It’s not often I find myself at a loss for words while writing (not to be confused with in-person, because like a lot of writers, in person I am as introverted as they come and my apologies for anyone who has to interact with me IRL) but here I am, struggling with what I want to say today.
I have a whole line-up of paid work today, but I wanted to take some time, just me and my reheated coffee, to dive into some things that have been on my mind lately. Namely, my quest to better myself and lead a more intentional, fulfilled life. I’ve told some of you (I think?) how I have been dealing with some weirdish, darkish stuff since my miscarriage and then a freak car accident that bright side, gave me the opportunity to become an Official Minivan Mom (and yes, I do love it), but on the not-so-bright side, forced me to look death in the face and made me realize I didn’t like what I saw. I wasn’t happy with the way I was living my life and a brush like that kind of makes you feel some things.
So I’ve been trying. I’m making more an effort at home to spend more quality time with my kids, I’ve implemented a few systems at home to try to make our lives run a little more smoothly, like starting a positive behavior system for my kids (they get tickets for extra-special behavior I notice and can cash them in every week for prizes — I only give them for positive behavior because we’ve been noticing we only tend to harp on the bad behavior and not praise the good stuff enough!) and converting to the pressure cooker lifestyle. (Not an affiliate link, although it should be.)
I also made an appointment with a (gulp) therapist. I feel so guilty about this for some strange reason, like what an incredibly self-absorbed thing to do, Chaunie! You’re not damaged! Good grief, leave therapy to people with real problems. But I made a vow to live a better live this year and part of that is working on myself, I so I went. I can’t say that much about it yet because I’ve only gone once, but it was one of those good hard experiences, like a workout you don’t want to to do, or if you’re Catholic, getting Confession over with when you’ve been dreading it. It was a like a deep-dive into crap that I normally try to avoid and it left me crying, exhausted, but also emptied out, like I could start fresh again.
And speaking of being Catholic, I was at Mass this past weekend, fighting the urge to yawn and wrangling four kids like normal and wishing it was over and thinking of what I was going to eat for breakfast like the devout religious that I am, when somehow, a piece of the homily actually wormed its way into my distracted mind. The priest said,
“Our purpose is not to live a pleasure-filled life, but a joyful one.”
It might sound like a such a super simple and obvious concept, but it was one that really, really struck me. In this New Year, New You journey thing I’ve been on, I’ve been focusing a lot on what I thought were important aspect of self-care, like exercising or getting breaks from the kids or taking that trip to Punta Cana (post coming soon, promise!) or treating myself to a massage, but shocker — none of that stuff has really worked into giving me that bone-deep happiness, you know?
It hit me that I’ve been focusing so much on filling my life up with those types of pleasurable activities as a way to be a better, more fulfilled person in order to be the best mother and wife I can be, that’s not necessarily going to cut it. My life is not always pleasurable and by that I mean, my life frequently involves never getting dressed and wading through other people’s bodily fluids and having bedtime be a legit battle every single night of my life, but going through those things can still be joyful — if I choose it to be.
So I’m refocusing my goals and my purpose to keep this in mind. Even when my life is not always pleasurable and probably especially when it’s not, I can still choose joy. Joy and pleasure are not always the same thing and that has been the point all along.
Although to be fair, the pleasure of driving around my new-to-us Minivan does bring me a lot of joy. So there’s that.