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untamed

Untamed Joy

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“Somewhere along my journey it happened.

Quietly, imperceptibly, almost without my having knowing it.

I relaxed.

Got comfortable with myself.

I began enjoying myself, accepting myself, accepting life.

Liking life.

I found joy.

Somewhere along your journey, it will happen to you…

Don’t worry about finding joy.

Because somewhere along your journey, joy will find you.”

-Melody Beattie “Journey to the Heart”

Are we there yet?

(I write this thinking of the laughing/crying emoji I’d love to post right after it!)

Have you arrived at this destination of joy? Is it an actual location, or rather a state of mind? Do we take residence in it or are we just here for a quick visit, perhaps a vacation from reality? Are these questions making you feel anxious or stressed, perhaps with the pressure of needing to accomplish this? Or perhaps you think and feel, “AMEN! Done!”

I am right here with you!

I’m riding the rollercoaster of life, just like you. I still wrestle with the “shoulds” that still reside in me from my family of origin and societal pressures. We are not perfect. We will never be perfect. Frankly, I’m done with trying to be perfect. I don’t have the energy for that anymore. And yet it still creeps in, in moments of stress, illness, quiet, like a little leak of air through a window. Just enough to catch my attention.

I allow myself to give it a touch of attention. I notice a frank conversation happening inside my head starting, “Ok, I’m feeling pressure to do the ‘right’ thing here.” And I tell myself gently, yet firmly, “There is no ‘right’ thing here.” And I respond gratefully, “Oh right, thanks for that reminder, I needed that.”

Then I ask myself, “How long do I want to give this attention? How much energy do I have to give this?”

The second answer gets me and I say, “Zero.” I refocus my attention away from the pressure of perfection and follow up with, “What is it you really need and/or want (to do, think, feel) right now?” Sensing that the best thing for me in this moment is some quiet, some reflection, some “me time.” I know I have options because I’ve been here before and I know what helps. I could read, take a bath, make some tea, get a glass of water, reflect, write, go for a walk, watch Netflix. I think, “Wow! Those are a lot of options!” And I wait a moment to see which one feels like the best option in this moment. I know I can always change my mind and try something else.

One place I find Joy is in the quiet whispers of my heart asking to be cared for, nurtured, and nourished. I know that no one knows me as well as I know myself and that I can nourish and nurture myself in many wonderful ways. This feels freeing to me. I’m not relying on someone else to notice I need something and come to my rescue and give me what I’m needing. I rely on my own strength to go ahead and give it to myself.

Oftentimes mid-life is about reevaluation.

We look back on the last forty (or fifty!) years and assess if we want to continue doing life the same way for the next forty-plus years.

The first forty-plus years have offered us a wonderful foundation of life lessons full of newness and loss. These first forty years have primed us for this moment of reevaluation. We may not have known that we had a choice in how we did those first forty years. Now we are old enough and have been adulting long enough to know what works for us and what doesn’t work for us. We know who we are and what feels best to us. And we’re beginning to not be afraid to speak our truth.  This is exactly where you find Joy. In the speaking of your Truth. The freedom to own your wants and needs. The embracing of “Not giving a Shit” what people think of me. And it feels wonderful.

Our free book giveaway this month is Untamed by Glennon Doyle. It addresses this very theme of speaking one’s Truth and taking all the responsibility and ownership of what comes with that. It speaks for bravery and freedom. And reminds us, “We can do hard things!”

joy

An Exercise In Joy & Success

Written by Megan Bayles Bartley, MAMFT, LMFT

“…the measure of success is absolutely the amount of joy you feel.”

Take a minute and think about a time when you felt pure joy. Oftentimes we think of moments that were life-defining. When we proposed to our sweetheart and heard “YES!” Or maybe our wedding day, or the day our first child was born, or when we got that new job, that raise or promotion.  Unfortunately for many of us our emotions fluctuate fairly rapidly and it’s rare that we can maintain that feeling of pure joy.  But what if it didn’t have to be this way? What if we could live joyful, or joy-filled, lives and experience this joy a majority of the time? Well, we can!

“Yeah, right!” I hear you saying.

Give me a minute to explain… What we’re talking about is viewing your life from a bit of a different perspective.  Instead of a perspective of LACK – “I’ll feel joy when I get that raise, meet the right person, lose 20 lbs, etc.” – and shift into a thinking of ABUNDANCE – “Everything is exactly as it needs to be. All I need to be is myself. Everything I need to know is already within me.”

See the difference?

Here’s what I want you to try: Write down the above messages of Abundance on sticky notes and stick them on places you look often – on the microwave, on your dashboard, at the bathroom mirror, on your computer screen. Make an effort to look at the messages and remember that feeling of Joy.  Soon you’ll start to associate the two together – the feeling of Joy with the message “Everything is exactly as it needs to be.”

Stick with it for 21-30 days and see what happens.  This is how long it takes to make a shift in belief, perspective or behavior change.  You are actually building new neural pathways in your brain.  The more attention you give the new perspective, and don’t give attention to the former perspective, the stronger the new perspective of Abundance becomes and the perspective of Lack begins to die off.  Remember, what we feed, grows. Give it a try!  What do you have to lose?!

When we focus on Joy FIRST, our lives will begin to shift so we experience success in multiple areas.

If there is an area that seems like a problem area now – your relationship, your job, your living situation – they will work themselves out as you are focusing on joy.  This might mean they will begin to bring you joy in new ways because you are seeing them differently OR because you see clearly now that there is no way they will bring you joy and you will make confident decisions to move beyond them.

Wouldn’t it be AWESOME to feel Joy AND Confidence?! Oh yeah, it can happen. You can do it.  Stay focused and give it 21-30 days. Be gentle with yourself. You will mess up but chalk it up to a learning experience and keep moving forward. Growth comes with growing pangs.

And if you find you need some help, we are always here to be a guide (and cheerleader!). Keep at it! We believe in you!​