Joy of ‘making a difference’

I’ve caught myself again.

I want to “make a difference”! (Note the exclamation point on the end of that… I want to make a BIG difference! Not just any old difference.)

I’ve always been a big dreamer. Travel the world. Help people. Volunteer. Solve problems. All great ideas and goals. Some of which I have achieved, which is awesome!

Lately I have been shown that making a difference happens in the smaller things more often than the grandiose.

Yesterday I went down to the ramp in my building for my walk. A fellow tenant came up the ramp behind me at one point. I let him pass and noticed that he was walking through the parkade and on the ramp to my building entry in sock feet!

“Everything okay?” I asked.

“I locked myself out of my townhouse and no keys!” the man smiled back.

“Call the caretaker!” and I rattled off the after-hours number by memory (who knows where or how I stored that in my brain!)

Within minutes, the sock-footed man had a solution to his problem.

A small thing – knowing an emergency number – made a difference to this man’s evening. It felt good to see the man smile and not stress out.

I love receiving these nudges from the universe that joy is in the small stuff. And what’s small stuff to me, is often what makes another person’s life easier. And that’s big stuff for them!

The take home lesson for me is ‘just be present and let the joy unfold’ in all circumstances. I don’t get to define how joy happens, or what it will take for people to feel joy in an experience.

When I get out of the way and keep it simple, that seems to be when joy naturally arises. And that’s good enough for me!

Joy of being bullied

Joy of being bullied?! Lizzie are you on glue? Get real.

This is as real as I get! Maybe not for the reasons one might dare to think, but joy and gratitude are definitely there.

Being bullied changed me for the better. It also made me an agent of change for other targets. This, I believe, is the greatest benefit β€” the ability to help others heal.

Because of bullying…

  1. I became an advocate and teacher. I developed workshops on bullying in schools. The material? My own life experiences. I never thought being bullied would bring so much healing to so many. But, it did… and I thank the bullies I encountered in school. From grade 1 to grade 9, I was the only physically disabled person in my classes. I was a target for rejection and ridicule almost daily. But that rejection and ridicule became my foundation for teaching other targets how to embrace their differences, stand tall and be proud of who they are.
  2. I am one of the strongest people I know. I was targeted for perceived physical weakness. My weakness was truly the source of great strength. Outwardly I might have appeared lame. but inwardly I was fierce and powerful. My biggest strength? I never resorted to retaliation. Retaliation would have placed me on the same level as those who taunted me. Instead I chose to give my attention to my inner life, and developed character traits the bullies rarely demonstrated: compassion, understanding, wisdom and patience.
  3. I have an awesome sense of humor. Adversity and challenges didn’t make me bitter. I found the ironies in the behavior of bullies, and chose to allow it to amuse me, not abuse me. I certainly cried my share of tears. But the laughter that came after my grief was, and remains, sweet. I was born with a disability and a clever mind. A powerful combination, that has carried me far in life.
  4. I know how to fully feel whatever I feel. Without this presence to my emotional life, I am near certain the bullies would have ‘won’ (if there is such a thing as ‘winning’). I had the gift of counselling at a young age, to cope with bullying and hurtful attitudes toward my disability. I am grateful for the foundation of dealing with my pain, not running from it. I can only hope that those who bullied me in my school years found healthy ways to deal with their suffering. Yes, I do wish that for them… because I want everyone to be that free.
  5. I have become a safe person. I don’t minimize anyone who needs to ‘go deep’ with me. I hold space for them. I am able to be present for their grief, thereby validating their experience. I walk with them as an equal, honoured that they trust me.
  6. Bullying was the catalyst for my life’s passion. I am driven to help people walk through their grief and find their joy. No one and nothing can take that from a person. It’s my mission to remind people of the joy they already are.
  7. Bullies taught me to be a seeker. A seeker of truth. My spiritual truth became more important than anything physical I may have lacked in the eyes of the bully. Truth is, there is nothing lacking. The most beautiful thing? I don’t have to prove that to a bully or anyone else. It. Just. Is. And as it is for me, so it is for all beings. We are all steeped in the truth of wholeness.

There is joy in reflecting on my personal benefits of being bullied. Out of every experience, I have learned and gained back parts of me I thought I lost. Out of every experience, I discovered parts of me I didn’t know existed.

Bullies truly were, and still are, my greatest teachers in life. πŸ’•πŸŒŸπŸ’•

Joy of ‘it’s safe to heal’

In one of my recent EFT tapping sessions with Brad Yates, I heard the phrase “it’s safe to heal”.

Imagine that! It’s safe to completely heal and let go.

I have been on the healing journey for decades. Brad was the first to say it is safe to heal and let go of old baggage for good.

This really has me thinking. Could I let go, truly let go of always working on myself? I mean I have been in healing mode since the age of five, working with a social worker on disability issues.

I am grateful for the work I have done. Incredibly grateful for the with-walkers on my path.But there definitely is a belief that I can’t be okay unless I am fixing something or working through another thing. I understand that this is part of life, but maybe, just maybe, I could increase the joy in my life by saying “Lizzie, you’re good the way you are. You’re a work in progress, and it’s safe to heal and let go a little.”

I have to laugh at myself as I re-read … “it’s safe to heal and let go A LITTLE.”

Um, Lizzie… hello?!? Wanna try that again?

It’s safe to heal and let go. Completely. Let go of age-old wounds that you have worked on for years. Claim your freedom from the past and move forward. Boldly. Confidently. Stop stopping yourself, thinking you have to have this healing thing down perfectly. Let go and be joyful already! πŸ™‚ 🀣

Hmm, I might be onto something πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚

Joy of changing habits

The other day I found an old list of habits I wanted to change. How old? It was dated 2019!

I was pleasantly surprised knowing that some of the items on my lengthy list were things I was able to shift and change permanently. Other items, well, they are still hanging on three years later.

At first I thought ‘what the heck is wrong with me?’ I mean, really, Lizzie. Three years later and you are still doing X habit and Y habit. Judge, judge. Criticize, criticize. Shame, shame.

That inner dialogue got old very quickly. I stepped back and thought about why I engage in these habits. What is the benefit, Lizzie?

The habits I still hold on to give me the illusion of safety. I find some of them very soothing and comforting in a strange way. I realize that I want to become free of these things, but I also recognize that my habits protected and freed me from feeling and dealing with things I simply wasn’t ready to take on.

This joy journey I have been on for the last two years has taught me so much. One of the greatest lessons for me is that joy is not a band-aid for anything. I usually have to express and deal with whatever lurks beneath unhealthy habits and patterns in order to see lasting change take place.

To the ‘hangers on’ in my unhealthy habit list, I say this: at the root of letting you go is a lot of anxiety. I have never thought of myself as an anxious person. But lo and behold, I am. What’s really bizarre is recognizing that the better my life seems to become, the more anxiety I seem to have. Quite the oxymoron, really.

Whether it’s an oxymoron, or I am simply a moron πŸ˜‰ I choose to see the joy in recognizing this new animal in my zoo of emotions. I can’t change what I don’t acknowledge.

The more I allow my emotions to be my teachers, the less they can keep me stuck, and have power over me. Working with the emotion, whatever it is, is much healthier than resisting it. Resisting it is actually what creates the unhealthy habit in the first place.

What amazes me most about the joy journey is the nuggets I discover when I am not in the joy bubble. I am so glad that I can walk down these side roads and learn as I go. Nothing is accidental. Learning about my areas of resistance also brings a smidge of joy back to me. It’s all awareness, and it all brings me to the next level.

Who knew that joy could be so complicated? Still, I appreciate joy in my life, no matter how it arrives! πŸ™‚

Joy of resting

Calming allows us to rest, and resting is a precondition for healing. When animals in the forest get wounded, they find a place to lie down, and they rest completely for many days. They don’t think about food or anything else. They just rest, and they get the healing they need.
― Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation

I read this book a few years ago. This passage hit me right where I needed it to. It transformed how I see resting and healing.

I grew up believing that doing nothing, or resting, was being lazy. So, I was always, always busy. Always finding things to do. Doing for the sake of doing. It was exhausting. I always worried about how I appeared to others, and then secretly resentful when these same people didn’t recognize how busy and productive I was. How dare they not notice how valuable my busy efforts made me?! πŸ˜‰

The older I get, the more I recognize that ‘doing nothing’ in the name of healing and restoration is one of the best things I can do for myself and others.

Resting and staying in the moment has helped me remain calm in unsettling situations. I had a major fall recently. While those around me were quite concerned and frankly, freaking the EFF out, I was calm and did what I needed to do to be safe. I didn’t panic. I took my time getting on my own two feet again.

It’s funny how people rush to restore ‘normal’ or the status quo. Pulling me up by anything you can grab is not quite the approach needed! 🀣 Well-meaning, but ineffective. I asked the people trying to help, to kindly leave. I sat and let myself breathe until I was calm and centred. I was then able to get up on my own, without much of a struggle. I was bleeding and bruised, and looked horrible I bet, but my mind and body were calm, and I was focused.

At emergency, when I was called to get treatment for my wounds, a nurse accompanying me grabbed my arm. I instinctively said that grabbing me wasn’t helpful, and she immediately let go. “You were scaring me, so unsteady on your feet!”, she said. What she didn’t know was that my ‘ways’ work for me. My body and I know what we are doing. I smiled and kept walking to the treatment room. No need to explain… I was calm and relaxed. Nothing I would have said or done to reassure her would have worked, in my estimation. It felt good and right to let it all slide, like water off a duck’s back.

I was given antibiotics with a small meal before I left the hospital in a taxi, on the hospital’s dime. I cried tears of gratitude, because the staff looked after me so well. I was surprised at the generosity, and very relieved I didn’t have to arrange transportation home.

I rested when I got home, and felt zero guilt in doing so. πŸ™‚ I slept and slept and slept some more. I watched shows that made me laugh. Dishes stayed in the sink. Crumbs stayed on the floor. Exercise? Swimming? What’s that? πŸ˜‰ I am busy resting! Everything else can wait. πŸ™‚

There is a wonderful wisdom in resting. It’s more than physical for me. Resting has become a quiet confidence that I am always taken care of. I had a lot going on that day, but all my concerns were taken care of β€” every last one of them. Days like this give me the joyful reassurance that all is truly well, when circumstances, stitches and bruises would say otherwise.

Joy of ‘stepping stones’

I’ve been waiting for a specific opportunity to unfold in my life. Something I would love to do, and something I would be very well-suited to create.

It’s a very safe opportunity, that will check off a lot of wants and needs on my checklist. I will definitely help many people. I will also help myself climb out of a bit of a rut.

I shake my head and laugh as I type this because… geezzeee Lizzie, can’t you just be happy with what’s coming? You’ve built this connection and forthcoming opportunity for two years. Can’t you just celebrate it and get excited?

I am excited for this to happen. It’s arriving at a good time in my life. I am beyond grateful to see that someone has gone to the mat for me and found funding, so I can earn some money and not volunteer my time. It’s very affirming, and quite an honor to find this connection, and feel supported.

Deep within, I know that my purpose and passion is bigger than this opportunity. This opportunity will be a stepping stone for me. A hallway through to bigger dreams being realized. A chance to rebuild my self-confidence, and make new connections.

Is it so bad to be grateful and yet want more, and expect more for my future? I am joyfully going to say ‘NO, Lizzie, it is actually quite wonderful to want and expect more!’

I can be grateful for the stepping stones, and not settle and stay where I am. I can be joyful for the pathways that are opening up for me. I can balance this opportunity with continued self-care, and making the inner journey to realizing ultimate, bigger goals that serve a bigger purpose.

I joyfully release all conditioning that says “be grateful for what you have, Lizzie. Don’t ask for more!” Who am I not to ask for more? Asking for more allows me to help more people. Stepping stones allow me to grow into greater passion and purpose.

I’ve seen others travel the path I am on, and I am happy for them. It’s joyfully ironic that when I look at my own steps, it feels very ‘Bambi on ice’ again. Instead of ‘this is as far as it goes’ I can say ‘where is this going to take me next?’

After tapping out one random (and wordy!) thought after another in this post, the bottom line is, this isn’t the end of my path. This opportunity is a wonderful stepping stone. Knowing this doesn’t take away my gratitude. It actually expands it, and re-fuels my curiosity to stay on this path and discover what’s next!

Joy of being real

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” 

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit. 

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.” 

The Velveteen Rabbit has always been my favourite book. It spoke to me as a child and still speaks to me today.

I can’t quite say I have evolved to the point of not minding being hurt, but I do understand the bigger picture. Every time some pain or suffering arises, I know I am being healed in one area or another of my life.

The last couple of days I have had some dark emotions come up. Far from joyous, that’s for sure. I do recognize that they come up for much needed attention. They arise when I absent-mindedly move on from them too quickly. They shock me into getting honest about what I am feeling. They remind me that ‘real’ is what I must be.

A lot of the time I can process the darker stuff on my own. I vent them out on paper, and then crumple them up into a ball for the garbage can. Or, I get kicking like a crazy woman in the pool, and let the water absorb all that muddiness within me.

Still other times, a ‘love angel’ arrives on the scene, and holds space for me to let it all hang out. I call these space holders “God with skin on” because these people just know what I need, and love me through the ‘ickiness’ as ‘Little Lizzie’ likes to call it.

There is a joy in being able to be real with stuff that I just don’t understand. Yesterday I realized that I compounded my misunderstanding with expectations. I also fuddled things up by overthinking and making my present circumstances a reflection of the past. In the darkness, I forget how much I have grown, and I forget who I truly am.

The love angels and the universe/God/whatever you wish to call it… always have a way of bringing me to the things that will speak to me the loudest. Yesterday I was reminded that the dark stuff is not a bad part of me… it is also a reflection of my love, care and passion for life. Without the dark parts, I can’t see the light. Without the dark parts, my character and strength can not be built. Without the dark parts, I can’t empathize or relate to the suffering of another person.

As much as I would rather hide the “ickiness”, it is often what brings me back to feeling joy again. Joy that I can fully feel… when I remember that fully feeling is part of self-care. Joy that I can gain insight from these parts of me, and try to do better next time, and the time after that. Joy that I can connect to others and be vulnerable and open when things are kinda stinky, perhaps giving them permission to do the same. Joy in realizing that if I truly want to live out my life’s passion, and help others heal, I need to be that change and fully embrace it, stink and all.

Joy doesn’t always come in a neat and tidy package with sunshine, rainbows and lollipops. I am grateful that life is showing me that joy is in all experiences… if I am willing to truly seek and find it. Once again, ‘if it is to be, it is truly up to me…” and a few love angels, and God, of course. πŸ˜‰

Joy of uncertainty

When nothing is sure, everything is possible.

margaret drabble

If I could be paid for sitting on the fence until I am absolutely sure, I would be quite wealthy right now.

Lately I am recognizing how very much like “Bambi on ice” I can be when I’m not sure of something. I slip and slide between thoughts of self-doubt and bursts of self-confidence. I gravitate to wanting outer conditions to confirm my inner knowing. I wobble and wonder. I want someone to tell me where the heck I am going.

Then there are other times where I am absolutely like Bambi with a back bone. I own my power. I take steps toward what I want. I know, that I know, that I know. Nothing can stop me when I have that backbone in place. I am confident. I am strong. I stand tall in my light.

In times of uncertainty, joy comes in knowing that I always land on my feet. Sometimes it just takes longer than I would like to find my bearings.

Still, I would much rather flow with the process than fight against it. Many gifts are born of hugging the stuffing out of uncertainty and loving the ride, discovering what is possible:

β€’ I have oodles of patience
β€’ I have a wicked sense of humor
β€’ I am better at managing my expectations
β€’ I am gaining a true understanding of what really is best for me; the universe always has a better plan than I can ever dream up!
β€’ I am using less judgment and shoulds… more ‘this is where I am meant to be right now’
β€’ there is more awareness that I truly have no control of outer conditions
β€’ and finally, a sharp awareness that I can choose my responses to life, and I choose joy!

Uncertainty is another tool any of us can use to truly love ourselves right where we are in this moment. Uncertainty is very much like jell-o. Have fun with it! Sneak a taste before it slips off your spoon! Watch it and let it teach you about impermanence and the adventure of life!

Joy of Closure

I shared a hug with someone about an hour ago. My first hug in about six months. I also heard the words “I love you Liz. You know that!”

I hugged back, and said “I love you, too, A____!” and I had tears in my eyes as we embraced.

Who is this affectionate person, your curiosity may ask?

It is the cheesecake lady. Yes, she has made headlines on my blog yet again.

Today she is flying out west to start another chapter with her family. We bumped into each other on the ramp, where I was diligently getting my forty minutes of exercise in for the day.

A____ chatted excitedly about finally being on the way, after a month of packing and sorting and tossing.

“I’m excited to go, but I am sure I will be back to visit!” she smiled, as her Dutch accent echoed while we stood together on the ramp.

This may seem like a simple goodbye between two people that had a complicated connection at times. On the surface, yes, it is a lovely goodbye. One that both of us worked for and earned.

For me, it is also a symbol of closure and a significant shift within a very challenging relationship with my mom. You may remember that A___ could be my mom’s twin. Same hair style, same Dutch accent, same quirkiness, same… same… same. Twins. I know I have said it before. But they are TWINS!

Since my mom’s passing six years ago I have done a boat load of work to heal and forgive all aspects of what was a very complicated and often painful relationship.

This morning, during my meditation, I had a lot of self-doubt coming up. Am I doing the right things in my life to heal and change? Am I taking the right actions? Letting go of the right things? Rattle, rattle, chatter, chatter.

Sharing this goodbye with A____ confirmed for me that although I have experienced a lot of shifts, changes and losses in order to heal and change my life, it certainly has been the right path. Difficult, but the right path.

A____ confirmed that it takes two people to make a change in any connection. I changed, and so did she. Without both sides taking part, we would have never reconciled. We would have never stood together as equals on that ramp today.

Thanks A___ for showing me that true reconciliation and closure on unhealthy patterns is absolutely possible. You made me a very happy girl today, and I am very, very grateful. πŸ’•

Joy of connecting to self

Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line.β€” Lucille Ball

Five years ago, I spent Valentine’s Day collapsed on my couch. Surrounded by bags of Cheezies and licorice, I ate and sobbed my way into the evening. I was alone. Sadly, sorrowfully, pathetically, desperately alone. What made it even worse was that my ex was out with another woman. Only a few months after we parted ways, he found new love. Boo hoo! My life sucked, and Valentine’s Day just drove the stake of aloneness deeper into my Velveteen Rabbit-ish, oh-so-sensitive, heart.

Fortunately I have traded in my Cheezies and licorice. I am not sitting on my couch sobbing anymore. I am not wearing a tiara for “best dramatic performance of a pathetic life” anymore either. What happened Lizzie? Did you find new love? Yes! Within me!

It feels slightly weird to say that. I found myself as a new love in my life. It feels like bragging, but inside I know that’s not my intent. After decades of searching in all the wrong places outside of me, I have finally gone inward and tasted what self-love really feels like.

The best feeling in the world for me is when my day ends and I find myself joyful at the prospect of snuggling under my covers. Just me, myself and I, and my pillow. Sprawled out on my bed like a starfish. Giggling. Alone. I feel so fulfilled and happy to be with myself. It’s a feeling that’s new for me, and I find it hard to find words to describe it. Thinking of it brings up giddiness and ‘ooglie’ feelings.

All my life I have dreamed of being connected to that “one person”. I have had elaborate fantasies of the “dance of intimacy” with another, fuelled by Hollywood’s Uber-romantic and painfully well-scripted portrayal of love in the movies. I have moments of this kind of overwhelming connection with partners in the past. I am grateful for every one of these experiences. But I always felt like something was missing. Like something wasn’t quite right.

It was not right because I was dependent on someone else to feel connected. Enmeshed to the MAX. Not unlike Jerry Maguire’s emotional claim to RenΓ©e Zellweger “you… complete… me….” (GAG! lol) I felt empty and completely joy-less unless someone was filling in my gaps. My joy was all external.

I am on the path to doing for myself what I freely and desperately gave other’s the responsibility to do. As Helen Maupin would say: “Joy is my only job”.

That’s my story and I am sticking to it. πŸ˜‰

Joy of Standing Tall

My photography skills using my iPhone simply do not do justice to this painting.

A client I worked with a few years ago painted it for me. J___ dedicated it to me and titled it “Standing Tall”.

My heart melted when I received it. At the time, I wasn’t feeling very tall. Nor did I feel like standing, really. I left the organization where I met J____, because it wasn’t a good fit for me to work there. I had no idea what my next step was. It was a time of emotional upheaval and I felt very lost and confused.

“Standing Tall” was just the reminder I needed, at a time when I felt very small and defeated. J___, and her painting, reminded me that feelings are not facts. Leaving that organization was my beginning steps to saying “no, thank you”, to owning my power, and to developing a backbone.

Standing tall often involves grief, for me. It means leaving the old and often not having anything to call ‘new’ in its place. ‘Standing tall’ has become ‘standing alone’ for me in some areas in my life. The joy comes in realizing that I can indeed stand on my own. I can stand tall and feel fulfilled without what I have left behind. I can stand in my power and know great things are ahead, even when, and especially when, I have no clue what the future holds.

The girl in the painting standing alone with a single feather in her hand represents a freedom and a wholeness that I aspire to daily. She stands alone, yet is supported by the brightness of the moon, and the rich colors of the water around her. It brings tears to my eyes as I write, because “I am never alone” just came through from within me.

“I am never alone” β€” as I look at the bright star where the girl’s heart is. “It is always within me” as I look at the brilliant mixture of stars and light filling the girl’s body. Wholeness. Strength. Oneness. Peace.

J____… you have no idea how much your painting has colored and healed my world. Even after five years have passed, It is a gift that still teaches me about you, and about me, today. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Joy of ‘responsibility’

It is in no way, shape or form your cosmic duty or responsibility to take away the pain of other people. This is because by absorbing the pain of others, you are depriving them of a vital element of their spiritual evolution and karmic responsibility. β€• Mateo Sol

“It’s my fault” has been a mantra of mine since I can remember.

Until now.

The other day, the lightbulb came on. Not just a brief flicker. It is ON, and I have at least 10,000 hours to enjoy its brightness. πŸ˜‰

About a week ago, I had an experience with someone in my life that brought up all my ‘stuff’. I crashed emotionally. I just felt heavy and wanted to sleep and eat junk food. So I did. For a whole day. I ate pizza. I watched mindless crap on YouTube. I slept. Screw exercise. Screw self-care. I suck and I want to, (and even deserve to!) feel horrible.

I’ve done this kind of thing many times in the past. Binge and sleep. Hate on myself. Punish myself for someone else’s pain. Never worked before, but THIS time, this time, IT WILL! Nope (surprise, surprise, Lizzie). Still felt heavy and dragged out the next day.

So I picked up my journal and wrote “what the F*ck is behind all of this? I am so tired of this pattern. I was doing so well, and here it is again. What do you want me to learn, universe?” And then I wrote a bunch of swear words on top of my plea. You know, to show the universe I meant business. I scratched my pen right through the paper. See that, universe??! I am in PAIN here!

Fortunately my dramatic display of pain for an audience of one, (yep all of this β€” just for me!) was short-lived. I got right back into self-care after journaling. Still feeling heavy, but I trudged through the motions. I attended an EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) tapping session with Brad Yates. My heart wasn’t in it but I thought ‘just go, Lizzie.Just be there. Show up.”

Ironically, or not so ironically, Brad started to tap on expectations and responsibility for others.

“Even though I feel responsible for the feelings and actions of others, I love, honor and accept myself.” tap… tap.. tap…

“Even though others expect me to take on their pain, I know this doesn’t help them or serve me in any way.” tap… tap… tap.

The man was literally living inside my heart and head! About an hour after the session, the heaviness was gone. Gone! And I was back to my joyful self, bopping to music on my iPhone, exercising on the ramp. In the moment. Doing me.

Joy doesn’t always come easily or instantly. Sometimes it’s about working through the tougher emotions that keep me stuck. I am responsible for doing the work to clear them. It’s a darn good thing β€” a joyful thing β€” that nothing in life is permanent!

Joy of ‘toxically positive’

I’ve been called a lot of things in the last 53 years. But yesterday, a friend called me “toxically positive”. I was pleasantly surprised. Toxically positive is a new label I have never stuck to my forehead.

A key to being ‘toxically positive’ is found in committing to joy. Commitments aren’t always easy, but are always, always worth it.

Let’s all commit to being joyful, and being toxically positive. Repeat after me:

I *insert your name here* hereby take the “Be toxically positive” oath

I find the joy in every day.
Every single day has joy in it. Every. Single. One. It might not feel joyous right now. Honor that. Dive right into it and be grateful that no emotion or mind state is permanent. Joy is nimble and quick to return. Our job? To know that beneath the challenge β€” any challenge β€” is joy. Get out a magnifying glass if you must, but make it your mission to find joy in all things.

I spread joy wherever I go.
Show up as YOU. Fully and completely. Without apology. Authenticity is life’s greatest joy. To be oneself in a world that demands conformity, is the greatest freedom ever. (Paraphrased from Ralph Waldo Emerson, my secret crush and mentor from beyond! πŸ’•)

I keep it simple.
Joy is in the small things. No grand gestures required. Say hi to people. Smile. Make “Have a good day!” your affirmation for everyone you meet. β€œWe cannot all do great things.Β But we can do small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa

I stay in the moment.
“Joy is never tomorrow it is always now.” — Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Release yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s worries. Right now, choose joy. It is a moment-to-moment decision. Stay with it. No one deserves it more than you.

I make the choice!
Choose to be over-the-top happy and positive! Be toxic in the best way possible. Shine! Be so positive that people wonder about you. (Are you OK?! πŸ˜‰ Why yes… YES. I. AM!!)

Repeat it one more time:

I find the joy in every day.
I spread joy wherever I go.
I keep it simple.
I stay in the moment.
I make the choice!

I hereby pledge steadfast loyalty to my toxic joy and happiness. Now and Always.

Sincerely,

Me!

Joy of getting serious

I had another rant with the universe last night.

I was letting someone get under my skin. AGAIN. The irony is, I have not seen this person in two years. My thoughts were enough to have them sitting on the couch beside me. Scary yet true. My imagination, used unwisely, stole my very own joy away from me.

Fortunately I recognized this quickly, and got to work.

I found wisdom in ny own words, on this blog:

“To invite joy in, we must be done, done, DONE, with the things that are well, just not joyful.”

and

“How serious am I about living in joy?”

Joy is a moment to moment choice. No one can make that choice but me. As serious as I am about cultivating joy, it is amazing how easily I give my joy away to circumstances beyond my control.

The wonderful thing is, I can reclaim my joy as quickly as I lose focus on it.

The powerful change for me is… I am grateful for the bunny trails of my thoughts that take me away from joy. The shock found in the contrast is my greatest teacher. Shock that snaps me back to my centre. My joyful centre.

My joy is 100% under my control. I return once again to the wise lyrics of Frazey Ford:

“My joy, my joy, my joy… takes nothing from you.”

If joy is to be, it is 100% up to me.

I choose joy … over and over and over again.

Seriously.

Joy of coffee and ‘cheesecake’ ;)

You’ll never guess who I had coffee with this morning!

The cheesecake lady! Remember her? I wrote about her not too long ago, if my memory is still firing on all cylinders.

Last week, Cheesecake Lady (CL) knocked on my door to tell me the pool was closed for repairs to the heater. Nice of her to let me know. She also said she was moving out at the end of this month. Since her husband died late 2021, her kids were bugging her to move out west.

I congratulated her on making the decision. Not an easy one to make at any time, but she admitted that at her age, she was crazy to do it. Being widowed now, CL wants to be with her children and grandkids.

This morning I thought, “how can I make this a joyful ending for us?” I decided to put together a simple “wish you well” card and promptly went next-door to hand it to her.

“Do you want a coffee?” she smiled, “I could use a break from all this packing.”

I accepted her offer. We sat and chatted for about half an hour!

I gotta say that this has been one of the best experiences I’ve had lately. in light of my recent post on regrets. I don’t know if she realizes it, but CL played a huge part in my healing over the last few years. Things can β€” and DO! β€” heal between people! We had an interesting time getting to this point, but I think we both were happy (dare I say JOYFUL!) to be on the same page today.

Thanks Cheesecake Lady… good luck out west!

Joy of Sully

Meet my friend Sully. He’s very serious in this photo as he works from home. When he’s not solving the world’s problems via computer, he brings a lot of joy into the lives of his human family.

He is simply adorable.

I talk to his owner, J____ on a weekly basis, on Zoom. Wherever she goes, Sully is there by her side.

J____ and I often have “marathon Zoom chats”. Sully gets bored with our giggles and chatter, so I can often hear him snoring in the background.

Sully’s snores are a lovely reminder that safety is in simplicity. All Sully needs is his owner, J____, and a warm blanket to chew on and snuggle with, and he is snoring his face off.

Snoring away!

I met Sully two years ago. My only regret is that we didn’t meet when he was a puppy. Sully is cute in all shapes and sizes. How can you not love this little guy?

Baby Sully – awwww! ❀️

I could probably add a hundred more photos that capture Sully’s personality and utter cuteness, but I am sure you get the idea!

Sleepy Sully

Sully, β€” or as I call him “Sully Doodle” β€” is my furry little joy monster. And the best thing is, he doesn’t even realize it. He’s just being himself. Doing his dog life stuff. Waiting for J___ and I to finish our zoom chats so he can go outside for a walk to the dog park! Snoring peacefully until that time comes!

Thank you, Sully, for reminding me that joy is in being ourselves. Joy is in keeping it simple. Joy is in every creature and being. And, joy connects us all!

Joy of memories

Life brings tears, smiles, and memories. the tears dry, the smiles fade, but the memories last forever.

Malik Faisal

I was just sitting here, innocently listening to some music, bopping in my chair. My mind and body primed for a relaxing night.

My mind and body were ready for relaxation. My emotions, not so much. My flood gates opened. Damn you Ed Sheeran! Damn you! πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚

Just when I think I have no heart, life reminds me that yes, Lizzie, you care. Deeply.

Out of the blue, memories of E___ came back in droves. Happy memories. Joyful ones. Simple times. Times of connection.

As complicated as our relationship was, there were some really sweet moments. I cried because in the midst of healing from this coupling, part of me forgot that we were together for a reason. A very joyous reason.

I am, and always will be, grateful for being given and taking the opportunity to tell E___ that he was my best teacher. He taught me more about my blind spots than any other partner. We both experienced lessons and learnings from each other. Lessons and learnings that have changed me at my core… and still are changing me… even five years later.

There are people in life that have no idea how much they will play a significant role in the personal transformation of others. E___ was one of those people. I can’t even really put it into words. All I know is, I would not be where I am, and who I am today, without his influence and impact.

Memories. A mixed bag. A messy one. A joyful one.

Joy of Baking

If you ever need a joy boost, bake! Seriously. Bake and your whole world opens up. Ok maybe not that big of an impact, but it can open you up to the beauty of simple things.
I have returned to my hobby of baking in the last few weeks, after many months of a “covid-hiatus” from the sweet smells of sugar and flour mixtures coming together under the heated influence of my oven.
I don’t eat what I bake very often. I give the treats away to friends and family. The excitement that people show over baked goods brings me back to the simple pleasures of life.
“Liz! They were still warm and oozing chocolate!”
“You MADE these? Wow!”
“You’ll make a good wife one day! I ate them all in 2 days!”
“I hope you like them. Of course I will, they are from YOU!!”
Baking brings me back to the wholesomeness of childhood. The joy on people’s faces and expressions of happiness remind me that it doesn’t really take a lot of effort to bring out the good or the joy in people.
It reminds me that I don’t have to perform miracles or exercise grand gestures to show people that I love them. Taking an hour to mix up a batch of bran muffins and share them with friends is a small investment with great rewards.
Who doesn’t like having tea and cookies and sharing a few laughs with friends? The treats offer comfort, and somehow connect people to each other. If you have absolutely nothing to talk about, fresh-baked cookies give you a reason to ask about the recipe!
It’s really about a return to simplicity. Far too often I complicate life by wanting to do more and be more. Baking reminds me that all I need to do is keep it simple. Spend time. Be creative. Measure. Mix. Share. Enjoy the responses. Smile with satisfaction.
How can you show the people you love that you care β€” and give them the gift of joy β€” just by getting back to the more simple pursuits and hobbies that you love?

Nothing better than a carrot muffin!

Joy of unexpected kindness

Delivered this morning!

Surprise! Happy Valentine’s Day, Lizzie!

This morning, I received a box of love, from an anonymous admirer.

Tea, honey sticks, dark chocolate, toffee, cookies and my very own fancy, schmancy dancy tea cup, all wrapped up in pink and sprinkled with confetti hearts. If joy could be boxed up, I think this is a good recipe!

Thank you very much, “anonymous joy spreader” β€” you made my Valentines this year very memorable!❣️

I am curious now, who took the time to think of me and send this my way. It gives me warm fuzzies. The time and energy invested makes me feel special.

Next year I will pay the kindness forward and send an anonymous box of love and joy to someone.

Thoraya Maronesy on YouTube has the idea of paying it forward down pat. I encourage you to take fifteen minutes of your day to watch her kind acts video. Perhaps you’ll add to the momentum of kindness in action! What better way to spread joy and love in the spirit of Valentine’s Day.

Joy of trusting the ‘process’

Transmutation:

β€’ Grapes must be
crushed to make wine

β€’ Diamonds form
under pressure

β€’ Olives are pressed to
release oil

β€’ Seeds grow in
darkness

Whenever you feel crushed, under pressure, pressed, or in darkness, you’re in a powerful place of transformation/transmutation. β€”Β Lalah Delia

Lately I have felt in an “in-limbo” place. Not understanding or even having the slightest inkling of what is next. I have vague ideas, but nothing definite that makes me thrust my fist in the air and say “YES! This is IT!” Meanwhile, expenses are still increasing and I am feeling pressure to find something to improve my financial life.

Maybe this is all part of finding clarity of purpose. Maybe it’s okay to not have every moment of my life mapped out. Giving myself space to see what unfolds “while I am making other plans” as John Lennon would say, might be the best thing for me.

If you ask me “where do you see yourself in five years Liz?” I do have a clear idea. But for me to stay in a joyful place, I have learned to relax my expectations. My life has never worked out as I planned. It has always worked out better than I ever could have imagined.

I remember losing a job years ago. I applied for at least 20 jobs in the same field. One job I applied for on the recommendation of a friend. The position, writing manuals, was not related to my field in the slightest. Wouldn’t you know, I got the job that was unrelated? That job changed my life in so many ways. I couldn’t believe the coincidences that I experienced while working there. It gave me confidence that I could branch out to new things, and be paid for what I loved doing. Writing.

I have been so conditioned to chase after what I think I want, rather than trust that I will be brought to what I need at the right and perfect time. What a waste of energy. The best things that have happened to me, happened in a blink of an eye without any real strenuous effort on my behalf.

The day I first walked, I didn’t plan it for months ahead of time. One day, something just clicked, and there I was, walking with two canes and beaming with joy. I didn’t beg my supervisor to hire me for my dream job with the government β€” he called me out of the blue, and offered me the job, without an interview. “See you Monday, Liz!” It was that simple.

This “in-limbo” time has really taught me to be happy with what is. I am thrilled to have time right now to exercise like a fiend and get stronger. I am establishing some pretty good routines and habits that will help me manage stress when I am working again. For now, joy in the moment is my only “job”, as I prepare myself in so many different ways for what is to come.

I also take joy in knowing that my past has proven time and again that I am always in the right place at the right time. One day it will all just click and the waiting and wondering, the false starts and stops, will all make perfect sense. I truly believe that.

Joy of walking

I have always loved walking. From the time I was four years old and took my first steps with a wooden cane in each hand, walking has brought me joy.

In nursery school, all I wanted to do was walk. The other kids would be finger painting, drawing or playing together. Not me. Back and forth, back and forth, I walked all day. I walked with a string of shiny beads in my left hand, and a permanent smile on my face. I must have worn out a track in the floor!

My love of walking reached its peak when I was in the Manitoba Marathon in 2012. I trained as part of a relay team for Manitoba Hydro. I trained for six months before the big day of the race in June, inching my stamina and endurance up to the distance I agreed to cover: 8.5 kilometres.

I loved every minute of that sunny day in June. Hundreds of runners meeting to put their personal challenges to the test. A crew of volunteers to make sure we were all hydrated and safe. The energy was amazing. Electric. Joyous. Walking the streets of Winnipeg and hearing people clap and cheer along the route was absolutely surreal.

Fast forward ten years, and I am back to walking with one cane. Since the marathon, I have been in “rehab mode”. I trained so hard that I damaged my left leg and knee. I could not walk for long periods over the last decade. Still, no regrets.

No regrets, Lizzie? Nope. Not a one. Why? Because I have progressed from not being able to walk at all with arthritis pain, to now walking pain-free for an hour daily in the pool and on land. Instead of the marathon route, I now follow the incline of a ramp in my building. Pain-free, baby! Pain-free!

And guess what? I still walk with that stupid grin on my face that I had when I was four. I love my walks. Whether at a marathon, in the pool, or on the ramp, walking is my joy!

Ten years ago at the Manitoba Marathon. Still have that goofy smile today!

Joy of Justin Timberlake

I decided to listen to music today as I did my chair yoga and other exercises. To my complete surprise and utter joy I stumbled upon a Justin Timberlake video. Thank you, YouTube, for your random video suggestions.

I don’t really know who Justin Timberlake is (folk music gal here)…but this video made me a fan. My favourite dancers: Jonah and Dennis. OMG so cute! Please… one of you… (both of you?!?!!) MARRY ME. πŸ₯° πŸ˜‰

Joy in action. People shaking it. Proud and happy. Authentic. In the moment. Free. Dancing like no one is watching. Joyful moving and grooving and being alive.

When I was maybe five years old, my Dad and I would dance on Sunday mornings. I would stand on his sock feet, and would squeal with joy as he spun me round and round. I was still finding my legs, muscle coordination and balance to walk on my own back then. To dance with my Dad was like being transported to a magical world where I had no physical problems or limitations. I was Lizzie, and that was enough.

Those Sunday mornings dancing were more than “sunshine in my pocket” as Timberlake sings… they were sunshine from my head right down to the tips of my toes. The dance was more than a chance to connect with my Dad. It was when I connected with my true self. Joy. Laughter. Weeeee! Lovable in all of my stumbles and missteps. Wholeness. Beauty.

Ooh, it’s something magical
It’s in the air, it’s in my blood, it’s rushin’ on (rushin’ on)
I don’t need no reason, don’t need control (need control)
I fly so high, no ceiling, when I’m in my zone.

(Can’t Stop The Feelin’ – Justin Timberlake)

Joy. It’s in the air, it’s in my blood.

Don’t need a reason…J❀️Y.

Joy of ‘bloom where planted’

β€œI wish…..”
β€œI will be happy when…”
β€œI wonder…”
β€œI would like it if…”
β€œWhen I lose this weight…”
β€œWhen I get married….”
“When we break up…”
β€œWhen I leave this city….”

I have filled in the endings of the above statements with goals, dreams and desires more than once. The process was fun, but what did it teach me? Be joyful right where you are, Lizzie. Bloom where planted. Putting off joy at the end of a “when” statement cheats me right out of what is inherently mine.

In the most painful losses of my life, I often asked, β€œwhy” a lot. But really, why not? Life is not always easy, but it still can be rich and full of joy if I choose the right perspective. A job loss has opened new doors to developing new skills. The death of a loved one has sparked changes within me to carry on their legacy. The end of a friendship has spurred me on to be better friends with myself. Loss does not have to be painful. I can, and often have, taken the lesson and moved forward with a new outlook.Β 

I might not have the things I really want right now, but I can bloom where I am planted, and find something to make me smile every day. Some days, it might be as simple as, β€œI am alive.” The point is, if I can’t be happy with what I have, I will never be happy with what I think I want. Happily living without what I want, might even bring those goals closer to me, because there isn’t a sense of desperation for them. I can be, and often am, content in the waiting times. I am very grateful for β€œnow”.

Joyful living starts by being happy with β€œnow” while dreaming of tomorrow. It truly sets me free from limits on my dreams and goals when I can live for the moment, and smile!

Joy of relaxing into it

Let go of what is past
Let go of what may come
Let go of what is happening now
Don’t try to figure anything out
Don’t try to make anything happen
Relax right now and rest ~ Tibetan teaching

“Relax into it, Liz.” These were the wise words of a former meditation teacher, years ago. These words have stuck with me and brought me much wisdom.

Strangely enough I’ve had nothing really joyful happen in the last week or so, yet I feel very content, peaceful, and joyful.

Covid cases are on the rise here (I know where are they not on the rise?) so I am staying home and keeping to myself. I do the usual routines of swimming (thank God the pool is still open!), chair yoga, and my daily domestic diva duties. I chat with friends and I play scrabble online. I have plans to return to the working world but things are on hold right now.

I always question the timing of my life. I think things should happen on a certain schedule. Reality is, it never happens on the schedule that I think it should! So I am relaxing into what I have right now. What I have right now is pretty awesome.

I have everything I need. There is nothing I need to run out to the store for. I am 100% debt-free and I have money in the bank for a rainy day. I have awesome friends that completely get me and I love them just as they are. I have a pool that helps me stay in shape. I have access to so much information via the internet it’s almost insane!

When I relax and focus on what’s good, life just seems to get better and better. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve the things I have, but I am absolutely grateful for everything. When I relax and practice gratitude there’s no room for agonizing over the “in limbo” state of my circumstances.

The joyful thing about “in limbo”? Is that it never lasts very long! It truly is a perspective. On the outside I might look like I’m sitting around eating bonbons all day, waiting for my life to start after this “in limbo” stuff is over. Nothing to do but swim, exercise and cook.

Inwardly things are shifting and I’m clearing the way for good (dare I say great!) things to come! I don’t need to know exactly what that looks like. All I need to know is that the “in limbo” is actually preparing me to receive and enjoy what’s coming.

Relaxing into it. Joy in the uncertainty, and in the “in-limbo” chapters of life. Life doesn’t get any better once my mind gets on board!

Joy of ‘I love to help!”

OK. Here’s yet another confession. I have “issues” around asking for, and receiving help. To learn this lesson, the universe has decided to use a situation where I feel the most vulnerable. Yep. You guessed it by now. The POOL STEPS.

Those steps are so symbolic for me, it’s ri-DONK- U- lous. But here is another story of joy that comes from my issues with that darn staircase.

I was in the pool this morning, and swam for 1.5 hours. I thought, “well I could wait for one lady that does help me on a regular basis, but that would be another half hour.” I decided to once again branch out of my comfort zone and ask another swimmer for help.

“Excuse me, sir… Do you mind helping me up the stairs?”

To drive this lesson home, the man seemed to be a bit hard of hearing, so I asked my question again.

“Hi! Could you please help me up the stairs?” I gestured toward the stairs, hoping I wouldn’t have to ask a third time.

“Oh sure! I love to help!” and I saw these blue eyes staring back at me, with the most sincere gaze I have seen in quite awhile.

Not even two minutes later, I am out of the pool, safely on dry land. We are both grinning from ear to ear.

We exchanged names and I thanked him at least three times. I am not just grateful for his help, but for what he, and others in the pool, are teaching me.

Growing up, my family had interesting (translation: just plain weird!) ideas around helping me.

My Dad, in some ways, insisted I didn’t have a disability and so I should be capable and self-sufficient. I’m grateful to have this belief instilled in me. However it isn’t completely realistic. Reality is, I need help with things. The left side of my body doesn’t function well. It’s inevitable. I will β€” and often do β€” need help.

My mom always wanted to help, but not always in the best way. I know she meant well, but very often, she complicated things when she helped in her way, rather than following my lead. I totally understand that she wanted very much to be helpful. Offering help in a way that doesn’t work with how my body moves, is not helpful.

Ironically, mom would offer help where I didn’t need any. Conversely, she sometimes refused to help when I asked for it. Again, I can (sort of) see where she was coming from, but again, not helpful. Well-intentioned, but not helpful.

Long story short, I’ve received a lot of mixed messages about asking for help, receiving help, and my level of independence. The pool experience is teaching me that there are people out there who truly want to be helpful. In my experience they are being helpful. It’s as though I’m going through a bit of a shock to my system because I’m experiencing exactly the kind of help that I need.

Experiencing exactly the kind of help that I need gives me a lot of joy. It shows me that I am heard. It demonstrates that my needs matter. It teaches me to trust people with a very vulnerable part of myself that I have learned to mask with “uber” levels of independence.

I was sitting in the sauna with two swimming buddies awhile ago. I told them of my struggle with independence. One of them said, “Liz you are still independent. Most people when they can’t do something they just stop doing it. You’re coming here every day and swimming for an hour and a half. You’re asking for help, but to me, that makes you more independent because you’re not giving up.”

The way she reframed things gave me a lot of joy and a lot of hope. It erased a lot of shame because I wasn’t following my parents’ definitions of independence. Maybe I can relax into my own definition of interdependence now.

If I focus on the joy that people get from being able to help, perhaps shifting my ego around this “independence thing” will be much easier. In asking for help and allowing it, I am actually co-creating joy with those who help me. Not one of them has griped about it. They are all quite pleased to be able to be of assistance. Maybe all I need to do is to be pleased to give them the opportunity πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€

Damn pool steps! Hahaha! I never, ever thought that such an ordinary thing would be so powerful in teaching me about my blocks to joy. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. πŸ˜‰ ❀

Joy of ‘living ready’

Early this morning I had a text chat with a new friend. It was short, yet powerful.

Friend: “Are you ready for a new year, Liz?”

Me: “Yes, I am. Always nice to start fresh. What about you? Ready?”

Friend: “I LIVE ready Liz.”

Me: “That’s a wonderful mindset to have!”

Friend: “Not really that profound. I am right here. Right now. Let’s do it!”

So simple.

Living ready. Takes out worry. Removes regret. Enhances present moment experience.

I have spent many hours worried about what’s to come, despite countless demonstrations that what comes, is always good. I am always looked after. I never “need” to fear.

Living ready. A bold statement of trusting life 100%. No matter what comes, I am equipped to handle it. No matter what lies behind me, I am prepared to learn from it.

I’ve been contemplating a theme for 2022. I have had many ideas float in and out over the last few weeks. “Living ready” brings all those ideas together in an efficient and succinct, simple way.

When I live ready:

I am enough.

I am safe.

I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

I matter.

I am capable.

I live in the moment.

I am joyful.

Wishing everyone a “living ready” year for 2022.

Thanks for reading my rambles and witnessing my joy seeker process. I appreciate the feedback and wisdom I gain from your comments. You’ve inspired me to change my thinking and walk the walk as best I can. Thank you! ❀️ 😊

Joy of Mr. Moneybags

I remember walking home from the bus stop years ago, after visiting a friend. A man approached me with a “poor thing” look in his eyes. You know, like he just lost a puppy, but the puppy was me. He saw my unique gait as I made my way home, and stopped me in my tracks.

“Here, take this!” he said, “please!!” He nervously fumbled with a $5 bill in his hand. His eyes were pleading with me to take the money.

I was shocked, amused and insulted all at the same time, if that’s possible. I held it together and said “no thank you”(and thought, “no thank you, weirdo!”) and I picked up my pace to hoof it home.

Mr. Moneybags was right on my tail. I heard the words “Please…. take this. Take it.” as he followed close behind me. “Please, miss, please!”

“Noooooo!” I yelled behind me and started to huff and puff as I tried to run the last few hundred feet to my house.

“Mom! Mom! The unthinkable just happened!” and I told my mom the story, not much different than what I have written here.

My mom listened patiently. Then, I started to see a grin form on her face.

“What’s so funny?” I asked her, with a confused look and a hint of annoyance in my voice.

“You should’ve asked him for an IOU, Liz.” she said quietly, her eyes shyly looking downward, avoiding mine.

“MOM!!!” I pretended to be shocked and offended.

Honestly, though? The comeback she made was clever and made me giggle.

Joy. It’s in the strangest of circumstances. It softens the seemingly weird actions of well-meaning strangers. It reframes confusion and lightens any moment.

And when one has a twisted sense of humor, (cue my dear old mom!) joy creates memories that last a lifetime. ❀

Joy of the ‘cheesecake lady’

I can’t believe it, but I have yet ANOTHER pool story, and yet another link to the wider topic of β€” drum roll please β€” forgiveness.

This morning I got up and wondered what the best time of the day would be to get my daily swim in. I have been going at different times, to accommodate my need for help getting out of the pool these days.

I called a pool buddy to see when she was going to swim today. No answer. OK. I said “Take care of me today universe!” and I ambled off to the pool with my green swimming noodle under my arm.

I decided to meditate in the sauna until someone came in and swam with me. Fifteen minutes later, another swimmer arrives. It’s my first time meeting them. Nope. Not going to ask for help getting out. Too awkward.

I start my walking routine in the shallow end. The worry monster in my head starts whirling with chatter. Someone will come, Lizzie. Relax. You won’t die in here. OK. OK. I talk to my anxiety and I chill out as I walk back and forth to strengthen my legs.

The next thing I know, I see the ‘cheesecake lady’ taking a shower. The ‘cheesecake lady’ is my mom’s twin. Same hair. Same mannerisms. Same Dutch accent. Same age if my mom were still alive. Twins, I swear. Almost scary how similar they are. Yeesh.

The ‘cheesecake lady’ and I have had a strained and difficult history. Not unlike the strained and difficult history my mom and I had. I call her the ‘cheesecake lady’ because the last straw for me was seeing her at my door, with a full plate of cheesecake, begging me to be her friend, after once again disrespecting boundaries I had set. I simply could not do ‘let’s be friends’ back then. Not only because of feeling hurt by this lady’s present-day actions, but also because of the unhealed baggage I was carrying (and desperately trying to heal) with my mom. I just couldn’t be around the cheesecake lady. Even if I love cheesecake, and it is my favorite dessert. I have principles. πŸ˜‰

Seeing the cheesecake lady in the pool, I thought, “THIS is the person I need to ask for help from today, universe/God/whatever you are/(right now I think you are insane?!?) REALLY?!?”

Tears welled up in my eyes because I heard the answer within me: “yes, Lizzie. Swallow your pride and everything else your ego is serving you and ASK HER.”

“Cheesecake lady (I didn’t call her that…keeping things anonymous!) do you mind helping me on the steps when you finish your swim today?”

“Oh sure! I’ll help you. No problem at all!”

‘Cheesecake lady’ didn’t skip a beat. Gee, that really reminds me of my mom. Coincidence? Not a chance!

We swim together and have a lovely conversation. All the while I am thinking “Someone pinch me. I think this forgiveness stuff is really working!” While we swim and chat, I find myself feeling verklempt with a mixture of joy at the pattern between us being lifted, and regret that I wasn’t able to forgive and let go much, much sooner.

Maybe I am being too symbolic, but here’s the real kicker. When we got ready to leave the pool, I gave the cheesecake lady simple instructions. All good. We are on the same page.

She goes up the steps ahead of me. I follow. And for the first time in WEEKS … I do not need her help!! I got up the steps on my own. No struggle. No fear. Smoothly… way, WAY, way better than spreading creamy peanut butter on a fresh slice of bread. I. Was. Speechless.

Well, not completely speechless. (Come on, this is me, I am talking about, I am never totally speechless!) I told the ‘cheesecake lady’ about my recent attempt to get out of the pool – 45 minutes of trying before I got out onto dry land. I thanked her and swiftly headed to the change room. Once there, I promptly cried my eyes out and thanked Life, God, the universe, humanity, pool steps, swimming noodles, my bum leg and all things wholesome and good, for synchronicities that are truly healing my soul and my heart.

Forgiveness is what fuelled this experience today. It’s so very hard to forgive, but so strangely rewarding, in ways I never, ever would have expected. I probably sound like a complete nut bar talking about this, but in my heart of hearts this is SOOOOOO meaningful it overwhelms me. This might be one of those “you had to be there” posts… but I will post it anyway. Please indulge me. πŸ™‚ πŸ˜‰ ❀

So here are some words I thought I would never say… Thank you, ‘cheesecake lady’. You are one of my ‘cornerstone healers’. Thanks for also forgiving me for our difficult history, and helping me move forward, literally (on the pool steps) and figuratively in life. I appreciate our experience today more than you’ll ever know.

There is joy in being open to experiences and trusting the process. I am so glad I have learned to ‘go with it’. I am also thrilled for the insight I have and the meaning I gather in these ‘life lesson episodes’ as I like to call them. I feel so much joy, I could almost go swimming a second time today… but I won’t push it! ❀ ❀ ❀

Joy of “Momma Mia”

I got up this morning full of joy at the prospect of swimming alone in the pool. Yes, I know that swimming alone is a no-no. However, Saturday mornings are silent sanctuaries for me. No one else there. They are all sleeping in. Not me! Swim I must!

Well, turns out the pool was closed. Not sure why. No signage. Just closed. OK. Now what?

I can read. I am currently working my way through “Healing your lost inner child.” Nice easy reading for a Saturday morning, I know. I am determined to heal my “schtuff”. I put iTunes on, and set the controls to “shuffle”.

First song I hear is Momma Mia, by Abba. My mom’s name was Mia. Well, it turns out I have a heart after all. I cried my way through that song, remembering my mom. Then “Fernando” plays (where’s the damn shuffle, iTunes?!) and I hear my mom in my mind singing with her thick Dutch accent. She never remembered the words, so “Fernnnnnannnddddoooo” followed by a series of robust “la-la-la-laaaaahhhhhs” was my mom’s style. She’d dance through the house and just be her naturally silly self.

OK universe, I get it. Another layer of – you guessed it – forgiveness. As Abba played on, I sat on my couch remembering my moments of frustration and anger, and how I just could not accept my mom and her ways of loving. I kept saying “I’m so sorry… please forgive me” over and over again. I was such a b*tch sometimes. OK, more than “sometimes”. I’m sorry.

I took a break from my mom twice, to heal my end of the connection. Each time we reconciled, Mom didn’t need to talk about things. She was just happy to have me back in her life. No judgment. Just a mom’s acceptance. I haven’t quite mastered that “flow with it, go with it” way of being. I always want to discuss and clear the air.

How’s that working for ya, Lizzie? It does and it doesn’t. No matter what is said or not said, my ego loves to munch on what it has not received from the other person. Like it’s their job to heal me, right!?! Nothing can heal me but my Source. “Momma Mia” didn’t talk about her spirituality, but she definitely practiced it. Looking back, she never really depended on anyone to make her feel whole. She wisely remarked more than once, “Liz… you get too close to people.” I understand that now. Her way of saying “you are codependent, dear.”

Awhile ago, I wrote about becoming friends with my mom. I think it’s happening now. Not that she didn’t try when she was alive. I was just too stubborn to open my heart to her wisdom. So many blocks. So many times my ego twisted her intentions to be something intolerable. So many inner conflicts, all screaming “why can’t you be like me, Mom?” I’m not YOU, Lizzie. Oh, yeah, right.

I think I am finally connecting to this lady, in a healthy way. And she’s helping me connect to myself in ways I never expected. I never understood her ways of loving me when she was alive. I’m 1000% positive she didn’t understand mine either. We were very different personalities.

Embracing our differences and looking at the essence (heart) of our interactions, gives me joy. Finally! (Right Mia?!?) Joy because I can see that our differences were the catalyst for a relationship that still teaches me today. Thanks Mom. ❀ (You’re welcome, Lizzie, and thank you, too. <3)

Joy of not thinking

Thought is the enemy. β€” U.G. Krishnamurti

My best days are when I don’t think.

My narratives are hardly ever true. Yet when they travel across my synapses they are ultra believable. My ego loves to protect me from the imaginary. My mind creates all sorts of scenarios that ultimately rob me of my best life.

I’ve written about the pool steps a few times. When I don’t think about what I am doing, I am an Olympian. I climb the stairs as though I have no mobility issues whatsoever. My cane is just for decoration on those days. πŸ˜‰

When I get nervous, and think “I could fall!” It all goes to pot. I find myself frozen and shivering on the steps, unable to find the nimble Liz of yesterday. Nothing has changed. Except what I am thinking.

Mind over matter, right? Well, tell my irrational mind that! It makes no sense, after months of navigating the staircase without issue. But my mind gets stuck. So I spend time encouraging myself quietly, within. I coax my mind to let go of the fear. I start to giggle at the ridiculousness of the situation.

“Lizzie! Come on now. You’ve done this countless times. You are bigger than these white steps. Just. Do. It!”

Hop, hop, hop. One step.. — two.. — three. Tilt! Stop! Danger! Danger!

Lizzie, where’s the fire? You are safe. Just like you were last week. What gives?

I am analyzing — which is literally paralyzing me. Freezing me in my tracks. Stealing my own joy. I have been a fish in the pool since I was swimming with my Dad in the pool in our backyard.

When I was a child, many people said “Liz can’t swim.” In grade school, my class went for swimming lessons every week. I never made it past the beginners level. Adapted lessons for the disabled were not available back then.

So.. Rudy (my amazing Dad) taught me. I started learning with a life jacket on. “You can do it Liz. The jacket has you. Float. Move. You’ll see.” OK, if you say so. (Accck!)

At first, I could not let go of my vice-like grip around my Dad’s neck. Over time though, I relaxed into it. I stopped thinking and all of a sudden, one day, I just did it. I swam with the life jacket on! Weeeee!

It still makes me laugh when I remember how my Dad weaned me off of the life jacket. He pretended to hold on to my bathing suit, with two fingers. His words, initially, were what kept me moving and floating. Not the life jacket or the natural buoyancy of the water. His reassuring thoughts, reflected in his words, gave me confidence.

So, once again, find your joy within Lizzie. Your thought life. Your belief in your strength and ability. Fear schmear! You are bigger and better than these silly pool steps. Find your joy. Sheesh. Just find your joy.

When are you most joyful, Liz? When I am in the moment, and doing whatever the moment brings.

When I write, I write. When I cook, I cook. When I make beadwork, I make beadwork. When I laugh, I laugh. When I walk, I walk. I am all in, in all of these activities. And in all of these activities, initially, I had moments of fear and doubt. What if I don’t {fill in the blank}? The {fill in the blank} that my mind conjured up, has yet to happen. I’m still here. πŸ˜‰

Thoughts. Worries. Fear. Anxiety. Who needs ’em? ❀

Joy is in the doing. Joy is in the moment. Joy is found when I forget myself and remember why I love my simple life so very much. Joy is revealed in the supportive memories of my past… always within to draw upon when the joy bubbles are a bit shaky to come to full form.

The moral of the story? Don’t think. Just do it and find your JOY. πŸ™‚ ❀