A few years ago our family went through one of those tough and trying times. Most people have those times at some point in their lives. In order to get to my point, here is a nutshell of my story. I do this because I always hate it when I read others start off like this and never tell me what actually happened.
Ours began when my dad took a fall. That seemed to be the beginning of moving him from our family home of 45 years, various and scary, life-threatening moves to the hospital, then to recuperate in a nursing home, then back to his assisted living, in an 18 month cycle that left me on pins and needles, never knowing when I’d be called to jump in the car, and race to the hospital, helping care for my mom, making many hard decisions with my brother, and you get the picture. My dad had been on anti-rejection medication for 15 years from a heart transplant, so those meds were also taking a toll on his body. He fought like a champ, until the fight ended after a short stay in hospice. During this time, we were also nursing and caring for The Husband’s step-father. It was a whirlwind of phone calls, trips to his place, hospital stays, finding care for him and some difficult times for sure. We lost him just before my dad.
Not long after that we all went to the beach for our annual family beach trip. This would be a great time to get back to normal and healing for my mom. My brother suffered a brain aneurysm while there. He is missed to this day.
I took on caring for my mom, selling and packing up our family home, making regular trips to be with her and her health began to slide. It was back to those pins and needles, hospital stays, emergency calls, more decisions. Oh and also during this time we lost a home to flooding – and when I say lost, I’m talking to the last dish towel and tiny spoon. And then there was the loss of my sweet girl Fresca. (she was my precious border terrier that I loved beyond reason). My mom was the first person I called about Fresca. Then, sadly, her funeral was shortly after. There were also a couple of other life events thrown in there but I think you get the picture.
This really is not a diatribe of self-pity or whining to you. Those times are over. I’m here typing away and am still standing. And I know that we all have our own stories, grief, awful journeys and heartaches. I’m giving you a little of the back story to tell you what really helped me during that time and I still rely on to this day. First of all, it was faith. Secondly, it was holding on for dear life to the simplest of joys. My mantra became “Don’t Let it Steal Your Joy” and I still use it daily.
When I felt as if wave after wave was hitting me and I could have drowned, and then someone would cut me off in traffic, or I’d forgotten to pay a bill on time and received one of those nasty phone calls or some teacher, coach or other adult (and I’m sorry but they are out there sometimes!), would be snarky about one of my children, or something would go wrong in one of my classes, I decided I had a choice to make. I could let that event totally bring me down. I’m talking even further down than I was already headed, or I could just decide that that person was perhaps having a bad day or bad time like me. Of course, it may be that that person really was just a colossal jerk, but either way they were not going to steal my joy. I would not waste my time and energy dwelling on them and their poor behavior or the inconvenient thing that was trying to bring me down.
Those unkind words, those inconveniences, those wrinkles in the day or life are simply small parts of the day, tiny blips of time that do not deserve to bring me (our you) down. That rude driver who just took the parking spot I’ve waited patiently for does not deserve the energy it would take to get angry or, heaven forbid, confront him or respond.
Each and every day is filled with enough decisions, worries, and anxieties that really matter. Don’t let those tiny blips take up valuable space in your head and heart. I found that once I began to make that choice I could focus on the important things. I could see the forest for the trees. I could go about my day and my business much more calmly, appreciatively, and generally happier. This was a huge shift for my mental and emotional well-being. This was a much healthier way to react – or not react- to life’s curveballs, trivia, and meanies.
I encourage you, whatever it is, whatever comes your way today, or tomorrow, let it go. Don’t Let it Steal Your Joy. See how much happier and healthier you will feel.
Live Big, Live Well!