“If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment.” ~ Carlos Santana
When you feel anxious waiting for a call from your child’s doctor with his or her test results, what eases your stress? When a family member, living hours away, is sick again with the symptoms of his or her chronic mental illness, what can you do to effectively help them through the trial? When you’re feeling less confident in your abilities to weather the storms of motherhood while the days, weeks, years go by, how do you pick yourself up from your bootstraps and carry on for the good of your family? How do you decide to embrace all the hardships of your life, acknowledging tough days and challenges are here to stay, while attempting to seek joy for yourself in the present moment?
Today, I was overwhelmed by fear. (Rampant fears are the dirty little lies our minds tell us.) No matter what I did nor where I went, this nagging fear tracked me down. I couldn’t be rid of the mountainous despair despite my multitude of attempts to diffuse the lingering smoke surrounding me; I was left gasping and choking for breath. Acknowledging the named fear magnified the cloud; it clung to me. I wrote down the characteristics of my fear, though the words remained locked inside my core. Busying myself with mindless tasks only increased the solitude of my thoughts. Walking it out only intensified with the raciness of my heart, and the fear chained itself to my ankles, slowing my pace. Praying through it all was having ill-effect, opposite of what usually occurs.
Having had enough of this misplaced, ridiculous lingering fear, I ultimately chose to leave my Wednesday routine and unnecessary obligations to see if getting out of my rut would help at all to wander about my hometown for sunny solace and a change of pace. And you know what? Treating myself to an organic smoothie and favorite dish at a hip, local restaurant; writing in my journal amidst the hustle and bustle of other adults meeting and eating; feeling alive to the beat and vibrations of indie music and conversations surrounding me was the exact distraction my worried mind needed to reset and be relieved. Scrawling away while I awaited my delicious food, the entrapped words came out free and fluid, and I was able to write past the illogical thoughts I was harboring. A quick trip to my local library for a heap of new reads and to leisurely browse the stacks at-will only continued my newfound, released, inner-peace and I was overjoyed for the mental break.
On my way back home, refreshed and renewed, I realized it took such little effort to put myself first, for once, yet the benefits were tremendously rewarding and necessary. Especially in the darkened, tumultuous times of our personal lives, giving back to oneself is vital to maintaining the reserve and strength needed to weather the storms of the present day, and to face those unexpected, wrathful patterns no one can predict.
Please, find a concrete way to honor your heart today and you will feel the joy creeping back in–of that, I promise. If you’re going through a tough season, even if you’re feeling a little run-down or stuck in a rut of your own, try to remember to be kind to yourself and offer as much love to yourself as you shower upon those closest to your heart, for, you matter—every bit as much.
“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow.” ~ Rumi