The Joy is Inside

Find a place inside where there is joy and the joy will burn out the pain. – Joseph Campbell

I am my strongest and most vibrant when my 4-year-old energy is alive within me. Little Lizzie knows the deal. She loves being goofy and happy.

Since Covid began, I have had the morning ritual of asking Little Lizzie what she needs. I use a child-like tone when I talk to her. Why not? It’s just her and I alone here. We both agree that it isn’t as crazy as it sounds. It’s actually quite comforting and nurturing.

The days go by quickly, because Little Lizzie knows how to be happy. She is happy with little things, like oatmeal and raisins for breakfast. Or a good swim at the pool. Or finding exact change for something extra she needs to buy at the store. The little things give Lizzie huge joy bubbles.

Little Lizzie has a neat sense of humor. She can remember things from the past in a quirky way that erases the judgment and pain. “Wow, that was a crazy time! Am I ever glad I am not there anymore.” Or “wow, that person really wanted my attention — they were acting a little nutty!”

Every time Lizzie gets out of the pool on her own without getting stuck on that darn top step she says “good for me!” and giggles. She doesn’t need anyone else to do that for her. She feels grateful on purpose for the things she used to take for granted. She loves, loves, loves it that she can still do it all by herself!

Lizzie sees the joy in things that some people might see as embarrassing. She falls and gets up again, even if it takes her an hour. She laughs at split bathing suits and streaking to the change room as fast as she can!

A return to that childlike, joyful spirit within is the antidote to pain for Lizzie. She’s so wise, I can’t stand it. And they say kids don’t know what they are talking about. Lizzie does!

Joy of being prepared

I’ve been out of the traditional “work eight hours a day and get paid bi-monthly” workforce for eight years, in November.

Sometimes I get caught up in the ‘eight years’, while still holding onto a bigger life picture —  my passionate ‘I must do this before I die’ picture.

I still remember the exact words that flowed out of me when I let myself dream and let go of limits eight years ago. Details that seemed foreign and frankly unachievable came from my toes through my body to my heart and soul, and crystallized in the stillness of my apartment. I was bold. I was brave. I knew, in the depths of my being that my purpose was big, bold and brave.

Since then, I have tried many different avenues to find my way into this vision for my life. I have learned and grown wiser with each experience. Each experience has brought me awareness and an inner knowing — of what I want, and what I don’t want. Each experience has prepared me, in one way or another for the ‘must do before I die’ dream.

Lately there is a theme of “great things must fall apart so that even greater things can come together”. This brings me joy. It helps me see that the coming together and falling apart, and all the near yeses and definite nos, are purposeful. It also helps me see that progress is not linear. And finally, I see that events are temporary — there are no sure bets, only stepping stones to the next right thing.

It truly is an adventure of trust and curiosity working together. In the meantime, I work on believing in myself so that the next best thing can come together. And if it doesn’t? I still have me, and my simple life. That always brings me joy, regardless of where this journey takes me.

Joy of suffering

I’m not frightened. I’m not frightened of anything. The more I suffer, the more I love. — Bernhard Schlink, The Reader 

I have been creating my own suffering lately. Why? I overthink things. A lot.

I take things personally and put my wounds on the chopping block under a microscope. When I am in this mode, communication is difficult because I am hyper-sensitive. Add to this the hormonal waves of menopause, and I am a f*cking mess. Pardon my French but “fudging” just doesn’t cut it today.

I make myself wrong, and bad. I walk on my own eggshells around myself, as all my perfectionist issues come to light. I feel like I am the grumpy-looking patient on the old electronic Operation game, with all my innards exposed. Where’s that thick layer of skin I ordered, doctor? 😉

Going through this does give me a lot of compassion and patience for suffering. I admit, it is always easier for me to feel compassion for the suffering of others in my life. My own suffering? Not so easy. I am not frightened of looking at it, but I am frightened at times that I might not overcome my self-judgment of it.

This journey is not meant to be walked alone. Lately, I have become ultra-saturated with being alone. I love my solitude, but there is a case to be made for feeling connected to others while being connected within. I have been in a tug-of-war around this that has created mountains out of molehills, and suffering out of nothing but my very own mind and thoughts.

Thankfully, memories come back where I have felt completely safe and allowed to be imperfect. More times than not, I can talk myself through these episodes. Moreover, people come to mind who always, always get me, no matter how neurotic I might seem in my crazy “not so Liz-like” moments. Reflecting on these things always helps.

As usual, I must ask myself, “Lizzie, where’s the joy?” Insight. Wisdom. Honesty. Vulnerability. Owning and healing my stuff. Letting it all hang out. Being okay with being a deep thinker, over-thinker, and a deep feeler. Being ultra-okay with being my fully fragile yet comfortably authentic self.

This post feels “all over the place” but I am not going to edit it. Glad I could get all that out. Thanks for listening! 😉

Joy of Porcupines, and Juicy, Slimy Worms

“You have a prickly, porcupine-like edge to you Liz,” Kevin (not his real name) smiled sheepishly, “and that’s part of why you experience rejection. You expect it — and so that’s what you get — exactly what you don’t want.”

Ten (or maybe more now) years ago, my trauma counsellor, “Kevin” had the balls to speak the truth. In the moment, I was not feeling joyful with his bravery. Not in the slightest. I was hurt, angry and disgusted. With myself. With Kevin. With life. With everything.

Kevin was not the first person to point out this truth to me. Back in the 90s, a co-worker, “Harold” also made the same observation, but much more bluntly. We were at a bar, having a beer. Harold said, “You know, Liz, I like you. You always have a “f*ck off and die” look on your face. It makes me respect you instantly. I am scared not to, but that’s beside the point!” he laughed.

I joked the whole thing off. I laughed loudly as I gave Harold the ‘finger’, before taking a generous swig of my beer. But inside, I felt the sting of what he was saying. I rejected people waaaay before they could ever reject me. All the while, I was desperately wanting acceptance and love, not having the faintest clue how to find it.

Fast forward a few decades to this week, and that tape of rejection still plays. Not as often, but the old familiar rants do come alive in my mind now and again. Today I recognize the tape, step back a bit and listen. I let it play out in my mind, watching for the predictable end, where the “Little Lizzie” within me sings, “nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I guess I’ll go eat worms!”

The “worm song” reminds me that joy is present. By the time the song is over, I don’t feel a need to act on the familiar chatter in my mind. It goes away. My mind’s babble is an old story that protects me from the hurt and pain of perceived rejection. In my much younger days, it was my absolute, 100%, don’t you dare challenge me on this, truth. It’s nice to see that my porcupine edges have softened a bit with experience, wisdom and age, into humor and self-compassion.

Honestly, I could never eat worms. No matter if they were big, juicy, slimy or skinny. Call me “girlie” if you must, but worms creep me right out! 😆 Couldn’t pay me to touch one, never mind EAT it!

Joy of comparison

Last night, after gleefully reading the first chapter of the Book of Joy, I found myself comparing my life to the experiences of the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.

I know. Craziness. Yet there I was thinking, “these men are saying joy happens in community, when we help others. What have I done to contribute? Pfft.”

Then my mind spiralled to, “these men say that joy happens when in community and friendships. I have let go of a lot of my friendships in the last five years, because they just weren’t working for me. Can I really claim a life of joy? Was I wrong to let go of these people?”

Then the wise part of me kicked in.

“Um, Lizzie. You can not compare your life to anyone’s. Here you sit, comparing yourself to the Dalai Lama and Bishop Tutu. HELLO?!?”

“You have healed a lot of old baggage… and when that happens, things change. The relationship with yourself has changed. Your neediness in relationships with others has changed also. Own that, Lizzie. Just own it!”

The other piece I need to own is that I have written this blog for over a year, actively seeking joy in all my circumstances, in all my inner and outer interactions. I don’t say these things publicly to say “Hey look at me! Aren’t I a bag of chips and a bowl of popcorn?” I say it to celebrate the community of readers here who have motivated me to do the work and write honestly about it. Part of that honesty can and ought to include the benefits and results. There is no joy or wisdom in keeping that part of this joy-seeking journey small!

Comparison used to make me feel even worse about myself and my life circumstances. Not so this time. Through comparison, I have gained insight that helped me realize (once again!) that I am exactly where I am meant to be on my journey.

Finding community within, I believe, is my latest discovery and “mountain” to climb. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy connecting with others. I enjoy the connection for the time it is there. When the visit or phone call is finished, I don’t find myself longing for more time, or lonely when I am alone again, or bored. I am content when the interaction is done, and I move on to the next thing.

Hmm. Maybe I am getting the hang of this “joy comes when living in the moment” thing after all. 😉 Having said that, I think I better keep reading the wisdom of those two men I am secretly falling in love with, page by page! 🙂

Reading The Book of Joy

I have read the first chapter of The Book of Joy!

This might sound like a “no-brainer” but I grinned all the way through it. The author, Douglas Abrams, is masterful at capturing the joy that bubbles through in every single interaction and exchange between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

O.M.G. the book is, and these men are, sooo gosh-darn CUTE! (Am I allowed to say that these men are cute?!?) Well, I just did!

These two men, world leaders and respected icons, ooze JOY. They are clever, playful and most definitely living in the moment.

I half expected this really cerebral dialogue to liven up the pages. Something along the lines of “Joy, you see, is a very complex endeavour, necessitating….(insert as many 3 syllable, 12 consonant complex, intellectual and brainiac words as possible here)….”

Yet, my grin kept expanding as I flipped the pages, because joy jumped off the page in the simplicity of the interactions between the two men. They smile. They hug. They talk very plainly. They show affection and respect for each other while teasing. The intimacy between them is a delight to witness. Along with my permanent-grin, I found myself saying “awwww!” a few times, too. So endearing, I almost can’t stand it! Awwww!

This is a book about connection. I am only one chapter in, and this much I know, already. It is in connection, and time spent with others, that joy is naturally present. Two men from very different life experiences, connecting, and enjoying each other, as they are. No frills, no primping, no pompousness. Just. As. They. Are.

The book is 237 pages — so it will be awhile before I write about the eight pillars to joy… but I will definitely be sharing my impressions of the book as I travel through it.

I’ll be bold, and strongly suggest you add this book to your “must read before I die” list, if you have one. It’s delightful! 🙂

Joy of insight

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know . — Pema Chodron

Over and over and over again I have reacted the same way to the same situation. I became frustrated. I became angry. I let all the emotion from that unhealed wound spill out. Until very recently. This time, I stepped back and thought “gee, this is very familiar. I wonder why that is?”

This morning, my memory bank gave me a gift of showing me the very moment a deep wound was buried within me. Since age 7, I have replayed that wound scenario with various people, trying harder, not wiser, to manage things better.

This morning a lightbulb went on. The wound has lost its power over me — because the hurt was never mine to carry. When someone repeatedly disregards my feelings and boundaries, that is 100% about them. To try and have them see me and respect me is futile. They are invested in keeping their perceptions, because it has a tremendous payoff for them.

The joyful insight in all of this is realizing, to a deeper level, that I need to see me and respect me. If others join me in that, that’s a bonus. I am actually beaming with joy at this insight. I’ve certainly earned it! I am grateful for all the people who brought me to this realization, incident by incident, step by step. There are no mistakes in this life, only events that lead to increased awareness, and an increased sense of joy in discovering that very awareness.

Now that I am more aware, there’s no going back. I can turn the corner and flip the page. I can joyfully own the wisdom and wave “so long” to the pattern. I can also feel gratitude to everyone I experienced the pattern with, because I see now that they were part of my experience for my awakening and healing. So long, anger, confusion and resentment! Hello, understanding, forgiveness, peace and joy! I love that trade-off, don’t you? 😉

Eight Pillars of Joy

Today is my lucky day!! 🙂

I found something online that made my heart sing!

This:

I have dabbled in these topics over the last year or so but now… now, I have a FOCUS! 🙂 This excites me. It delights me! I have direction for the blog, and will take each pillar and explore it in the coming weeks.

Who knew that there were eight building blocks to a joyful lifestyle? Not me, said I!

I find this kind of fantabulous because this last week, and off and on for awhile now, I have felt kinda “meh.” Generally very happy but ‘meh’… as in “where do I go from here?” Not only on the blog content, but in life. I have been asking, and setting intentions, yet nothing has come up on my intuition’s radar.

Last night I finally said (quite sternly I might add) “universe, do you hear me?! I want to help. I want to make a difference. I want to be of service somehow! Come onnnnnn already! Give me something to work with!! Show me where you want me to be, and what you want me to DO!!” This morning — bazzzinnnnga! I have a new path to explore for my writing. Whew! That was easy 😉 🙂

A nudge here, a little push on the backside there, and suddenly I am on a path to realizing another goal. That’s how life works, and the process always gives me goosebumps. I am not forgotten in the shuffle of life after all. My heart’s yearnings are not ignored. That feels darn good to me!

Joy of “not yet”…

Every ‘not yet’ is a step toward an amazing ‘yes’. — Liz.

An opportunity found me recently. I thought it was the opportunity of my lifetime. Working for an organization I admire. Doing exactly (and I mean ex-act-LY!!!) what I love to do. The only “not yet” was the wage the position offered.

If I could, I would do this work for free. But, that’s just not possible right now. So, I have to believe that there is a better opportunity around the corner. I have been doing the around-the-corner dance for quite some time, but I will do the “Lizzie cha-cha” until the right thing falls in place.

When life says “not yet” I take it in with joy. Joy that things are still coming together for me, somehow. Joy that I have time to work on myself and clear more of my baggage, so I can receive the right thing with open arms and heart. Joy that the right fit for me is even better than I have been visualizing and imagining. Joy that I can see a bright future and not be full of worry and doubt. Joy that I don’t have financial stress urging me to find and take whatever job comes. I can be discerning and wait for what really works for me.

“Not yet” is life’s way of protecting me from my impulsive tendencies. Years ago I would have plunged into this opportunity and not given a lot of thought to the money factor. “I’ll work it out” would have been my attitude. In other words, I would have settled, and likely created a new set of problems for myself, rather than wait for a better fit.

“Not yet” is a way for me to measure how patient I really am with life and how it works. Have I really grown, or am I puffing myself up? 😉 In this case, I can own some growth. I didn’t phone up five friends and complain and whimper about the wage factor. I didn’t sulk or wallow or wonder or what-if myself to death. Instead I found my mind was immediately curious: “what is coming up for me next? I bet it is freaking amazing!!”

“Not yet” doesn’t mean I am doing anything wrong. Life is often about timing. It’s that simple. Some things take longer to come together. Other goals seem to happen overnight. My only job in the process is joy. Find the joy in every situation. Find the hidden opportunity. Get excited about the small gifts in the delays. Realize that delays are not denials, they are often life’s way of protecting me from things that aren’t exactly right for me, no matter how good they look on the surface.

The more smoothly I accept the “not yets” in life, the quicker I advance toward the next best thing, on an energetic level. So, come on, universe… show me what you got! 😉 When the time is right, of course! Till then, I’ll practice joy in the “in-between” time.

Joy of being alive!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Hey hey hey! It’s my BIRTHDAY today! 🙂

For the last 365 days I have learned to choose joy!

From climbing pool steps to dancing with plungers, I have found joy in some pretty neat and unique circumstances.

It’s been an interesting year of discovering where my joy truly lies, and where I have opportunity to stretch it, and add some depth for good measure.

I certainly haven’t been joyful every single second of the day, but beneath the darker moments there it was — joy. There is no better experience than to feel a bit crappy and then laugh at the ironies and weirdness life serves up and discover joy in the nooks and crannies.

Joy has softened the blows for me this year, both literally and figuratively. I have found joy while sitting on my carpet for an hour after a fall, waiting for the right moment to ‘rise above’. I have felt joy bubbles surface after reaching yet another dead end on my job search — because I know something better is coming together for me.

Sometimes the smallest things bring me the greatest joy. Yesterday morning I was looking through nature photos and found what is known as a “Blue-Footed Booby” — which is a bird “distributed among the continental coasts of the eastern Pacific Ocean from California to the Galápagos Islands south into Peru. It is strictly a marine bird.” (Source: Wikipedia.) I mean, how can you not feel joy at seeing this unique creature? I couldn’t help but giggle at the name. And, naturally, being the ultimate word geek that I am… “blue-footed booby” became my ‘phrase of the day’ yesterday. Hey, can you blame me? It’s fun and even a little risqué to say! 😀

Joy. The child of gratitude. The grandparent of peace. Whether it comes in big packages or small surprises, joy has been within and all around me this year. To share my thoughts with readers here has inspired me to “walk the walk”, and for that, I am very grateful.

Thanks to all of you who have faithfully popped in to read my scribbles and scratches. You’ve motivated me to keep my focus on joy, and that’s been a true gift! I appreciate you! Have a joyful day! 🙂

PS: have you hugged a blue-footed booby today? 😉 (giggle giggle)

Joy of ‘I decide’

I. LOVE. THIS. QUOTE.

Enough is a decision. O. M. G. How brilliant. That just takes away all the rules I have around being enough. Just like the cream in my coffee I can decide right now that I am enough. No explanation or expiry date attached.

I don’t need to justify the amount of cream in my coffee or butter on my toast. It’s enough, for me. Similarly, I don’t have to justify my own enough-ness. I can decide that it just is. That I am enough. Plain and simple as the nose on my face. I. AM. ENOUGH.

When enough is a decision, there’s no waiting for it. Nothing to earn. No reasons to give. I only need to believe. I decide right now, and in the next ‘right now’ moment, that I am enough. No striving. No thriving. No waiting. No procrastinating. It just is.

How empowering and wonderfully JOYFUL is that!?!… to decide anything about myself. I don’t need to have the approval of 25 and a half people. I don’t need to hop through any hoops. I can let go of any and all “performance criteria” I have had for my life.

Letting others also decide enough-ness for themselves opens up a new facet of relationships. No obligations. No pressure to be what you are not. No conforming to the expectations of others to earn anything from them. Living authentically. Joyful self-acceptance. Allowing what is.

So knowing that I have the freedom to decide, I am boldly and gleefully declaring a few things, right here and right now. Perhaps you, too, will start declaring facts and facets of your ‘enough-ness’. Share them in the comments, if you so choose.

I now decide I am enough. Filled to the brim. No extras needed. Whole. Complete. Unapologetically me.

I now decide to love myself – in my housecoat and slippers with ‘stick-up hair’ and ‘sleep crusties’ in my eyes. Yep. right now. In my messy morning state, I love me and I am enough.

I now decide I am beautiful — because I am Lizzie.

I decide. I decide. I decide. That’s a joyful power and delicious freedom to own, right there.

If it is to be — it is up to me. Weeeeee!

Be led by Joy

The other day, I lost my balance and fell. I fell backwards with a kitchen chair landing right on top of me.

I have fallen a lot in my lifetime. Lack of balance is not new. Wildly enough, I reacted differently to the tumble this time. I didn’t lose my sh*t, or cry or yell at myself for falling. While I wasn’t outwardly joyful, I was certainly peaceful. For me, peace is a grandchild of joy.

It took me quite some time to get up off the floor. With every attempt, I found myself silently offering words of encouragement. The critic that usually speaks loudly in circumstances like this, did not surface. I was calm. I sat there on the carpet and paused often, curious with how my mind was handling my vulnerability as I tried different ways to use my covid-weakened muscles to get up.

At one point I said “OK universe, God, Buddha, inner energy, spirit, whatever you are, let’s do this and get on with the rest of the day.” Next thing I knew, I got up. Just like that. Unlike many other times in the past, I didn’t sit down to analyze the event. I didn’t go to that place of “that was scary”, or self-pity, or “what if…”.

I was grateful. Grateful that I didn’t break anything. Grateful that rug burn heals quickly. Grateful for my incredibly soft (and clean!) carpet. Grateful that I meditate daily. Grateful that I can still do these often “taken for granted” things on my own. Grateful for the awareness that I need to find more ways to strengthen and gain more balance. Grateful for the many experiences that have taught me much-valued and appreciated patience over the years. Grateful that in spite of myself, I am beginning to see the gifts of being led by joy.

When I am led by joy, the literal (and not so literal) ups and downs in life are easier to go through. My inner peace is protected while I find my footing in all sorts of situations. Once again, I must risk repetitiveness in this blog and say, that’s pretty nifty. 😉 🙂

Joy of ‘owning it’

When we deny the story it defines us, when we own the story, we can write a brave new ending. — Brené Brown

Wildly enough, when I typed the title “Joy of ‘owning it'” tears welled up in my eyes. Then I had the inspired thought of finding Brené Brown’s quote and using it as part of the fodder for my thoughts.

I have spent a lot of time letting go of the story around my life and all of its experiences. I can remember times when I was angry, declaring “I am not my story” as some kind of defence against the judgment of others, and more poignantly, my own self-judgment.

Owning my story is the ultimate act of self-love. It is saying yes to events that shaped me. Yes to life circumstances I was born into. Yes to adventures. Yes to disappointments. Yes to loving relationships. Yes to challenging connections. Owning my story is saying yes to all of my mistakes, without regret or shame.

I’ve always wanted to edit things out, because it felt better and looked better to me. But the editing erases key ingredients that make me who I am today. At this age, editing takes much more energy than being authentically me. Ironically the less I edit myself, the more self love, and love from others I experience.

Owning the story means owning my power to stand tall in my life and celebrate every last bit of it. My path has had its challenges and mistakes, but it is my path. All I know is that there is more to learn and know. Today I choose to discover more and know more, with joy as my compass.

Joy of life lessons

Yesterday, I had the giggles all day. Yup. From the moment I woke up in the morning til presently writing this blog, I have had the giggles.

The giggles come after years of trying to figure out and resolve a life lesson. Yesterday, it clicked. It really clicked. I finally understand what has had me perplexed for decades. When it clicked, all I could do was laugh. And laugh. And giggle. And laugh.

The giggle fest was brought on by a chance meeting with someone whom I have had my fair share of struggles with in the past. After a year or more of not seeing this person, I saw what was really happening behind their actions. This insight — after years of frustration — finally gave rise to joy.

Taking others far too personally has been my life lesson. Intellectually, I understand it — but emotionally, I was still hooked into believing that I am responsible for how others — especially this person — behave.

The joy comes as a mixture of relief and happiness that I can finally let it all go. I can stop investing energy into analyzing what is not mine to understand. I can replace that mind-bending energy with compassion. It is crystal clear to me now that this person’s suffering is what propels the behavior. I truly see the pain beneath the antics, and I also see that I no longer need to feed that pattern by reacting to it at all. It’s. Not. Personal. 🙂

I giggled and giggled because this realization has brought me tremendous freedom. I used to make myself crazy trying to understand these things. Now, I absolutely understand that these attention-seeking behaviours are not about me, but about that person’s need for love. It’s unfortunate that healthier methods are not used to connect and receive love, but that is simply beyond my control.

I also found myself crying at some points yesterday, too. I cried tears of forgiveness for myself and this person, and the pattern that we co-created for years. It is done. It is finally done. I can now fully unhook myself and walk away in peace. I also walk away with joy and appreciation for the healing that I have experienced. I sincerely wish the same healing, joy and appreciation for this individual.

The journey inward to healing patterns is difficult, but very rewarding. Never did I ever think that joy would come from this lifelong lesson. But joy is here, bubbling up from within. I am grateful for the people who helped me heal and bring this lesson to a close. ❤

Next! 🙂 (giggle, giggle!)

Joy of pool steps

I went swimming today. An hour went by in what felt like 5 minutes. I was swimming and in the moment the entire time. It felt amazing. I thought I could conquer anything when I finished my routine.

But, then I got out of the pool, using the pool steps. The steps are accessible, in that they are similar to a staircase, rather than a ladder. But still I have trouble at times when it comes to navigating the steps. It’s a mental block. I know it, because most days I amble up the stairs with no problem at all.

My third attempt at the steps was successful. As I dried myself off in the change room, I thought, “what is the joy in this experience?”

Well, the joy is:

The steps can be a metaphor for life. Just like I sometimes take two or even three attempts at clearing the steps and getting out of the pool, life often gives us more than one chance to get things right. I don’t have to get it right or be perfect the first time. That’s just never been realistic, on so many levels. It’s okay, and natural, to need practice and preparation to gain a skill. And once the skill is gained, it’s never 100% consistent, and that’s okay too.

Life is a gentle teacher. The steps teach me patience and perseverance. I don’t mind going down the steps to try again after a mental “sticking point”. I am noticing a new level of patience and kindness with myself. I don’t get frustrated or angry — I just say “come on, try again, Lizzie” and I usually do okay getting out the second time. It’s a lesson in compassion and understanding. I am getting older, after all, and sometimes my mind needs extra coaxing and pep talks to feel safe.

The steps teach me gratitude for the small things. When I get to the top of the stairs on the first attempt, I often say “thank you” to my legs, my mind and the universe. I have tremendous gratitude for being able to do things that I used to take for granted all the time. I might need more time, but I am still independent and able to swim on my own, at a time that works with my schedule. That’s important to me.

Pool steps. A metaphor for life. A joy-giver. Who’da thunk it? 🙂

The Joy of Worthiness

You are worth it.

The video, (click on above “you are worth it” link to watch) by Viola Davis, struck me. Big.

Worthiness captures it all, doesn’t it?

You have reason and rarity. What a powerful line in Viola Davis’ motivational piece. I don’t have to measure up to anyone else. I can be my crazy and unique self. I was born this way for a reason. I have purpose in being exactly who I am right now.

Ms. Davis is also powerful in what she does NOT say. Not once is the word “earn” used in the two-minute heart-to-heart she passionately shares. Worthiness is not earned; it is every person’s birthright. Every person. Not just some.

Worthiness is within — it is not reflected in our social status, or monetary wealth, or any of the social trappings that society sees as “you’ve made it”. “Making it” in life is personal. Measured by one’s own joy at fully being alive and authentic.

The essence of Ms. Davis’ message says: ‘You don’t have to feel worthy, to be worthy.’ I have had many situations where opportunities landed at my feet that I didn’t feel worthy of — yet I trusted that it was meant to be, or it wouldn’t be showing up. I made a lot of mistakes along these paths, but no one ever said I had to be perfect — the experience was showing me I was worth it.

A final unspoken message in this video is “stop making your life small.” When I let go of self-doubt and smallness, I can do great things. I have proven this over and over again, from the time I stumbled my way to the corner store to get Cheezies. There was nothing small about me that day. Yet, here I sit on my couch thinking “can this life purpose of mine really happen?” or “can I really do THAT?” The mind is a funny thing, and I need to choose constantly not to listen to that critical, doubtful voice.

I am worth it. You are worth it. We are all worth it.

Joy of doing hard things

I walked away today. I walked away from something I loved doing. I not only loved it. It gave me a complete sense of joy.

My integrity could not let me stay. I could not stay in a place that — almost overnight — became unsafe for me.

I get the whole idea that safety is created within. Believe me, I get that. But that’s not the only part of the equation. No matter how much safety I cultivate within me, other people have their part to play as well. Other factors must be in place for that sense of safety to permeate and solidify a connection.

There is a saying “so within, so without.” It just dawned on me recently that the two are not mutually exclusive. They are interdependent. They must work together. I can’t have a wholly functional and healthy connection with anyone or anything unless there is co-creation happening on both sides of the equal sign in the equation.

Walking away today was an affirmation that I need certain things in place, in order to function well. Without these elements, I feel like I am walking on quicksand, never sure what my next step is. I feel stuck, and unable to move forward and contribute anything of value. Eventually I sink into a mental health breakdown, because my needs are not being met.

I walked away today because deep within, I know, I have a right to experience joy. I don’t expect joy to be a 24-7 experience, but perhaps I should! If I can see that a situation is tipping the scales to worry, fear, fretting and distrust, I must take action to make it right for myself. Today, in the name of personal joy, I did just that. And that feels pretty damn joyful!

Joy of being there for myself

“I have so much going on right now, I can’t be there for you, Liz.” The words struck out, like a sword, right through my heart.

“I can’t be there for you, Liz.” was all I heard. My Dad, my hero, my rock, my “person” could not be there for me. Ouch. On so many levels. Ouch.

I was about 12 then. And I have searched ever since for others to “be there for me.” Over, and over and over, I chose people who could not be there for me. Trying to heal that wound. Hurting myself over and over. Not ever realizing that healing comes in a totally different way than what I thought.

It’s only in the last month that I see the strength and courage my Dad had in saying “I have so much going on right now, I can’t be there for you, Liz.” He knew himself and his limits. He understood the damage of not being fully present for someone. He recognized that his honesty and integrity needed to come first.

I took it personally as a teenager. I thought I became unimportant to him. As an adult, I can see just how important I was to him, that he risked being honest with what he could offer me.

Wildly enough, life comes full circle. In recent months, I have said “I can’t be a friend to you right now.” to more than a few people. I don’t want to hurt them by being only partially able to be present. I don’t want to hurt them by not knowing what kind of friend I actually can be right now.

Joy comes in when I realize the more I can be there for myself, the less needful I am of others being there for me. It truly is within me. I have been conditioned to go outside myself for comfort. In fact, I have been taught to go outside of myself for everything.

Got a problem? See a counsellor. Got an ache? See a doctor. Want to be happier? Take this pill. Need adventure? Book a trip. There are times and places for seeking things outside of myself. I can’t heal every ailment. I can’t solve every problem with my own wisdom. Adventure through travel is enjoyable.

To start from within is something new for me. When I look inside, I often find the answers I needed from others who “couldn’t be there” for me. Now I get to “be there for me”. It’s been a “Bambi on ice” process, but one I want to take because it brings me peace. It brings me joy and an increased sense of responsibility for my own well-being. What better joy in life is there? 🙂

Joy of softness

Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place. — Kurt Vonnegut

I read a meditation to a group I belong to awhile ago called “Soft Belly”. In the meditation, the word “soft”, “softening” or “soften” is repeated 13 times in a span of less than ten minutes. For me, this was significant.

I have started to realize that softening my approach to things brings me joy. I can live and let live, and let the energy of softness toward another speak my volumes. I used to believe that I needed to correct every misperception and defend every wrong. Using softness as my correction and “defence” certainly is easier on my blood pressure and my sense of peace.

I use softness as my guide as I go through life events. I still experience the harder emotions. I don’t fool myself into thinking otherwise. But as I am honest about these emotions within myself, there is a softening that occurs. The more I let the darkness be what it is, the less power it has to keep me in that state.

I used to process these things with anybody and their dog who would listen. Now, softness teaches me that I am the one who needs to hear it. I can then choose to do something, or do nothing, with it.

The key is, I don’t consciously avoid any of my emotions. If I feel angry, or sad, or self-pity, or happy, joyous and free, I lean into it until it morphs into something else, or simply fades. The softness lies in staying present to whatever is arising for me. Avoiding any of it — yes, any of it — will have that same stuff come up again later. It is all coming up and out of me right now, to become softer, and more manageable.

Softness. Leaning in. Authenticity. Joy.

Joy of Balance

“Balance, my darling, is not letting anyone love you less than you love yourself.” – Eat, Pray, Love, — Phillipe to Liz

Well, well, well! This captures it all, doesn’t it? I adore the movie “Eat Pray Love”… and not only because the main character shares my name. The message of self-love is what draws me in and holds my attention.

I have had a few situations lately where it has behooved me (I love the word behooved, haven’t yet used it in this blog — joy bubble happening, right here!) to say “hey, wait a minute here! This is not cool!”

What was cool, and ultra joyous, is that in each situation, I said a variation of: “hey, not cool” IN THE MOMENT, as a situation was happening.

I have always admired people who can speak “off the cuff”. I often wondered what their trick or secret was. How can they say things so easily? Me?!? I munch on my words, regurgitate and analyze them for 4.18 days before I SAY something! By then, it’s often too late, and I don’t feel the joy of standing up for myself in quite the same way.

The secret? The key? Loving myself enough to say “hey, hey now!” instead of “oh it’s okay” or “I must be seeing this wrong”. Or, “better to say nothing and keep the peace, Lizzie.” There is a time and place for these approaches in daily interaction. Absolutely. But what about the voice that says: “That gut feeling to say something is there for a reason, Lizzie!” It’s about finding that delicate balance in what I choose to say, and choose not to say.

Yes folks. It’s true. Communication does NOT happen by osmosis! It is my responsibility to speak up when it’s time, and to do so in a kind, wholesome way. The more I do it, the more joyous I feel because I am not carrying around “conversations that should have happened but never did.” I am not kicking myself for days after with the “I should have said THIS! Or “why didn’t I say THAT?” Or, “well that came out STUPID, didn’t it? I should have said it the way it played in my head the first time!!”

I tell ya, I feel happier. I feel lighter. I feel free. Honoring the voice within and loving myself as I do so is THE BEST thing I have done in awhile. OH! and it’s not the big things I need to say in the moment. I can handle the big “sit down” conversations. It’s the little things, like “hey I am busy right now, can I call you back?” Or, “that’s not going to work for me, can we try a different way?”

I probably sound totally blissed out and ‘joyed to the max’ right now. I swear to you I used to struggle with my day-to-day small truths A LOT. This simple practice and this deep realization — that my words matter and I can voice them — AS inspired — IN the moment — has lifted a huge weight off me. All in the name of JOY! I ask you — what better reason is there?!? 🙂

Joy of setting yourself free

If you love somebody, set them free. – Sting

What if the somebody is you? 

Part of our human nature is to be kind and gentle with others, harsh with ourselves. What if we said “I love myself and I am setting myself free?”
Owning our own personal freedom can bring many benefits to our lives. Setting ourselves free from anything hanging over our heads can bring a sense of relief. We don’t have to cling to worry or regret over anything in our lives. Worry creates what we don’t want in the future, and regret gives energy to the past.
Setting ourselves free opens the heart to joy. We can experience joy in all of our relationships the minute we decide that the connection is not ours to control – it just is what it is. We can choose more clearly how we want to connect to any relationship – and set ourselves free from feeling obligated to act in old ways. It frees us from any expectations, and gives us permission to do what feels good and right for us.
Setting yourself free opens up doors of possibility and discovery. Letting go of your story of who you are and what you are capable of gives rise to new experiences. You might sign up for a painting class, or open up other avenues of expressing your hidden talents. You don’t have to listen to old messages of ‘you can’t do xyz’. There are a wealth of things inside you that are waiting to be expressed – and the only effort to let them out is giving yourself permission to try something new.
Saying “I am free” is the ultimate form of forgiveness. All the things that have whirled around in your head for ages can be quietened by the words “I am free.” Every time the chatter box in your head starts whirring say “I am free”. This will bring you back to the moment, and empower you to change your future by the choices you make today.
Free – gives you the option of veering off your chosen path. You can make choices based on your personal happiness, rather than following the status quo. You can explore different options and entertain the idea of following dreams you have never had the courage to before. Embracing your ability to be free expands your experience of life. You can choose to do whatever makes you happy, and change your mind when the happiness factor fades. 
Choosing “I am free” can change your life. Give yourself permission to let go of worry and regret. Let joy be your primary expression. Forgive everything. Take chances, discover and be happy. Be free!

Joy of activity

Lately I have been in this funk over my habits. I want to change all of them because they are not in balance right now. I have too much time on my hands in light of lockdowns. So, I spend far too much time doing things, because, well, what else is there to do, really?

I lose myself in beading. I lose myself in cleaning. I lose myself in reading, writing and all sorts of other activities.

Hmm…

Wildly enough, I just had a piece of insight that changes my judgment of being “lost in activity”. While I am in silence doing the beading, cleaning, writing, reading and whatever else, I am processing. I am going inward and listening. I am finding the joy in discovering what I want, need, desire.

For some, activity is a distraction, and a relief from what’s going on within. For myself, activity stills my mind and my heart long enough for me to hear it, and then make decisions based on what I learn. A lot of this is unconscious, and going on behind the scenes, which I am grateful for. I think I would drive myself batty if I just sat here for days on end.

I’ve always been a “moving meditation” type of person. I used to walk a lot when I was a child. Back and forth, back and forth, almost wearing a rut in the floor. The more I walked, the more joy I felt. In fact, this process was captured on film when I walked with canes. I’d start out with a flat expression on my face, and by the end of my walk, I am beaming from ear to ear. Not much has changed about me in this area since those earlier days.

It just goes to show that joy arises when I least plan for, or expect it. I started out writing about one thing, and came away learning something completely different. This also reminds me that everyone’s experience is unique to them. It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to do what works, in any situation, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.

I now recommit to experiencing the joy of activity as my way of unraveling things to find insight and peace within. I also recommit to this level of honesty in writing this blog, in the name of helping readers find their own joy, in their own way, through their own unique methods.

Joy of the inexplicable

I am a full-fledged “bring it on!” foodie. I love food and all of the ambiance and energy that comes with it.

Yesterday, I received an “up to $30 off on your first order” offer from a local restaurant delivery company. At first I thought “impossible!”. Nothing is for free! But upon investigation, yes, it was true.

I indulged and ordered something I haven’t had in years. I ordered it “just because.” Sushi. No eel or shark or raw fish of any kind for this gal. (Ickkkk!) But vegetarian sushi… O.M.G. soooo good!

This is not a restaurant review blog, by any means. I think the bigger message here is “joy from simplicity.” Sushi looks so elegant on the plate, but it really is quite simple. Wholesome ingredients. Nothing fabricated or needing rehydration. No chemicals or additives. Simple. Clean. Tasty.

Isn’t that what pure joy is? Not fabricated or fake. Genuine arising of pleasant emotion. Often for no reason. “Just because.” Joy is its own benefactor and reward. It just feels right to be in that state, when it arises. It’s plain and delicious.

My greatest moments of joy, as chronicled in this blog, are often over nothing! Believe me, nothing exciting has happened in the era of Covid. Yet, most mornings I get up and feel this inexplicable satisfaction with being alive. If there is an “upside” to the pandemic, I believe that the “inexplicable” nature of joy would be it, for me.

Just because. It is there for all of us, “just because”. Strangely enough as I write that, tears well up in my eyes, because I was always conditioned to think it was “because of $30 off on my first order” or “because of vegetarian sushi” or because… because of… because….”.

Joy is within. Within each of us. It just is. May each of us be open and awake to the “inexplicable”. Just because.

Joy of ‘mirth’

I’ve always been a word geek. I love words. I love how they sound. I love how they’re spelled. I love how they make me feel. When I find a word that I really like that’s new to me, it sticks with me for weeks. It becomes my word of the month.

Last night at my book club we came upon the word “mirth” in the section of the book we were reading. It seemed so out of place in the context of the rest of the material that I couldn’t help but giggle.

True to form, I blurted out “who the heck writes like that? Mirth?! What the hell is that?!” I squealed with laughter.

“Is that a word from the 70s!?!” another member of the book club questioned.

Granted, the whole book has quirky instances of word use that we all raise an eyebrow at. All members of the book club want to write a letter of editing suggestions to the publisher and author.

At the end of the meeting we all share what our intentions are for the next week. I boldly declared that I was going to “up my mirth quota this week”.

You may have already noticed, when I find a word I like, I really play with it. A LOT. It tweaks my funny bone and my creative mind. I got up this morning and the first thing out of my mouth was “mirth, mirth, mirth!” And I giggled my way to the bathroom. Even saying the word with different tone and energy amuses me.

I decided to google “mirth quotes” shortly after breakfast, and found more than a few. I promptly emailed them to my book club buddies. Email header: The Mirth Report, with Liz. Of course to me, all of this is quite amusing. To my bookclub friends, I hope they take my enthusiasm in stride.

It brings me joy to find humorous ways to make words come alive. Words and my playfulness with them reminds me of how fascinating language really is. I mean, how do words come about, really? Who was the first person to clear their throat and say, “what I am feeling in this very moment is best described as mirth.”

Perhaps I overthink these things, but in the overthinking, a joyful part of me is at work. My creativity. My imagination. My passion for writing. My child-like curiosity. It brings alive my love of simple things.

I think my infatuation with words and language ultimately reminds me that I don’t need a lot to make me happy, or to feel joyful. In fact, most of the time, I need very little to feel that little spark of glee, that can only come from within.

Mirth. Who knew that a five-letter word could be the springboard for another blog post? 🙂

Wishing all of you a day filled with moments of mirth, and of course, JOY.

Joy of unconditional love

It is not the perfect, but the imperfect that is in need of our love.

— Oscar Wilde

Wildly enough, I am discovering that the more imperfect I show myself to be, the more love is there for me.

Imperfections are a hallmark of authenticity. I am fully and completely human. I make mistakes all the time. I try to learn from them. Sometimes I get the lesson the first time. Other times the lesson repeats until I have a lightbulb moment.

I recently shared an experience with a group of people, and I thought they were going to say “yeah Liz, you really eff-ed up on that one. You should be ashamed of yourself and apologize!”

The feedback I received was the exact opposite. Their language warmed my heart and calmed my anxiety as I heard words like brave, courageous, beautiful, strong. They said that I didn’t need to apologize at all. They were in my corner and supported me in my awkwardness and remorse.

As much as I know all of the things I need are within me, and I can give myself the encouragement and support I need, there was something deliciously joyous in hearing these loving words and thoughts expressed to me by people whom I am just getting to know. They had nothing to gain by flattering me, or telling me what they thought I wanted to hear. It was genuine, and so very kind.

Being my authentically imperfect self has not always felt safe in some circles. People aren’t always at ease with seeing the mirrors of imperfection in those they are in connection with. To that, I say: “that’s okay, they don’t have to be comfortable with my truth, I do.”

My favourite line from Frazey Ford comes to mind once again: “my joy, my joy, my joy takes nothing from you.” Feedback and affirmation from others is a bonus; especially when my truth, imperfect as it is, is shining within me. I don’t need to take it from anyone or anything outside of me. And that’s pretty darn nifty! 🙂

Joy of gut feelings

During the pandemic lockdowns, I have cleaned and purged, and cleaned and purged. It was somewhat therapeutic. Ridding myself of clutter felt good. It also simply gave me something to do that kept me off the couch and in activity.

This morning I needed some plastic baggies for beadwork I made for two friends. I couldn’t find the baggies where they normally were. I searched everywhere in my apartment. Twice. Three times. Still no baggies to pack my beads up for delivery.

I finally surrendered and said, “well, I guess I tossed the baggies out. That was really dumb, Lizzie.” As the afternoon wore on, I couldn’t let go of the urge to look again. I rehearsed my “that was really stupid” admonishment under my breath several times, and gave it one last look. Nope. No baggies in this house.

I thought of different solutions, that were not as convenient or attractive. “Who wants a piece of jewelry stuffed into a sandwich ziplock?!” “Maybe no one cares about a bag to take my beads home? I can go without.” Rationalizing was a brilliant use of my time, I thought.

Still, this nagging feeling would not leave. The bags were still in the house somewhere. “Ugh… let IT GOOOO, Lizzie.” I started to clean and dust. I vacuumed. I ate lunch. Brushed my teeth. I moved on with the day, as they say.

I let it go. As I was reading something online, a picture came into my mind of a black bag I had with me at my last craft show, well over two years ago. I climbed over things in my storage closet to get to the far back. There it was! The black bag. Inside the bag I found 200 plastic baggies for my beadwork. EUREKA! It took six hours, but the answer finally came through.

This might seem very simplistic, but I find joy in the simple things of daily living. Joy comes as I let go of things, and let answers come to me when I surrender to those gut feelings. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, big or small. What matters, is having patience to trust my gut.

Joy of having my own back

I got my own back. – Maya Angelou

“Give yourself what you want from others, Lizzie. That’s where the magic is.” 

A wise friend said this to me about a year ago. At first I was confused and a bit resentful. 

“What the heck are relationships and connections for if I can’t rely on someone to meet my needs?” I thought. I didn’t say this, however, because I knew that what my friend said was true. I had to learn, to a greater degree, how to meet my own needs. 

Covid has been the way for me to learn this. In the beginning of the pandemic I often thought “why aren’t my friends saying, ‘Liz, do you need anything?” The silence spoke volumes to me. I needed to say “Liz, what do you need right now?” and have the courage to set the intention to meet that need. It really isn’t anyone’s responsibility but mine.

Admittedly my perception of reality at that time was warped by a feeling of being alone during the early days of the pandemic. Reflecting back – I did have people checking in — just not as often or as many as I — the mighty Liz — would have liked. My expectations and my emotions got the better of me. It was no one’s issue but my own. I knew it then, and I kept those thoughts and feelings to myself, so as not to damage the connections I truly treasure in my life.

A year later, I have learned that I need to have my own back. I can ask for what I need, and let the solution come from abundance, not forcing it or demanding it with any energy of expectation. The pandemic was a vulnerable time for all of us, and still is. There is no place, in my eyes, for placing expectations on anyone.  

I’ve joyfully discovered that the less expectation I have around anything happening in my life, the easier things come together for me. There is a sense of ease allows me to be grateful and free. I am no longer obsessed with who’s doing what and why. I am content with “what am I going to do today, in the midst of a third wave and a rush to get vaccines into arms, to make my life okay?”

I never dreamed that so much alone time would teach me so much about contentment in self-reliance. Covid is a tough thing for all of us, but there are hidden gems in the effects of it on connections with myself and others.

In short, I am joyful and grateful for what I once resented and dreaded a year ago. Who knew that this could happen? Not me, that’s for sure!

The Joy of Anger

Angering unlocks our joy. — Pete Walker

I’ve been reading a book called “The Tao of Fully Feeling: Harvesting Forgiveness out of Blame.”

Not a book for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. But it is teaching me about the benefits of anger.

In the last year, I made a pledge to myself to be honest about all of my feelings, most notably my anger.

I have vented to my plants many, many times. Voicing the anger gets it out of my body and releases the toxins that cells love to store.

I have written letters with my pen literally ripping the page I am writing on, because of the pressure applied to my venomous words.

I have shared anger and tears with counsellors, with safe friends and the universe.

So where’s the joy, Liz?

It’s here. A year later, I notice these changes:

• I am pain-free. I believe that getting honest with how I feel has helped my body heal. Last year at this time I could hardly get out of bed without grasping for something to steady me as I winced in pain. This year, I bounce out of bed – limber and pain-free.

• I laugh more. At stupid things. At fun things. At myself. At life. I laugh at things that used to upset and anger me.

• I have compassion for myself and others. Yes, I sometimes judge what I don’t understand, but understanding and compassion is there, too. Expressing emotion does not make me perfect; it helps me make room for myself and others to be fully human.

• I recognize how abundant my life is today. In the past, anger kept me stuck in lack mentality. Today I see my life as full, abundant, blessed, and better than I could have ever imagined.

• I am more vulnerable than I have ever been. I believe vulnerability has been the key to releasing the anger and fully letting it go. Vulnerability has happened for me in community. A community of friends and acquaintances that are also on the healing path have helped me more than I can say.

• I don’t stuff or shame my anger anymore. I sit with it, express it in healthy ways, release it and move on. The sooner I acknowledge it, the sooner it loosens and leaves my experience.

Despite messages to the contrary in our society and culture, I have definitely discovered joy and healing in full emotional expression. I hope anyone reading this does, too. 🙂

Joy of Letting People Go

“Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.” ― Deborah Reber

I’m fifty-two and still learning this life lesson. I can’t control what others do. I can’t force anyone to stay longer than they want to stay. The only thing I can do, if I have respect for them, is to honor their choices.

Don Miguel Ruiz, in The Four Agreements says nothing is personal. He goes as far to say that if someone is angry and shoots you in the head, it’s still about them, not you. When I first read that, I thought “wow — I want to get to that place where I see things that clearly.”

It takes me awhile, but I do see that other people’s reactions and interpretations of me are fully and completely theirs. My struggle is in placing far too much importance on what others think, and far too little importance on what I think. I have frittered away far too many hours wondering, overthinking and worrying — especially when people leave my circle of friends.

I find joy when I realize that people need to leave so that I can stay for myself. When anyone leaves, it means I have learned the life lesson that their presence represented in my life. I must let them go in order to welcome the next learning experience.

Joy enters again when I am doing the “ugly cry” and I am in great pain and grief. During these times, people love me through my brokenness. It seems the more real I am — the more love can enter in and heal my sorrow. There is much to be said for being authentic with one’s pain in a culture that often shames emotional vulnerability.

Letting people go is a mixed bag of emotion. Joy is beneath the grief and pain of any loss. Sometimes joy comes quickly, other times, it takes a bit of patience. But it is always to be found.

Joy of “forgiveness with a backbone”

Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone oughta be. – Clementine Paddleford

The quote by Clementine Paddleford reminds me so much of my Dad.

“Never settle, Lizzie.” He said this to me often. But only now do I really hear — and act on — the wisdom in those three simple words.

I think Dad would have been proud of me this last week. I finally stood up to someone in a classy yet powerful way. No words were spoken — my energy did all the talking. I stood tall in my light and did not back down.

In the past, I would see this person and become unglued. I would scatter like rats on a sinking ship, as the cliché saying goes. But this time, I held my ground. This time, I was calm. This time, I was centred. This time, I was not afraid.

I’ll be honest, though. I did have a mini meltdown of other emotions arise as I processed this unexpected meeting. I was initially confused and then hard on myself about the aftermath of grief that arose in me. I had to remind myself that this was the first time that I had ever stood up to someone in that way. As with anything new, it takes time for my insides to match my outside behavior, and vice-versa.

The overriding point is, in that moment, I was strong in my truth. That one moment was the beginning of many more moments when I will demonstrate forgiveness with a backbone. My energy as I looked him in the eye was saying “I forgive you, but I will never allow you to treat me that way again.”

Most importantly, I will not treat myself the way I had when I was around that person, and others who were similar in my past. I can and have forgiven, but this time, with a backbone. A backbone that says “never again”. Not only for my protection, but for the other person’s as well.

I always thought forgiveness was for other people, not for me. What a joy to discover that I can be an equal part of the mix. I can forgive myself and re-define how I want to move forward in this moment, and in the next moment, and the next.

Joy of Missing Out

I’m 52.

Some days this is just a number. Other days it is a statement.

A statement of “Liz, where is your life going?” “You might not have a lot of time left. What are you doing?!?”

Some days, I feel like I am missing out on something. I start to measure my life against some imaginary success wheel, and I always spin off feeling like I missed out.  I transform into this little girl who missed out on a lot growing up.

But did I really miss out? Or is that a perception I can change and embrace with joy? My childhood was filled with surgeries, doctors, physiotherapists and many other professionals. I didn’t have a lot of the “regular” childhood experiences.

But during those years, I more than made up for the things that most people would qualify as “a good childhood.” I cultivated strength of character. I realized very young what was important. I learned about life’s ironies and laughed at things that didn’t always make sense.

I made friends with people who, (for lack of a better word) were considered misfits. Just as my Dad did with me, I saw people with my heart, and loved them exactly as they were. Their outer appearance didn’t matter — their kindness and sincerity did.

Miss out? Okay, I did. I missed out on things that really didn’t matter in the end. I found my joy in connecting to people who needed it as much as I did. I found happiness in cerebral activities  like reading and writing while my peers found purpose in more physical pursuits. Each has value. Each has benefits.

My wheel of success might not look like anyone else’s.  The joy comes in realizing that not looking like anyone else’s is exactly what makes it special, and what makes it mine. I’m glad I missed out on certain things in life; chances are I wouldn’t have enjoyed them anyway.

The true joy that’s dawning on me as I write is that missing out on some things helps me appreciate the experiences I was fully present for all the more. Once again, joy is found in shifting my perceptions. Nifty! 🙂

Joy of being Supported

Lately, things are really starting to “click”.

I have found a group of people where I feel 100% supported. I belong to a book club, with five other women. Every week we get together on Zoom and discuss a self-help book. Most weeks we are lucky to get through a couple of pages of the book.

I love the slow pace. Why? We are getting to know each other. We are becoming supports for each other. Every Wednesday, I am curious and excited to hear how everyone’s week went. Every week, I leave the group feeling joyful.

I leave feeling joyful because I feel connected to these women. I feel heard and seen, and that alone gives me a sense of inner validation. I matter a little bit more every time I leave that book club and start my nightly routine before bed.

Any one of us will share about things that bother us, hurt us, frustrate us. And the rest of us rally behind that person and support them.

“I’ll help you with that letter of complaint!”

“You did the right thing! Way to own your power and take care of yourself!”

“Let’s organize a swimming posse!”

“You got this!”

“I hate FedEx too. Losers!”

“I’m proud of you!”

All of us travel the journey alone. It is up to us how that journey unfolds. Having with-walkers to cheer us on at the pit stops is soooo wonderful. It’s my job to support myself from within, but having support and encouragement from others is so nourishing. It makes me feel joyful to be me on an entirely different level.

It also makes me want to be the kind of person that can be a healthy support. That’s enough motivation for me to continue my healing and work on myself. It gives me joy to have a group like this to inspire me to be a positive influence.

To be a support and be supported — life doesn’t get any better, does it? 🙂

Joy of trusting the timing

“My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?” ― Charles M. Schulz

I love this quote. Why? It reminds me to trust. Countless times I have had expectations and goals, and I find that these things really get in the way of enjoying my life and being happy. When I let go and just put one foot in front of the other, happiness finds me. I am gently reminded that it doesn’t take a lot to make me smile and feel good about life.

Recently I got caught up in the “where am I in my life and why isn’t it happening on my timetable?”. The more I focus on timing, the more time I waste being unhappy with myself. Why? Why? Why? Why not, how come… sheesh! Expectations and hinging life on timing only leads to disappointment. When I do the basics and leave the details alone, I am joyful and at peace. When I try to micro-manage and control and start asking “what am I doing wrong?” I head for a downward tailspin that only leads to negativity.

When I trust life and have faith, all my needs wants and desires are met. Never in the way that I imagine, but always better than I imagine. I am still the little girl who hobbled on canes when she first walked when it comes to trusting life. I teeter and panic. I reach out to other people to steady my stance, rather than rely on my inner strength to get me to the next stage. I wobble and I forget everything I have learned. I drop the canes and hope that others will notice.

Truth is, life moves forward when I drop the canes and notice that I didn’t need them in the first place. It’s truly about letting go of safety nets and trusting the safety within. I might not always know what direction to take, but it always finds me. Always. The best thing I can do in the present moment is be grateful and appreciate life just as it is.

Joy of “losing it”.

I lost it yesterday.

I lost my temper — at a level I have not seen or felt in a long time.

I let loose on someone who got under my skin on the wrong day. My history with this person has not been pleasant. In short, I find them an annoyance. My annoyance peaked yesterday and I let out my frustration and anger.

Where is the joy here, you ask?

Well, it came to me this morning as I processed the event in my mind.  I began to sob as the real issue came to light.

“You need to forgive yourself for being born with a disability, Lizzie.” Clear as a bell my core truth came through.

Then a rush of experiences where I was hurt, angry and confused came into my memory. Experiences where I felt the anger within, but because I was born with cerebral palsy, I felt I didn’t have the right to express that anger. I deserved the controlling, boundary-crossing actions. I deserved the condescending comments. I deserved… I deserved… I deserved.

I deserve poor treatment from others because I have cerebral palsy. Yep. That’s one of my core beliefs. The irony made me smile and then made me laugh and cry at the same time. Ridiculous yet true.

The joy comes in realizing this core belief. Now I can change it. Now I can work at truly embracing and believing I am a gift and a treasure to this life, just as my Dad’s Dutch nicknames showed me so often.

I lost it yesterday.

But I gained awareness as I opened up to seeing what was behind losing my shit.

I gained back parts of me I gave away in order to keep the peace, and not show people the impact of their actions.

I gained back the right to speak my truth and let the other person deal with their own thoughts and feelings about that.

I gained back some self-respect.

I gained back more of ME.

What other joy is there? 🙂

Joy of letting S*^t go

“If you have to force it, leave it. Relationships.
Friendships. Yoga poses. Perfect ponytails.
Let that shit go.”― Akua Naru

I read this quote and laughed at the bluntness of it.

“Let that shit go.”

My kind of wisdom. So decisive. I love it! I really love it because — fun fact — my first word was “shit”. I thank my mom’s best friend for that — every second word she spoke was the “s-word” so I picked it up as a toddler.

“If you have to force it, leave it.”

More and more, my personal success is not measured by loyalty to people and circumstances — but by how I am honouring my own integrity. I ask myself a lot of questions these days. Does this bring me joy? Yes. Then keep on keepin’ on Lizzie. No? Then let it go.

Forcing anything in life is futile. If I need to chase it to keep it in my life, chances are that it is not meant to be. I like the easy energy I feel when I am with others who want to be there. They are invested as much as I am. It flows. No matter what we talk about — serious, philosophical, funny, sad — we always leave the conversation feeling good.

Letting things come into my life and leave my life with the same sense of ease is a skill that cultivates joy. Easy come, easy go: an old saying that represents the ultimate in trusting that if I am meant to have an experience, it will happen. What is not happening, is just as much a part of the plan — I need force NOTHING.

Joy of being nimble

For weeks, I have had this “gotta be perfect” energy inside that I could not shake. I finally realized that the energy was there because when I made a mistake, I held on to unforgiveness for myself. I could not let it go. In not letting it go and practicing self-compassion, I made even more mistakes. Funny how that works — or doesn’t — as the case may be.

Be nimble minded. Words of wisdom from an old friend that I still use today. Nimble. What a great word. It conjures up so many images for me. Be nimble Liz. Walk with grace for your imperfections. Tread lightly over your blunders. Be nimble and gentle with yourself. Forgive yourself and move on, Lizzie. Don’t dwell on the past — learn from it.

Once I fully forgave myself, the shift in some of my relationships was palpable. The dynamics between an acquaintance and I seemed to instantly change to a lighter, more open energy. We engaged in friendly conversation. The energy of my past transgression was no longer holding me back from enjoying this individual. Nimble-minded forgiveness of self allowed me to let go and be in the moment.

Be nimble. Be quick to forgive yourself and others. We’re all doing the best we can. Besides, life is too short to be anything but happy. Make nimble-mindedness one way to experience  consistent joy in your life.

Joy of time flying

Time is flying by for me these days. Usually I am bang on with writing one joyful gibberish post a week. I just realized that ten days have gone by, and it feels like two. That’s a good sign for me!

When time flies, I am in the moment, and enjoying whatever the moment brings. There’s no “gee I wish this experience was different” energy in my blood. I am in the flow.

When I say I am “in the flow”, it doesn’t always mean I am happy. I am happy with my ability to accept what is. I am joyful that I can stay in the moment and not grasp to escape whatever is currently showing up for me.

Last week, I had a terrible time with peri-menopausal hormonal shifts that knocked the wind out of my sanity. At first, I didn’t recognize the mood swings for what they were. Why, oh why (??) am I shocked by this every single time? After all, hormones have jolted me sideways for 4 decades now!

Where’s the joy in cramps and mood swings? How does time fly when my body aches? It’s all in my mental state. The awareness of the crankiness and the craziness comes much, much quicker than when I was younger. That alone brings me joy. And time does fly when I make the effort to nurture myself and engage in self-care. My intention — deliberate intention — of loving me through these ups and downs brings me that inner satisfaction.

So when I recognize the crazies coming on and I go to bed early with a chocolate bar in one hand and Midol in the other, I feel joyful. When my head hits the pillow and I wrap my blankets tight around me and snuggle myself, I feel strangely gleeful.

Why?

I am finally learning to love myself NO matter WHAT.  That feels damn good. That’s when time flies; when I can be totally freaking messy and still feel a weird sense of peace within me.

Hmm. Or maybe it really is just all that chocolate and Midol I gobble every month? 😉 🙂

Joy of Being Enough

You are good enough today and you have room to grow tomorrow. — Holley Gerth

This one is big for me. Ginormous even.

I have never felt “good enough” to be totally honest.

At the age of four, I distinctly remember the moment that “good enough” was not applicable to me. I also distinctly remember thinking “what you are saying is not true”. Since then, it has been a journey of rediscovering my “enoughness”.

The joy has been found in the journey of this discovery, not the arrival.

I have found joy in the people — so, so many people — who saw my enoughness and gave me the courage to steal a few glimpses of it myself. At each stage of my journey, people leave, and new ones arrive, affirming my growth and encouraging me to go further. My only job is joy. Joy at knowing the universe knows who and what I need — I don’t have to search and scrounge for the connections that leave a mark on my heart.

I have felt joy in the breakthroughs as I change my beliefs and behaviours. As painful as this process can be at times, I always seem to come out of the experience saying “that was easy!” and finding the humor in each circumstance. I am thankful for my brain’s selective remembering and amnesia, leaving humor and joy behind for my amusement.

Joy is in the details. Discovering enoughness isn’t all pain and navel-gazing. I have had so many opportunities that were tossed my way to show me I am ready for new challenges. Fun opportunities, that gave me confidence for even more adventures. Great opportunities that grew connections I may have never made on my own.

Joy is in writing this blog and suddenly realizing that maybe enoughness isn’t dependent on feeling that way. Feelings are fickle and forever changing. Maybe it has nothing to do with me at all. Perhaps the proof is in the pudding, as they say.

Reflecting back to when I was four years old, my thought of “what you are saying is not true” was demonstrated in my actions, not my words or feelings. There was a part of me that transcended the views and opinions of others. Since then, I have lost, then found, then lost again that childlike spirit within, that KNOWS.

Enoughness is an inner knowing. It’s beyond thought, word, earning or proving. When I am connected to that knowing, all I feel is joy!

Joy of being imperfect

You don’t need to be perfect to be amazing – The Mindful MD Mom

Every time I do something new, to build a skill, it brings up my “stuff”. OMG does it EVER bring up my stuff. 

Recently I took on a new role in a volunteer position. I have done the work involved in the role many times in different areas of my life. “This will be easy peasy!” I thought. Yet, as I have done the work and enjoyed it, my inner perfectionist has come up many times. My nerves have been actively showing up in a knot in my stomach. Most recently, I was on the verge of tears, because my inner perfectionist was in overdrive. 

The day I was teary-eyed, I thought ‘OK Liz, how would you treat someone else in your shoes? What would you say to them?’

I would thank the person for a great job done. I don’t see the mistakes and imperfections when I am on the receiving end of these situations. I see generosity. I see caring. I see a willingness to help others. 

I wouldn’t offer constructive criticism. I would allow the person to grow into the role at their own pace, and feel that growth from within, where it matters most. I would smile and nod to give expressions of encouragement in silence, which is often more effective than words. 

In short, I would befriend the person when they might be feeling particularly vulnerable. I would stand tall and support them until they stand tall and shine on their own. I would remind them that they are perfect the way they are. 

Doing these things for myself has always been a challenge. But it certainly is do-able. I believe I am being called to give myself the love and energy I give to others, without question. 

This whole experience has brought me deeper into a realization that the Buddha sums up quite nicely:

You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.

Imperfections are a call to love ourselves, in all of our amazing humanness. 

Joy of Having Patience

We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world — Helen Keller

Patience. According to Ms. Helen, patience comes as a contrast to joy. I’d like to take that concept one step further and say joy is a positive outcome of having patience. 

Growing up, I struggled a lot to accept my life circumstances. Much of the time I was angry, confused. I just could not understand the purpose behind it all. Despite the encouragement of others that everything happened for a reason, I could not wrap my head around a reason. 

Fast forward to my thirties. The lightbulb came on! I started my own business, doing workshops for businesses on disability education and sensitivity. I offered my own experiences in the workplace and other situations as teaching tools. I did my best to plant seeds for a change in attitude around hiring people with disabilities. 

To present the stories effectively I wrote my workshop script in advance. I practiced building stories to take people right into my experience on a multi-sensory level. 

One night as I sat tapping the keys at my laptop, writing a script, I felt the shift from the pain of the past, into joy of the present. I understood that everything I had gone through was for the workshops. I laughed and cried and laughed again as I saw my life’s dominos fall in rhythm. Click, click, clickety click — every single event that caused me great frustration now made perfect sense. Beautiful, life changing, healing sense. My pain was no longer pain — it became my wisdom. Dare I say, it was, and is, my LIZdom. 

Without patience, and a smidge of perseverance, I would not have experienced the joy of “YES! This is all for my good and the benefit of others!” I finally saw that I could use what once harmed me to help foster understanding and compassion within myself and others. Patience with my own personal healing and awakening was the key to finally tasting my life purpose and passion. 

 

Joy of Miracles

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

My coffee maker died yesterday. I knew it was coming, for a month or so. I didn’t grieve for long.

One last time, played with the cord, plugging it in to different outlets. I hoped that the issue was not the coffee maker, but the electricity in my apartment. Nope. My relationship with my Cuisinart was officially over. There was no more crossing my fingers that the coffee Gods would allow for just one more pot.

I found an old-fashioned coffee percolator online, and bought it on impulse. It suits me fine because there are no fancy programmable electronics that can give out at any moment. Plug it in. Wait. Pour. Drink. Love it! Chaaaarge ittttt!!

After placing my order online, I do a few calculations of my monthly bills, and it turns out I have exactly the right amount in my account to cover everything without going into my savings. When I say exactly — right down to the penny — is how exact.

I kid you not — I felt such joy at this discovery that my eyes welled up with tears. I felt this giddy energy in my body, and I could not help but laugh and smile. It was a miracle to me! A small, much needed, fully appreciated, I-feel-so-abundant-and-loved, miracle!

You might say, “OK Liz, take it down a notch. That’s not a miracle!” Granted, it isn’t the parting of the Red Sea, or turning water into wine, or Trump losing the election (haha), but for me, these small coincidences are miracles. These coincidences nourish my belief that I am always cared for and looked after in life.

Tiny miracles cultivate joy. Small coincidences are opportunities for happiness. I like Albert’s way of thinking, because, for a joy seeker like me, it motivates me to look for and celebrate the small stuff. This makes me feel alive, and connected in a time of Covid restrictions and isolation.

How can you nurture your inner Einstein? With a joyous miracle mindset there is nothing to lose!

Joy of Being Last

Joy of being last? Are you serious? Yep. It’s there. Joy. Lots of it. I promise.

Being last in one sense can make you come first in another. After having a stroke when I was born, doctors gave my parents the choice of leaving me at the hospital and walking away without me. In the medical profession’s eyes, I was last to be chosen — unwanted because of my bodily imperfection.

My Dad told the doctors they were crazy and “we are taking her home!” In Dad’s eyes, I came first. Why? My Dad saw me with his heart, while the doctors saw me with their minds. That day, being last became something special for me, even though I didn’t know it at the time. My Dad’s nickname for me — in Dutch and in English — was “treasure”.

Dad’s example taught me to treasure experiences that don’t always make sense to the mind, but reach the heart so easily. I was never a “first choice” in school. Especially in gym class. I was always one of the last two chosen for teams. In hindsight, it taught me patience. It taught me to find self-confidence in other areas. It gave me a strength that I am now just beginning to really understand and own for myself.

Being last gave me the opportunity to develop wisdom beyond my years. I didn’t focus on my weakness, I turned toward things where I could excel, and where success mattered most to me. At a young age, I knew that looks didn’t matter; character did. I knew that my intelligence was going to get me places. I realized that wholeness was deeper than just the body.

Being last wasn’t always pleasant. It hurt. But that pain gave me compassion and it taught me the value of acceptance. Accepting others for who they are, exactly as they are — because I knew all too well the sting of rejection. It motivated me to heal myself and become a safe person for my friends to rely on and confide in. Being last makes me the first one my friends will call when they are struggling. Nothing in this life makes me more proud.

There is joy in being last. It requires a shake-up of your views. It means choosing to close your eyes and open your heart to seeing a reality radically different from the one we are socially conditioned to live.

I’ll end with a favourite quote of mine by Marcel Proust:

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new sights, but in looking with new eyes.

I challenge you to shift your perception of “being last”. It will open doors to living joyfully that you never knew existed.