments of stunned surreal silences and the moments of laughing with loved ones...

Joy was there too.

I could feel it, beneath the sad and the raw and the numbness and the unreality-of-it-all: joy, holding a spot in my heart, a beautiful aching and a wonder of how joy can co-exist with pain.

I've known times of such intense anxiety I couldn't breathe and couldn't go on, times of such depression I couldn't get up and couldn't see a future, times of such uncertainty I didn't know how a path through could appear...

And then a pocket of joy would come, give me grace, help me hold on.

As I said, joy can catch us by surprise.

But along the way, I also started to realize that when we cultivate joy, when we intentionally and consciously try to connect with joy... it can be easier to notice joy and catch the joy when it shows up.

Sometimes this can be in a sort of dramatic way. But often this can be in small, even quiet, ways.

And this is why I so often talk about connection with joy, when I talk about soul nourishment and self care... Because making the decision and the choice to consciously and intentionally try to connect with joy whenever possible and in whatever ways possible - it truly can make a difference.

Will it make life perfect? No.

Will it mean there won't be some incredibly hard stuff and difficult times? No.

But it can help.

We become more aware of those pockets of joy. We notice when there's an undercurrent of joy beneath the pain and the hard. We open to embrace the grace that joy brings. We catch the joy, we live in that joy moment - and it can help us hold on and help us get through and help us live more fully alive.

Life can be so hard at times.

But it also has such beautiful, grace-giving joy.

So... That's what I wrote in my letter to my mailing list. And now here's the announcement I want to add for today...

Joy Connections (the color series) begins next Monday, March 20, the Equinox.

This is a FREE 10-day challenge to connect with joy through the beauty and wonder of color.

For all the details and to sign up for no charge, visit this page.

I hope you'll join this joy-connections journey.

Being aware of the joy that's there truly can make a difference in life. ♥

 
 

one musing on soul nourishment...


The (no-charge) challenge/program I'm currently hosting, 15 For Me, started last Thursday. And I am nourished, humbled, honored, and joy-filled to be on this 15-day journey with the more than 40 people who signed up. We have a small facebook group and a small number sharing on instagram (both are optional, not requirements for participating in the program) and I'm daily blown away by the way they are caring for their self and their soul.

I'm doing the challenge too, right along with them. I often have to re-read the day's email to remember the prompts and suggestions I gave for that day, but doing the prompts/suggestions aren't requirements either...  because the main thing is showing up for yourself, daily, for at least 15 minutes a day during the 15 days until the Equinox, and doing what you need for self care and soul nourishment. And sometimes that goes along with the daily prompts, and sometimes it doesn't, and either way it's all okay.

So... some days, I do one of the prompts/suggestions I've sent out in that day's email. Other days I choose something different for my self-care, soul-nourishment needs. 

But I've been doing something caring and nourishing, taking time for myself, each day.

And sometimes I've been sharing my thoughts with this journey. Today is one of those times. The below is what I wrote, paired with the photo shown above.:

For me, part of soul nourishment is noticing and appreciating what I already have. And that's not always easy for me. Sometimes I can get too caught up in wishing things were different and wanting something else (something "better"). I can get too caught up in the hard-money-stuff and wishing I was heathy enough for a "normal" job, and comparing what I see with others' lives, and focusing on the house repairs and worn furniture and non-working oven, and wanting to live in a town where I felt at home and had a tribe... Instead of focusing on what I DO have - right here, right now - that gives me what I'm seeking.

And then there are afternoons like this. When I consciously and intentionally focus on the good. The slow-cooked-chicken leftovers in the fridge, waiting for us for supper. The folding of the laundry while I listen to a recording and our kitty-girl naps on a pillow, in a room that feels like me in spite of the worn carpet and the windowframes that need to be replaced. The forgetting for a while about financial issues while I read and relax, sun shining into rooms and a fan helping the a/c on this hot feels-like-summer day... and then doing more of what sings to me: painting a bit, writing more prompts about self-care for people who opened themselves to give their email addresses to me, and writing fiction about a summer in 1984 and the healing of a family.

Soul nourishment.

Remembering, realizing again, I have what I'm looking for, if I'll accept what is in this moment instead of wishing for "other." It is enough. Some things are still scary - but there's beauty and joy in the mix too.

And grace. I am open-armed inviting in and accepting the grace.

 

what self care REALLY is...


A while back - maybe earlier this year, maybe before that - I started to notice is that there seems to be some confusion about what self care really is.

Self care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health.

It's as simple as that, which means it doesn't have to be complicated or expensive, and it doesn't have to look a certain way.

(The paragraph above that's in bold is a definition I came across in a pdf put out by the Student Affairs department at the University of Kentucky.)

Self-care will vary from person to person - and for any one person, it will be different at different times.

Self care can mean being mindful of your diet, getting some exercise, getting enough sleep. It can be going to a meet-up on a favorite topic or spending time at a church service.

It can be cuddling with a special person or pet, listening to music, taking a long hot shower, relaxing in a candle-lit room, dancing for a few minutes in your kitchen, going to a spa, painting your nails, getting your hands dirty in the soil.

It can be sitting on a beach, or under a tree, or on the floor of your bedroom as you read a book or color a mandala.

Subtle Harmony self care

The list is endless. It can be any or all of those things - and so much more.

And some things for self care involve money...

But there are so many self-care practices and activities that do not.

Self-care is caring for YOU. It's doing something that tends to you and what you need (on any/all levels - physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually).


And there's no shame involved in caring for and tending to yourself.

No one can give from an empty well, no one can run on fumes, no one can be a constant light without burning out.

Self care doesn't have to be hard.

It doesn't have to be luxurious.

It doesn't have to take loads of time.

Self care can be as simple as pausing throughout your day, relaxing your shoulders, and taking a few breaths.

Self care is anything that involves "any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health."

That's what self care really is.
 

Are you up for a challenge?

Join the FREE challenge - 15 For Me - to challenge yourself to spend 15 minutes a day, for 15 days, just on YOU, your self care, your soul nourishment, your connection to JOY.

You can find out all about it and sign up (for free) by going here.

I hope you'll join the challenge - doing it for you.