Finding Joy, Staying Connected & Keeping Your Sh*t Together

The Struggle to Stay Happy & Healthy is Gettin' Realer Daily

You probably didn't notice, but I skipped a month of blog post writing. No big deal, really. It's just that time is standing still yet simultaneously whizzing by. It's srsly dislodging my sense of what and when. Know what I mean?

This year has mucked up my brainz!
This year has mucked up my brainz!

Anyway, this past week has recombobulated me a bit.

  • Last Friday was the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, and this Sunday evening kicks off Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. These high holidays are always a natural time for me to take stock, reflect and plan.

  • Plus, the autumnal equinox was on the 22nd. Changes of season are another obvious point at which to hit the pause button. I think that for the shift from summer to fall this is even more so because you're transitioning from long, light, warm days of fancy-freeness to shorter, cooler, darker days of back to school/work. We kind of revert from expansion and outwardliness back into our little cocoons of contraction and inwardliness.

My gist here is that these two nodes of introspection crammed into one tiny (ok, normal-sized) week really caught my attention. And throttled me a wee tad.

So I figured it'd be a nice time to dedicate some attention to what I'd like more of or to be better at.

  • Prioritizing the important stuff.

  • Focusing on positive (though, let's face it, probably still spiked with snarkiness) approaches and constructive uses of energy.

This pic doesn't have much to do with this post. I just like it. Joy.
This pic doesn't have much to do with this post. I just like it. Joy. Plus, it does sort of look like this kid is being pensive....

Finding Joy

Ya, no, I'm not talking about binge watching Marie Kondo here. I'm referring to discovering or tapping into real, deep-seated joie de vivre.

I'm trying to let the sh*t slide away, like I'm coated with eco-friendly Teflon. When it works, it's bliss! But, in all honesty, the struggle really is real.

Anyway, when I'm not bogged down or distracted by things that I can't do anything about or that isn't truly important, I'm much more available to the good stuff. It's kind of akin to "happy people are luckier people" (which is actually proven out in various studies).

So, what has been bringing me joy? That's not necessarily so critical. But I'll list some happy-makers in the hopes that they inspire you to find or connect with what brings a smile to your lovely face.

  • Returning to real food. Ditching the early pandemic stuff-my-face-with-junk-food bit, I've gone back to buying, preparing and eating good and wholesome foods. I'm getting back to experimenting with new recipes, ingredients and cooking techniques. (Uh, not always successful but a fun experience!) I'm taking the time to consider my food (its physical attributes, its journey to my kitchen, etc.) and to eat mindfully (savor the sensory stimulations).

  • Finding movement daily. Again, at the beginning of "house arrest" I pretty much abandoned my exercise routine. Mostly because I couldn't do the things I was doing (all gym-/studio-based group ex). But also because I am LAZY. I am inertia personified, really. And the lousy weather sure didn't motivate. Eventually, though, when I realized what a long freakin' haul this was going to be, I knew in my heart of hearts (that I want to keep healthy!) that I needed to get my ass off the couch. Enough Netflix, YouTube, etc. already! I started finding ways to do exercise that were pleasant and meaningful to me. I found ways to make it challenging, in a good way. So, for me, this meant splurging on those TRX straps I'd been eyeing for a loooong time and creating my own workouts, exploring new ways to do yoga classes and meditation, and starting to teach yoga. I've found ways to do these activities socially-distanced in the park with friends, online, via apps, in small spaces, etc. Even days I don't exercise, I make sure I squeeze in some stretching to counteract all the hours of tapping at my computer....

  • Stopping and looking/listening. Typically, this is all about putting down the devices and just being. I tend to get caught up in the day's tasks and the ever-growing to-do list. So much so that I forget to just pause every once in a while. Take a beat to feel the breeze caress my skin. Watch the mondo earthworms conquer their grassy domain. Even acknowledging the recent bout of insane smoke we had here and the blood-orange sun caused by the wildfires. The effect is that I miss things; I miss out on things. Maybe you can relate?

  • Do things that make me smile and laugh. We have a ritual in our house that before bed we call a moratorium on "bad" news and just look at cute/funny animal pics and vids (love me some waddling corgi tushies!). My friends and I have an ongoing group text convo; it's not only a source of support and inspiration, it's a pipeline of funny memes and silliness.

  • Acquiring new knowledge and abilities. I try to learn something every. damn. day. This one I apply to both personal and professional spheres. On the personal side, I've been teaching myself to draw and do some other craft projects, trying to grow something (other than milde