Joy, revisited

 

joy

Really? Really?  Really. Is that what joy is supposed to look like? Cuz my joy hasn’t looked anything like that all year long.  Not even one iota close. Maybe wish it had, maybe it would have felt like the earth moved and the world changed a bit for me, yes, for once, for ME! But nah,  it didn’t.

But what did my joy feel like this year?  Was it quiet? Was it rumbling? Was it at least happy? Let me show you a few pics of what my joy felt like…..

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nothing like mom and daughter bonding! 

 

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Getting ready to celebrate K’s 12th birthday!

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Our new dog, Cooper! 

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Messy hair and out to eat! 

These are the celebrations of joy we had. None were really jump out of our skin into the air moments, and I know it’s not all of our joyful moments of the year. It’s just few that K and I have had along the way. I can tell you that there were definitely more joyful moments in the latter part of 2015 than the beginning because big changes happened in the middle of the summer for both of us for the BETTER!!!! Let me tell you, that made a world of difference in the joyfulness of our lives. More on that when I’m on my laptop to type. But for now, more to think on.  What does joy feel like to you? Like that first pic? Or something in between?

~Julie

looking back: Happiness

Awhile back I wrote a paper for a class about happiness.  I went back to read it as I was going through some old folders online.  I came across it.  So gonna take a look back.

What does it mean to “be happy.”   Simple living— is just the beginning of happiness research and positive psychology science.

  1. The relationship of happiness to income levels is important only at the extremes of poverty and wealth. For the rest of us, the amount of money we earn does not make us any more or less happy.
  2. Happiness can be a shallow concept, but for philosophers and psychologists it approaches contentment, life satisfaction or relief from pain, loneliness or boredom. Sadly, “happiness” is a profound word that has been too-readily associated with empty-headedness.
  3. Meaningful life experiences offer more lasting happiness than the accumulation of possessions.
  4. Happy people want to share happiness; they live with (and express) an attitude of gratitude.
  5. Happiness is associated with emotional styles—temperaments or personality preferences—that include resilience, social intuition, focused attention, positive outlook and self-awareness.
  6. Happiness consists of hard-wired habits more than conscious decision-making.
  7. Happy people savor life experiences.
  8. People with a positive psychological outlook also exhibit wisdom, courage, love, justice and transcendence.

So how happy are you?  How happy am I?  That is a loaded question I believe.  Depends on the day and the situation, right?

So I sat down and made a list of the things that make me happy…. I have a number of things that make me happy.  Many of the things on my list were actually actions or things I can do to help lift my spirits when I feel not quite so good.  So I have been trying to incorporate one or two of these things a day into my daily life and my daughter’s life as well.  I had K make a short list as well.  She came of a few great things too.  I realize that K has a huge heart and love to help people as well.

I realize that you have to make these things on your list a habit…

——Pick 3 things–K and I started a daily evening routine, at about 8pm each day, where we take a moment to tell each other three good things about our day. We didn’t invent this, but it gives us as at least one time in our day when we focus on what we are grateful for. This can create a mental habit of gratitude that you can use other times in your day, when you’re focused on the things you don’t like or have — when you feel this, think about something you do have, that you love. Find a way to be grateful, and you’re happier.

—— Help someone else – When we focus on ourselves, and the woeful state of our lives, we are self-centered. This shrinks the world to one little place with one little unhappy person. But what if we can see the whole picture, and expand our heart to include at least one other person? Maybe even a few others? Then we see that others are suffering too, even if that just means they’re stressed out. Then we can reach out, and do something to reduce their stress, put a smile on their face, make their lives easier. Help at least one person each day, and you’ll find your entire perspective shifted.

——Quiet time or meditate — Meditate for just 2 minutes a day, and you’ll create a habit that will allow you to notice your thoughts throughout the rest of the day, that will help you to be more present (unhappiness comes from not being present), that will help you notice the source of anxiety and distraction. My therapist, Adam, has taught me that you can accomplish a lot in that 2 minutes. Sit every morning when you wake, and just notice your body, and then your breath. Notice when your mind wanders, and gently return to your breath. You become the watcher of your mind, and you’ll learn some useful things, I promise. I also use a little time after these 2-3 minutes to pray and myself centered with God.  I pray and breathe.

—–Exercise—–Everyone knows you should exercise, so I’m not going to go on an on about this point. But it really does make you happier, both in the moment of exercise (I’m exerting myself, I’m alive!) and throughout the rest of the day.  For me…getting there is the biggest battle.  But once I am there…I do feel so much better.  Exercise lightly, if you’re not in the habit yet, and just for a few minutes a day to start out. Who doesn’t have a few minutes a day? If you don’t, you need to loosen up your schedule a bit.

I have worked these into my life this summer…..all of them…but the exercise one has come to an abrupt halt when I had foot surgery.  But I believe that I will get back to exercise when the doctor will let me.  I get stitches out this Friday.  I will see when I get the go ahead to get back in the water for water aerobics.  🙂

Be happy!!

Be Happy

“The amount of happiness that you have depends on the amount of freedom you have in your heart.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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Who doesn’t want to be happy? Just take a look at any moment of your life, any choice you make. Isn’t your intention to be happy?

By happiness, I don’t suddenly mean the silly-smile-on-your-face kind. What I mean is a profound sense of contentment, the ability to be serene and at ease no matter what, an inner perception that things are sufficient.

Somehow true happiness escapes us. Even though we crave it more than anything, we make choices that distract or wound us. We choose stressful behaviors, unfair views which we see the world, and emotional chaos. In doing this, we interfere with our potential to be happy.

Happiness is absolutely within our reach. In fact, it closer than close – it is the essence of you. How do we discover happiness? Make a study of our thoughts and emotions. See what makes you unhappy, then plant your feet firmly in the land of happiness.

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  • Take responsibility. Don’t blame others.   Don’t turn yourself into a victim. Don’t  wait for someone to come and save you. If you want to be happy, take the bull by the horns. Be willing to figure out how you stand in the way of your happiness.
  • Exemplify enthusiasm. Be willing, open, courageous, and humble. Admit what isn’t working and be available to the possibility of real inner change. Keep your journey alive.
  • Drop your old baggage. Nothing kills happiness more quickly than old hurts, resentments, and grudges. If you are spending your precious time stuck in a sad story from the past, realize that you are being affected much more than anyone else. Wrap all of that pain in a massive cocoon of love, and then move on with clarity and grace.
  • Become intensely interested in your inner life. The cause of unhappiness is playing out the conditioned habits that don’t serve you. Find out what they are and use a laser focus to see how they work. With your new-found awareness, make strong, life-affirming choices.
  • Question your beliefs. We unintentionally build our lives around inaccurate beliefs and expectations. Put every thought under the microscope for inspection to see if it is really true. You will definitely find that you are living through a blanket of misperception and inadequacy. Be willing to step away from these familiar and valued beliefs and see everything with renewed eyes.
  • Appreciate presence. Happiness is found here, in the eternal now – not in the past or future. Relax. Let all struggles fall away, and receive everything just as it is. Indulge in the wonder of your senses as you go about your daily life.
  • Study your emotions. Life becomes heavy and troublesome when we are governed by challenging emotions. The medicine for this emotional pain is attention and care. Stop telling yourself stories that fuel your emotions. Rather, welcome the direct experience of the feelings and the perceptions in your body. Let them be without needing to purge them. Over time, they will lose their power over you, and you will be at peace. The clouds will lift, enlightening the happiness you have been searching for all along.
  • Live from your heart. Shed every thought, emotion, and habit that no longer serves you. What is left? Love. Let love flood your conversations, activities, and the way you treat yourself. In any moment, ask, “What would love do?” then do it. Enjoy the sweetness of a full and open heart.
  • Choose freedom over fear. Fear is another happiness-killer. Know when fear is motivating your choices, and choose otherwise. Meet fear with love.   Have the courage to act on what you really want.
  • Let happiness permeate your life. Every moment presents the opportunity to be happy. If you doubt me, just take a look at your own experience. When you break it down to its bare soul in the moment, you will realize that a choice is always possible. Nag or be silent, self-criticize or self-love, sustain stress or take a deep breath, prolong a habit or undo it until you just can’t keep it going anymore.

When we are at peace with our own experience, we can’t help but be happy. Nothing is in the way. We see through the haze of broken beliefs and intense stories, leaving us available to intentionally choose happiness – now, and now, and now. Its right here, can you feel it?

Happiness is no longer unknown. Make healthier choices, and the limitless well of happiness will be revealed to you. I know that I am going to be working hard on this right now.

 

My 2012 in Review

This is my 2012 in review…..quoting a few from old posts:

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In January, I moved to Woodbury, MN.  I was living my good friend, Robin, in her townhouse.  I started looking for jobs and looking and looking and looking……..

“I am trying to get everything connected….get myself organized and in sync with all that is going on here.  Being in a new place is sometimes very unnerving for me.  I guess just about every time I have moved, my anxiety has gotten to me.  You know being spiritual, I try to connect to God at least every morning when I get up.  I say thank you God.  Thank you God.  Just Thanks.   Not much more than that in the beginning of my day.  But i know there is more for connection than that.”

“Been also trying to get in with weight loss clinic up here so they can help me keep tabs on how my surgery and weight loss is going.  I hit weight loss of 75 pounds this past week.  SOOOO HAPPY!!  woohoo.  Can’t believe I have lost 75 pounds already.  Still working on more.”

Started therapy with Adam.

february

“This past week I have been struggling with a fear of eating.  I think most of it revolves around control.  I know the things I need to do, but the fear of gaining what I have already lost is very scary to me.  Before I left Iowa, I had a handle on knowing my numbers, my blood levels and felt generally pretty well.  Since coming to MN, I feel outta control.  I don’t have a grasp on my numbers yet.  I know I have lost some since being here.  But as far as blood levels and such….not so much.”

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“A new chapter has started in my life.  Moving to Minnesota is the beginning of this new journey.  But I still don’t know if I am in the right place or the right time.  If that makes sense.  I have become to feel more comfortable in my skin yet, there are so many who are doubtful and questioning why I am doing what I am doing and how come, etc.  It seems so difficult for some people to understand why I am making the choices I am.  I feel it is right for me.  At this moment in time.  I have been called bull headed, stubborn and gonna do whatever I want no matter what anyone says.  Been un-friended on Facebook by a few this past week cuz I stood up for myself and what I believe in.”

Started going to the YMCA!!!

K spent all spring break with me!!

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“1.  Love more – I need to love more….not pass judgement to fast.  I need to get out more and do the things that make me feel good.  I need to remember to tell the people that I really care about, that I love them….all the time….not just when it’s convenient.”

SOUL DETOX   is the topic at LifeChurch.tv.  Whew….great series.

its-may

Started classes at Argosy University-Twin Cities.  (Eagan MN)  Good but strange to be back in classes again.

At the end of the month K came home to live with me.  What a joyous occasion.  She is finally home after 2 1/2 years.

Going the extra mile is tough because it means stretching further after you’ve already stretched. It means giving more even after you’ve already given. The first part is like, “Oh, this is my Christian duty.” But the second part, the “above and beyond” part, is purely out of the kindness of your heart.”

june

I moved to Hastings MN!!

“I have learned that life is about choices.  So many, that I have lost count.  Choosing the make the best choice you can is sometimes really difficult….at least sometimes it is for me.  I have been trying to teach K about making good choices.  Being 8 years old, it’s really hard for her to make good ones, most days.  Then there are some days she makes the absolute best choices ever and has a superb day.  Those days we celebrate.  On the others, we still celebrate the good choices she has made but talk about the others that could have been better.  We talk about what other things she could have done instead.  I hope this is helping her to know that good choices lead to good feelings and good things.”

Dealt with some old friends who “unfriended” me on FB….which is ok, I guesss.  Still hurt because we had been friends for over 20 years.  It’s about choices.  It’s about standing up for what I believe in too.

K got her tonsils out June 25, 2012.  She did great.  The after it, healing…..oh …well…oy oy oy!!!

july

My brother is running for sheriff of Worth county in Iowa.  So K and I went to many parades and helped him out.  We looked awesome in our bright yellow shirts.

More job hunting…..and more and more and more

There was a big tragedy in my hometown where kids died and some hospitalized.  They were K’s age and a little older.  Sad day for Northwood.

Still figuring out how to pay for college, but still taking classes anyways.  LOL

August

Started off this month reading a blog by Chris Sprad, Epic Parent!!  What a cool dude!!  Has awesome parenting ideas and a good Christian way of looking at parenthood.

Got word that I am now I was hired with Minnesota Reading Corps .  This is part of the AmeriCorps “company”.  I don’t what to call it.  LOL

Weight loss surgiversary = Aug 11, 2012

total weight loss to date 102 pounds!!

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K turns 9 years old!!  OMG I feel old.  We had a party at the park by the pool.  Invited friends….had a photo booth, mustaches galore.  Cake and punch and so much fun!!

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K also started school at Kennedy Elementary School here in Hastings.  3rd Grade…..she sure struggled a lot those first few days.  Her teacher is Mrs. Harris.  She is truly an awesome teacher/friend.

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Started this month by going to Nesbitt’s Pumpkin Patch and Farm.  What a fun time…..jumping on hay bales…..running through the grass…..driving little pedal tractors.  LOL

Learning the single parenting is harder and harder.  K and I butt heads often.  I try so hard to read and talk and listen to friends and family and professionals to try to figure out how to help her become more comfortable here.  It’s still a huge adjustment for her here…..and for me.

Tutoring kids at school – K to 3rd is amazing.  I love my work!!!

Halloween at school was a hoot.  K and I both had pink hair.  Both in ponytails….both of us just goofy.

halloween 2012

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I did a month of giving thanks.  It was hard for me to keep up, but I did do it.

I had a lot of writing about stress….holiday time is my stress.  Everything leads up to expectations and what not.  But….made it through Thanksgiving, Black Friday and slid right into December.

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It’s still December, but it has overall been a good year for me.  My BIGGEST blessing this year has been my daughter coming home.  It’s been a lot of stress, but sooo much LOVE.

Spent a week being sick…..down and ugly sick.  Missed my kids at school terribly.  They missed me too.  It has been a short month for school.

Been having K in for testing at the Center for Attention, Learning, and Memory.  Trying to figure out how to help her better.  She has a type of ADHD, but trying to figure out what type and which treatment will work best for her.

Christmas at mom’s was great.  ALL of us in one house for the first time since my dad passed away (12 years ago).  They finally put on their big kid panties and dealt with it and let my mom have a wonderful Christmas.  I don’t think I have seen her smile so much in years.

Another weight loss update: to date 110 pounds:

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And with that…..

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Happy Thanksgiving

 

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours.  Be safe in your travels today and through the weekend.  Much love to you…..

♥Julie and K

I wanted to give you something to think about today and for the next few days or weeks.

Here are some of those numbers that should make us realize how blessed we are:

80% of our brothers and sisters on this planet live in poor living conditions
70% are illiterate
50% are uneducated
1% have computers
1% have higher education

If you have a reasonably healthy body, you are in a better position than the one million persons who are ill and will leave their bodies in the next seven days.

If you are not living in war or in prison or in hunger, then you are much luckier than the 500,000,000 who are living in such conditions.

If you have food, clothing, a home and a bed, then you are in a better position than 75% of the souls incarnated on this planet.

If you have a bank account and money in your pocket, then you are among the lucky top 8% of humanity.

So much of what we have taken for granted, simply is not so for most of the humans on this planet. There are so many souls living without much of what we could not imagine being without.

Gratitude is the acknowledgment of the love that we are receiving from the Universe in the form of loved ones, belongings, comforts and abundance of all forms.

Acknowledging the abundance we already have is the first step towards attracting more. If we are ungrateful for what we have or are unhappy, complaining or bitter, then we are sending out into the universe a negative message, which attracts more negativity; more of what we do not want and less of what we want.

Gratitude is directly related to love and happiness; we experience love when we feel grateful and are grateful when we feel love. The same is true for happiness. We are happier freer beings when we acknowledge how lucky and blessed we are.

For my parents who supported and cared for me until I was able to survive on my own, and then let me free.
For my siblings with whom I have shared and experienced so much.
For my – and all – children who give me such joy with their innocence and wonder.
My life partner with whom we mutually support each other and share in life¢s challenges – and even more so life¢s joy and laughter.
For previous friends and lovers with whom I have shared and learned.
My relatives, friends and acquaintances with whom I have shared friendship.
Coworkers, employers and employees, with whom I have shared the common goals of our work environment.

(I am grateful to all of the above mentioned people with whom I have chosen in this life to have a special relationship, not only for those positive moments, but also for those moments where their behavior has given me the opportunity to see my fears, attachments and weaknesses, and to learn to put myself in the other’s position and to understand, forgive and love.)

For these I am truly thankful and blessed:

For my eyes and the ability to see and get so much pleasure from this beautiful world.
For my ears and the ability to hear so many pleasing sounds.
For my nose and the ability to enjoy smells of all kinds.
For my taste buds that allow me to enjoy delicious tastes.
For my skin that allows me to get pleasure from so many sensations.
For my brain and mind that allow me to receive and enjoy all of the above.
My home, which protects me from the sun, rain, snow and elements.
My bed – where I can rest and rejuvenate.
Clothing that protects my body.
Shoes that protect my feet.
Food that sustains my body and mind.
My stove where I make good food for K and me and others in my life.
My computer, which gives me much enjoyment and is a tool for creativity.
My car that gets me where I need to be.
Running water in my home.
Electricity in my home that allows me all the comforts of all the appliances and machines that serves my needs.
All of nature – the trees, flowers, butterflies, rivers, beaches, forests, mountains, seas and oceans, which give me so much peace and pleasure.
Special places in nature that I especially love.
All animals and other beings on this planet that beautify our lives.
My education which has helped me understand the world more clearly.
My books as sources of knowledge and enjoyment.
The internet – as an invaluable tool of learning and communication.
All the teachers and guides who have lead me to true myself.
Music of all kinds that relax, inspire and uplift me.
Groups of people that I share time with, because through sharing we experience trust, acceptance and love.
For all doctors and psychologists who are dedicated to helping me in my search for health and happiness.
For my telephone so that I can communicate with those I love.
All of the spiritual teachings, truths and wisdom that set me free from my illusions and fears.

For the love I give and receive from my friends and family

For my mind that serves me all day long and enables me to understand and function in this world.

For life after death and my immortality.
For Christ who has enriched and inspired my life with His teachings, but even more so through the examples of those who live through Christ and show me how I want to be.
For women and men who, with their examples, have given me courage to face life’s difficulties
For those who have tested me with their behavior through the years and helped me to know myself, my weaknesses and fears, thus giving me the opportunity to transcend my ego and understand, forgive and love.
For people’s mistakes and weaknesses that have also enabled me to see my own.
For difficult moments in the past and present that have strengthened me and increased my self-knowledge and inner strength and peace.
For all the wonderful moments of love, happiness, laughter and play that have deepened my trust and love for my friends and family.
For those peaceful moments of sharing with loved ones.
For the support, acceptance and forgiveness I have received from others throughout the years.
For all of those who share the same interests with me.
For those who have been born into other religions, races and nationalities, and allow me to discover our innate oneness behind all those superficial differences.
For life and health and daily needs, I give you thanks Lord.

Holy Moley!! Days 16 and 17

How in the world did these 2 days fly by and I didn’t get in my thankfulness???  I think that I will roll 16 and 17 into one….it’s a biggie!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am so very thankful to GOD and my family.  Today my great aunt was hit by a train.  YES  A TRAIN!!!  It happened in a small town in north Iowa.    This little town has tracks that run right through the middle of the town.  Population maybe 50.  Anyways, there were a couple cars ahead of her and they drove right on through.  She thought it was safe to go as well.  She looked and didn’t see the train nor did she hear any whistles.  The train caught her back bumper and twirled her around.  I think my mom said it hit the car in 3 places as it spun around.  The ONLY place that was not bunged up on the car was the place where she was sitting.  God and his angels were definitely watching over her.  Also, her son was just coming into town and he saw the little red car but not thinking it was his mother, he went to her house.  She wasn’t there.  He headed to the tracks.  Another miracle.  He was there for her at the right time.  911 was called, and she was taken to a local hospital to be checked out.  She has bumps and bruises.  She has a very hurt ankle that she can’t walk on.  She is 84 years old.  Holy cows, I am so glad that God was with her and around her.  It could have much much worse.  She is home tonight with her other son and daughter -in-law.  She may have to go to a nursing home for some rehab until that ankle gets better but she is good.

I am also so very thankful for my mom.  I miss her some days somethin fierce.  I am only nearly 2 hours from her, but not seeing her is hard.  I love my mom.  I can’t imagine my life without her.  It’s hard that my dad isn’t alive too.  I miss him too.  God has got them both tho.  In heaven my dad is watching over us.  On earth, my mom is watching over me and K.  I wish I could give her more.  More love.  Repay the money I owe.  Win the lottery and give her retirement that she surely deserves.  For now, I will continue to love her and tell her that I love her everyday.