Is it Okay to be Happy These Days?

Why Joy is Important…… Especially Now

I am sitting outside on a beautiful fall day. The sounds of the city are muffled by the soothing  splashing of a water fountain nearby. Church spires and sky scrapers reach for the sky. A sky that is that clear, deep blue that  happen on a breezy day in October. My heart fills with joy as I breathe in deeply. I love autumn. The colours, the smells and the cool, crisp air are  invigorating to me.

As I sit with my joy, I wonder, is it okay for me to be so happy when so many others in this world are suffering? Does the fact that I am happy mean I don’t care?

Mass shootings, hurricanes, flooding, and the sudden death of a musical legend are in the news. How do I pay attention with compassion and still experience joy in my life?

I am learning that it takes courage for me to feel joy deeply without a sense of shame or anxiety.

I find myself worrying ‘What if this joy doesn’t last?’ Maybe I am naive when I drop into joy. I am not a child anymore. Is it even responsible to be euphoric and lighthearted? Grow up and be serious! Tragedy and disappointment may strike soon!

Shame shows up when I see myself as unworthy of of being happy. I wonder if I have ‘earned the right’ to be joyful. Tied in with this is the guilt that I am selfish to be happy while others’ suffer.

Here is what I am realizing.

When I hold back from joy I am of no use to anyone.

In fact, the opposite is true.

My experience of joy matters because joy matters.

My experience of joy matters because joy matters.

In her book, ‘Braving the Wilderness’, Brene Brown states that the attributes of love, belonging and joy bringing meaning to life. She goes on to say that we can’t give people what we don’t have.

Here are her words: ‘When we surrender our own joy to make those in pain feel less alone or to make ourselves seem more committed, we deplete ourselves of what it takes to feel fully alive and fueled by purpose.’ (‘Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown, Random House, New York, 2017, page 156)

My purpose in life is to be a conduit of love and joy for the people in my world.

Here are some ways I am practicing this in the midst of messiness.

  • I am devoted to being grateful for what I have and I focus on that daily
  • I lean into simple joys and savour the good. My friend and colleague, Tanis Frame at Decide to Thrive, declared this week that she is ‘Doubling down on her resolve to be a catalyst for love and thriving in this world’. At this time, for her, this meant making apple crisp with her daughters!
  • I notice my rage, my sorrow and my sense of despair. And, I move through the emotions and get back to work. Casey Erin Wood is an inspiration to me. She is a writer, coach and founder of the Ruby Slipper School of Magic (isn’t that an awesome name?!) She posted today: ‘We need your light, your brilliance now more than ever. Speak up, use your voice, create- share your light and love any way you can.’ So here I am, writing my blog post for this week.
  • I am aware of what is happening and I guard my energy as I choose how often I watch the news or read all the details. I am open to what I can do to support those in need, and I choose not to deny the joy in my life.

I am curious what you are devoted to at this time in our history. What practices sustain you in the midst of tragedy? How are you navigating the messiness of life and experiencing joy?

Please let share below what is happening for you. I am supported and encouraged by others’ ideas and I know that as you take the courage to share, you will inspire others. Thank you!

 

Play and Surrender: Lessons from my Summer of Play

September is here and my ‘Summer of Play’ is coming to an end. I set the intention of play
and rest for this summer. I imagined a stretch of time filled with fun, laughter, connection
and ease.

Instead, I experienced health challenges, fatigue and dark times of loneliness. The summer weather was hot and smoky due to wild fires in the northern areas of the province. I longed for rain. My throat was sore, my breathing was tight and the greyness weighed down my spirits.

Even though I felt lonely, I had little interest in reaching out to others. I wondered if I
would ever feel better again.

As I reflect on the past few months, I am struck by the power of ‘letting go’. My definition
of the word ‘Play’ included the idea of being open to surprises and the unexpected. I am learning that the surprises are not always light-hearted and fun. It may be that life is offering me the opportunity to wait, trust and rest.

What was really happening this summer?

  • My body was asking for what it needed. Rest, quiet and solitude.
  • I did not know how weary I was until I stopped
  • I was grieving and this takes energy and space to process. My mother is frail and
    no longer recognizes me. I am sorrowful as I realize the mother I knew is no longer
    available to me in the same way. The curtain of forgetfulness is a barrier to our
    sharing jokes and reminiscing together. I am discovering new ways of being with
    her. I miss her.
  • I was facing the question: who am I? I am looking at retirement and what it means for me. By taking time of this summer I realize that so much of my identity is based on my accomplishments. I felt lost with no projects on the go.
  • What was I being invited to learn?
  • What was the gift in this darkness?

These are deep questions and I do not have all the answers. I do know that as I observe my
experience and surrender to what is happening, I feel my heart soften. I am learning that
challenges can be an invitation for me to grow spiritually.

This is the paradox of surrender. Awareness releases. And, love results.

I recently had the chance to be an ‘explorer’ and witness myself being upset and hurt. I chose to not be absorbed in my reactivity. I took some deep breaths and the feelings passed. I  stayed present and felt a renewed energy and love in my heart. And, the conversation that followed was filled with vulnerability and connection. This is the paradox of surrender. Awareness releases. And, love results.

What is next?

I travel to Winnipeg in a few days to visit my mom and dad. In the sprit of Play, I desire to
be open to the unexpected and to ‘let go’ of expectations. I want to be open to receive love
and to offer love in each moment. I believe this visit will be a gift to me, as I deepen into
the learning of being present, observing my emotions and thoughts, and having compassion for myself along the way.

I trust that my summer lessons are part of a larger design even if it is not clear to me yet. I
yearn to see the big picture and to know what the next steps will be. And, for now, I believe
that I am exactly where I am meant to be at this moment. That is really what surrender looks like for me.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.
I know I am not alone and I treasure your support.

What does surrender look like for you? How do you find the ‘gift’ in the dark times? Please comment below or send me a message. We are stronger as we share with each other!

 

Summer Surrender

Happy Summer!

It has been a while since I wrote and I am dropping by to let you know what is happening for me. I have been feeling into what this summer will look like for me.

The last two summers have been filled with travel and Women’s Retreats. I came alive with the experience of connection and adventure with my coaching colleagues. Exploring new places and revelling in the energy of a vibrant group of women filled me with joy.

This year I am in a different place. I have been feeling weary, both physically and emotionally. I sit down to write and the words escape me. I get triggered by things that I usually handle with grace and ease.

I realize my body has wisdom and I need to pay attention

Sleep is my new best friend and I linger in bed with an uncharacteristic lack of energy in the mornings.

My body has been reminding me to slow down. I sprained my ankle recently when I slipped and fell on a muddy trail in the woods. I was angry at myself! How could I be so clumsy? How would I get everything done? What a nuisance to not be able to walk.

And, then, my coach offered her wise perspective. What if this was a message from my body? A nudge to show me that it was time to sit, to rest, to receive from others? I realized that my body had wisdom and I needed to pay attention.

I have been on the path of surrender and accepting my limitations. There are days when I rebel. And, deep in my soul, I know that this happened for a reason.

My ankle is healing and I am slowly getting back to walking. Even so, I have chosen to take time for me this summer.

What will this look like?

I will have a spaciousness in my calendar, so that I will be able to pay attention to my energy level and what it is I want to do in the moment. This means I will practice the art of Play by taking time to notice what is around me and how I can have fun no matter what I do.

Swimming in the ocean, beach time, naps, lunches and coffee times with friends, and play with my grandchildren will be some of the activities. I want to be surprised and open for adventure.

I know that I will be reading lots of books. Novels, mystery stories, biographies and books to nurture my soul.

Here are some that are waiting on my bedside table.

Becoming Enough
by Amanda Johnson
White Hot Truth
by Danielle LaPorte
The Untethered Soul
by Michael A. Singer

I would love to hear what you are reading this summer. It may even be one of these books I will be reading.

I also want to allow all my emotions in their complexity. At times I feel anxious at the idea of ‘not working on my business’ this summer. What if I fall behind? Will I miss out?

Yes…….I may ‘miss out’. But, if I am depleted, would I have space to enjoy whatever it is I am missing? I don’t think so.

I will experience healing as I surrender

And, I will not ‘fall behind’. I believe I will experience healing as I surrender and accept that this summer is a time for me to rest and be restored. I am trusting that I will have a renewed sense of focus and creative energy after this time away.

I wish you a wonderful summer and would love to hear from you as to what it is you are doing to recharge yourself. Maybe you have some ideas for me for my adventures.

I invite you to join my Instagram page to discover what I experience on this Summer’s Adventure.

See you in September!

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