My mom was away at a 10-day meditation retreat so I hadn’t had a chance to have a deep conversation after I was let go from my job. When we spoke a few nights back, her first question was – “How are you.” and I simply blurted out – “Mumma, I have never more alive, more connected with myself. I had always wanted to work and live this way and I am so grateful I am finally here.” Perhaps, it was the comfort of being in one of the safest spaces in my life that I could feel my body soften and words come out of my heart so clearly and this realization of the deep, profound state of joy I have been in over the last couple of weeks.
Along with witnessing, I have also been processing and understanding the roots of my joy in this season. It feels very different than other experiences of joy and contentment I have had over the years. It is a deep steady state of calm, that isn’t always accessible to me. At first, I thought it may be the joy that comes with being on vacation and not having a long to-do list but as I have been unpacking it more, I realize that its the joy that comes from feeling in deep alignment with my values, being in integrity with my purpose on this planet and having the space and capacity to love, care and be more present in the world around me. It is the joy of seeing the fruit of over a decade of effort in pivoting, experimenting, and connecting back with myself to know the kind of work and life I wanted for myself. It is the joy that comes with honoring the hundreds of humans who supported me on my path and shared their blessings, wisdom, and insight in big and small ways. It is this recognition of how interconnected we humans are and how much of what we chase in life that doesn’t often bring lasting joy and a sense of meaning. I had long wanted to have a life with a lot more space, connection, love, service, and self-expression, and to come so close to living that way feels absolutely surreal.
It is the joy that comes with having the freedom to design my own days and surround myself with people I want to be with and contribute to the world in ways that matter to me. It is the joy that comes with not needing to prove anything to anyone but choosing who I want to be accountable to. It is the joy of not being defined by labels and systems that aren’t designed for my belonging or empowerment. It is about being able to draw my own boundaries with consequences that I am willing to accept. It is the joy of feeling time rich, of not feeling rushed, of not needing to be ultra productive and efficient to fit it all in, and knowing that there is so much space on the margins of my life. It is the joy of having a few extra mins to connect with a neighbor on the sidewalk after dropping off the kids at the bus stop.
The analogy that comes to mind is that of a pre-schooler who always wanted a pet and the parents told her that yes, you’ll get it when you are in 6th grade and old enough to help take care of a pet. The child patiently waits in anticipation, trying to demonstrate every birthday that she is finally old enough to be able to take care of the dog. When she finally gets the dog, it’s the abundant joy of being able to hold another living being and experiencing the love and comfort that a dear pet brings into the world.
And yet I am aware of how fleeting this joy can be because such is life. I have my annual check-up this week and I am acutely aware that a tough diagnosis could change the trajectory of my days, my family’s joy in minutes. A phone call with hard news, an unexpected accident, or the other realities of life could drastically alter this season. In some ways, this reality has inspired me to savor even more deeply the goodness of what’s here, now in this very moment, every single day.
I am also acutely aware of my privilege of being able to have a husband whose insurance I can be on. The privilege of not contributing financially to my family like I did when I worked full time and knowing I can afford to work less than I have in the past at least for a few more months. I am deeply grateful and recognize how incredibly blessed I am to be in this position.
And yet, through the past few years, I have learned to trust that life brings us what we are meant to receive, learn from and grow with in ways that are mysterious, sometimes unclear yet abundant, and beautiful in their own ways. I hope I can bring this some energy of acceptance, trust and surrender even when life throws curveballs because I know it will…
As an avid hiker, I experience my life as this interconnected large park with numerous trails. Some come with a detailed map and others have a few guide marks. Some trails look easy but then become steep. Sometimes the weather changes unexpectedly and sometimes the trails that look like they are in different directions merge and become one trail. Some trails are more magnificent than others but they each have their own beauty and purpose in our ecosystem as well in their impact on us humans as hikers.
Today, I am savoring having hiked a lot of beautiful trails and am taking a few moments to soak in the sun, the gorgeous views behind and ahead of me, and trusting that I will know which hike I know is mine next. Trusting that even if I feel I have lost my way, that there are too many boulders or unexpected downpours coming my way, my backpack with all its bounties will carry me through where I need to go!
Pic: Selfie in the snow from a recent day trip to Lake Tahoe