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!

Joy of what’s happening now

I used to think joy was pretty complicated. I always thought I had to be doing things a certain way, or looking for things in certain places or from certain people. Actually it’s pretty simple. Joy comes when I let go of what I hope for and find happiness in what’s happening right now. 

What’s happening right now? 

• I’ve simplified. My friends circle is small. This gives me ample time to invest in friendships that mean the world to me.

• I have cultivated alone time. I used to get sooo bored and lonely when alone. Now, I love being alone, and I am rarely bored. 

• I value the simple things. I love home cooking. I take pleasure in great food. 

• I talk to myself all the time. Yep. That’s part of my charm these days. I talk to myself and encourage myself through the day. I sing to myself, too. 

• I talk to my plants. They are often much better than therapy!

• I do things because I want to, not because I have to. What a relief to do things from a sense of pleasure, rather than obligation!

• I make my own greeting cards to send to friends. Creativity fills me up and makes my friends laugh at my amateur designs and doodles. 

• I have reframed my priorities. My income is no where near what it used to be, but I feel much more abundant today than I ever have.  Not to mention much more grateful for everything I have, and the things I don’t. Imagine that!

• I’ve slowly learned that when all I have is myself to rely on and fill my needs, it’s more than enough. In fact, it’s pretty sweet!

 

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! 🙂

The joy of the ordinary

Perfectionism ruled my younger years. Often, my need to be perfect translated into addictions. I was addicted to approval. I would come home with A’s on my school projects and report cards and my Dad would say “why not A+, Liz?” And so I would try harder, immersing myself in books, memorizing entire chapters, to “ace” the tests and hear my Dad say “way to go!”.

Coupled with this was the stream of rejection I felt from fellow students and friends at school. Rejection made me try harder to be liked, and accepted. I used to bring treats (cookies, licorice, whatever) to school to entice people to be my friend. The treat represented everything I lacked. I wanted to feel like I belonged — like I mattered — so I bribed people in hopes of their acceptance in return.

In my work life, there was no balance. My first job, at a group home, I often worked for free. I would stay after my shift and “help out”. I would stay awake with coworkers on overnight shifts, “to keep them company”. Truth was, I was constantly trying to prove myself through workaholic behavior.

Fast forward a few years and my life is very different. I don’t have a traditional job. I stay home more now than ever before. I cook. I bake. I clean. I write. I make things with beads. I spend time with friends over the phone and on Zoom. Life is very simple.

Before I sat down to write this, I swept my floors and wiped down my kitchen counters. As I cleaned, I was singing and laughing at the silly song I was making up. Then I blurted out “I’m so excited and happy about doing the basics!” and I laughed all over again.

Yep. I have gone from being an over-achieving approval addict to relaxing into the ordinary and loving it. Who knew that the ordinary could bring out such joy? Not me, said I. 😉

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.

Joy of ‘nothing to fix’

“What if there was nothing to fix, Liz?”

My eyes widened at the words of my meditation teacher. “What do you mean?”

“What if you were good as you are, right now? Nothing to do… nothing to fix?”

“I’d probably be very bored.” I laughed.

I have been conditioned to work on myself, improve, and do a lot of navel gazing since I can remember.

Being ‘OK as is’ would be very freeing.

• I could use the energy spent on fixing myself enjoying other people. Isn’t that what life is about? Connecting with others in wholesome ways? I don’t have to be “all fixed” to enjoy laughing and sharing with friends. In fact, the more imperfection and vulnerability, the more joyous laughter and innocently poking fun there is between us.

• I could expand into the life that I really dream of, without first having to feel worthy and have earned that place in life. Nothing to earn. Nothing to fix. Nothing to strive for. Just trust. Trust that I am guided to the next right place at the next right time. Just know. Allow. Be in it.

• So much energy spent on others would be better managed. Appreciating. Learning. Connecting. No more worrying, micro-managing, and splitting, boxing, compartmentalizing. Nothing says “you are my equal” more than not trying to fix someone.

• What I allow in myself, I can appreciate in others. Letting go of the impulse to fix myself means a greater joy in loving others exactly where and as they are. Nothing to fix, nothing to do. Just allow and be.

These might sound like repetitive and lofty “pie in the sky” ideals. For me — they are worth exploring, because as I write, I can feel joy in my body. ‘Nothing to fix’ leaves everything to enJOY.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments. 😉

Joy of Forgetting

Oh my GOD. I am SUCH a nerd. Hahahahaha. 

In a moment of nostalgia, I went back to my very first blog post, and started to read it. At one point I said, “I like this! I  really like this!!”

And then I caught myself. 

“Um, Liz, you dope…. you wrote it!!”

I must have laughed at myself for at least 3 minutes straight. OK, maybe four. I am a ‘joy hog’ at heart. 🙂

“Hahahahahaha! I am my biggest fan!” I joked to myself. 

“I wish I could forget the guilty sins of my past so I could do them all over again and enjoy it this time! Goodbye, shame — hello, adventure!”

On and on, my mind played with the possibilities of joyfully forgetting. 

There is wisdom in truly living in today, forgetting the grudges and mistakes of yesterday. Could I practice forgetting the less-than-pleasant memories? Just like when I forget that my glasses are on my head, or my long-lost keys are in my left hand? I giggle at these blunders and move on like they are nothing. “Duhhhh! How silly!” and I smile right on to the next part of my day. 

What if I chose to forget the small misunderstandings in life? Drop from my consciousness the little slights that oftentimes, give my brain too much to overthink and chew apart? Could I choose to see these things as lessons in forgiving human nature? Are the hurtful transgressions of all people simply unintentional lapses of judgment? Could I think of them again and again and find welcome surprise at the giggles that erupt from my belly? Could I just relax and stop taking everything so personally?!? 

I think so — for my own benefit, and the benefit of all others I am in connection with. Forgetting is wise. Forgetting frees up so much energy for kindness and happier living. Forgetting lets me put down the weight of old baggage, and pick up renewed energy and passion for my dreams and goals.

Here’s to forgetting wisely, and opening up space for life, love and freedom to breathe in, through, and as, all of us. 

Joyfully forgetting. The ultimate act of self-compassion and compassion for others. Forgetting with purpose is a powerful choice when we want to live happily. 

Joy of timing

I have yet another confession. 

I get excited about the smallest of things in life. To a really geeky level. I mean REALLY geeky. 

Today I was going out for the first time in a month (I kid you not) and I was nervous about having time to get everything done I needed to, before Handi Transit picked me up for the ride home. 

As I left the house with my mask on I said “the timing is always perfect. I do not worry about this. I surrender this worry and my mental chatter to the universe.” 

My ride was 6 minutes early. I got to my appointment exactly at 2 pm. I was worried I would be late. Nope. Two o’clock sharp thank you very much! I swear, these things make my heart sing. Beneath my mask I had this crazy huge grin on my face with the thought of “I am always taken care of!” bouncing through my mind. 

After the appointment I had a half hour to wait for my ride home. There is NO FURNITURE in the mall. Not even a toadstool. (haha!). So, I asked the dental office staff if I could sit in the waiting room for 10 minutes before going down to do an errand at the drug store and meet my ride. Luckily they had no one else coming in, so I sat with that same stupid grin on my face. “I don’t have to worry about a thing!” I smiled to myself. 

I did my errand, plus found a couple of “essential items” I needed. I was able to find mall security and ask for a chair so I didn’t have to stand for 15 minutes. It all went perfectly. Not a snag to report. 

I am sitting here typing and tapping away at my keyboard and all I feel is joy and gratitude. Granted, it’s crystal clear I don’t get out much. But there’s a bigger message here. A few actually.

  1. I am always looked after in life. The small things. The medium things. The big things. All my needs are taken care of. 100%. 
  2. Timing is perfect. Absolutely perfect. In the smallest of things, and in the bigger plans for my life, I truly can trust the timing. I might not always understand it, but I can certainly trust it. 
  3. My joy is multiplied when I realize that worry is a misuse of my imagination. I have worried about all sorts of things in life — for absolutely no reason. I see this more and more, the older I get. What a waste of my energy! 

Trusting the timing adds so much joy to my day. I am never late. Believing I am always on time for everything in my life takes away the energy spent on “waiting” and the judgment of goals not being accomplished “on time”. 

How can trusting the timing of your life help you relax and expand into a new level of joyful living every day?

Joy of Moving On

“Even a rock moves on.”― Anthony Liccione

I’ve been trying to move a few boulders in my life lately, so this clever quote from Anthony Liccione deeply resonates. 

Even a ROCK moves on. As I let that soak in — it reminds me that everything is impermanent. Everything shifts. Everything moves, independent of my efforts to change things or move it along faster. In fact, my efforts to transform these metaphorical boulders creates the very resistance that keeps the boulder right in my path. Sitting there. Solid. Being what it always has been. Grinning at me. 

When I surrender my hold on anything in my life, I experience joy. The joy comes when I decide to relax into WHAT IS, and just go with the flow. It gives my monkey mind a reprieve from the constant “how can I change this/fix this/move this/shift this/ shoot this/kill this/trample this?” chatter.

Maybe the boulders in my life are there to help me become stronger in my essence — my joy. When I replay the mind movies of my past, I often see how my frantic efforts to shift things are actually quite hilarious. All the dramatic yet well-intentioned efforts to change my reality has never expedited the timing of a life lesson.

Sometimes, the boulders appear when I need them the most — in my face long enough for me to dig deep and find the courage to yell “OK ENOUGH!!” and finally, finally, FI—NAL—LY screw up the courage to change my crazy patterns for good. Over and out! DONE. Stick a fork in it!

Joy oozes out of me when I gain insight on why that damn boulder was so persistent. I become gooey with gratitude and my inner dialogue sounds like this: “Ohhhhhhh! I get it now!! Awww, I feel so loved. The universe DOES  listen to me. Awww… sheesh… I am so grateful.” The boulder that I once resented as a complete and utter pain in my ass has now transformed into a gift. Hmm. Did the boulder change, or did my mindset about it soften and transform as a direct result of the boulder’s stinking presence? 😉 

I am being playful and cheeky about the whole process. I know it is very real, and very challenging to move on from the boulders in life. To stop chipping at them, stop trying to influence them, in favour of truly embracing and accepting them, has been my life’s work. 

How can you surrender and stop chipping away at the rocks and boulders in your life? Irony of ironies, you might discover the true joy of moving on when you fully surrender, relax and accept your circumstances exactly as they are.

Joy of Understanding

“You might do well to understand and have compassion for your own anger, Liz.”

Five years ago, I heard these words from a counsellor. I smiled and looked at her as though she had three heads. I did not understand what she meant. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, it all clicked into place for me. I deserve my own understanding of, and compassion for, my own experiences. I, like many others, was taught to understand others first. I can’t truly understand another’s experience until I understand my own.

I deserve my own love, understanding and compassion. I know my suffering. I know my pain. I know my happiness and my joy. I have walked with all of it my entire life. Every step of my journey — I know intimately. Knowing myself intimately is all I need to heal my own suffering and pain. To convince another to fully understand something I alone have lived, is (I learned this through experience, trust me…) adding to my own suffering.

The more I go inward and work with compassion and understanding for my experiences, the happier and more joyful I become. I have accessed therapists, and all sorts of methodologies to heal and move forward. This work is not without results or merit. But, my joy has never been greater than when I seek and find my own answers, without consulting everyone and their dog. It’s very self-honouring to do this work in quietude and let the answers reveal themselves. Finding my own understanding and healing is best described by Deepak Chopra in the quote below:

“The inward journey is about finding your own fullness, something that no one else can take away.”

I’ve written often about how joy finds me when I am alone and not caring about much of anything. I feel full, content and happy for no reason. From this fullness comes my quirky sense of humor; my ability to be silly and laugh at literally nothing. From this fullness comes my ability to be alone for much of the last 10 months in covid solitude.

Understanding and experiencing my fullness within is my life’s journey. I take it on joyfully.

How can you find within yourself compassion and understanding — and ultimately, joy, for your experiences? Nothing is sweeter or more freeing than this. (I say ‘nothing is sweeter or more freeing’ — but as sure as I write this — more will be revealed!)

Joy of “I did the best I could…”

“In that moment, I did the best I could with the resources and information I had at the time.”

This thought came to me during meditation recently. It’s not the first time the wisdom has shown up. This time — I felt it in my body. The wisdom finally hit me where I live. I embraced it like a sponge to water. I allowed it to soothe my shame, after yet another repeat performance of a pattern I have been trying to change for a long, long time.

I did the best I could… brings tears to my eyes as I write that part of the phrase. How often have I shamed myself and been angry because I didn’t do better in challenging circumstances. Harsh reprimands rattle in my brain as thoughts travel down the well-travelled road of ‘needing to be perfect to be loved’ and “needing to know what I didn’t know”.

I did the best I could — encourages me to be the best I can today — incorporating the wisdom of my imperfect moments. I can’t ever be perfect, and I certainly can’t know what I don’t know — until I know.

I did the best I could — motivates me to do better — and practice healthy self-care. It erases the idea that I need to remain small in my own life as self-punishment for my slow progress.

I did the best I could — allows me to recognize progress — as slow and small as it may seem. Change happens in tiny increments — awareness even one second sooner — deserves recognition and celebration.

I did the best I could — nurtures self-forgiveness. I can’t change the past but I can learn from it and relax into the present with humility and a softer approach with the ability forgive.

I did the best I could — heals the hurt I have experienced in relationship with others. They, too, are doing the best they can with what they know at the time.

I did the best I could — fuels gentleness and compassion with myself and all people. This “being human” stuff is wonderful yet difficult. Cut yourself a bit of slack, Lizzie. And carve out some of that for the ones you love. None of us come with instruction manuals; it’s all day-to-day and moment-to-moment learning. “When we know better, we do better,” as Maya Angelou would say.

I did the best I could — When I can let go of shame, guilt and regret, and approach my life lessons with grace and curiosity — joy is a natural by-product of that process. There is joy in every circumstance. There is joy in every moment. “I did the best I could” brings compassion, awareness and gentleness to these moments.

The Joy of Being Supported

Sometimes we need someone to simply be there, not to fix anything or do anything in particular, but just to let us feel we are supported and cared about. – Anonymous

Christmas Day this year was very different than I had hoped. But… sometimes joy happens when we are making other plans. (I’m paraphrasing John Lennon, I know… but it is so true.)

I had an experience that triggered a lot of old pain, and I was overwhelmed with the depth of that pain. I didn’t know how to handle it except by calling friends for support. Part of me thought, “it’s Christmas day, Liz. Handle this on your own.” There are times when I can handle things on my own. This was not one of those times. My mind argued as my heart knew that reaching out was the healthiest thing I could do for myself.

There are friends in my life where support and holding space for each other is unconditional and safe. I cherish these people, who let me be raw and fully me no matter what. In a world that teaches us to fix other people’s pain, it’s quite special to me when my friends don’t do that. They respectfully allow me to find my own answers, and support me in loving silence. They also intuitively know what to say, at the exact right moment. In short, they love me through my pain and help me return to my “joy spot” when I am ready. There’s no “push” to be somewhere else. They give me the gift of their presence, by being fully present. 

There is nothing more healing than walking with someone through a moment of pain. For me, it is the ultimate show of respect for someone as an equal and an individual. It demonstrates the fullness of compassion when I can let someone fall apart in a society where “keeping it together” is valued above all else. I can hold space for someone and help them realize their wholeness in moments of brokenness.

All these phrases and words might sound very cheesy and trite, but I have witnessed the healing in others and myself when I am the with-walker and  the one being walked beside. Nothing gives me greater peace or joy. It reminds me that we are all a mixture of vulnerability and strength; we are all carried or act as carriers at one point or another. It’s part of the ebb and flow of life. 

Let yourself be supported by your “people” today. It will heal you in a completely different way, and create a deeper sense of joy within your friendships and connections. 

Joy of Simplicity

Lately I have had these little joy bubbles that seemingly arise out of nothing. I am not thinking about anything in particular, or anticipating anything. They just “happen”.

I have Covid to thank for this because my life has become very, very simple seemingly overnight. I don’t go out much. At all. At ALL.

I talk to myself in the morning and I’m usually quite chipper. I stumble to the bathroom and take care of business. Then I’m off to the well-timed coffee maker, to pour a fresh cuppa’ and make breakfast. There’s a light, almost singing quality to my voice as I encourage myself through my morning routine.

I love it when I find joy and humor in the days that I’m driving myself crazy with too much “me” time. I received a Christmas card today from a friend. It had some cute little birds on the front of it.

When I saw it I said, “oooooh! Birds!! Birds, birds, birds!!”
And then I giggled because I have no idea why I had to say “birds” 4 times. 
Then I read the personal note inside and said “awww. That’s so nice, and kind. And did I mention nice??” 

Yes, folks… these are the kind of conversations I have with myself — out loud — during Covid restrictions. I’m going a little bit nutty, in my single gal apartment – and having far too much fun and joy doing it!

On a serious note, it really has been good for me. I’ve had ups and downs and challenges along the way but isolating and not going out as much has really taught me that I can be OK without all the distractions of my pre-Covid life.

Simplicity is one of the keys to joyful living. Me, myself and I are more than enough to have joyful moments, that string into joyful days.

How can you string moments into days with solitude and joy of simplicity?

Joy of Healing

As the year comes to a close, I have been feeling that I haven’t changed much in the last twelve months. So, I set the intention that I start to see in tangible ways, that yes, I have changed.

Just yesterday, I had an experience that confirmed — yes — I am healing and changing. I saw someone from my past with whom I had difficult interactions years ago. Yesterday’s interaction was very different. We shared stories honestly. We laughed. We had questions for each other based on kindness and concern. We related as equals. It was a 10-minute interaction between two basic strangers, but its’ impact will linger with me for quite some time, I believe.

How very, very often I have kept people in an iron-clad box, based on interactions of the past. How frequently have I done that to myself. People change. People grow. People heal. And sometimes they come back into our lives to show us — really demonstrate — that the healing is real and things do indeed shift.

Maybe healing is also about keeping that window of opportunity open, and exploring what happens when I let people in again. Whether that be a 10-minute conversation or a longer stay. Is healing really as simple as letting down walls and creating revolving doors? I’ve always considered myself a flexible, go-with-the-flow kind of person, but my healing mechanisms and ways of protection can often be black and white.

Yesterday’s interaction was so freeing. To be able to put the past behind us and share genuine caring and concern was joyous. It was a delicious taste of truly “living in the moment” and allowing what was (in the past) to lose its hold on what is, right now.

What’s really wild to me about all this is that the person I had this experience with is not a close friend – not even an acquaintance. Knowing that, brought me even more joy because it surprised me. It reminds me that every interaction has a purpose. Every interaction — for me, anyway — has the potential to change and heal, if I choose to see the greater meaning. Trust me — I am always looking at the greater meaning! It’s a blessing and a curse!

Healing doesn’t always come in the form of pain and grief – it can show up in wholesome, joyous ways too. I may not see that person for another few years but today, I certainly am grateful that we crossed paths yesterday.

How can memories of your past become joyful recognitions of your healing today? Open the window of your heart just a crack, and start to discover!

Get Fat on Joy

Covid. Weight gain. Ugh. I have put on about ten pounds. I could spew out a bunch of reasons but hey, I just did. It’s there. Right on my hips.

There is a curious sense of joy in gaining those extra pounds. It means I have a lot to be grateful for. In a time when many household budgets are stretched due to lockdowns, I live in abundance. I literally have everything I need, and many things that I simply want.

Joy comes shining in when there are unexpected windfalls. I generate extra income with my bead work. This year has been a rather lean year for sales. I accepted that, and lived happily within my means. I’ve always been able to adjust and be content with whatever “is” financially.

The other day I mentioned my bead work to a new and dear friend of mine. We sat together on Zoom and I showed her my favourite pieces of bead art. Next thing I know, I am preparing two packages – one for Canada and the other mailed to Australia. Australia! Someone — actually 4 someones! — are going to be wearing and using my beadwork in Australia! How cool and frozen and awesome and wonderful is that, really?!? So frozen and cool, I might get frostbite!!

I was — and still am — completely blown away. “Now I have extra funds to buy butter tarts at Christmas time!” was one of my first thoughts. Might sound silly but it’s those little things that make me fat on joy. Butter tarts. Crazy, but that’s the only extra I want. Well, and maybe a box of fancy cookies, but don’t tell my hips!

Fat on joy. Imagine a diet of joyful moments about the smallest of things. Your favourite song. A delicious treat. The bus comes right as you approach the bus stop in -40C weather. A well-timed phone call full of laughter. Clean bed sheets. A good book. A great joke. Feeling connected. A hot shower. Sunrise. Snuggling with your pet. The list is endless….

Get fat on joy as the Christmas season approaches. If you feast on joy by focusing on abundance in your life, it really can be magical!

Joy of Being Alone

I love “alone-ing.”

Covid has really shown me that I can do the “me, myself and I” thing like a pro.

Most days I hop out of bed and have a cheery conversation with myself.

I basically chat to myself all day long, offering wisdom, encouragement and a few giggles at the strange thoughts I have most days.

I’ve discovered I can do more for myself than I give myself credit for.

• I have plumbing skills (I waltz with a plunger quite gracefully I might add!)

• I can sew and repair minor flaws in my favourite clothes.

• I can cook up a storm. Banquets for one, I tell you. Feasts that taste so very good.

• I can trust that when I need help, it arrives just on time. Many times, I have a need that I can’t fulfill on my own, and things come together and align without me striving or making any of it happen.

Fortunately I am easily entertained. I love to read, and I bead with a crazy passion. I think I will finally have time to make my own lanyard. After seven years, it might be my moment.

While I do very much appreciate the company of friends on zoom and over the phone, there is a simple joy in being alone and comfortable in my own skin. I am rarely bored or lonely and the days go by quickly.

Take time to be with yourself today with a joyful curiosity.

The Joy of Releasing Judgment…

I judge. And then I judge my judging. And then I shame myself. And then I judge my shame.

Judgment is a no-win spiral. It keeps me hooked into not being enough. It reminds me of differences when I want to feel I belong. It creates what I do not want. Yet… there is often an inner dialogue going on which says “why aren’t more people like me?”

Hmm. Why aren’t they?

Differences teach me much more about myself than similarities. The thoughts that someone is different than I am, blocks the experience of love.

When we are similar, it’s comfortable and familiar. I like comfortable and familiar. Differences challenge me to question my beliefs. To brush against the edges of my fear.

Learning from my judgments can be a joyful release of outdated patterns.

  1. I wasn’t born with judgment in my heart. The judgments I have are learned, and can be unlearned.
  2. Judgment protects me from imagined threat. If I truly believe I am safe in any situation, my judgment is not needed.
  3. Similarly, if I believe I am enough, my judgment can melt into compassion for self and others.
  4. We are created equally with differences that make each of us unique. I have the choice of turning judgment into curiosity. “What can I learn from you?” is always healthier than “What can I ignore in you that bothers me by throwing up a wall of judgment?”

A fun technique to loosen the hold judgment can have on my mind, body and soul, is what I call the This is Us treatment. Characters on the popular TV show give each other permission to say whatever nasty thoughts are in their mind about a friend, spouse or parent.

So, let me demonstrate. 🙂 Note: my rant is pre-mask mandate. 😉

I really can’t stand people who don’t wear masks. I mean – duh!!! Don’t you understand that we are in a pandemic right now? That’s right. PAN. DEM. IC. How can you be so selfish? Just wear the damn mask, would ya? We have Covid cases coming out of the yin-yang and there you are, standing in public, smiling, teeth showing, no elastics digging into your ears, seemingly not a care in the world. Yet here I am, wearing a mask, being a cautious citizen; totally in-tune with humanity and protecting all you mask-less wonders from yourselves. 

Furthermore, allow me to briefly mention that as a wearer of glasses, masks are inconvenient. Yet, here I am, making the effort. Letting my lenses fog up as I stumble blindly to my mailbox. And you? What are you doing? You’re STILL not wearing a mask, despite my selfless sacrifice to the betterment of humanity. Do you realize that fogged glasses could cause me to bump into things and look foolish? THIS is my sacrifice. I risk potential injury, and there you stand in the elevator, smiling with that damn visible smile … and no mask to be found. You just don’t care, do you? Wear. A. Mask! ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!

If nothing else, these judgment rants and exaggerations will eventually make you laugh. The stories of the mind are just stories; they are not who I am. Letting the story out releases its power to define myself as terrible, or anything else, really. It allows me to see my exaggerations of reality, my false sense of importance and I can let go of my ideas on how life should work. I can relax into what is, and be peaceful, calm and free.

Release judgment and you’ll soon feel the joy that comes from being connected. Connected to yourself, and to those around you.

The Joy of Closure

I used to imagine that closure involved this profound conversation with another person. The conversation was so well-scripted in my head. It was almost poetic.

“I have learned so much from you and I am indebted to you forever for these lessons that have helped me grow.”

“Oh yes, we have certainly grown together haven’t we? I am so grateful for this experience landing on my path at the right and perfect time for my development and awakening.”

[Cue harps, luscious fields of flowers and birds singing as we depart company. 😉]

At the end of the conversation, both parties feel calm, peaceful and ever-so-validated and serenely right about ending the connection. Closure is achieved and the lesson receives an A+ in the Big Book of Life for wrapping things up with kindness and compassion.

Closure is necessary to move on, but it is anything but scripted. It is anything but tidy and wrapped in a psychological bow of love and empathy.

Two days ago, I thought about my struggle with closure of a lifelong pattern, and realized to a new depth that closure can only come from within me. I truly have to surrender my inclination to speak to the pattern; to correct its presence in my life, and to dictate when it will leave my experience. I can want an ending till the cows say “moo”, but until the experience has taught me all I need to know, it will repeat, in different forms.

Closure often happens when I am not actively trying to achieve it. When I let go of my focus on closure and all that it means to me, it comforts and befriends me. When I surrender to the idea that closure does not define or complete me, my world opens up. My heart opens up and joy returns. I stop making my life and myself so small, and I stop judging myself because one relationship is not working out. I discover strength that I didn’t know I had, as I let go with love and peace instead of anger and resentment.

How can you see the joy in closure, as it reveals your inner strength, self-compassion and wholeness in many of life’s circumstances?

Joy of Losing It

I lost it. I lost it big time. I let it fly from my pores. From the depths of my very being, right down to my bone marrow. I lost it. I finally let loose on anger that has never been fully expressed. I. FRIGGIN. LOST. IT.

I lost it in my apartment. Alone. During Covid. I lost it. I let all the honesty I could muster fly from my lips and I told the Universe, God and the stars and the heavens that I am done with one person in my life who does not hear me, see me or give a crap about me. I am done with mind games. I am done with loyalty to someone who consistently treats me poorly. I LOST it and I denounced any feelings of guilt over doing so. I owned that anger and it felt damn good.

I finally said, “THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME, ASSHOLE!” as I pretended that my plants had magically morphed into him. “This is about you and your shitty treatment. Your blatant lack of respect for me as a human being. You are NOT someone I want in my life. EVER. AGAIN!!!”

In the last year and a half, I have LOST it after interactions with 3 different people. I don’t know why I feel I have to explain that it is only 3. It is like I shame myself for getting angry and showing people that what they are doing is not OK. Even if it was 50 times, shame and anger should never mix. Shame about anger is toxic, and it keeps the responsibility on me and doesn’t even look at the other person’s responsibility in the interaction. Shame squashes my voice and elevates the other person’s importance. Frankly, I am learning to be done with shame over reacting to abnormal situations in normal ways.

I talked to two trusted friends (whom I absolutely love and appreciate) about my anger, rage and losing it. Neither one shamed me. Both of them said the situation was not my fault. Neither one said I should apologize or try harder, or forgive. After I told one friend “I friggin LOST it!”; she said, “No, Liz; you GAINED. You gained insight.”

There are so many gains to fully feeling any emotion. I feel it is important to list them here, based on my experience. Being emotionally in-tune:

  1. makes me a safe person; I can be present and hold space for people when they need to be vulnerable and get things out in an honest way.
  2. gives me depth; I am rich with depth of wisdom, with depth of honesty and integrity, with depth of joy and laughter.
  3. gives me insight and wisdom; I can understand the ways and why’s of how I tick, and help others see themselves more clearly through their own insights.
  4. gives me compassion for all kinds of suffering, and ways to release and heal it.
  5. gives me the power to change circumstances that just don’t feel good, to ones that do.

Perhaps you’ll walk away from this blog not feeling as joyful as other posts have inspired you to be. Joy is what remains when we are authentic enough to admit to ourselves and others that pain is complicated.

How can you allow yourself the authenticity to lose it, and in that losing process, gain the most important thing: joyful, wonderful aspects of what makes you, YOU?

Joy of Validation

It happened.

It finally happened!

A specialist said, “You need a knee replacement, Elizabeth.”

For seven years I have suspected that my knee was on its last rounds. And now, is the right time to get started on a rehabilitation plan.

I have no idea how this is going to unfold. All I know is I get emotional about it every time I think of it. Worst case scenario the surgery is too complex and it doesn’t happen. I would be okay with that scenario. Why? Because someone, a specialist, finally SAW me.

The validation alone is something that has and will continue to heal me in wonderful ways. It erases all the frustration from childhood and young adulthood where I tried to speak my truth and doctors just talked to my mom like I wasn’t there. I felt like an object. I often used “piece of meat” to paint myself into the picture.

The specialist saw me. Addressed me. Looked me in the eye. Told me he will be an advocate for my care, and get me the help I need. His words sank into me and penetrated my very being. It might sound dramatic, but after years of not being heard, that’s what the experience was for me. If it is a bit dramatic, that’s just where I am right now, and that’s okay with me. 🙂 😉

I got home from the appointment and immediately wrote a joy-bubbling-over email to closest friends. VALI-FREAKING-DATION was one of the descriptors I used to express my JOY.

Finally. Finally, finally, FINALLY. I am seen and heard by this cute go-getter of a doctor who wants to help me. Oddly enough – the time I have waited to get to this point is inconsequential. It’s happening now, and that’s where my joy is. Now. Validated. Seen. Heard. Now.

Validation is one of many precursors to joy. I am here. I am whole. I matter. I am part of a wonderful plan for my life. I am.

Think back to scenarios where you were validated. Give yourself the gift of re-experiencing the joy that came from being seen and heard. It brings you into the moment, and allows you to celebrate your unique path.

Joy of Doing Nothing

My best job was working for a man named Marc. He hired me for my first official paid speaking gig, way back in 2008. I had never worked harder for a hundred bucks than I did for that one-hour workshop.

After the workshop, Marc came up to me and said, “You, Liz van Reenen, are a ROCK STAR.” I could have cried hearing those words, from someone whom I had quickly come to admire and respect.

I did several workshops for Marc over the next year, enjoying every one of them, and building my confidence to keep doing more. Almost daily I thought of how Marc opened the door to my humble beginnings, and I would be verklempt with wonder, amazement and gratitude.

About a year later, Marc called me and asked me to work as his assistant. I nearly fainted. I would work for HIM? Man, you just made all my dreams come true. For the next six months, I bounced out of bed every morning to go to work for Marc.

I loved that job. It was my glee. It was my purpose and my passion. I could not believe I was being paid to be happy. I could not believe I was being paid to do what came so naturally to me. I was “in the zone”, being my authentic self, and loving every second that I was there.

Like everything else in life, things do come to an end, and after six months, I moved on to something new, as the contract ended. The memory of that job inspires me to this day to believe that I will again find something that I love and bounce out of bed to do it. For the last several years, that was beading and selling jewelry. Now I am opening up to new opportunities again, and wondering what the Universe will conjure up next.

I have “tried” to find something new myself; and it felt forced and quite unnatural. So… I have resolved to do “nothing”, until I am inspired to take action. This doesn’t mean literally doing nothing. It means cultivating joy in my present circumstances. It means being present for the gifts in my life, however simple they are.

It means letting go of what I want, and resisting the impulse to define and control what I need. It means trusting myself and life to put me in the right place at the right time. It means being my authentic self, knowing that the best opportunities find me when I am relaxed and genuine.

In my ego-driven states, this work of “doing nothing” is actually quite something. 😉

Doing nothing often creates the best of something. Trust yourself and life’s ability to unfold perfectly to create the best “bounce out of bed” circumstance, EVER.

The Joy of Life Lessons

Life always knows what I need to heal a piece of my past. Always, always, ALWAYS and in ALL WAYS. I take joy in knowing this today.

I recognized a pattern in what the Universe was showing me in my interactions in the last month or so. Memories have come up where I didn’t feel heard. Memories where my boundaries were not respected. Memories where I just didn’t matter to those around me.

The other day, I recognized it very strongly and said out loud, “OK Universe, help me heal this wound because I am done with it! Do you hear me? DONE.” Yes, I threaten universal intelligence, because somehow it helps me feel in control. Particularly when I feel absolutely powerless.

Yesterday I had a familiar scenario where people I was interacting with did not hear me. Outwardly I said nothing to them and rolled my eyes. Inwardly my evil spawn child was ready to rip one woman’s face off. Clearly, there was more to what I was feeling than what the present moment was triggering, and I knew it. I finished my day knowing that more would be shown to me.

This morning I got out of bed and said “OK what the HELL do you want me to learn here?” And it came – in a rush of tears and processing the pain – you can’t force people to respect you – you can only respect yourself. These people are not the source of your joy. YOU are.

“My joy, my joy, my joy takes nothing from you.” flashed through my mind. Frazey Ford. Brilliant songstress. So very wise.

So very true. When I am focused on myself and what I can do to inject joy in my life, my days go so very well. Whether it’s dancing with a plunger, or split bathing suits and streaking moments, I find the joy within me. My thoughts, my demeanour, my whole being radiates joy. When I focus on what someone is — or is not — doing according to my little rule book, there is zero joy to be found.

It is within, within, within. Always within. As I replace my fear of other people with joy in myself, my life lessons stop repeating and I learn that people are there to remind me of my wholeness and my truth. In that wholeness and truth, I naturally attract with-walkers who are on the same wavelength. With-walkers who understand and respect my struggles to remember truths, as I also walk and stumble along with them.

So? What’s the big “thought” here, Liz? I’ll take a line from another post on this very blog.

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

As long as I get some kind of pay-off, the lesson repeats.

How serious am I about living in joy?

How serious are you? 😉

Joy of Conversation

“Good conversation turns me on. A connection between two people, a mental one first.” – Brian Molko

When I was a teenager and younger adult, I used to love spending hours on the phone with friends. Over time, life got busy for all of us and phone calls became emails, and emails became texts. Hours connecting became minutes, and “I thought of you today” was a common expression.

One of the joys that have come from Covid is a return back to hour-long phone calls that feel like 5 minutes. The kind of conversations that fill me with such joy that I am right in the moment and just love every second. I secretly never want the calls to end, not even to attend to “nature calling” 😉 It’s THAT joyful for me.

Whether it’s talking about politics, or laughing about a bizarre memory of the past, or exchanging recipes, conversation connects us. It brings together experience. It is the cement of relationships. Without conversation that goes beyond “nice weather today!”, intimacy is never really achieved. Silence can only convey so much. Words, inflection, timing, laughter, sadness, exchange of ideas… these are the building blocks of joyful connections.

Whenever my friend Nancy calls, my whole body says “YAY!!!” I absolutely know that we will have a conversation where I say “it felt like 5 minutes!”. Why? Because we click. We understand that life is too short to dwell on what’s wrong, so we share things with a humorous tinge to it. No matter what we talk about I always hang up the phone feeling “filled”. Filled with laughter, connection, acceptance and confidence that I can carry myself through whatever life brings.

There are more than a few friends that “light me up” when they call. When I think of the “5-minute hours” I spend on the phone with them, I become “verklempt” with emotion. Connection. Love. Acceptance. Humor. Joy. Serious. Light. Deep. Rich. Amazing. These are my friends today. These are the conversations that make my heart sing.

The secret to a good conversation? Time + Authenticity = JOY.

Invest the time in a good conversation today. Be authentic. Be yourself. Cultivate joy. It’s that simple.

Joy of now, not “when”…

Most of my life I have fallen into the trap of “I’ll be happy when…”

I’ll be happy when I lose 12.5 pounds.

I’ll be happy when I get my dream job.

I’ll be happy when I find “the one”.

I’ll be happy when I travel and see the world.

I’ll be happy when “fill in the blank”.

My happiness is not in the future. My joy is now. I find it in the simplest (and strangest) of things.

The other day I went for my daily swim at the pool. At the end of my hour, I felt strangely closer to the water than I should have been feeling. Upon investigation, I found that my bathing suit had split down the back, from my neckline to my bum!

Instantly I started to cackle with laughter. After months of wearing the same suit to the pool it finally let me know that it was done with covering my “assets”. 🙂

Fortunately, there was only one other person in the pool at the time. She was as matter of fact and straightlaced about the idea of my swimsuit falling apart on me as I have ever seen. “I guess you’ll have to get a new bathing suit,” was the extent of her response to what I saw as a hilarious event.

I half-streaked to the change room. I giggled and snorted every step of the way. As I threw the remnants of my bathing suit into the garbage, I realized that joy is happening right now. I don’t have to wait for it. I do have a choice of looking for it in the strangest of circumstances.

Covid is a strange circumstance, yet there are many things that have brought me joy. More phone calls and video streaming with friends. Shopping with a mask on and feeling like I’m in an operating theatre. Craving hugs to the point where I seriously have thought of hugging a tree. 😉

Returning to a simpler way of living has brought me into the present moment. My joy is now. Not when I get a new job, or a new bathing suit, or a new friend. My joy dwells within me and it is my choice to access it now, as many times a day as I can.

How can you choose joy now, not when…? The power is yours to create joy in this very moment.

The Joy of Pain

Great pain does not erase goodness, but in fact informs it. – Dedication of Merit – The Dharma.

I heard this recently and fell in love with it. Great pain does not erase goodness but informs it! I have had this love/hate relationship with my wounds and my pain. I felt shameful for even having pain. I masked it with fake laughter and “I’m bubbly and joyful and oh so happy!” masks.

What freedom I found when I started to pick up that shit, and really examine it. I hugged it, squeezed it, smelled it and smeared it all over me. I wanted to embrace it and really own it, so that it became a source of strength, not shame. The more I took a good look at my pain, the less it really had control over my thoughts, actions and beliefs. The more pain I released, the more freedom I felt.

My pain strengthens me in ways I couldn’t have done otherwise. It brings me to my knees with compassion for myself and for others. It brings me peace, when I finally surrender to it and feel it to the core.

I wouldn’t call this a fun undertaking, but it certainly has brought me new layers of joy. It validates everything for me when I say “this stinks!” Or, “this experience is getting so old… maybe I can feel it and heal it once and for all.” My pain furbishes me with the ultimate tools of self care.

The phrase “feel it to heal it” is so tidy, isn’t it? But sitting with my pain and letting it be, without judgment – has been the messiest process ever. As messy as it can be, it is also the most cleansing and transformative.

In 2013, I wrote the poem below, for a speech I gave at a trauma recovery centre. It captures my relationship with pain quite well. My hope is that you can connect to it and carry the words into your own journey with grief and pain.

The gift of pain
My pain is a mirror don’t you see
Of the little Lizzie inside of me
From day one defined a mistake
Born with strength that no one could take.

When first on canes she wobbled and walked
She knew her truth, she talked the talk
She trusted and giggled and knew the way
She always had the right words to say.

As Lizzie grew older her path became twisted
Her spirit was darkened even though she resisted
The more she tried the more she fought
It soon became easier when others truth she bought.

When to give up she wanted, when to give up she might
People came in to help her shine in her light
It was then that she learned that love could not be earned
But love was within, the flame inside always burned.

The years have gone on and tears have been shed
The pain has been felt, resistance has fled
Her anger has softened, her healing advanced
Her soul has found freedom in its own unique dance.

Joy of Worthiness

When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible.

— Brene Brown

Worthiness is not something I have ever cultivated through the outer trappings of the world. I have had material wealth. I have been 145 pounds and a size 10. I have experimented with hair dyes and make-up. I have travelled. I have an impressive resumé. I have had relationships and romance. None — nope — NONE of these things have contributed to feeling loved and like I belonged.

In fact, losing some of the things that I thought made me worthy has paradoxically helped me discover my value. I stopped working seven years ago. I could barely walk without pain and sudden falls. I lost my ability to work, my sense of independence and my pride.

In a way, I returned to the place I started when I was born. Doctors were unsure if I would ever walk or be independent. They gave my parents the choice of leaving me at the hospital to die, or thrive and be placed in an institution. My Dad saw my worth that day, and said, “we are taking her home!” From what my siblings tell me, Dad was beyond excited to introduce me to them. Dad saw me and my worthiness with his heart.

The circumstances of our lives have little bearing on knowing we are loved and we belong. Worthiness has nothing to do with the type of job you hold, your level of income, or your ability to compete in the Olympics. It’s not dependent on having the perfect relationship, the ideal weight or tickets to your wildest fantasy excursion across the world.

Worthiness is a mindset. It’s about cultivating “heart-knowing”. It’s about seeing oneself as worthy just because. Because I am. Because I breathe. Because. Everyone — absolutely everyone — has inherent value.

Let that soak in.

You don’t have to do, be, acquire or prove anything to anyone. You. Are. Worthy. There is a plan for your life beyond what you can see with your eyes. Tapping into heart-knowing will help that path unfold. All that’s required is the ability to allow it.

This bears repeating: the key to understanding your worth is to allow it. Surrender all the distractions of your mind, body and soul that interfere with the fullness of realizing your worth. Simple. Not easy. 😉

Let go.

Breathe it in.

Allow it to expand beyond your imagination.

You. Are. Worthy.

The Joy of Teachers

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.― Albert Einstein

Mr. Molgat. My phys-ed teacher. My first crush. I can still see his blue eyes and curly brown hair, coupled with an amazing smile. He. Was. My. Hero.

Mr. Molgat held my hands as we stood in the middle of the trampoline. The hands and arms of my classmates provided a protective edge as I heard Mr. Molgat say, “jump, Elizabeth.” We started to lightly jump together.

I was nervous at first, locking my sweaty hands with Mr. Molgat’s. My confidence soon increased, as I began bouncing from my feet to my knees and back on my feet again.

After years of not quite fitting into the athletics of gym class, I felt joyous and free. Even more meaningful:  I was doing this physical exercise in front of my entire class. In my eyes, I was acing it! To all the doubters in the class: so there! I did it! If my heart had a joy valve, it would have read “TILT!” that day. And for the next week!!

Mr. Molgat’s teaching ability went beyond the phys-ed curriculum. He was a mirror of my ability and wholeness. He saw in me what I merely caught glimpses of at the time. He taught me that ability isn’t about perfection; it’s a mindset and an attitude. I didn’t have to be an Olympian on that trampoline to feel good. I just needed to step up to the task and do my best.

The best teachers in life are those who go beyond the classroom. They instill confidence. They stir up joy. They make you feel like an equal by gently glossing over your imperfections. The best teachers are not just teachers; they leave life-lasting impressions on the hearts of students, just by being who they are.

Who are the joy-stirring teachers in your life? Teachers visit us from all parts of life, in and out of the classroom.  Celebrate them, and what they taught you, today!

The Joy of Sleep

“We count it as a certainty that everyone naps in paradise.” – Anonymous

For years, sleep has been an issue for me. I used to sleep so soundly as a child. Man, I miss those Saturday “mornings” when I would sleep till noon.

Now, with floods and famines of weird menopausal hormones, insomnia has become my way of sharing nights with an elusive Mr. Sandman. I sleep for 3 hours and then BING! Eyes wide open and I am up for a few hours. It’s frustrating because, well, sleep and I used to be so close, so caring, so wonderfully in sync.

I am pure joy when I do some good snoring and sawing of logs during the night. Sleep is my elixir. It brightens all my moods. It helps me feel rested. I am able to focus and do things during the day. I think straight. I act right. I am pleasant to be around.

Gone are the crabbies, the bitchies and the “I hate myself” thoughts, when sleep is on my side. I am serene, centered and cheerful. I shamelessly laugh and giggle at the smallest of things. I am patient and able to be present with almost any situation. A good night’s sleep helps me relax into any moment and accept it for what it is.

The simplest of things bring joy. Sleep is one of them. It soothes the soul, refreshes the body and cleanses the mind. It creates the precise conditions where I can’t help but embody my essence:  joy.

What better “ode to sleep” than this:

329837-Walter-Scott-Quote-Sleep-in-peace-and-wake-in-joy

I wish all of us the ability to sleep in peace, and wake with joy. Be well!

The Joy of Being Celebrated

I love the ideas within the quote above by Paul Davis. The editor in me would add a few words here and there. If you don’t feel it within, flee from it. Go {to that inner place} where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated.

True celebration of myself starts with me. I need to watch what I am thinking, because that sets the tone for how I am celebrating myself – or not celebrating myself – as the case may be.

I had many dry years where I barely tolerated who and what I was. There wasn’t a lot to celebrate, in my eyes, and my vibe definitely gave off a flat energy. A counsellor recognized this and suggested that I write down five things I liked about myself. Every day.

Every day?!? Yes, every day.

I was dating someone at the time, and thought well, maybe he would want to do this with me. Nope. He wasn’t interested. Whatsoever. He thought it was dumb. I wanted safety in numbers; but Life knew that this was a solo undertaking.

I surrendered. I started to do this exercise for myself, and by myself. Five things. Every day. At first it was the outer things, like:

  1. I like my hair.
  2. I like my clothes.
  3. I like my eyes.
  4. I like my smile.
  5. I like my long nails (because my mom hates them.)

I didn’t say I was a saint in this. I had some pretty warped reasons for what I wrote down some days. But the point was, I did the exercise. I put in the time. Time? To write five statements? Come on Liz, you’re a writer. Yup. It took time to cultivate the sentences because I refused to write down anything I didn’t truly believe. I am not a “fake it till I make it” type. To write anything I didn’t believe just didn’t sit right.

Over the years my “What I like about Liz” lists snow-balled and gathered depth. I started to see my inner life and characteristics on the pages. I went beyond the superficial and started to see that I had good and lasting qualities. That I was made with exactly what I needed to be a success in my own life.

I have also learned to celebrate the lessons in my challenges and pain. Out of every challenge I have gained insight, wisdom and self-love. It doesn’t feel joyous and fluffy at the time, but I hug the crap out of these things and embrace them anyway because I know that on the other side of that pain is peace. On the other side, is authentic and lasting self-acceptance. On the other side, is the beautifully flawed reality of Liz.

Expanding my celebratory efforts took the form of creating lists of things I loved about my friends. “Things YOU can celebrate Today” became a way of affirming the good things my friends taught me just by being themselves. There’s so much joy in authenticity – and my friends are definite mirrors of that for me. I am beyond blessed.

How can you celebrate what you want to see more of in your life? Can you use the power of celebration to soften the blow of painful experiences? Can you challenge yourself to see the layers of your life experience as purposeful and freeing?

Take joy into your own hands today and celebrate everything about you, and the space you rightfully occupy, without apology.

Joy of the Unexpected

For about two weeks now, I have had a serious hankering for a cinnamon bun.
Why? I have no idea. I haven’t had one in more than two years. But, there it was. This yearning for soft cinnamon-ish dough and raisins and icing. Call it a crazy covid-induced craving (say that 12 times fast!) if you must, but that’s my truth.
I went to the bakery last week. I looked at a package of six oooey gooey cinnamon buns. OMG they looked amazing! But, no, I had to be responsible. Six was too many. I didn’t want to freeze them because everyone knows fresh cinnamon buns are the best! The bakery didn’t sell singles. OK no big deal, I bought some healthy bread instead. Fresh bread is just as nice, I rationalized.
The other day I think of my friend who makes amazing homemade cinnamon buns. “I wonder if she would make them for me if I paid her?” flits across my mind. I mean, she must have the time, right?! I let the thought go and carry on with life. Being ever responsible, I choose to go swimming every day and eat healthy foods instead.
My lovely friend, calls me out of the blue and says, “I am bringing coffee from Tim’s – meet you outside in the back of your building in 15 minutes!”
We meet, and sit out on a picnic bench in the wonderfully hot sun. She hands me my coffee (with CREAM – another treat!!) and then pulls out a CINNAMON BUN for each of us. I could have tipped the picnic table with the burst of joy that I felt zap through my body.
I sit there, somewhat dumbfounded, with this stupid grin on my face and my friend says, “what’s up?”  I tell her about the crazy craving, and how she just came through for me. I won’t need another cinnamon anything for another two years!
Having the treat in the sunshine and visiting face-to-face, chatting and laughing was much better than any scenario than I could have dreamed up! I loved every minute of the two hours we spent together. It was worth the numb bum I got from sitting on that hard picnic bench!
As we said goodbye, my friend handed me a bag of garden fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. I literally squealed with happiness. It’s not about the “things” my friend gave me, as much as it is about gratitude for the unanticipated. I mean who doesn’t like garden fresh veggies?!? 🙂
Take unapologetic, over-the-top, bursting-at-the-seams joy in the unexpected. The universe always knows better what we need than we do! Company, conversation and laughter, coupled with caffeine and cinnamon was just what my soul needed! Yay!!!
How can you be flexible enough in your desires to welcome the unexpected into your life? Joyful surprises are on their way the minute you open up to receive them!

The Joy of Being Still

Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes a radiance. – Morgan Freeman

Stillness is an acquired strength. I have struggled with it for years, because it runs contrary to how society and the ways of the world work. Let life happen?!? What?! Don’t I have to create outcomes? No, Lizzie. Life creates from within. It is done, as you believe.

In the stillness (when I finally surrender to it!) I learn:

  • life is always creating for my highest and best
  • sometimes I have to let go of what I want to find what I need
  • my priorities are not always God’s – and I have to surrender
  • my thoughts are not who I am
  • I am whole and complete, right now
  • waiting is a powerful and transformative action
  • I am more than the labels and judgments I have picked up along the way
  • things always, always, always work out for the best, without me ‘working it’
  • best thing I can do for my growth is to let go – of everything
  • I am loved beyond measure
  • all of my strengths and weaknesses are voices of my soul, to be heard, honored, loved and accepted
  • my circumstances are what they are; they define me to the extent that  I let them
  • doing absolutely nothing can resolve things much better than taking uninspired action.
  • my only job is to embrace my spiritual truth
  • I was created in and from a place of joy

How can you use silence and stillness as a teacher? Let it work through you to bring you to your highest and best.

Joy of Self-Acceptance

There is nothing to work on, we are great just as we are. – Tina W.

Like most out there, I come from a long history of “need to be better, need to be different to be loved” flavours of thinking. I am not great as I am, but could be with improvement.

I don’t like how blunt I can be with people at times. I shoot from the hip and feel like crap on a cracker later.  It can be brash and insensitive. I am not proud of this part of my personality. It honestly drives me bat shit crazy. Why can’t I be more…. {fill in the blank}.

The less I resist my prickly parts, the more freedom I have to be at peace with what is. The more authentic I can be with others. Acceptance doesn’t mean “in love” with everything; it’s a gentle realization that my imperfections don’t have to define me.

I’ve loved some pretty imperfect people in my lifetime. I don’t see their flaws. I see their loveliness. I don’t dissect them or judge them for “off” moments. I look for the healing and the lessons in these experiences. I deserve that kind of love, too – don’t I? 🙂  To give myself this brand of compassion-laced acceptance is my life-long journey to inner peace.

How can you embrace the things that drive you crazy about yourself? Self-acceptance is a powerful game changer. It starts and ends with you.