The Joy of Living
I’ve been feeling unsettled. Almost wondering if it’s my version of a mid life crisis. Annoyed. At the never ending busy and overwhelm and the need to counteract it with binge watching away our life. At the distractions of pings and notifications from every device. Disgusted by the processed, packaged items that we now call food. Frustrated at the lack of any real communication with eyes connected. At the constant need for more. Ordering more. Buying more. Feeling like I don’t have enough. Over it. This is not what life should feel like.
And then it hit me. What if the inverse of my annoyances is the answer? What if that’s what I need to figure out? I felt very clear. What I need is to figure out the joy in living. Now realize that I said joy in living and not living in joy. I don’t mean that it’s our goal to figure out how to be happy all the time. I mean that we need to find joy in this thing called life; and maybe we have gotten off track about the essence of it. The ups and the downs, the risks and rewards, the challenges and the triumphs. This is life. But it’s also the little things that make up our life. Remember that book by Richard Carlson, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff”? Well he’s right about it being about the small stuff. Not just that we shouldn’t sweat it, but it’s also where the gift of life is, in the small moments between the big ones.
I’m having an “epipha-me”.
I desire to find the joy in living.
I want to have deep connections to people.
I want to go slow and to be present.
With my midlife annoyance, I have felt an incredible pull to take my family to Italy. Kind of obsessed. Not kidding. Like bring them to an Italian Farm and get away from it all. But I can’t (at least not in this present moment) as we are deep living this life here and now, in school and work.
So I wondered, what is it about this trip that I want so much?
I want to be in nature.
I want to be disconnected from devices and connected to my family.
I want really good food (and wine).
I want to slow down.
And then it hit me.
I can create a lot of what I want in my real life. So, I made an awesome Italian dinner. I savored a nice glass of red wine. I put on some relaxing music. I lit a candle. I turned off the television and made my family put away their various devices. And we had such a nice dinner. And I was happy.
Could it be that simple?
So all week long, I brought my presence to the smallest nuances of the day. I suddenly wished I was a photographer because I wanted to capture all of these beautiful moments that I before was missing. Like how the clouds mingled with the sunrise. And how the foam floated on my coffee. And how incredibly beautiful my kids looked while they were sleeping. As a mom to two teenagers, it’s been awhile since I’ve looked in on them like that. I tried to remember the last time they were small enough to cuddle. The smell of their hair, the softness of their skin. And I cried. Not sad really, just present. When I truly slowed down, it’s like I realized that everything around me had a beauty that I have neglected to appreciate.
I have been trying to approach the mundane tasks with a new energy. When I was folding napkins to put away, I was present in the action of doing it and connected to feeling grateful that my family always has food to eat. This weekend, I had to wash Lexi (the dog) because she was getting a little fragrant. Normally, this is Rachel’s job but I had to let her off the hook with her broken foot. When I got my mind right, I actually appreciated this act too. I felt deep appreciation for how much love this dog brings into our life. I noticed how pretty the glisten of the bubbles were on her fur. And I felt happy, instead of annoyed. I chose happy.
I am continuing to look at the tiny moments of my day and how I can choose to be present. Now, let’s be real and remember that shit happens. Yesterday seemed to be the day that every member of my family needed me at the same time. My work needed me at the same time. And then I broke a glass candle all over the kitchen while making dinner. And I teased myself about how am I going to get “mind right” now? I took a deep breath and chose my response. It’s all small stuff. One thing at a time. I cleaned up the glass. I made myself a cup of herbal tea. And I promised myself a soak in the tub at the end of the evening and looked forward to reading my book. And it helped me get through without feeling the chaos, the pressure.
I have food to eat. A roof over my head. Clothes to cover me. The problems I have others are praying for. So, I am grounded in gratitude. Grounded in going slow. Grateful for the present moment. The world will pull me back. I will succumb to the texts and the notifications. But I am committed to staying on this path, and I hope you might want to join me. I am so aware that the little things may be taking you down. That the baby crying and the pressure from work and the never ending laundry may literally be taking you down. And it feels so dark. And heavy. And hard. And you are not alone. I’m afraid of how not alone you are. It seems that most around us are drowning (even if just in private). And that’s part of why I am sad and frustrated. It’s not just my life that I want to change. I want to help you find the inverse of whatever is frustrating you and darkening your day. I want you to find the joy of living your life. My hope is that you become grounded in gratitude, go slow, eat good food and make deep connections to other human beings. Give it a try. Appreciate the simple beauty in your day.
In fact, take a picture and share on Facebook or Instagram and tag me and use the #lifeisbeautiful.
Follow me in November on social media as I will be sharing the simple beauty from my own life each day. In fact, this may be my next book! Let’s write it together!
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