I’m supposed to be training for this year’s running of the Rutgers’ Unite Half Marathon in April. But I’m not really training. I’m just running for Joy. Um….just?
What do you mean just, Diane?? Joy is Everything. Joy is IT! Whenever possible — Joy is the emotion that should drive everything we do. I say, whenever possible — instead of a.l.w.a.y.s. — because I’m a realist. There is a thing called W.O.R.K. — that we all kinda gotta do. Although “they” say, one should find what brings them Joy, and figure out how to get paid for it — I don’t know many people who work for Joy. Most people I know – work so they can afford Joy.
Then unfortunately, there are those who carry the weight of Life on their shoulders everyday, and manage to miss the Joy of Living. I used to be one of these people. Oh yea. Truth. There were a series of years back when my girls were little — when Living was Heavy! Back then, I believed that MY life was harder than everybody elses. That, for whatever reason, I didn’t deserve Joy. And that was proven by how hard my life was , compared to others lives. I had gone through a divorce. Then carried the burden of supporting two small daughters. Then discovered one of my babies had Autism, and began walking that path. Then went through the 9/11 tragedy. it just kept coming…and coming. Go ahead L.I.F.E…Keep Piling It On. I don’t know what I did to deserve all of this….but….Keep Piling It On.
My Life FELT like hard work. Everyday. Every day, i would get up, and work work work, dumping every ounce of energy I had, just to survive the day. That’s how I felt. I rarely allowed my eyes to see the delights of life. Every lovely thing my little girls did — just looked like a mess I had to clean up. Every trip we made outside the house — felt like one errand on a list that was endless. Every minute of my day — was work. not joy.
I used to yell alot back then.
STOP DOING THIS! WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT! Nothing was ever calm enough. Noting was ever quiet. My life wouldn’t stop long enough for my headache to go away. I just needed a moment for it all to stop — so I could catch my breath. So here is when I tell you what you already know……Life….Doesn’t…..Stop. Thank God! LOL
So how did it all change Diane? Cuz you don’t seem like this person now.
Good perception. No, I’m not that person anymore. And looking back — there was ONE big moment…and then a lot of little ones…that changed my life.
The big moment was this.
I think my daughter Caity was 4 years old. We had just moved into our rented townhouse after my divorce. I had learned my Caity had Autism — which explained ALOT. Her behavioral issues. Her severely limited language issues. I was putting her to bed one night – just like every other night. This day must have been crazy. So much noicse, so much chaos, so much mess. I had to have been yelling….like usual. Because when I put Caity to bed that night, and was in the process of tucking her in and kissing her goodnight. Caity looked at me with that angel face and said “Mommy, you monster.”
In that moment, my heart stopped. And broke.
Well Diane — you wanted Life to Stop for a Moment. And — You Just Got It Kid.
I turned away — went to my own bedroom — and cried myself to sleep. Alone in my rented townhouse, alone with my 3 year old baby and her 4 year old autistic sister — who calls things like she sees ’em. And she spotted her mommy for what she was. A monster.
Overnight — transformation occurred. It didn’t come from my head. I didn’t have enough peace or clarity in my brain to come up with the survival skills I needed back then. No, this change came from my heart. It came — from my Love for Caity and her little sister Erin.
I woke up in Calm. My body began to manufacture it. In Buckets. When Caity and Erin were crazy, I brought calm. When the noise was shaking the house, I brought quiet. Whatever those girls could dish out — I brought the opposite. And right there, in the middle of my little rented house —- my little girls began to follow my lead. We all got calmer, and quieter. And little by little, day by day, they began to talk, and communicate, and grow, and mature.
Life Got Better. And our lives created room. Room for Joy.
Years later — looking back — our lives are sooo different, that it almost seems like those years were somebody else’s lives, because it’s so different from today. Caity is a happy, smart, mature 17 year old with a boyfriend. Talkative, well-adjusted. She works harder than the average girl for just about everything, but she is my hero, and I admire the daylights out of her! Erin is a funny, compassionate, wickedly smart, gorgeous little caterpillar. She will be 16 tomorrow — and doesn’t even know what a beautiful butterfly she is — inside and out.
Our lives are full of busy busy busy. Life STILL doesn’t stop (Thank God!), but what is most different — is that I’ve learned how to create the moments of Calm for myself. It took me a long time to realize that these moments come from Within. They come from inside. You shouldn’t go looking outside for someone or something to bring you the quiet you need. You should look inside and MAKE the space where well-being can live, grow, flourish. And when it does — YOU will too. It’s a linear straight line. Trust me!
So, I go to the dictionary (just cuz I can’t help myself — my curiosity gets the best of me) — and I look up JOY. And here is the irony.
Joy: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; delight!
Did you catch it? The delicious coincidence?? Joy is the emotion created by well-being. Ahhhh. Perfecto! Without knowing it, little by litte each day, I began taking care of myself. I did it out of a LOT of Love…..and a little bit of Shame. I mean come on now — how many mothers out there could survive being called a Monster by their little baby — who back then — didn’t even know how to lie. It nearly killed me. But! As “they” say — what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
One day, I will write a book called Mommy, You Monster. There is so much to say about those years. I used to think it would be about how we survived them. But now I know it will be about how we thrived during them. It will be a tale of Joy!
So…Run Diane. As little or as much as you want. Lap up the Joy. It can’t ALL be work. Half Marathons and Full Ones….they they have their purpose. But Running is your well-being. Running Brings Joy. Go …. Go Run, and Drink Up as Much As YOu Want.
THIS too is Math! And it all adds up to something simple. Actions that I took in ignorance that ended up — Saving my Life.. And not only my life…..but the lives of two little girls….whose happiness was/is my Life’s work. The biggest and best thing I have E.V.E.R. done. Erin, Caity — You ARE and forever will BE….my JOY!
I love you girls.
Ciao for now……your Mommy