Tag Archives: happiness

A New Year, A New Venture

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I want to wish each of you a Happy New Year! Usually that’s said at midnight during parties and other celebrations, but I want to quietly tell you, now that the hoopla has died down and, for some, resolutions begin, that I hope 2013 is filled with true happiness. I hope that you will look at each day as a new beginning and give it your all, whether in work or in play (please don’t forget to play). My desire is for each of you to find peace and spread kindness wherever you are. There will inevitably be pain, hurt, failure, brokenness, and sadness, but through those times that threaten to rob you of your joy, I hope you will persevere and put your foot down (happily) and say, “I choose to be Joyful on Purpose!”

For the last few months I have been preparing to launch into the new year and pursue a different way of life than what I’ve known and, more importantly, what I’ve been comfortable with. Most of the changes I’ve experienced this last year were not at all what I planned and were often met with fear and resistance. But along the way I learned to give in more easily to what unfolds and embrace what used to cause me  panic & perspiration:  change. In doing so, I decided to make the most of the time I have been given and I want to spend the majority of that time giving to others.

I try to give through what I write here, sharing pieces of my heart and soul through words. The response has been touching, delightful, heartwarming, and life-changing. You have inspired me to continue to share and I hope Joyful on Purpose, the blog, will be around for years and years to come. Many of you have also asked me and encouraged me to turn my story into a book and it is progressing… slowly, but surely! Thank you for the gentle nudges; they keep me going.

Now I want to share by helping others who are going through the grieving process, no matter what the circumstances are. My way of grieving has been to purposely find the good, the happy, and the joyful in the midst of pain. My way of grieving is not the only way or perfect way and, for some, maybe not even the right way. But for others it might be just the thing to help them move through (not around) the pain they are feeling and come out on the other side seeing that joy has been there all along. So, if you’ll click below, I will officially introduce to you my newest joy…

My hope is that by helping others find their joy in grief, joy will be passed along, growing and blossoming into something beautiful.

A Whole New Year, A Whole New Venture = Joy

My Parting Words to 2012

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We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.  ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day. ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

This is my last post for 2012, a year that has been such a mixture of grief and gladness. So much has happened since February 10, “The Day My Earth Stood Still” and my family’s life took an abrupt and alarming turn. If I could go back in time I’d change everything, rewrite so much and devise a different and happier outcome. Of course, that’s not how our time here works, so instead we choose from the options we do have. Mine has been to look for what is good, what is positive, what is happy, and what is joyful. It’s taken some effort at times and I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy as pie every day.

I’ve spent the last week battling a pretty nasty cold, one that has wanted to linger despite my protests and medication. I haven’t been sick like this in a very long time. Someone asked if I thought it could be related to losing Brian and I’m beginning to suspect that it is. I was dreading the arrival of the first Christmas without him and the emptiness that came with it. Perhaps it was just a virus picked up during holiday shopping, or maybe it was just my body giving in to some feelings of grief. Who knows for sure?

Early this morning, around 2:45 actually, I woke up and thought, “Wow! I feel a lot better. …and I still have almost six hours until the alarm goes off!” Today I feel more like myself and I believe I have caught up on some much needed sleep. While I was under the weather I ran across this quote:

“She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.” ~George Eliot

I’ve wrestled with grief this year, resisted parts of it that were uncomfortable and tried to push away what I didn’t want to face sometimes, perhaps even to the point of physical illness. But there has definitely been a welcoming as well. I’m learning that it’s simply part of my life for now. It’s part of everyone’s, really, at one time or another. So why not make it a companion and share our thoughts with it? When grief enters our life, it’s here to stay for a while, so we might as well be welcoming.

As this year draws to a close, I want to thank each and every one of you who has walked alongside me in 2012 as I have travelled this rocky path. It’s been nothing less than a joy to feel the compassion and encouragement from each of you, to welcome new friends and draw closer to those I’ve known for a long time. It’s time to say goodbye to 2012. I recently read about a burning ritual done by a fellow “griever” and I love the idea of tangibly saying goodbye to a 365-day journey around the sun and all its ups and downs. I plan to do that on December 31, 2013. I may even set fire to a few mementos of 2012 tomorrow… we’ll see. I hope you’ll look back over 2012 and let go of what was sad or hurtful, what made you upset, and what you’d rather forget. I hope you’ll also leave behind some of what was grand and left you feeling elated! Let that be what you see when you look back at 2012. Prepare yourself for what is waiting ahead in a brand new year. Get ready to open a new book, one of blank pages to fill any way you like. I’ll see you there!

Parting with the Past = Joy 

A Joyful Holiday

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Wishing You Joy

Tomorrow is the big day. Christmas is upon us! What kind of shopper are you? I’m of the variety who waits until the last minute and scrambles, hoping to be struck by brilliance and find the perfect gift. Brian was very good at it, so this year has been a little tougher on me without our creative minds working together. Yeah, I’ve had to resort to gift cards in some instances, but I don’t find those impersonal. Kids especially like them because they get to shop for their own loot. I guess I don’t mind them for much the same reason.

What is your day like? Hustle and bustle or subdued and simple? I prefer the latter… big surprise, huh? Our Christmases in Florida started with a morning walk, just Brian and I, while the boys slept in. I remember making breakfasts, sometimes my grandmother’s cinnamon rolls or my mother in-law’s breakfast casserole. Our Christmas dinner was sometimes traditional, but other times not; I made barbecue pork ribs one year. We often made desserts  and treats to enjoy and also give away. The unwrapping of the gifts was quite low-key, especially as we all got older. Very often we would go out in the late afternoon and see a movie together. Definitely subdued and simple!

Some of my best Christmas memories are from the days when the boys were little. For many years we would sleep by the tree on Christmas Eve, letting the boys open one gift that night and save everything else for later. I remember them decorating cookies one year with Brian. Brian Jr’s creations were carefully and creatively decorated, as realistic as possible. Jordan was more of the “let’s pile the icing high and get messy” sort of decorator. Brian was a mixture of both. The Lawsons are an eggnog-drinking family and the kids always looked forward to the first cartons of eggnog showing up on grocery store shelves. A little thing, of course, but a fond memory nonetheless. Not too long ago I was going through one of my mom’s photo albums that was labeled “Christmas” and enjoyed turning page after page of holidays, watching the kids grow up all over again.

This year is different in so many ways. I’m back in the cold with better chances for a white Christmas, although sand is white, so I think I enjoyed those even in sunny Florida! Jordan and I are here together, but we are missing Brian Jr. and that has been hard to deal with. I have an emptier nest than I thought I’d have a year ago. I even checked into flying down just for Christmas Day to make things seem more normal, even if just for 24 hours. The biggest difference, though, is obvious. There’s an important person missing and no plane ticket can change that.

Going through the first holidays after losing someone is supposedly the most difficult. It’s proving to be emotional and lonely. I also hear, however, that holidays will get easier as time goes on, though nothing is ever quite the same again. That thought makes me all the more grateful for the memories I have to hold on to and the days I have left to create new ones. There will no doubt be happy moments in the days surrounding Christmas and on the day itself that will stay with me forever, that will be added to the scrapbook in my mind. Wherever you are tomorrow, however you celebrate the day, take a moment or two to really appreciate the way things have been and the way they are now.  Look forward to the way they will be, no matter what your future holds, but don’t look too far forward. Treasure the here and now. I wish you the merriest Christmas and the happiest holiday.

Holidays = Joy

Home

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Home

Home is a little word packed with meaning. It is what we call our physical address, the GPS coordinates that identify where we keep our “stuff” on the planet. It’s where we tell people we’re going when we leave work or school, the location we choose to rest our weary heads at the end of a long day. I looked up the word home in the dictionary and all the expected definitions were there: permanent place of residence, a family or social unit occupying a place, a house or apartment, etc. But one definition caught my eye: a place where something flourishes. Isn’t that true?

Talking about home at this time of year conjures up visions of families around the dinner table for holiday meals and the way people usually come together to celebrate the season. It also brings to mind those who, unfortunately, are without a place to call home – a sad reality that I wish I could change. Home is different things to different people, but I think it typically is a place of belonging.

The word home has been in my thoughts a lot these days. It’s not a big secret that I don’t like being cold, am not a fan of snowy weather, and prefer flip flops to almost any other form of footwear (second only to no footwear). So, living in Colorado has been a bit of a climate adjustment. Sometimes I’ve handled it well and other times I’ve cried or screamed (inwardly) about being here. It’s also been an adjustment because of the circumstances that brought me to this place. Going somewhere completely by choice is a far cry from packing up and moving so family can be around your loved one as he is dying. Colorado has it’s good points of course: the goodness of family and the comfort of people who care about me. And, by definition, I can say I’ve begun to flourish here in new ways.

There is only one place I’ve ever lived, however, that feels like home. That would be [insert drumroll] Florida. From the time I arrived there I felt as though I belonged. Even though we didn’t really know a soul when we pulled up in the driveway of a rental house we’d found online and rented without ever stepping foot inside, I knew I was going to flourish in that place. Fort Myers was truly the first place we ever put down roots and felt a sense of community. The sunshine, tropical temperatures, and proximity to the Gulf helped a lot too. Those are big draws for someone who doesn’t enjoy cold toes! When I think about Colorado or Missouri I have fond memories of fun family times and days spent with friends, but if I hear “home” attached to those places I picture the dwelling places – the houses and apartments we lived in. When I think about Florida I have those same fond memories of friends and family and times shared with people, but when I hear the word “home” it is far more than a house or a condo. I feel sea breezes, sand under my feet, the salt water on my skin, the sunshine and warmth all year long. I remember that there I share a playground with dolphins! I think of the sense of belonging I had. My home there was everything that surrounded me, not just the four walls that sheltered me.

Lately, my true home has really been tugging at my heart again, so I plan to get there in 2013 and re-establish those roots that were pulled up unexpectedly. Until then, I’m following some advice I’ve received, to enjoy where I am until the time comes to move on, cold winter weather and snowstorms included. So, I’ll work on blossoming and flourishing here until I can get back… home.

My Heart’s Home = Joy

Sweet November

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Today we begin a new month. The last 31 days I spent looking at life in new and different ways. I have a set of 12 composition books that I use for journaling. At the beginning of October, as I began some “group journaling” online, I named the journal for the month “Promise” and the pages contain plans, hopes, fears, dreams, worries, questions, and imaginings. Yesterday as the group time ended, one of the women asked what word came to mind for the new month. Immediately, the word “renewal” popped into my head, so as I take a fresh composition book out of the cabinet I’ll put that word front and center on the first clean, lined sheet of paper. I don’t really know what will come as the days begin and end, but I have a feeling it really will turn out to be a month of renewal. Last month did, indeed, reveal to me the promise that is ahead in life.

This month a President will be elected and regardless of who wins, it is a new term, a time of renewal as we move on and focus on what’s ahead – hopefully in a respectful and positive way whether our candidate of choice wins or not. This month we change our clocks… is that some kind of renewal? Sure, why not? We gain an hour! This month we give thanks and honor veterans. Those days can certainly be times of renewal as we look at life and how precious it is and how much we have, no matter our circumstances. Hopefully we will see water recede and communities draw together as cleanup efforts begin after such a devastating storm. Although there was much lost and damaged and ravaged by wind and water, the time afterward can certainly bring renewal if we allow it.

For me this month will be a mixture of happy and sad as I continue to reflect and go through the process of moving forward to happy tomorrows while remembering the sweetness of days gone by. I’ll no doubt continue to shed healing tears and find a renewed sense of strength to keep going through each day. I think from here on out I will just keep giving each month a name… a word that I will focus on for 28 or 30 or 31 days. I like the idea of passing time in that way.

Thank you for reading, for following my story, for being a part of my life in such a profound way. I never expected 2012 to be this way. Tears are trickling down my cheeks right now just thinking of all that has transpired, the devastating and the marvelous.

As I close, I’ll ask, “What would your word be? What do you hope this month will hold? What is one positive, happy, JOYFUL word that you’d like to focus on this month?” I don’t normally ask questions, but I would love to hear from you. I wish a little bit of renewal and a lotta bits of joy for each of you.

A Sweet Month of Renewal = Joy