FINDING JOY DESPITE … EVERYTHING

“Life comes at you fast, sometimes.

Go hug your lovies and never forget to live every minute of every day.”

These are words from a dear friend and mentor who unexpectedly lost her wife. They had been together nearly three decades. I am heartbroken.

It shouldn’t take a tragedy for us to remember what’s important.

I’m not talking about the trite “savor every moment” mantra; we all know that’s impossible.

What I’m talking about, and what my friend means, is relishing life through the ups and downs. Some of us can fall on hard times that last years. It’s in those times where we have to cling to any moment of joy we can find and create the rest.

A perfect example is my friend Kymberly. Her son is medically fragile. He was hospitalized (again) just as his sister was leaving to study abroad in Europe. This boy’s lifetime has been filled with hospitalizations, surgeries, and doctors. His family has found a way to make the best of it because they have no choice. So they had a send off party for his sister circling a hospital bed. Between new, scary medical mysteries and specialists dropping by, Kymberly somehow painted her nails and read a trashy magazine. She helps her son manage his pain through silly games while staying on top of the hospital staff 24/7. She knows her time with him is precious. She latches on to the good while handling the terrible.

We say life is too short, but then we spend so much time getting worked up over things that just don’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

Sure an ironclad IEP is important. But is it worth the days of agony that surround it? Should a document that some teachers may only read while it’s being written cause that much strife?

Is running back and forth to different therapists worth being miserable? How much does your child benefit if his or her caregiver is stressed out?

Is drilling your child on how to read and write while his or her friends are playing outside really fair to either of you?

Think about all the things that suck the joy out of your life and take a moment to reevaluate if they are really necessary.

That balanced, home cooked meal that the kids refuse to eat?

The clean house/car/closet that gets trashed moments later?

The latest annoying thing your partner did?

Fitting into jeans that fit 5 years ago?

Kids getting sloppy moments after dressing them in “nice” clothes?

Trying to attain any form of perfection?

Comparing yourself to others?

Getting sucked into the vitriol of a comment thread?

Worrying about what others think?

Changing the minds those whose opinions you don’t value in the first place?

The beauty of all of this is we still have some level of control. We can make choices to let these things go and let more joy into our lives, even in small ways. Unfortunately it often takes something awful to happen to remind us how good we have it.

So put down your phone, turn on some music.

Dance.

Make love.

Embrace your babies.

Hug your dog.

Have ice cream for dinner.

Get messy.

Call your mom.

Breathe.

Remember how lucky we are to be on this side of the grass … and how quickly that can change.

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