I originally had my regularly scheduled Gratitude Review planned for today, but sometimes life has other plans. I’d gotten two paragraphs deep when I realized providence was trying to teach me a lesson in the quiet stillness of my writing time. So, I tabled the review and gave my heart room to speak. Boy, did she have a lot to say! Some of those things, of course, were meant only for me as they were answers I’d asked during my prayer and meditation time. Oh, but this nugget of truth was too good not to share! And it just so happens that this turned out to be something I’m incredibly thankful for, so my post will end up being about gratitude regardless of where I thought I was headed when started writing this morning.
The man in my life and I took a nature walk on a favorite local trail of ours yesterday. I’m a little ashamed to admit that it had been at least a year and a half since we’d been there, but I think that’s going to change. The moment we had our feet on the soft earth of the trail, we both uttered similar sentiments about how instantly happy we were and how much we’d missed being outside. We definitely savored our time, but amid the rocks and the trees we kinda got real with ourselves and each other about how we’d gotten so far off track with our hikes. That night before he left, we made loose plans to meet up at the trail in the morning, but I sat with our conversation for a while before I went to sleep. The weather was a factor beyond my control, but was everything else I told myself really just an excuse? What the hell was I excusing myself from exactly?
This morning I got up about an hour earlier than I’d planned to. I sat out to write, but as I mentioned, I got more than I bargained for. I got an answer to my question and it was equal parts beautiful and truly sad. I’d been excusing myself from joy.
In the last 4 years especially, I really struggled with depression and anxiety. I told myself often that staying in and resting were forms of self care, and trust me, in so many ways they really were. Maintaining peace is important and I do believe that learning to set healthy boundaries have contributed in a large way to my overall happiness, however there have been times when staying in and “taking it easy” were big, fat excuses, and I knew it. Joy isn’t something that just comes to you while you’re sitting on the couch in your sweatpants (unless you’re burned out, in which case proceed and maybe watch some cartoons). It’s something you shower and show up for. It often requires action on our part in, at least, the form of meeting it where it is rather than waiting for it to stop by. That’s why we weren’t out there every weekend. Joy is a verb. It’s something that you do, not something that you have. It’s a choice, and it’s one we stopped making when it came to putting on our hiking gear and piling into the car for a short drive and long walk. That’s why this morning when the alarm went off, I’d already made my choice. Sitting here writing this, I don’t regret it in the slightest. It will flavor everything else I do today with accomplishment and gratification.
Irony being what it is, I was given an answer to this question earlier this week before I’d even posed it. It showed up in the form of the quote in the photo below. The great thing I’ve discovered as I’ve gotten older is that if you miss the lesson the first time, life doesn’t quit on you. You get an opportunity to try again many, many times until you learn what it is you’re supposed to learn. Yes, it’s true that sometimes we end up with an uncomfortable lesson if we aren’t open to learning when it’s presented to us in gentler ways first, but I’ve learned to be thankful for those experiences, too. It’s proof that I’m worth the repeated attempts at growth that are sent my way, and guess what? You’re worth it, too.
Wishing You Total Well-Being,