Recently I found myself in the middle of a storm. You know that feeling of being pulled all different directions and you just can’t seem to get your feet back on the ground.
I had so many demands for my time and energy because I was moving my father into an assisted living facility. He had survived a stroke a few months prior and was transitioning out of rehab into a new world of doctor’s appointments and living environment. Trying to close out his previous life at the same time was overwhelming.
It was surprising to me that it was so stressful when I have had a career helping people get back to life after injury and the last 5 years have specifically been helping brain injury survivors return to their home and communities. I was sure I could handle it but it turned out to be the biggest hurdle in the journey to help my dad recover so far.
My attitude was “ just push through it , it’s only a few more weeks of craziness" but my body was hurting from all the driving involved as my dad was living an hour away from me. I could also feel that I was grieving the loss of my dad’s previous life and abilities as well. Even though I saw a light at the end of the tunnel when I knew things were going to slow down and I have a life that I truly love, I was way out of balance, stressed and sad.
A wake up call, well two, helped me begin to get grounded again. One evening I went to get my haircut and my hair dresser pointed out that I seemed “frustrated." He was right. I couldn’t fake a positive attitude or shake the frustration even after venting to him. The next morning, two of my colleagues, told me I seemed stressed and really needed a vacation. All I felt like doing was crying after they said that to me.
Both of these comments so close together and my inability to shake off the negative attitude made me realize that my overwhelm was pouring over into all areas of my life and I needed to slow down and listen to what my body needed to get back in balance. When I got quiet and did some calming breaths, my intuition told me I needed to focus on finding my joy. I had lost it somewhere in this process.
I started with what I know best- movement. I scheduled a massage and got moving by walking with my dogs. I immediately felt a shift in my mood. Every day, I tried to add a few minutes of something that I knew would bring me joy. I kept it simple. The last thing I needed was to overwhelm myself with new activities. I listened to music that uplifted and energized me. I started meditating for 5 minutes a day. I decided to find a recipe of something to bake that sounded good to me. I’m not much of a cook but I love to bake. I found a key lime pound cake recipe. Totally not the holiday kind of cake but I love key lime and cake so I pulled it out and started to gather the ingredients.
I kept following the cues that the universe was giving me to feel more joy. My massage therapist had suggested I add a few drops of Bach Rescue Remedy to my water to help with stress. I did that. I started listening to Pandora Calm Meditation radio after one of my mentors mentioned it in her blog. I read an article about letting go of your stuff that doesn’t bring you joy and started getting rid of things around me (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo).
I opened up my new Affirmation Coloring book that had arrived in the mail that week. I had actually forgotten I ordered it. The timing was perfect. I colored in it for about 10 minutes one evening and realized this was something I would enjoy doing regularly. Looking back the color thing really impacted me- I was adding color everywhere. Flowers, fruits, veggies and even buying new colorful baking tools to bake that cake. That wasn’t a conscious plan. I was just focused on finding things that made me feel good and being more mindful when I was shopping and that is what happened. I had surrounded myself with color.
I was feeling better daily even though I was still busy as heck. I took moments each day to add something that felt good and fun throughout each day and it changed my vibe. I even attracted a free 5 minute dance workout with mantras that I opted into. How sweet is that? This quote landed in my email inbox:
Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move- Osho
That’s exactly what I was doing. I was feeling different inside each day- more hope, love, gratitude. I was feeling grateful that I get to take care of my dad at this time in his life instead of feeling stressed about it. By taking baby steps, I was filling my cup and within a week it started flowing over. That’s about the time my husband noticed my new attitude and I actually noticed my dad’s mood had improved as well. My external environment was giving me clues that I was headed in the right direction and so I kept it high on my daily "to do" list to add one thing that brings me joy each day and be more aware of what the universe was bringing me as well.
As you approach the end of the year, take note of what’s bringing you joy and what isn’t. Start to eliminate things that aren’t and add in something that does. Is there anything you are “pushing through”? How can you slow down or let go of that?
If you want to make a shift in your mood or a change in your life, start with baby steps like I did –just a few minutes a day on something fun or that makes you feel joy. Don’t wait until some future date. Grab the moment- add some color to it – it’s all you’ve got!
So tell me, what’s one thing you could do today to help you feel more joy?
Find your Joy!
Mollie Miller, PT