Mindfulness: Joy Infusion 101


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:

JOY SUCK.

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:

INFUSE JOY

…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? 

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7 Responses to Mindfulness: Joy Infusion 101

  1. A beautiful piece, Leisa. You’re so right–when you think Joy Suck, that’s what your life will be. Life always throws us problems, but it is how we respond to them that makes our life what it is. We can’t stop the problems, but we can work at controlling our response, and not let the problems suck the joy out of everything else. A good reminder.

    • Yes, Shari. I do know this is true. Feeling a bit trapped in bureaucracy for so long now, I had forgotten this perspective that I’ve held so well so much of this journey, the long of it and more recent. <3

  2. Great points Sheri.
    I too found Leisa’s insights to be uplifting. We can all benefit from an occasional reminder to gently tap the “refresh button” as to update our perspectives. Thanks for sharing!
    Dr. Mike

    • Love the way you put that, Dr. Mike: “tap the ‘refresh button’ and “update our perspectives.” Thank you. I have shared about your upcoming courses in two parent disAblity groups. Namaste.

      • And, ha-ha, I knew I was stuck/wedged in a negative thought cycle when I was in your workshop two weeks ago. Awareness! I eventually got unstuck. With some good reminders from your seminar. I infused joy according to our plan we made out in class.

  3. I’ve been learning and practising mindfulness lately. While it’s not a refresh button, it can be a three-minute vacation/retreat in a harsh day.

  4. Indeed, Beth! My latest technique?: A smartphone Mandala coloring app. All I have to do is spend a few seconds on that and my right brain is engaged and it’s a deep breath and an AHHHH! x