Thursday, May 15, 2008

Following a Path to Joy

Almost eight years ago my dad died suddenly from a heart attack. He actually had at least three heart attacks over a few days. The second one brought him to the hospital, and he ended up with a stent in his heart. But, his heart never stabilized, and later that night he had another heart attack that ruptured his left ventricle. This one was fatal.

At first I was doing what I could to help my mother through this difficult time. But over the next few months, I found that his death affected me more than I thought it did. I found myself slipping into a deep depression. Finally, I sought out a therapist. Eight years, and several therapists later, I think of my Dad, and miss him, but I have also made some deep changes in the way I live my life, and along the way found more joy than I thought was possible.

Why am I sharing this with you? It relates a bit to the post I had recently about Critical Balance. Until this crisis sent me to therapy, I did not realize how much all the negative "stuff" I carried around in my head, and repeated to myself over and over again, inhibited my creativity, and diminished my life overall.

I continue therapy, even though depression is gone from my life, because I have come to realize the work to stay present, and not get caught up in all that "stuff" is something that is on-going. Once a month I get to check-in with the best therapist I could ever have. And once a month I meet with an amazing group of women, and we reflect and share on different aspects of our lives and our experiences. In this process, I can see better where I have been, and how far I have come. I can find where the residue of pain still resides, and carefully explore and heal. And I stay in touch with "me." And if you want to find your voice, there is no better place to start!

This past week, we met, and we wrote about the joy that is in our lives. We were in tears, and laughing, sometimes simultaneously as we shared our reflections. Tonight, I shared with my kids what I wrote, and given their response, I decided to post it here, with the background. I have come to believe, the work I did "on myself" was the best work I ever did to nurture my creative being.

So here goes....

I start to reflect upon my day and the little moments that made me smile, or feel in that moment. What unifies those moments is simply presence. Presence to what is. Presence to a moment that can’t be captured and preserved on film, or in words, or in any way at all as completely as just being there at that moment.

My mom calls to thank me for coming over and for the card from me that she found after we left. We talk for maybe ten minutes, and it is a nice re-connection and reinforcement of our relationship and our bond as mother and daughter.

I take a tray of beads out of the oven. As I collect them into my hand, and then into a container, the subtle sparkle and pattern catches my eye and makes me smile. Yes! This time it worked. These will make some nice pieces. But, just now, they bring me a moment of joy. I roll them around for a moment, in the container, enjoying the visual and tactile experience.

Later I am making cranes. I cover a sheet of clay with a variety of cane slices. The mix of color and pattern sings on this one. I smile in a moment of “yes!”

Packaging and sorting cranes to fill orders. These normally tedious tasks feel good today. I enjoy seeing each crane on the shred, and in it’s own little box. Soon two orders are picked and in boxes to ship. I take pleasure in the ease with which this happened today.

At dinner, I take in Colleen. Her eyes sparkle as she talks. A smile illuminates her already luminous face. We all laugh together as Kaela exudes joy and excitement at all the possible directions her life could take. Each fulfilling an aspect of her being. She can barely get the words out in a coherent sentence, she is so happy about all that lies before her like a feast.

My life is one of abundance. Simple moments. The excitement of the dog to do a trick and get a treat. The sound of my coffee press makes as it slides down. Dave’s voice on the phone.

I had moments of stress and frustration today. But the joy of the moment can be found like sparkling jewels scattered throughout my day.

My little mantra these days is “Create abundance.” Perhaps I don’t need to say create. Maybe it is just about noticing. Being present to all that is here for me already., what do you think? Does it make you want to start noticing the jewels in your own life? I can guarantee they are there. It is not about the big "wow!" moments. Those are good, but the sustenance comes from finding joy in the moment. The mundane, everyday moments. And, when we find it there, we have less "need" for the other kinds of that the commercials want us to believe are only a purchase away.

If you'd like, feel free to leave a jewel or two in the comments!


Barbara J Carter said...

Today I gloss-coated a big painting. Gloss-coating (what I do instead of varnishing) is messy, tedious, and smelly. But instead of dwelling on the unpleasant aspects of the job, I noticed how good the painting looked. The glossy topcoat made the colors sing. I had that "yes" moment.

I see this as akin to the Shaker philosophy of finding meaning in all the daily chores of life, no matter how menial or tedious. It doesn't happen often enough for me, but I see today as a positive step!

Barbara J Carter

sandy said...

Wow, Judy! Blessings to you, my friend, for the wonderful reminder that being present is actually more important than madly crossing things off my to-do list.

simplyred said...

While I often read your blog, I don't think I've commented before, but your post today struck such a cord with me. I've been keeping a "Joy Journal" for awhile now and it has helped me realize just how much I have and how many little ways there to feel the joy of the moment. Thanks for reminding me to make an entry - your blog post brought me joy today!

Ms. Ernie
Gypsy Gold Studio

Tina T. said...


Your blog is one of my faves... I love your advise, your thoughts, and like these moments, the feelings that seep through, that or I am deeply touched, because I too lost my father this past November, and I too have learned that life sheds a little glitter here and there... that alone makes you slow down and enjoy the fact that you can just be, in that moment and time, you can just be....

Thanks for always keeping us enlightened.... and my you continue being blessed with a " jewel or two"!! (Those moments are what I call God's Blessings)

Aunt Cin said...

Having one right now, as I sit at my laptop, with my great-niece and fun-pal, 12 year old Rachel, sharing my bed table, on her laptop. Each of us doing our own then, but pausing now and then to say, "Check this out!" A 21st century moment. ;-)

And I've had about 10 days of those moments, looking out my window at the gorgeous pink dogwood in full bloom - it must be a perfect year for that tree, as the blossoms have opened and remained for a good long while, and I have been able to enjoy every day of it, out this window in my new room. What a blessing!

Thanks for the reminder to enjoy this moments as they happen. I am a neglectful journaler and when I was better about it, I'd be sure to note one or two of these moments for every day. There's incentive to begin my journaling anew!


moonroommuse said...

Hi Judy,

Thanks for sharing your moments of abundance.

My word for this year is gratitude. Every day I write down 5 things (more or less) that happened for which I'm grateful.

I've been shown that even the smallest event can bring gratitude. It is through gratitude that we realize abundance.

And when we realize our abundance, we bring more to ourselves.

Thank you for your inspiration and encouragement.

Namaste, my friend.


Judy said...

Thank you all for your comments and insights. I had someone observe recently we are built to experience joy. When you think of it that way, it is even more important that we stay present all the opportunities that abound! I am glad to see so many of you are on that path as well.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the lessons you have learned through your father. I am sure he would be pleased that his memory has helped move you to a new awakening, and that you shared it with others to lift their day.

Thank you.