Saying Goodbye to 2017

It’s hard to believe it’s the end of another year.  Time seems to be speeding up as I get older.  My boys are growing like weeds.   Sometimes I want to beg them to slow down a little.  This has been a tough year for our family.  There have been a lot of changes happening,  and I’m not one that gets excited about change.   One thing I’ve learned about change though it that it pushes us out of our comfort zones.  It’s easy to get almost complacent if nothing ever changes.  Things can even get a little stagnant without change.  There is no room for growth without change.  And so sometimes I think God thrusts a little change on us whether we like it or not.  This has definitely been a year of growth for me, and with growth comes growing pains.  Anytime true growth happens, I think there is a certain amount of loss involved.  Growth means movement and going forward, but to do that, you have to say good-bye to the things you leave behind, and that is hard.  It’s a very interesting mix of grieving for what we leave behind and hope for what is ahead. 

Throughout this last year of change, God has really opened my eyes to what I want to do with the rest of my life as far as vocation goes.  I decided to go back to school to get my Masters Degree in Counseling.  I am very excited about this and the way that it has come to fruition.  As part of that long-term plan, I started back to school to finish my bachelors degree.  I also started a new full-time job back in September working at a counseling office.  I love the job and the people I work with.  These are both very good things that have happened in the last year, but even so, I find myself grieving for some of the things that have had to change to make room for these new things.   Now that I am working full-time and going to school, I can’t go volunteer at the boy’s school whenever I want to.  I’m not readily available to drop the boys off at school or pick then up almost everyday like I used to.  I am not available to babysit for friends during the day like I used to, or go meet them for Bible Study and fellowship on a weekly basis like we used to.  I sometimes feel like I am going to give myself whiplash by the constant looking back and forth between how things were and how things will be.  I guess that’s when I have to just be in the present and practice being grateful for where I am right now.  It also gives me the opportunity to be so grateful that I had a number of years when the boys were little to be home with them without having to work, and for the chance to build strong relationships with my girlfriends that won’t end just because I don’t see them as much.  It takes a little more coordinating and scheduling now…something that is not my strong suit, but it makes the times when I can pick the boys up from school that much sweeter, or when I can get together with friends that much more special.  The boys are older now, and seeing me working and going to school can be a good opportunity for them to see me being responsible and for them to learn to be more responsible too.  

I love Truth Bomb Mom, Kristina Kuzmic.  She posted this great video about embracing the new year and choosing to look for something good every single day.  She suggests every night, writing down one good thing that happened during the day you just lived.  My own spin as 2018 is upon us it to write down one thing I am grateful for every day.  This is not a new idea, but why re-invent the wheel?  Choosing to embrace and seek after gratitude and activiely finding the good can only bring more gratitude and good.  So here’s to 2018.  I hope you will join me in seeking gratitude and good!

 

Yesterday

(Imagine Dragons)

Here’s to my future
Here’s to my yesterday
Here’s to change
Oh, here’s to my yesterday
No tomorrow without a yesterday
Here’s to my future
Goodbye to yesterday

All these years I’ve been searching
For who I’m supposed to be
All this time I’ve been wasting
‘Cause I was right in front of me

Oh, it’s a crooked old tradition
By a masterful magician
But in all this trouble I’ve met
I haven’t got one single regret, no

Here’s to my future
Here’s to my yesterday
Here’s to change
Oh, here’s to my yesterday
No tomorrow without a yesterday
Here’s to my future
Goodbye to yesterday
Yesterday

Oh, I’m a hopeless crash collision
‘Cause I’m a hostage to my pride
And by my own volition
I’ve been a saint, I’ve been the truth, I’ve been the lie

Oh, it’s a crooked old tradition
By a masterful magician
But in all this trouble I’ve met
I haven’t got one single regret, no

Here’s to my future
Here’s to my yesterday
Here’s to change
Oh, here’s to my yesterday
No tomorrow without a yesterday
Here’s to my future
Goodbye to yesterday
Yesterday

A new day you can go, you can do
Anything you wanna
It’s your play, swing low, go high
Anywhere you wanna
You can reach for the moon
Anywhere your dreams could take you
Go astray, fade away
Just leave it to yesterday

Here’s to my future
Here’s to my yesterday
Here’s to change
Oh, here’s to my yesterday
No tomorrow without a yesterday
Here’s to my future
Goodbye to yesterday
Yesterday

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Hi, my name is Joy

I recently went to the movies with my mom in the afternoon while my boys were at school.  Watching the previews is one of my favorite parts of going to a movie.  A good trailer fills me with anticipation and excitement.  On this particular day, we saw a trailer for an upcoming Jennifer Lawrence movie.  The movie looked interesting, but as I watched I didn’t get the tingles, or think that it was a “must see”.  What caught my attention was the end of the preview.  In the last frame, Jennifer proclaims, “My name’s Joy, by the way”.  Turns out the name of the movie is also Joy.  (Check out the trailer here.) Well, now I have to see the movie, right?  After we left our movie, I went a different way home than I usually go.  As I drove, I was watching street signs, and I realized that I was driving on a street called Joy.  Not long after I noticed the name of the street, I passed by this wonderful park and at the entrance was a big sign that said Joy Park.  What a coincidence to get all these reminders of joy on the same day.

I have never taken my name for granted.  I was adopted, and my mother named me Joy because when the social worker called to tell her that they had a baby girl for her, she was overwhelmed with joy.  What a great way to be named.  For most of my life, I felt like my name truly fit me.  I was a happy person, and it wasn’t an act.  My nickname in high school and college was Joyful, for Pete’s sake.  I came to believe that it was just in my nature to be a happy, upbeat, optimistic person.  It’s who I was.  I encountered some bumps in the road along the way, and I would have moments of Grief or Anger, but they were just blips on the radar, and I would always return to Joy as quickly as possible.  So it came as quite a shock to me when I had a period in my adult life when I came to a bump in the road that was more like a mountain, and I couldn’t shake off feelings of sadness and depression.  It was like a foreign entity had come in and kidnapped my Joy and left me with an emptiness that I didn’t know what to do with. Grief and Anger had been mere acquaintances before this.  They had come knocking on my door in the past, and I would opened the door and let them into the entryway, but that’s as far as they had been allowed to come in.  We would speak for a moment and then I would quickly usher them out before they had a chance to get too comfortable.  Joy was my roommate and it was a two bedroom house.  No room for anybody else to stay any longer than necessary.  This time when they knocked on the door, I answered it, and they  pushed right past me and set up camp in my living room.  I didn’t know what to do with these unwelcome house guests.  It was somewhat of an identity crisis for me, because for the first time in my life, being joyful felt like an act.  I felt like a fraud because I was still smiling on the outside, but I felt sad and empty on the inside.

The biggest thing I learned while Grief and Anger were living with me is that they aren’t the enemy.  I don’t need to fear them.  They have a place in my life just as much as Joy does.  I can say that for a time, my name was Grief, and that’s o.k.  Anger reared its head to get my attention, and I listened instead of running and hiding under the bed.  They didn’t diminish who I was; they added another dimension as I learned to lean into them and learn what they needed to teach me.  Grief; Anger; Fear…these are all God given emotions that He gave us for a reason.  Turns out Joy was still there all along as well.  She hadn’t been kidnapped, she had simply moved to the other side of the house for awhile so that these new guests could get the attention that they needed.  It was scary getting to know these new parts of myself, and I couldn’t have done it without close friends and a good counselor.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to know them though, because having a genuine relationship with them opens me up to an even deeper relationship with Joy as well.  I dug and scratched my way over the mountain with Grief and Anger as my companions, only to come out stronger on the other side.  My name’s still Joy by the way, but now when I need to, I make room in my house for Grief or Anger. Throw in a dash of Compassion and a lot of Grace, and I’m starting to see my whole authentic self.  It’s nice to meet me!

name

Letting Go

This time of  year always makes me think of letting go.  Letting go of the gorgeous summer weather; the wonderful months of not having to set an alarm; the fun summer activities with my boys.  I’m always sad every year when the boys go back to school and the leaves start to turn.  This was brought home yesterday when I was dropping my youngest off at school.  As I was leaving, another mother was dropping off her girls.  As they walked toward the building, her youngest daughter burst into tears and refused to go in to the school.  The mother was dressed in scrubs, so I’m sure she was on her way to work, but she stopped with her girl outside of the building and just hugged her.  It brought tears to my eyes and my mother’s heart ached for them.  It was another reminder that life is a series of letting go.  When the letting go involves our children, it is especially bittersweet.  I used to shy away from grief in my moments of letting go.   Let’s face it, grief is not the most pleasant thing to embrace.  I think fear and grief are two things that people often do their best to bury or deny.  They get a pretty bad rap.  The way I look at grief has changed though in the past couple of years.  It is not just some terrible feeling that needs to be shoved down and avoided at all costs.   I am learning to become friends with grief and to embrace it in those moments of letting go when it pays a visit.  When I didn’t allow myself to grieve, I hung on to all the sorrows of letting go.  Soon I was carrying around this huge bag of loss and sorrow, and it was heavy.  One of the most freeing times in my life was when I finally embraced grief and let it do its job on me.  It’s o.k. to feel the loss of letting go.

let-go-son