Choosing Joy

This month we are focusing on Being Present, which has turned out to be like issuing a truth or dare to every human alive outside the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh. Be present? Are you kidding? The last thing any of us truthfully wants is to be present in this pressure cooker that pushed all our personal baggage to the top of the steaming emotional heap — otherwise known as being human.

But here we are. We are still here. And life is still happening. Our movement, our free and easy coming and goings are on pause but life  — it never stops. Life is our essence until it’s not.

How can we be present with all that? How can we possibly take all of that in?

One brave breath and moment at a time. Thankfully life comes to us in moments. One right after the other but truthfully it’s only ever one at a time. We make life harder by telling the lie that is multi-tasking but life knows how we work. It knows we can only do one thing at a time if we want to do it well or with any kind of presence.

So we draw in a slow steady breath and we brace ourselves for what we’ll find .. inside. That’s the place to start because whatever is happening outside of us is ultimately a reflection of what is happening inside of us. If we believe that all that’s happening in the world right now is scary, awful and terrifying, inside we will find we feel scared, awful and terrified.

And what if we were to be our own best friend and sit with those feelings and help them to find their way to calm? What if we put down our phone, like we do when our friend really needs us, and we listen? We really listen for what is being said and what is not being said. But we do this for ourselves, we make friends with ourselves.

And once the scared, awful feeling and terrified part of us starts to feel better we begin to notice that there are some hard things happening in the world but the sun is also out. The sky is also blue. That there are also things that are mundanely OK and normal. We look for things that we are grateful for. We realize we can take our eye off the future, that we are just sure is full of destruction, for a moment and realize that the present sometimes is a real gift to behold.

Let’s be clear I know that the present moment for some is excruciating right now but I also doubt that those folks are taking the time to read this blog so we’ll go with the assumption that if you are reading this that you are going through a difficult time but you may not, at this moment, be in full-on crisis.

We are in a new challenge. We are being faced with a lack of freedom to go and do as we please. And we are faced with doing much of what we are free to do with a certain level of fear and trepidation. Our everyday routine things like grocery shopping now come with latex gloves, a mask if you can find one, and standing in line at taped-off intervals.

And while this is unsettling we get to choose. At the marching orders of Rachel Hollis and her #next90daychallenge, we are choosing joy. We are not choosing it because it’s easy. We are not choosing it because it’s even popular. We are choosing it because we GET TO!!! We get to. We have the luxury of choosing what we focus on. That is not Pollyanna pretending that life is OK and normal and merry. It is realizing that much of it is not and if we are blessed enough to be well and our people are well then we darn well better be grateful for it and that means CHOOSING JOY.

I started my joy list. It’s an ongoing document both in my journal and on my phone. I have talked about it with friends, during my free live meditations each week (PS you’re welcome to join) and with anyone else that will listen.

These weeks have been difficult at times. They have brought up stuff I didn’t want to deal with but I did. And I have continued to reach for joy. Is it always a short reach? Nope, sometimes it’s a big, strenuous strain to get there. But you know what? Joy feeds joy and fear feeds fear. And I am choosing which one I feed. Fear will show up, as it likes to do. I don’t shove its face full of joy. I talk to it, I let it tell me all it needs. We make peace. I know it just wants me safe. We do what we need to in order to work it out and then the joy reach begins. Sometimes it’s standing outside, taking a deep breath and saying to myself: I get to choose again.

Sometimes it’s running up and down my stairs to purge the rest of the adrenaline and cortisol out of my system that’s leftover from my little one-on-one with fear. But then we turn our face back to the sun and ask for another serving of joy, thank you very much.

As luck would have it I have been pondering sidewalk chalk because… well, do you need a reason? And my husband was fortuitously gifted with some by default on Saturday and I was overjoyed (yep, couldn’t help it). And Sunday we used our driveway as a billboard to the world and offered:

Joy doesn’t have to be big, bodacious or bold but it does get to be a choice. Choose it. I know you can be present for joy while you hold space for others in their trials.

Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G

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