When we are mindful, when we meditate, when we slow down and take a moment to get quiet and connect with our breath and with the moment that is right now, when we meet reality just as it is, just as we are, we discover that beyond and underneath everything else is vast space, stillness and silence.
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. ~Maya Angelou
Yesterday afternoon, I sat on a golden couch, laughing, crying, and cuddling with my dear friend and her two pups. The window was open to the sun, our feet were bare, and there was the scent of purple lilacs in the room. We’d gathered together to watch Brene’ Brown give a talk at the Omega NYC Conference, graciously streamed live and for free, “The Anatomy of Joy.”
Brene’ talked about what gets in the way of joy. One thing she mentioned is that we live in a culture of “deep, deep scarcity, and never enough.” It isn’t enough to wake up, love who we love, do our jobs, try our best–we must be extraordinary. From this perspective, our first thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep” and our last is “I didn’t get enough done,” and an ordinary life = a meaningless life.
We think we aren’t enough, that our lives have to be big, loud and shiny to be worthwhile, and this is tragic. It’s disheartening and exhausting to think about how we do this to ourselves, how we’ve internalized these ideas about ourselves and our life, about the value inherent in them, or lack thereof.
If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend reading Brene’s book The Gifts of Imperfection. It quite literally changed my life, helped to save my life. In it, she expands in detail on many of the concepts she talked about yesterday. The short list, the ways in which we can cultivate joy in our lives, is:
- Embrace vulnerability
- Practice gratitude
- Let go of numbing
- Set boundaries
- Own our stories
In terms of practicing gratitude, Brene’ said that it is the way in which we can soften to joy. We can notice, accept grace and love, and give thanks, and in this way, we can fully experience joy, embody it.
When I first encountered Brene’ Brown’s work, I was in a very dark moment of my life. I was grieving, stuck, confused, angry, depressed, anxious, and immersed in habitual and destructive ways of thinking and being–unhappy and suffering.
But now, nine months later, the life I live is in stark contrast to that darkness. Today, as a way of celebrating the changes I’ve made, the risks I took, this transformation, I’d like to share a list of 25 things I did to transform my life.
25 things I did to transform my life
- Married Eric
- Moved to Colorado
- Rescued and raised three dogs
- Finished undergraduate and graduate degrees, but chose not to pursue a Ph.D.
- Write morning pages
- Finally completed The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, after three attempts and ten years, with the help of a group of amazing women artists
- Adopted writing, meditation, yoga, and dog as spiritual, daily practices.
- Renegotiated my job, freeing myself from a toxic situation and changing my schedule from 12 months to nine
- Shambhala Warrior training
- Therapy, three times when I really, really needed it
- Work with a trainer
- Got rid of cable TV
- Stopped drinking alcohol and reduced my dependance on caffeine
- Drink more whole, organic juice, and eat cleaner, healthier food
- Realized I was a highly functioning food addict and started the hard work of rehabilitating my relationship with food
- Get up at 4:30 am every morning
- Made a stand up workstation for my computer at home
- Formed WILD writing group
- Year of retreat, “Fearless Creativity” retreat with Susan Piver, Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop with Rachel Cole
- Bought a ticket to the World Domination Summit
- E Courses: Mondo Beyondo, Superhero Photo, Ordinary Courage, Blogging from the Heart, Unravelling, and Telling True Stories
- Took vows
- Chose to stop smashing myself to bits, to love and care for myself instead
What have you done for yourself that you’d like to celebrate? On this day of rest, my hope is that you might take a few minutes and make your own list, even if you don’t write it down or share it, and thank yourself for all the love, all the hard work, and revel in the joy of your life, no matter how ordinary or small it might be.
You are enough. Please, kind and gentle reader, remember how precious you are, how amazing it all is–notice and feel that today, right here, right now.
Cheer up. It’s okay. You’re perfect.