Compliments make me uncomfortable. They always have. I don’t know that I will ever feel comfortable with them. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them.
Today, I got a good one.
“You are glowing!” My Zumba instructor said to me this morning before class. “You’ve been glowing! What’s going on?”
“Um…I don’t know.” I replied. I felt awkward. This isn’t something people typically tell me.
She said it again. “You’ve just had this glow about you.”
I had no idea why she was so adamant about this. Then it hit me.
Joy. It’s my joy.
My focus word for 2019 is Joy. I know, it seems trite and unoriginal. I get that — and I agree. But joy needs to be my focus, because joy is something that doesn’t come naturally for me. I tend to hold it back and stuff it down. Then when I do allow myself to feel it, I don’t know how to hold on to it. I let people and circumstances deflate my joy.
However, years of reflection and a lot of self-work have taught me that joy is always accessible. I just need to stay in the right frame of mind and become better at finding joy in simple things and learning to hold on to my joy in all situations.
Money flows in and out of my life. I struggle with negative money beliefs at times. Sometimes there is more and sometimes there is less. But even when there is less, I always have so much to feel joyful for.
My daughter is a highly creative, highly disorganized child. Her room is complete chaos 90 percent of the time. Twice in the past three months, I have packed up big plastic totes of toys, crafts and crap to toss or donate. Disorder and clutter stress me out, but that’s how it is around here most days. Still, I can feel joy.
My grandmother has been in a nursing home since August. Most of the time, she doesn’t realize where she is. But sometimes, she does. And when it’s time to leave her after a visit, the look in her eyes tells me that she is remembering; she knows where she is. She is in a strange place, all alone. It’s been a heart-wrenching experience for many reasons. But still, even though this is an awful experience, I hold on to the things in my life that are joyful.
I can feel sad, stressed, angry or scared, but still access my joy. I just need to be intentional about it.
Be intentional about finding your joy.
So while I was initially surprised by my Zumba instructor’s comment; it made sense. For the past two weeks, I have let myself really feel my joy during class. I love to dance. I mean, I really freaking love it.
When I started going to classes last March, I found that I would be really exploding with joy while I danced. I flailed about and kicked and shimmied all over the place, until I would suddenly catch myself in the mirror to see that I was letting my freak flag fly. Then I would feel shame and embarrassment.
Why? I’m not sure. Maybe because I like to stay under the radar. I like to blend in. Maybe I wasn’t comfortable with that much happiness all at once.I worried that people would look at me and think “Look at her. Why is she dancing so gregariously? Why is she dancing so hard?”
But what I’ve come to realize is that no one is looking at me. Everyone is really caught up in their own damn selves. And if they are looking at me and thinking those things, well then, what I have come to realize is that they have those thoughts and feelings because they, themselves, are broken and insecure.
Those thoughts, those feelings of fear and insecurity that I have, they come from my childhood. They come from years of elders saying “Look at her. Who does she think she is?” about other people.
The things I fear that other people are saying are the exact things I heard while I was growing up. I heard it from my grandmother, from my great-grandmother, my great-aunts, my aunt, my mom. Hell, even my friends’ moms did it. All the women that should have been an example to me and my sister and my friends…. these were the women that were teaching us to fear criticism and judgement for just being ourselves. These are the women that let us down.
I’m not angry at them anymore. They just didn’t know any better. And from what I have gathered regarding my own family pattern, they didn’t approve of people showing their joy because they didn’t know how to find and embrace their own joy.
I’m forty-five years old. It’s taken me this long to figure these things out; that I can always have joy, that I deserve joy, that I can show joy.
So I will keep dancing. I will dance, flail about, shake and shimmy. This glow, it’s from my joy. It feels like I’m finally doing it right.
Breathe and Reboot, friends!