Day 15: joy

When I think about writing this blog each day so many things go through my mind; memories from the past, moments from my day, all the ways that I notice myself changing. Today I thought, what do I write about? One word came to mind – Joy. Really? Yes, since I decided (yesterday) to let go and let love lead the way (oh and I didn’t check my daughter to see if she was breathing, although I did check my son today when he was having a really long nap…I’m still not quite 100% letting go on everything), I’d better give over. So joy it is…

Joy is not a feeling I know well. That’s not to say I haven’t had joyful moments in my life, it’s just that my fear won’t allow me to fully engage with the joy. Most of my joyful moments from childhood were always somehow laced with fear. Joy and sorrow lived hand in hand in my house. The joy of so many events; birthdays, holidays, weddings, bar and bat-mitzvahs, births, playdates with friends, trips to amusement parks was thwarted by some argument, fight or violent outbreak.

But today I want to concentrate on Joy because that’s what I feel is changing in me now. I have been recognizing that my view of things is changing. I even, contrary to what I would normally do, bought a yearly planner today. Normally I would wait until late January or February to get one. That must mean something in is excited about the future. To be honest, I am a pretty optimistic person but I think that really came from a deep desire to survive my childhood. My mother could be quite violent at times. Her behavior was erratic and unpredictable. So optimism became the tool to keep me alive, to get me through the storm until things were ok. Another skill I developed during that time was a great ability to sense when the next storm was approaching. As a child this helped to keep me safe – to get out of the way before things got really bad – but loving myself is helping me to see that this tool, which helped me when I was small, is no longer serving me but only creating more sorrow. I was letting the part become the whole. Instead of seeing life as joyful I was letting moments of pain become the whole of my life.

So tonight I turned it around. We were going out to dinner for my daughter’s 9th birthday and we picked up our girls from school while the youngest was napping in his stroller. He had only just fallen asleep before pickup and I was starting to worry that the bustling of school children being let out of school would wake him and then that he would be cranky and that would ruin my daughter’s birthday dinner at her favorite restaurant. I immediately caught myself and turned it around. I reminded myself that the focus was her birthday not a cranky baby. The baby had a long nap, so this never happened, but when we got to the restaurant after about 15 minutes the baby threw up. I immediately imagined the worst scenario… OMG one of us is going to have to leave with the baby and it will ruin Aiko’s birthday, but again I brought myself back to the focus – Aiko’s birthday. I cleaned up the throw-up and on my way to wash my hands I thought; what’s the big deal? Even if the baby’s sick, another 40 minutes in a restaurant won’t kill him, he’s not dying, it’s just a little throw up – and again I brought my focus back to the main event – Aiko’s birthday. The meal was great and we all had a great time. Life is going to happen – most important is what you choose to focus on.

There was an incredibly remarkable woman named Alice Herz-Sommer, who died this year at the grand age of 110. She was a holocaust survivor who brought enormous joy and love to everyone around her during her life. She spent 2 years in a concentration camp with her young son who said in an interview that his memories of the concentration camp were all good because of his mother.

Here is quote from an interview with her in 2006; “I am looking for the nice things in life. I know about the bad things, but I look only for the good things. The world is wonderful, it is full of beauty and full of miracles. Our brain, the memory, how does it work? Not to speak of art and music … It is a miracle.”

So here’s to joy and to seeing it everywhere you go, I know I will!15

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