Mindful practices teach us to “watch our thoughts.”
I’ve been watching. And lately, I’ve decided to wave a big ol’ yeller flag of caution. As I’ve navigated, with a nonexisting road map, the post-22 landscape of disAbilities—that barren terrain after school ends forever—I developed a two-word mantra for my life the last nine months:
The entanglement of multiple governmental systems, each yielding yet another thick, heavy roll of red tape; each wielding another brain-breaking dictionary of peculiar acronyms; plus additional bevies of bureaucrats, and work, and yet more work—nine months of nonstop work…has been a. joy. suck. Every time I tackled yet another system, each pregnant with problems and necessitating multiple trips up the organizational chart until I reached a resolution, I inhaled deeply and fixed my eyes on what I thought was the welcome sight of that distant light at the end of the tunnel….Well, you know: There came another steam engine.
“Now, Leisa,” I told myself. “You’ve got to stop reinforcing this toxic, negative vibe-sending two-word mantra.”
Here I am, for more than a decade, having taught families through writing and speaking, and hopefully living, that there is joy in the journey with disAbilitiy. But, for months this year, I’ve felt sucked dry of it. And this, just as I’m getting ready to start training toward certification and accreditation in wholistic coaching for special needs families. Something’s gotta give. After a couple of weeks, I realized the solution was still the same as ever: Rearrange a few things. Look for what’s working, or could work, and add more of it. (Or take away what’s not working.)
It’s true this launching into adulthood process is a joy sucker. But to remedy that, I needed to work earnestly to:
…more than ever into my daily life. These systems may be sucky, but I’ve gotta dial 911 for my spirit. Navigating this maze is necessary if I want my daughter to have the benefits and services she needs to prepare her to live as an adult, independently as possible, and in preparation for the day that I’m no longer living on this plane.
So, I’ve been spending more time in my patio garden. Eating lunches and breakfasts there. No bent neck and staring. No crooked pointer finger scrolling and swiping my phone. <—(It’s also a weight-loss awareness strategy to compensate for all those times I sought late-night solace in the freezer and pantry stash of nuts, chocolate, dried cranberries, and popcorn.) Because I was out amid nature, awareness reigned. The carrots sidelining my lunch the other day tasted somehow sweeter. (I was actually really noticing them.) The ancient forest on the hillside behind the carport imparted soul-nurturing energy as the breezes breathed through them. No need for Pandora or NPR, the birds delivered lunchtime musical and visual entertainment. And, ohhh. This rare, cool, spring weather. (You’re welcome to stay all summer.) (Yeah, right. This is middle Tennessee.)
I return to the words of one of my many teachers. Paraphrased: We may have experienced serious trauma in our lives. We may have experienced…whatever. We may be combating great stressors. You name it. But we all are given the same gifts each day. Something. Something in nature is there begging us to be present. Stop. Observe. Soak in the simple, beautiful, life-giving joy of it!
The raindrops did it for me today. They always do. But today I spent more time than usual capturing with my iPhone their wet jewels—glimmering orbs kissed by sunlight. I photographed their images and edited them, shown above. Since I purchased my first smartphone in 2011, this has been my form of “art therapy.”
Late afternoon, today, this was my self-care. This. Was my joy infusion.
What ways can you infuse joy into your life? Or, what ways are you already doing so?