This is a hard sentence to write and say out loud but here goes nothing, “This past year has to rate amongst the best I have had in my life.” I know what you are thinking, “Really?” How could that possibly be a hard statement to say out loud? Well, because I’ve come to realize that I have been closed off to fully receiving and expressing joy in my life. Most often times, I hide the joy I’m feeling, sweep it right under the carpet, as if it was never there.
To show joy sounds like such an easy thing to do and effortless but for some reason, I have made it this herculean monumental, out-of-reach effort.
It’s come and gone many, many times in life but I grab it, tuck it in close to my heart like a man putting a crisp hanky in a suit pocket to never be touched, and then move on. I have never really stopped to fully soak it in and “hang” with it so to speak. I quickly dismiss it in front of others so as not to make anyone feel bad, being so self-conscious of what others might think, as I tell myself, don’t you dare go and celebrate in front of others, be a proper lady, show some humbleness, no bragging allowed.
I experienced so much joy this past year that it literally and physically shook me to my core. It would come surging out of nowhere all throughout my body, deep within my bones, this electrical current would make me stop dead in my tracks and say, whoa, what is this? What is this crazy feeling that makes me want to run to the rooftop and belt out all of what I’m feeling? My mind would quickly tell me, who wants to see that…who do you think you are?
I have felt it, time and time again this year and each and every time, I would convince myself that the feeling wasn’t real. I would dismiss it for something else. Then today, I open max preps (for those of you who don’t know its a premier sports media site that features statistics on teams and players). Going to this website is becoming a norm after a night of basketball to see the stats on my daughter’s game, so I open it up this morning and there in front of me is a national headliner article titled “Colorado girls basketball underclassmen to watch.” I click on it starting to arrow down and see the players being highlighted and begin holding my breath, thinking in my head, could my daughter’s name be on here? The very moment I had that thought, there popped up her name and a short narrative on her freshman start! OMG!! There it comes again that electrical surge that makes you want to get up and dance, run around the house, jump up and down. Is that what I did? No siree Bob! I sat quietly and squeezed the life out of that joy feeling until it passed.
And then like a wave crashing in the ocean knocking me down, I had a sudden realization of what I had just done. In a split second, I had killed joy. Who does that? “Nooooooo, I didn’t mean to…Come back, come back”, I was internally screaming to myself. Then, I realized that that is what I have been doing my whole life. I have been a joy squasher, a joy stomper, stepping on and putting out any spark that has been ignited. I didn’t know how to invite her in and sit with her. I have squashed joy so many times that I have to think that she was scared to come into my life.
I have had so much goodness come to my life over the years. I remember being named an All American my sophomore year in college and I stepped on the joy, stamping it out, telling myself I didn’t deserve it, I wasn’t that good. I was the first non-attorney in the largest and oldest law firm in Philadelphia to receive a promotion and be placed in a window office overlooking the city. What did I do, did I go celebrate and toast with friends? No, I hid and withdrew, thinking everyone else would be upset with me for getting that office. I pushed out not one but two 11 pound babies naturally (mind you, the other one was only a mere 9 lbs, a pea compared to the others). Heroic, I tell you. Did I celebrate? No, I shamed myself and thought the reason my organs fell out was all because of something I had done wrong. Realizing that I couldn’t have any more children, I cowarded and shrunk, making myself feel bad about myself.
As I write all these things, tears hit the keyboard but yet I’m smiling. I’m figuring this all out, these are happy tears! Making the realization that this has been my mode of operandi all my life. Even these past couple of years, after putting in so much hard work in creating and publishing the cookbook, I would dumb it down and not fully stand in what it took to accomplish the feat of going down an unknown path and conquering it. I would make every excuse that it’s not that good, I made mistakes, there are so many errors, it could be so much better, the list goes on and on. And yet, I have never felt prouder for this accomplishment.
Has anyone else ever done this same thing of pushing joy under water until she can’t take another breath?
I am realizing that the more open to joy you are, the more it comes back into your life and shows up. Like Elizabeth Gilbert says about inspiration. It peeks around a corner and says, “Wanna come play?” Joy has been following me, breathing down my neck this whole year, trying to be my friend and guess what, I hugged her for the first time today!! I experienced so much joy in realizing how my daughter is moving toward her potential and that my friends is what Harvard Researcher, Shawn Achor, calls happiness. It doesn’t have to just be for yourself like most would assume, it is feeling the same joy and happiness for others when they kick butt and conquer their goals and have great things happen to them. There really is no better feeling in the world!
So, I am just going to continue walking through my own self made fear that really has never existed, it’s just all been in my head, and I am going to celebrate “Joy” when she wants to come to visit and invite her in every chance I get! She sure is persistent that Joy, she keeps showing up so often that I no longer want her to just be a periodic guest in my home, I want her to settle in and stay awhile! “Welcome my friend!” is what I am going to say to her from here on out and give her a great big hug and say come on in, have a seat and stay awhile…
Hope you all will go and, like my friend, Jeaneen, always says in closing an email, “Choose Joy”!
Looking forward to our “Super Soul Share Class/Happy Hour” this Saturday on the power of positive thinking! Perfect timing! Would love to have you join us if you can make it! You can find the details here.
P.S. As I said to my husband, notice I swept under the carpet leaving out any detail as to what made this year so incredibly amazing! Slowly but surely, I’ll get there…always learning, loving and growing!