Emptying The Cup, Just a Little

I have come to an important realization this week. With my focus on JOY and getting more of it into my life, I’ve noticed that the times I am the happiest are when I am in connection with other people.

Phone calls and laughing over a coffee or a glass of wine with a friend or family member have been balm to my soul. Add to that, deep conversation into the evening and feeling understood come close to the top of the list.

But the connection that goes deepest is the one I have with God and my world; knowing that in spite of it all, God knows me and loves me just the way I am, and He knows what is best for me.

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Over the past six months I have belonged to an online fitness group led by none other than Bill Phillips. It has been wonderful to be taught via live video every day by a man I believe to be on the cutting edge of fitness and nutrition. There were about two hundred of us in the group from all over the world. Daily we posted sweaty selfies, accountability, and photos of our food. We encouraged each other, corrected each other and cheered each other on.

I became popular.

It was great! I am so grateful for that time and the goals I accomplished. I learned to feel good about myself; I lost some weight and gained muscle as well as more energy. Most importantly, the illnesses that had plagued me for the past two years disappeared. I was pretty happy about all that.

I became more popular.

But then something happened. I realized that I was spending more and more tme on facebook watching live videos, doing the workouts and interacting with the group. I noticed that I was less present in my here-and-now world and more present with my new online friends. I noticed an emptiness creep into my life and when I finally pinpointed it, I disconnected from the online group.

I was not popular anymore.

Lest you think this was easy, let me tell you, it was akin to getting out of the religious cult I was in for twenty one years, although on a much smaller basis.

All of a sudden there is a big void in my life that I feel I have to fill.

But do I have to fill it?

Can I just be happy to let God direct my next steps? Can I be still and just let it happen?

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I think I can, and I will do it. I will rest in the peace and joy that, when the time for the right thing comes into my life, I will be ready and waiting.

Remember, you can’t fill a cup that is already filled with good things but maybe not the best things for you. Sometimes you have to empty the cup a little in order to be filled with other, more meaningful things.

So now I am waiting.

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EnJOYing Peaceful Calm

Often Joy comes from just being present in the moment. Instead of ‘searching’ for joy, trying to figure out what it is, and how it differs from happiness, this morning I just decided to let it happen. I brought my camera for our early walk on the beach and decided to take a couple of photos of things that brought me joy and made me feel at one with God and my world.

Down there on the beach there is no traffic, no noise other than the surf, and no reason to fret. We walked about four miles with the sun on our backs and just enJOYing the peaceful calm of it all.

And along the way I did take a couple of pics that brought a smile to my soul.

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Being Right or Being Happy?

Do you remember the episode of Seinfeld called “Soup Nazi”? It was about a guy who opened a soup stand. His recipe was a secret and his soup was delicious but he had strict rules for ordering. If anyone were unfortunate enough to not follow his rules exactly, he would say, “No soup for you!” And the person would have to leave with nothing. The soup was so good that everyone was willing to put up with his rules just so that they could have some. Although the episode was incredibly funny, the Soup Nazi was so strict that he looked angry all the time. Joyless. Intent on being right.

You get the picture?

soup-nazi

Sometimes people are so insistent on having their own way and being persnickety about what they eat, or what they wear, or what newspaper they read, what beer they drink, what brand of coffee they need, that they limit their lives and become miserable. Not only that, they make everyone miserable around them. While its nice to be able to have your ‘brand’ whenever you want, sometimes it might be better to just go with the flow and enjoy time with the people around you.

I remember a time not so long ago that I called myself a coffee Nazi. I thought there was nothing better than Tim Horton’s coffee and if I couldn’t get a coffee as good as a Tim’s, I would just do without. Sometimes I would embarrass my husband in a restaurant when, after the meal I would ask the waiter, “Is your coffee good?” And they would always say yes it was. Then I would ask, “Well, if Tim Horton’s coffee is a 10, what is yours?” Most of the time they would mumble something or other and we would end up ordering coffee anyway. One time a waitress answered that their coffee was a 4, and so I didn’t order any.

You know, I might have just enJOYed the mood and the time spent after a good meal, but I was intent on only drinking what I perceived to be the best coffee. I think I deprived myself of some good times because of it. I didn’t ‘get’ the fact that the joy is not in the taste of the coffee, but in the time spent with people I love.

A question to ponder: Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?

I think I get it now.

Do you?

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Well, What is Joy Anyway?

I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart

Where?

Down in my heart

Where?

Down in my heart…to stay.

And I’m so happy, so very happy

I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart…

Remember that song from Sunday school when you were younger? I’m not sure if children still sing it, but when I think of being joyful I do remember it. I remember singing it as an adult and thinking, “What on earth does it mean to have ‘that’ joy down in my heart?” It’s difficult to sing that song and frown at the same time.

Maybe we’re on to something here.

Well, what is joy anyway?

The dictionary defines it as the emotion evoked by well-being, success, good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.

That would mean that joy is an emotion and subject to external circumstances. It would also imply that you could only be joyful if you are successful and you get what you want. Strange thing though, I know lots of successful people who have everything they could ever want and they are not even happy, let alone joyful. Some of them are depressed and have a black cloud over them wherever they go. And when they manage to step out from under the black cloud, they turn back and pull it over themselves again. Do you know people like that?

On the other hand, have you ever met people who have very little and they’re not doing so well health-wise, but they have a twinkle in their eye, they smile a lot and are generous with what they do have? I know people like that and they are usually busy giving little gifts, baking for people even less fortunate than they are, and in general they are content with their lives. They spread happiness and smiles everywhere and when they leave, you feel better about yourself and everything around you. These are the people who spread sunshine, love and hope.

I think they might be joyful!

Perhaps joy is much bigger than happiness. While happiness appears to be dependent on external circumstances like good fortune, health or the weather, joy is not dependent on such things. Joy is a state of mind and heart that gives our lives meaning and makes us come alive. At first it is a state of mind and then it becomes a trait we have and is woven into our way of being.

So once again, what is joy?

Joy is a trait we have that is more than happiness,

just as happiness is more than pleasure.

Pleasure is in the body.

Happiness is in the  mind and feelings, but

Joy is deep in the heart, the center of our very self.d3770_joy_heart

When The Magic Happens

I have read that you can’t have joy in your life without gratefulness. When I think about it, I guess its true. When you’re not grateful for what you have then you will always be wishing for more and be fretting about that. When you’re fretting you are not joyful.

I’ve caught myself several times in the past year with a scowl on my face; while driving in the car, while reading at home, a lot of times when I am alone. Sometimes I’ve dared to look in the mirror and it is not pretty. I have forced myself to smile. It hurt.

I wondered why I was scowling. Was my life so hard that I couldn’t put on some music and belt it out rather than having that pursed lips furrowed brow look? It’s hard to scowl when you’re singing “UP” with Shania Twain or “Is You ‘Appy” with Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellows.

I’m thinking that joy should bubble up from the center of our being like water in a fountain.

So what’s the problem?

Some people just have a resting bitch face I guess.

Well I can’t be joyful with a resting bitch face so probably the first place to start is to turn that frown upside down. Mind you, I don’t intend to have a fake smile. There were many years when I was unhappy but told to smile anyway. That’s not what this is about. If there are problems, I will be transparent about them and try to find the joy in little things.

Like this morning, for example; we are in Hilton Head for a couple of months enjoying the escape from a harsh Nova Scotia winter. We got up this morning to temps in the minus and I wanted to have a walk on the beach. It was cold and with the wind chill it was even colder, but we went anyway, all bundled up in gloves, scarves and winter jackets.

It was the most glorious walk! The sun was shining, the sky was blue and we literally had the beach to ourselves. I mentioned to Dave that there was a lot of joy in that walk- we got our exercise and spent a special hour together alone on the beach. I was grateful for the quality time together.

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Meanwhile, back in Nova Scotia everything was closed today because of a winter storm with high winds and drifting snow: churches, shops, clinics, you name it, they were all closed. If you are in a storm area today, try to find the joy in hunkering down with Netflix, some hot chocolate, and time with the family. Be grateful for the warmth inside your home and heart.

Joy. It’s all in how you look at things. We could have convinced ourselves that it was too cold and windy to go for a walk on the beach but we didn’t.

And that’s when the magic happened!

Did you have a joyful moment today?

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Joyfulness for 2017

Hello and welcome back to A Nourished Life!

It’s the beginning of another New Year, time when most people are making New Year’s resolutions, most of which will fall by the wayside by January’s end. Resolutions to quit smoking, lose weight, work out more, call Mom more often, smile more, and stop drinking top the list.

I don’t do resolutions any more. Instead I do themes.

One year my theme was Peace because I found that life had gotten too hectic with demands on my time and emotions. It was the year my ex harassed me relentlessly after our divorce. I prayed for peace, craved peace and finally had to carve out some peace in my heart.

Another year my theme was Friends, because due to our cultish lifestyle at the time, I had cut off contact with most of my old friends who weren’t part of the cult. All that year I made huge efforts to establish a connection with friends that had not been a part of my life for a long time. It was a great year!

2014 was a year of Coping. Coping with some personal problems, coping with my mother’s illness and death, and coping with some troubling events in my children’s lives. It was a very tough and stressful year.

2015 saw me Resting. The stresses of the previous year had caught up with me and I was constantly sick. Shingles, viral infections, depression and finally bells palsy topped the list. I desperately needed to rest and take care of me.

Last year my theme was Health. I aggressively focused on getting my health back. I followed a program for Leaky Gut with some results. I started eating fermented foods, which helped me to get my digestion working again. And finally I followed Bill Phillips’ Live coaching program for four months to shed some extra weight, to feel fit and to regain the vitality I had lost during the previous few years.

It worked!

I found that in my efforts to regain health and vitality, along with good digestion, something vital was missing. Something that I believe is essential to health…

Joyfulness. Laughter. Fun. Gratefulness.

I realized that I was so focused on regaining health that I forgot to have fun, laugh and be grateful. So my theme for 2017 will be Joyfulness! I will post here at least once a week about how I’m doing with my theme for the year. Why don’t you come along with me and either choose Joyfulness or another positive theme that will enhance your life this year?

joy

 

 

Positivity Starts At Home

Positively No Negativity Challenge

Day 33 of 84

 When I was growing up I often heard the expression, “Charity begins at home.” Well, what does that mean? Does anyone even use that expression any more? What is Charity?

The expression meant that you should take care of your family and people close to you before you worry about helping others. What was implied was that the church should worry less about foreign aid and focus on helping the needy here at home. And finally, if you really want to make the world a better place, start by being polite to your sister. Charity begins at home.

Today I am suggesting that like charity, positivity begins at home. Can you imagine being a scowling, grumbling grouch at home and then going out to greet the world with a big smile and a helpful attitude? I know, it happens, but the face you put on for your family is your real face, not the one everyone else sees. It’s the face that shows your true disposition.

Family is our greatest treasure and our incredible joy, and when we finally realize that fact, we can cultivate a happy and loving one. If we speak kindly, tell our children and spouses that we love them and follow up with respect for them, then we will have a happy and positive life.

On days that I am the scowling, grumbling grouch that goes out the door and then pastes on the smile for my friends to see, I don’t feel very positive about myself. I feel like a phony and sad that I wasn’t kind and loving to the people that mean the very most to me in the whole world.

family

Here are some ways to be positive at home:

– Keep the house free of clutter; make it peaceful

– Cherish your family by making a healthy meal

– Make someone’s bed

– Smile, smile, smile

– Have a kind word for a family member who is struggling

– Put candles on the table at mealtime, and light them

– Say, “Thank you!”

Ok, now its your turn.  How will you find ways to be positive at home this weekend?

couch

  Today I am happy and grateful for:

1. My family

2. Supper all prepared for me last evening

3. A confidante who is helping me to become a better person

4. People who read my blog and encourage me

5. Prayers of so many people after my son’s accident