Three Words That Bring Me Back to Joy: No Matter What Life’s Jungle Offers Up

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Ever had one of those days when you say these words to yourself: “It’s just all too much!” Do you know what I mean?

That was my day on Monday. My daughter was diagnosed with pink eye and I couldn’t find a sitter to stay with her while I went to the pharmacy. After all, who wants to risk getting pink eye?

So, my girl had to ride along with me to the pharmacist. The wait to fill her eye drop prescription was slow. Like, at a snail’s pace kind of slow. I found myself anxiously counting the seconds on the clock.

I had writing deadlines edging closer and meetings to attend. I was also scheduled, on Monday, for chelation IV treatment for heavy metal poisoning (not something I could reschedule). Back at the house, the family washing machine went on the blink. My daughter’s bunny needed hay, and my younger son needed someone to plan his birthday celebration. On top of that, I was solo-parenting for the week which makes the juggle even more complicated!

These may seem like small, first-world problems. Maybe they are! Only, stacked one-on-top-of-the-other, the weight of the juggle can feel like a lot—a helluva lot. The juggle can make life seem very much like a dark, dense jungle. On Monday, I felt lost in the maze of it all.

I was running in a zillion different directions and being pulled apart at the seams. I was WAY TOO FAR in my head. “It’s just all too much,” I said out loud. When those dis-empowering words came out of my mouth, I realized something: I was running on empty in my joy tank and tangled up in the undergrowth of discouraging self-talk.

To say that I felt stressed and overwhelmed is an understatement. I was feeling at my wit’s end! That’s when I stopped and checked in with me: Michelle. You see, I may be an encouragement author and an empowerment coach, but I’m still an all-too-human person who—at times—can feel the pressures of the many hats that I wear as wife, mom, friend, sister, step-mom, volunteer, and advocate. And, like everyone, I have a boiling-over point. There are days when happy seems a little hard to come by.

I understand.

I think sometimes it’s easy to imagine that other people have the happiness thing down pat. That somehow they possess a magic potion to having their lives completely and 100% together. It’s just not true. We don’t always feel happy. We don’t always have it together. The jungle of life can zap a person of their sparkle. If you ever feel empty, depleted, stretched to the max, and unsure of how you can keep it all moving forward, please know that you’re not alone.

On Monday, when it all seemed “too much,” I closed my eyes and got out of my head—or what I prefer to call, the mind. I left the mind and dropped into my heart where I reminded myself of what a gift life is. Even on those jungle days, the wilderness has its wonders.

You see, I believe there is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness can be fleeting. The happy bandit can ride in and take our happiness away, in an instant. Joy, though, is deeply rooted. It weathers storms and anchors us to a sense of peace, even in the chaos.

On Monday, I needed to connect back to joy because I was feeling unhappy and unable. I was feeling too busy, too cluttered, and too crazed. These descriptions can only land a person in a powerless and unhappy place.

I said these three words to myself: appreciate the full.

Then, I visualized myself handling, with elegance and grace, all of the different challenges that Monday had presented to me. I didn’t curse the challenges, I embraced them. I stopped the discouraging self-talk and connected with the joy of being able to experience such a full life.

And, it is FULL.

I have five kids, total. Three dogs, a bunny, and two horses. I have a husband, friends, and a community I serve. I have a body that I’m healing and emotions that I’m learning—more and more—to understand. I’ve been hurt, and I’ve lost people I love. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried. I’ve made mistakes and I’m sure that I’ll make more. I’m not perfect. But I do know this: joy is my anchor in the storm. No matter how difficult the day may be, I can face hard things with a gesture of joy. I can appreciate the fullness of life. The fullness reminds me that I’m alive.

Connecting to the gift of a full life brings me back to joy, each and every time. My life isn’t jam-packed. It’s abundant. It’s blessed. I’ve learned that acknowledging the blessings is how to move straight into a joy-filled state. Life is complicated, it’s messy, it’s devastating, and it is miraculous—often, at the same time.

But, here’s one thing that I know for sure: when life is the most hectic and the most challenging is when we discover the true scope of our strength and our resilience. 

So, no matter what you’re facing on this day know that I’m in your corner and reminding you to appreciate the full. Because the full means you’re alive, and awake, and aware, and breathing, and living, and loving. That’s fullness, my friend.

And, it’s beautiful.

You’ve got this.

PS: My daughter’s pink eye is all clear now. The eye drops—and a good dose of TLC—did the job! The bunny has his hay and my son had a wonderful birthday celebration! xoxo

Onward from the heart,