Jump for Joy

Joy is not just for children.  Do you have a joyful life?  I believe it is part of the divine plan to have joyful lives all of our days.  There are many signs and wonders pointing to this conclusion:  Love, babies being born, the sunsets and sunrises, the oceans and lakes and rivers; the variety of beautiful birds, fish and wildlife, rainbows, music, art and so much more all around you.  But are you appreciating it and feeling the joy?

Sometimes we have mean inner critics and scolds in our head who have the voice of a parent, teacher, or spouse, and these tell us we don't deserve joy.  Wake up.  Joy is there in abundance for all of us and it doesn't depend on your worthiness.  The higher power and the universe don't play that nasty way.  It's all given to you because you are loved unconditionally.

What pleasures are you foregoing because you feel too guilty or unworthy to take part in going after them?  If reading or writing is a great joy for you, don't allow yourself to feel like you should be doing something less fun, more boring, and thankless like cleaning house or decluttering.  Puhleeze.  That's your grandmother's voice telling you that you must be a human doing not human being.  Women especially are or used to be thought to keep it all together for a family.  The mother couldn't take a day off to wander in the woods looking for faries and journaling.  She should be ironing sheets and pillowcases or cleaning in back of the stove.  What total shit.

Men can take themselves too serious too because they think of themselves as the breadwinners, sometimes even if their wives make more money than they do.  Still, a man provides for his family, and in his free time he fixes or maintains something.  There's grass to cut, oil to change, and cabinet handles to put back on.  What a load of rot.

You could be missing out on some great times and rushes of bliss by not going with the flow that leads to joy.  We need other people, activities, music, books and art or just getting away by ourselves without guilt for a day.  We are meant to be joyous.

What brings you pleasure?  Quick, while you're thinking of it, make a list of the top pleasures you enjoy.  It could be as simple as drinking your morning coffee or it could be dressing formal and going to an opera.  What lights up your board?  What are you doing at those times when hours fly by like minutes.  What do you fantasize about doing "if only you had time."

You do have time.  You have the eternal Now which is really all any of us has.  Stop living for tomorrow and take a break.  Here's how to begin:  Say these things in your mind as you inhale deeply:

I take one breath to let go.

One breath to be here.

One breath to ask "Now what?"

Centers you and prepares you for a new beginning.  Today is the day you pull out your list of pleasures simple and complex, write beside each entry the last time you did it, and start with the ones you've not done but always wanted to try and then you can move to the ones where too much time has gone by without you experiencing it.

How can you make room in your life for pleasure?  It's easy if you use your divine intuition to find the answer.  You know, you aren't the only one who can take care of your baby.  Let some other baby lover have a turn while you go to a movie or an art gallery or to a thrift shop.

Here's some ideas for you.  These are some of the things that give me the most pleasure.  Try some or noodle on the Internet to find new ways of finding joy.

I love and I get great pleasure from:

1.  Going to the library and checking out 20 books if I want to as well as buying some of the sale books.  I bring them home and drop them all over my bed and I feel like I'm six and it's Christmas morning.  I don't know what to read about first:  making jewelry, decoupaging, decorating flowerpots, the short stories and poetry of Raymond Carver or fiction in the old New Yorkers I've bought for a dime each.

2.  Browsing at stores I have never been in but meant to visit and hanging out at the Carousel Thrift Shop, my own personal Disneyland bring me enormous pleasure.  I am quite happy just looking without buying if need be, but who can resist a vegetarian cookbook for 75 cents or a pair of beaded earrings for a dollar?  I pick up cheap candles, craft paint, cups and saucers from other countries, and men's shorts because they have those deep pockets that stuff isn't always falling out of.  Browsing at a book store is always a thrill for me too.

3.  Being creative brings me lots of pleasure and causes me to lose all sense of time going by.  I enjoy art journaling where I take an old textbook and paint or cover the pages in scrapbook paper, pictures, postcards or whatever and then get as wild as I want to be.  It's for my eyes only.  I can be as opinionated as all get out, and I can enter signs and notes about my daily activities.  I might glue on a page from a menu where I  had lunch, a photo I got developed, a matchbook from a club I visited to watch and learn belly dancing or just draw and color with markers.  I feel like I'm six once again with my first big box of crayons.

4. Spending time with my adult children usually brings me pleasure and gives me raw joy that runs deep.  I am elated when my daughter invites me to go to church or to a movie with her, or when my son is actually willing to let me cook a meal for him and he eats it.  When they're not criticising me or telling me how I should live my life, I get a lot of delight out of our visits.

5. I find real joy in eating chocolate, the darker the better.  I have a new addiction:  Reese's Peanut Butter Cups with dark chocolate.  Put some in the fridge for later and then prepare to taste a bit of paradise.

There's more, of course, but I don't want to bore you.  I also brainstormed and came up with some things I'd like to try that might bring me joy like taking a Zumba Fitness class through our park district.  Zumba, if you don't know, is dancing to a variety of world rhythms like the salsa, merengue, cumbia, bellydance, Bollywood and reggaeton.  Doesn't that sound like something that could not only get you going but knock decades off your age too?  I can't wait.

Or I could join Toastmasters and learn more about public speaking.  I know that isn't everybody's idea of a good time, but I went to some of their meetings and participated enough to know that I love it.

I've been using Feng Shui to free the chi in my home office, and I really think I could find oodles of joy continuing to balance the yin and the yang throughout the whole place.  I've got colored marbles in blue-tinted Mason jars for the element of water for bringing inner tranquility, spirituality, inner development and independence.  I've got plants to enhance chi and I gave them some razmatazz with the addition of twinkle lights laced through them.  I have so many candles on my desk that I might start a fire but I will maintain chi.  I put up butterfly windchimes, and made a rope with seven metal bells on it and strung crystals and beads to hang near the window.  It is so bee-u-ti-ful!   I have many more ideas.  Now I just have to rise out of my rut or comfort zone as I call it and go have new joyful experiences.  I wish you much joy.  Now go out and find it right where it has been all the time:  in the eternal Now.

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