Category Archives: Joy

Fill The Well With Love

In the past few months, my life has taken some twists and turns. I haven’t had a clear enough mind to sit and write much of anything, but for some reason…I was motivated to begin today.

I suppose I should start with this past October…our rental home lost the ability to provide running water for our family.  The truth is, we had learned to survive without ample running water, for a long time. We knew when we moved in that we had a low yielding well and the simple inconveniences of using paper plates, taking turns showering, buying bottle water and avoiding things like a slip and slide, where worth the sacrifice if it meant I could provide a safe roof over my childrens heads and not have to move them into a new school. Shortly after my divorce, December 2011 my landlord was the only one, who offered to rent to me….a single mom, with no credit, on a limited income, with two young children and two dogs. A home we would make our own, and call our “The Gingerbread House”.

In late October, we ran out of all water. The drought that had overcome the state of Connecticut, along with the underlying issues of having a bad pump and shallow well, had finally taken their tole. As if things couldn’t have gotten worse, a trip to the veterinarian uncovered our family dog had a non treatable illness and within a matter of days, I had to make a very tough choice and put her to sleep. The kids and even my husband recovered from her loss, relatively quickly. I however, struggled more then I had imagined. I had lost part of my purpose as her daily caretaker. With her gone and the water situation still not rectified, plumbers coming and going, doing what was needed to repair the well. I found myself completely helpless.

The only way I stayed sane in those next few days and weeks, was to randomly drive around and look at houses for sale or rent. I found myself a realtor who listened to me, somedays I think he saved me…he listened while I cried about the loss of my dog or not having had a shower. He would listen to me, as I would worry about leaving the home I had called my own, or not being able to afford a larger rental. He showed me compassion, as I would also feel a sense of abandoning the only people who extended me a roof over my head, when I had no other options. I know deep down, it is the right choice to move and that if I overstayed what we had outgrown, I could ultimately do more harm then good. Contaminate the years of good memories, with resentment and tarnish the friendship and relationship I have with my landlord that we cherish.

In the weeks to follow,  I find a sense of peace. The fact that our growing family of four…will only continue to grow and that’s what it is meant to do. I also think,  perhaps the recent trauma has forced me to face my fears, given me the courage to reach out for help when I needed it and to trust in what the future holds for us all.

So, for now I will leave you with this, just like I didn’t know that the average family of four consumes 400 gallons of water a day, while we made do on 80 gallons a day for 6 years. Is just like I didn’t know that when you go threw foreclosure, you may still have outstanding debt. Just like what I do know is, I survived 6 years on 80 gallons a day and I will certainly save again the money, I used to pay off and settle the debt so we can and will buy a home of our own someday:)

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Everyday Cake

IMG_9364Happy people find joy daily.

My goal is…be passionate about my purpose to live 365 days of joy. I need to keep inspiring my mind.

I need to be clear about my purpose and set a realistic timeline. No one ever achieved 365 days of joy, in 30 days. I need to be patient with myself, start everyday like it’s a brand new day and forgive myself, so I can hit the restart button.

I look for the good in every single person and situation I encounter. No judgement here, I take people at face value. I don’t care about what you did in the past or what you plan to do tomorrow, I am interested in what your doing and sharing with me today. When I am disappointed or something doesn’t go as expected, I have empathy. If I set out to find the good in people, I will react to every situation differently. Over time the people who are meant to stay in my life, will and those who aren’t won’t. I just trust that…

The power of positive thinking and forgiveness 

Happy people find a valuable lesson in every single setback. They turn a mistake into a triumph and rather then playing the blame game, they take accountability and move forward.

Your purpose is to be grateful 

Resolving to see my glass as half full. When I am happy, I am grateful for everything and everyone that has either brought me joy or has inspired a lesson learned or punishment well deserved.

I assume the best intentions of everyone around me. What I have found, for the most part, people are trying to be decent and honest human beings. We all process things differently and that just transcends in a way, I might not understand. I remind myself to have patience and it’s not easy, especially when trust has been broken or I’ve been hurt. I let the fear go and found the courage to see past my history, because most of that is still a mystery:) I look at the bright side, because that’s what pulls me out of the darkness.

I put my positive attitude into action daily. I know it’s easy to be joyful, when everything is going my way, but when I experience a setback or difficulties…that’s when I truly demonstrate my character. I remind myself, that my character is worth fighting for and I am deserving of dignity. I treat myself with the same kindness and  compassion that I show everyone else, by forgiving myself. I am always a work in progress. I remind myself daily, “forward motion is far better then no motion”.

I set boundaries…if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. I stopped being afraid to rid myself of toxic energy. When it becomes too much to manage, it’s time to take out the trash.  I am deserving of the same kindness and respect that I am putting out and it’s ok for me to appreciate that and be grateful.

I remember to CARE…be consistent, accountable, real and enthusiastic about life.

Wishing you always #365DaysofJoy

Chasing Joy

On this upcoming Sunday, March 20, 2016 this CT girl, will be going to New York City to finish the 2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. This will be the third half marathon that I’ve completed in less than a year, my first being just six months after I started running.

My running journey began back in August of 2014 before I was to remarry my ex-husband. My husband, Dennis and I had just overcome so many obstacles. Four years ago, we were in crisis. We were in financial crisis, we lost our home, went through divorce and my health was at risk as I was desperately trying to lose the 80 pounds of weight, that I had gained during our first marriage. But we had overcome these challenges, which led us to this happy time of reunion, stability and strength. Yet, I was still feeling desperate to find a simple moment, to be grateful for my life on this day. Here I was starting over, a second chance with the man that I love and a whole new start on life, and I was stuck in my mental illness and feeling depressed.

During the time my ex-husband and I were divorced, I decided to do something for myself and created a new way to live. I was now going to hold myself accountable for my happiness. I would find a simple moment every day that inspired me to be grateful for life. When my ex-husband and I divorced, we realized we had to let go of everything we thought we had to have in order to find our true sense of self-worth. We had to just appreciate that we are alive and be grateful for that.

Most of my inspiration would come from within the walls of our home and the virtual world around me, as my anxiety and depression often kept me feeling confined. My anxiety would constrict me somedays – like I was trapped inside my own skin and to get out of bed or change my clothes seemed like a daunting task. Then one day, I found myself drawn to a local running group called “Outrun the Odds,” a group that put efforts towards the awareness of Cystic Fibrosis. I found such joy and inspiration in these runners and their stories so I began following their daily achievements and cheering them along. I wanted more and more to feel that joy that they shared so proudly after finishing a race or seeing the results on their bodies after training hard. Not to just be able to see the miles logged, but to be able to contribute and pay that forward to a well-deserved cause. The desire to make a difference while also allowing myself the time to do something that would benefit me, my health, and happiness was far too tempting not to try.

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I was already sharing #365daysofjoy, an initiative I created that inspires us to find joy in one moment each day, with the great big virtual world and now as a runner, I would be able to spread that joy far and wide with a personal message of gratitude. I could physically go out and share the simplest form of gratitude – my smile with all those people who inspired me that I was worth living for. Everything began to make sense and I couldn’t think of any better way to share my message then to become a runner and set goals that would keep my mind busy and focused on doing something for the body that also deserved care. I would commit to making my joy portable in every single step I took and that was forward motion, which was far better than standing still and feeling trapped inside myself.

Sharing positivity was not the only benefit running has brought me and my family. My health and physical fitness has improved as I’ve maintained a 60 lb weight loss and now it is another joy in life that my husband, my children and I share. Dennis, my husband has now also become a runner and he has participated in many races with me in the last year. Our children also participate by cheering us on and even running with us. It has made finding that moment of joy to share, each day so much easier.

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For me, the courage to start is far greater then finishing the race, something I had never done in my life, at least not consistently and not until just a little over a year ago. On the day I became a runner, I took ownership of my strength and held my physical health an equal partner with my mental health. Every step I take, my body wages war on my mind and overcomes the demons that hold it hostage. For me, the mind has always been my weakness but not anymore, it’s become my greatest strength. As a runner, it’s been sheer tenacity that has willed me to believe I can finish, and I will finish the NYC Half Marathon this Saturday, just as I will continue sharing 365 days of joy. I’m grateful to be a runner in the marathon of life. For me, it’s not a race I am trying to win, it’s about taking the time to slow down and appreciate all the moments and when my feet hit the ground, I am feeling my breathe, hearing and seeing the real world and all its beauty around me. It is for these moments that I know, I am alive.

My Beautiful Selfie

Have you ever been nominated for one of those, challenges where you have to post pictures, that are intended to show, your confident and beautiful in your photos?

I share, being confident and comfortable in a picture certainly doesn’t mean you feel that way about yourself. “A picture speaks a thousand words”, but from my experience, it’s not about how someone looks, rather how they are feeling in that moment. I have been blessed with being able to capture the beauty of a moment and share that in a selfie. I also share, that doesn’t mean I feel beautiful all the time.

I think it’s fair to say, you don’t find me alone in a lot of pictures. I often use my selfie stick as a shield, when I find myself in an overwhelming situation, or trying to capture a moment that might make me uncomfortable. I have often used the selfie stick to leave enough space, between me and the camera, to hide my flaws. For me, sharing all the people that surround me or have brought me a true moment of joy, is real and far more gratifying, then seeing myself alone and exuding beauty, when I am not genuinely feeling that way.

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Sometimes I wake up and I have a hard time looking at my body. If it wasn’t for that selfie, I may have believed what I saw, in that mirror, aging skin and an overweight figure. Somedays, rather then applaud myself for having found the strength to grow muscles, I shame myself because, my jeans no longer fit my runners physique.

I have struggled with my weight since I was a teenager. I often compare myself to Oprah, having been between a size 0-20. The problem with that, somewhere along the way…my mind got confused about the body it was in.

So, I thank my selfie…for being the reminder I need sometimes, of how beautiful the women in front of the mirror has become.

IMG_0444I ask myself everyday…what is it, that I am doing to feel beautiful, so I can go out and share that, with the world. I share the answer was finding gratitude for my life and living it with passion and purpose, that’s when my attitude changed ,along with what I saw in the mirror. This today, is what transcends, when I share my beautiful selfie.

My Little Miracle

The most important thing I have learned, on my journey to share 365 days of joy. Happy people, find good in the world. I had to resolve myself, to see the glass as half full and become an eternal optimist.“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Helen Keller

I look for the good, in every single person and when a person disappoints…I show empathy. “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” Margaret Mead.

I had to be clear about my purpose and set a realistic goal. I don’t know anyone who has ever achieved 365 days of joy, in 30 days. What was I thinking?  This was not going to be a short term goal, or instant gratification. Finding daily joy, in a world that often seems full of sadness and negativity. Was I setting myself up for failure or was I strong enough, to believe…I might, actually like the person I would become and find some hope in humanity. The worst case scenario, I fell victim to my own “get happy” scam. I couldn’t get any unhappier, so I had nothing to lose. Truth: nothing worth achieving is ever easy!

How?  Im just a simple mom, who’s not so simple minded. I think outside the box and get back to basics, they write text books on that stuff. I knew nothing about achieving daily gratitude. Somedays all I want to do, is pull the covers back over my head and go back to sleep. Everything for a reason…yup, the RT button on twitter. I had resolved this issue and relatively quickly. You know the old saying, “it takes a village”, well that stands true for a life filled with 365 days of joy. I realized, the daily joy I was achieving, was being inspired by the people I was surrounding myself with. Perhaps, it was an article I read, a program I watched or just a picture quote that someone was inspired to share. Ahh gotta love the “re-tweet” button, within a moment you have inspired the masses and what was once a ripple is now a tidal wave of sheer joy!

 

 

Each one of those simple moments, that lifted my spirit and brought me the simplest form of gratitude, a “smile”, propelled me to keep going and made me feel alive. What I did next, was share my gratitude. I didn’t silently keep it to myself, I shared my joyful selfie, far and wide. I thanked all those people who had brought me joy and began to establish genuine and real friendships.

What started out as, one small town girl, desperately chasing her happiness…has evolved into a great big world, sharing triumphant joy. I am not very good with math, 6,337 followers and more then 10,000 mentions of the #365daysofjoy I would say, we are making a difference. You can call it whatever you want, I believe, it’s a little miracle and a testament to the strength and character of humanity. I am “living” proof, that sharing my enthusiasm for life has made me a much happier person and who’s also inspired others to feel the same. Letting the fear go and believing in your happiness is worth working hard for, yes…every… single… day! I am grateful to have the courage and the strength to keep on sharing and thank you, for giving me 365 reasons to believe in miracles.

The Triumphant Turtle

As I lay in bed writing this…I first share gratitude that I am awake, alive and able to share. I remind myself, that I am the one who has to get myself up, clean the clutter that surrounds the keyboard that calls me, to share something that might inspire someone, they are worth a life filled with joy.

I was once asked by a therapist, if I had suffered trauma in my life. For some ridiculous reason, I had to think about whether or not, the bad stuff that happened to me, was worthy of sharing. I stopped to think about the “really bad” stuff that is happening throughout the world we live in and it made me feel ashamed for feeling or sharing my pain. I will share with you, every trauma no matter how big or small is valid. No trauma should be compared to another. Your trauma is real, your pain is valid and so are you. It’s not until you, validate yourself and deal with the pain, that you can heal.

If you are here today, remind yourself that you are the one that’s doing the work. You are seeking inspiration, reading to educate your mind and you are doing something that will hopefully help lead you to a life filled with 365 days of joy.

For me, somedays…I celebrate getting myself out of bed, getting into the shower and changing out of what I wore the night before. Somedays, I celebrate finishing the laundry, cooking dinner, washing the dishes and maybe I was really motivated to run the vacuum over the dirt covered floors. Just maybe, I venture out of the house and not because I have to drive carpool or take the kids somewhere, but because the sun came out and I had the courage to see the real world and the beauty that surrounds me; not what the media decided to show me vicariously threw the internet and television.

I started by making a list, all the “must do’s” and each time I finish one, I celebrated that. I finally found myself worthy enough to do something for just me, that isn’t a “must do”. I held myself accountable to get out and do something, that made me feel good about me. Not because, I had to…but, because I just might find myself worth a lot more, to a lot of people, who needed and wanted my inspiration.

A few things I try to do…
Sign up for a charity walk, join a book club, help feed those who are homeless, download a couch to 5k or become an active member of a group that is grateful for my participation and that I am inspired by.

I never compare myself. My pains or my success’s are not anymore or any less, then anyone else. Each day I survive is a blessing and yes, somedays I am just celebrating getting out of bed. We are all responsible for our own happiness and you will know, if what your doing is working…because, you will feel it and the people around you will see it. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it…When we put out the positive, we draw it to us and that’s when you will see consistent growth and a life that’s filled with joy.

I share that these past few months…I have not let my anxiety or fear of failure, stop me from starting what I will finish this month, “The United NYC half marathon”. I will be, “the triumphant turtle”, running grateful for human kindness and with empathy for all those who had the patience to follow and share my journey.

Thank you!

Grade My Selfie

If you looked at my report cards after kindergarten you would see a mediocre or below average student at best. You would read…”Rachel does not always do her best, she requires additional reminders to complete her work.” “Rachel needs to grow up.”” Rachel enjoys school, but needs to work on being more responsible and a better lister.” I was told, I didn’t work hard enough to meet my full potential.

From school to school I would go and that’s what the emphasis always was, Rachel isn’t applying herself and that made me not just lazy, but a failure.  I was defined by my education and the grades I wasn’t achieving.  The reality is, when your a kid and your only job is, as full time student and you can’t make the grade, your a failure. I will say today, that also made me preconditioned to fail as an adult. In defense of the educators at the time, we didn’t have the extened knowledge we do today about mental illness, mood disorders and learning disabilities and I would like to think that the lack of empathy, was just based on sheer ignorance and I am glad that we are continuing to make strides in raising awareness for the mentally ill and disabled. Perhaps we should not be labeling our kids, “special”.  Everyone is special in their own individual ways and let’s start redefining what makes a person successful. I think we need to show caution, when putting so much focus on the grades. Not just for the student who isn’t making the grade, but for the ones that are and rating their own sense of self worth on those grades.

I will say that I am far from mediocre and far from perfect. I am always a work in progress. I started paying it forward to myself, for the sake of my own kids, by getting back to basics.  A few years ago, after finally receiving my own diagnose of ADHD along with some mood disorder traits, causing depression and anxiety later in my adult life.  I finally decided to make myself accoutable to my own happiness, by sharing a simple moment each day, that I am triumphant…#365daysofjoy I choose to focus on the character of each individual. I honor those who have the ability to inspire me, to smile or laugh. The, “american dream”, should be for everyone to have an equal opportunity to find joy and while we can’t change the past, we can certainly learn from it. For me, educating a difference, means empowering my children, to do what they are passionate about. I believe, if they find that…it will sustain itself.