Friday, December 2, 2016
For the second morning in a row, I've woke up happy to be alive - looking forward to the day ahead. I've been reading "The Book of Joy", a little bit each night before I fall asleep. If you haven't heard of it, the book is co-written by Douglas Abrams, through interviews and hanging out with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, during a weeklong birthday celebration/gathering. It isn't religious, but spiritual. The chapters are very short, powerful, and lead me to contemplate what my purpose is here on earth. I've felt a subtle shift in my attitude toward life that is mostly unexplained, unless I give this book some of the credit. I didn't realize I had been looking for joy, until it found me.
December has been my most dreaded month for the past ten years. I've fought depression, relived the saddest year of my life and frankly felt pretty darn sorry for myself. (You can read about some of that year here) Each December brought with it the promise of plenty of sweet treats to feed my weepy spirit and I alternated between compulsively eating sugar laden goodies and hating myself throughout - especially when my current favorite jeans refused to zip, despite laying on my back on the bed, struggling. I bought progressively larger sizes of cheerful holiday tops to hide my sad sugar addiction.
The joy I feel at the beginning of this December lies partially in a trimmer body, not thin, but 30 pounds lighter than last December. Having to buy new jeans that actually stay up - instead of falling off - makes me joyful in a way that I can see. Being able to bend over, from a standing position, to tie and untie my shoes gives me pleasure. Purging my closet and dresser of dozens of items too large, and donating to a homeless shelter, increased my joy. At the bank I was waited on by a former student who exclaimed as she literally ran around the counter to give me a hug, "Mrs. Babbitt! I didn't recognize you! You look ten years younger than you did when I was in your class!" I'm not lying - Maddie gave this old gal some real joy!
I am also taking steps toward giving up a life long dream of buying and selling antiques and treasures, after finding out that the workload exceeds the benefits! I wrote briefly about the beginnings of that adventure here. I'm now working to move as much from my garage to my space downtown as possible, with hopes of great sales. I will move what is left back to my garage on December 31. I'll either sell or donate whatever I decide not to keep. Just knowing I have an end date makes me happy. It was fun, at times, but not quite enough fun, or profit, to want to continue.
Yet the greatest joy lies inside me this morning - writing and awaiting my daily 7 AM brisk walk with my neighbor and her dog, looking forward to the fresh air, the mostly sleepy and sullen middle schoolers we pass each morning, waiting for their bus. There's a smile on my face, leftover from the couple hours I spent yesterday with several retired teachers at the nearby IHOP, as we joyously ate from the senior menu, laughingly shared our adventures during the previous month, and attempted to fix the current political chaos.
In all areas of my life - spiritually, physically, emotionally - I am grateful that joy has found me. Retirement is the best, and due to strategic financial planning, we are comfortably living much the same as we did while working. In the past year we have crossed eleven National Parks off our bucket list, with spring plans to visit a few more. Both daughters are doing well, enjoying their teaching assignments, and their significant others, and their cats. Chris' family continues to grow, and there will be another great-granddaughter around December 13th.
I set a goal in October to return to blogging and post at least once per month. These posts will mostly be picture prompts from my childhood, and fictionalized responses - with what truth I can remember woven in. Here is October, and November posts. It is my hope that I will move toward publishing some of the writing I do each morning in my journal, which is where today's post came from.
I have been found by joy, and life is good.