Christmas is one of my absolute favorite times of the year and it’s obvious when you look around my home. I’ve just spent the last two weeks decorating, so yes, it’s very evident that I love Christmas! The holidays bring me great joy!
Joy is an appropriate topic for today’s post because after all, tis the season! My post is inspired by a few things. One of those inspirations is Nelson Mandela. People who spread love and good will in our world are a great source of inspiration and much can be learned from the legacy that this man left behind. While the world mourns his passing, those closest to him are dealing with intense grief at the moment. Joy is the farthest thing from their minds.
As a matter of fact, this season is one that many can’t find joy in. Accidents still happen. People lose their lives. Disease is still diagnosed. Employees lose their jobs. Bills still come in the mailbox. Families break apart. Depression and suicides increase. Life doesn’t suddenly change to cookies, glitter and snow angels when Macy’s Santa arrives in the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Transforming my home and singing carols is more apt to cause people in these situations to be even more depressed.
So, how can I write about joy when there is so much pain and disorder around me? You knew I was going to answer that, didn’t you. My own life hasn’t been all happy and joyful, nor have all of my Christmas seasons been filled with gifts and shiny things. If you’ve read my blog before, you know that. I’ve experienced Christmas with accidents, loss, illness, no money, bills, break ups and brokenness, so I understand how difficult this time of year can be. No, I wasn’t happy with my circumstances during those times, but I was able to be grateful for what I did have and look for the bright side of whatever the situation was. I’ve always found someone or something that inspires me to find joy.
Another source for my inspiration today is a member of the running team that my husband and I belong to. I’ve never met her in person, but I’ve seen enough of her posts on our team website and Facebook, that I feel like I know her and for that, I am grateful. Honestly, I’m grateful for all of our team as they all are wonderful people who encourage and support each other in all of the highs and lows that come with injuries, recoveries, victories and defeats. We all need people like this in our lives. Today, while I am not diminishing the rest of our team in anyway, I want to highlight one. And here I go naming names again and this time I actually have permission. My inspiration today is Nancy.
Each day, Nancy posts a little personal story and how she was able to find joy in her day, no matter if it was a good day or a bad day. I’ve come to look forward to reading her, “Go embrace your joy” messages. I want to share what she posted on facebook last week. I’ll just copy and paste exactly what she posted, as I can’t say it any better. Here you go:
“Your destiny is to fulfill those things upon which you focus most intently. So choose to keep your focus on that which is truly magnificent, beautiful, uplifting and joyful. Your life is always moving toward something.” ~Ralph Marston
“A few days ago I shared with you all that after having fallen into a funk in my life I sought the guidance of a therapist–a person who helped me develop the tools to carry me through the obstacles–to change my perspective of this incredible and many times challenging journey we call life.
There are many who perceive anyone seeking help as being weak or unable to cope. Sadly seeking help for a broken bone, a headache, blurry vision, even a toothache has never been questioned by my friends, but the minute they heard that I was in therapy, some friends became quite uncomfortable–giving me a side-way glance or total silence as if my problems were contagious–as if may I have a screw loose or that I am nuts. The truth– I believe the judgment from others is one biggest reasons people do not seek intervention–they don’t want people to think they can’t figure out life on their own. But sadly this perception is so unfair.
What I have learned over the years is, if I already knew everything I could about life, than there is nothing more I could learn. There would be little or no reason for me to change, to evolve to transform my life. Unfortunately, unlike your car, we aren’t born with an owner’s manual to guide us through the trials–what to do when our own internal check engine light comes on. We learn to do what we have to do just to survive–that is what we are wired to do.
With each passing year I worry less about what others think of me, something that I spent way too much time and energy doing in my past, electing to focus more on what I think of myself and the nurturing friendships that bring me joy. Am I a good person? Am I a compassionate person? Am I kind? Loving? Giving? Do I bring joy to others?
The truth is–not everyone will like me–my goal in life is not to give up who I am to be loved by others, to be liked by others–as long as I am kind and respectful, you get me in all my whacky doodle ways. I love to have fun–I find being happy and joyful takes far less work than being miserable and angry. And as I have come to believe there is joy to found every day–sometimes you have to look far and wide for it and other times it’s right before your eyes.
HAPPY SATURDAY FRIENDS–GO EMBRACE YOUR JOY!!!!”
Nancy started writing her posts about joy when her therapist gave her a homework assignment to find at least one thing that brings her joy every day, even on the dark days. She said that some days, it was just finding a penny on her run, or seeing a rainbow after a storm, or a smile from a stranger. She wrote this about finding joy in another one of her posts.
“Finding joy is a choice– it’s about rewiring our brain to move from negativity that can became such a part of our lives, to finding joy in the simplest of things. Certainly I would love to take full credit for my epiphany, but life in all its ups and downs is meant to be shared. More times than not, the joy does not lie in others, but is buried deep within our own hearts–we just have to open our eyes, hearts and minds to this amazing gift.”
This blog is named what it is for a reason. It’s my own quest to become more of a real person, not one who puts on the socially accepted mask, flashes a fake smile and pretends my life is like living in a rose garden every day. While I do like shiny things and I’d like to make you think that if it were even possible that I would ever pass gas, I would emit tiny puffs of glitter, we all know that’s not really how it is. I want to share in the real life journey we are all on, because we all need support and encouragement. We all need the encouragement of people around us during the difficult times, like my running team does for me.
Nancy is being real. She’s sharing what is uncomfortable, but what she is really doing is encouraging others to be better people. Because she chooses to be authentic, I’m encouraged to listen. Her words speak to my heart, therefore, I’m encouraged to grow and I too, can find joy. Maybe she’s not doing it on the scale that Nelson Mandela did, but she’s doing her part to spread love and good will in our world.
The past several days, we’ve been privileged to hear more about Nelson Mandela’s life and what he stood for. We’ve also heard many inspiring words of wisdom that were uttered through his lips. They were really an overflow of his heart. This particular quote got my attention.
Nelson Mandela was authentic, the real deal. He spoke in a language that could be understood by all, because he spoke to something that is buried deep in the hearts of all. It’s love and goodwill that speaks to us. That’s the language of the heart. So in this world where all that glitters isn’t gold, where it’s hard to find the true meaning of the season in the frenzy of activity and plastic trees, I’m hoping more of us will open our eyes, hearts and minds to look deep inside ourselves and others for those real gifts that are real and authentic. Spread some of that love and goodwill around. Go embrace your joy!