A Heart Full of Hope and Joy

Today finds me thinking about growth, fulfillment, and happiness. I will get into my personal stuff with this later in the post, but first I want to talk about these topics as they apply to all of us. Let’s start with growth and take the rest one by one.

Growth can mean so many things and go in so many directions. We often think about growth in compartments…professional growth, growth in relationships, expanding our knowledge, spiritual growth and then growth as a person. When growth is broken up in tiny little pieces like this we miss out on so much, because we need to be thinking about our lives as a whole. Now this doesn’t mean that I feel that we are defined by any one aspect of what we do with our lives. However, every piece of our lives and our very beings are intertwined. Our first and foremost focus in terms of growth needs to start at the most basic level…us. If we haven’t done the work which needs to be done at that level it’s almost as though we are getting the oil changed in a car with a blown engine. If we aren’t caring for ourselves at that deep, personal level growth in the outside layers of our lives is pretty difficult and at times downright impossible. Let’s say that we would love to have a different job or even an entirely new career. If we haven’t been loving with ourselves; if we haven’t been nurturing our spiritual, mental, emotional sides as well as our physical body then how can we expect the universe to send that new job our way? I’ve also noticed that when we make that switch from outward focus to self care that it opens up opportunities for so many things in our lives. When we are in tune with who we really are and nurture that person, then we are able to discover and explore outward pursuits which are not contradictory to our very core beings.

Fulfillment is a result of living our lives fully and genuinely. We’ve all known people who have what look like very successful careers, yet they are miserable. Why do you think this is? Most times it is because they were living with an outward focus instead of from the place I referred to above. It’s impossible to be fulfilled when we are living someone else’s life. That is why it is vital to explore who we really are and what makes us whole. By no means do I advocate living in poverty…unless this is one of the things which make you whole and for some of us this is true. I also know that there are times in which it is necessary to work at a job which is less than ideal, especially in today’s economy. If this is the case, it becomes even more important to give attention and take action in other areas of our lives. Please do not let your job define you…not even if it’s a good one, but especially if it isn’t. No matter what your work situation is, continue to chase your dreams and take the time to do things which feed your mind, heart, and spirit. The rest will follow eventually, but we cannot expect to wallow in unhappiness and expect a magic rainbow to shoot down from the heavens and make everything in our lives better.

Happiness is one of those beautiful things which is different for each of us. Do not try to follow someone else’s bliss. Figure out what your personal needs for happiness are and chase them. Even though what I am about to say next goes without saying, I am going to say it anyway. If your idea of happiness encompasses things which would inflict harm on another being or are destructive in some other way, then my advice to you would be to seek help. This isn’t to say that everyone needs to agree with you. Who knows maybe someone close to you may be completely against something important to you. That’s okay. If they love you, then they will not feel as though the relationship hinges upon you being the same as they are or even that you need to be within the bounds of what they consider to be normal. We all have the right and even responsibility to be true to ourselves, follow our own dreams, have our own beliefs, dress in ways which reflect our personalities (Within reason. I’m not saying that you should be allowed to go into the office wearing leather and spikes! There’s a time and place for everything), etc. One last thing which I want to mention about this topic is that while we have the right to be ourselves, we must remember and respect the fact that everyone else has the same right. This road goes both ways. Let’s say that you love taking walks in the moonlight and one of your friends is terrified of the dark. Would it be fair for them to expect you to never go out at night? No. At the same time it wouldn’t be fair for you to insist that they go out on these moonlit walks with you. Yes, this is a very simple analogy but it works.

Okay, now I’ll go into my personal stuff. As you can tell by this blog, some of the things which make me who I am are my spiritual beliefs and practices. I can also be non-politically correct. I can be downright irreverent at times. For most of my life I have kept a lot of things which make me who I am to myself, which in and of itself is fine. It isn’t that I feel like I need to rent a billboard and advertise everything about me to the world. The issue was that I was always so worried about who might or might not like just about anything that I had not lived life as myself until not long ago. I have to tell you how fantastic it is to tear away at all of the compartments within my life and allow myself to become more whole. There might be some of you out there reading this who cannot understand how this can be such an issue.

Well, I will shine some light on a few things which might help. My parents and grandparents on both sides were Jehovah’s Witnesses. This isn’t something which I really like to talk about with many people, but it might help you to understand why I hid so many things throughout my life. As you can see by the blog, my personal spirituality is far removed from the religion of my parents and grandparents. So, a lot of the things I do and write are viewed as at best weird and at worst sinful. While I do not discuss my beliefs with certain people, I no longer pretend to be someone I’m not. Many of them have no idea what I believe and it isn’t important to me that they do. It’s just that I now feel free to be who and what I am and do not hide things at all costs. Even when certain members of the family talk to me about their beliefs I do not feel compelled to share what mine are with them. I do let them know that I do not share their beliefs but that I respect them and am happy that their beliefs make them happy, but that is as far as I go. It isn’t my mission in life to get into arguments and try to force other people to feel how I feel or believe what I believe. One reason for this is that I fully believe that no matter what name we give it or what face we put on it that spiritual matters are fundamentally the same, in that ideally they help us to be better people.

Okay, we can move away from the spiritual side of things because there is so much more to life. I’ve also been able to allow myself to be more genuine in my choices. I’ve always had this tremendous creative and silly streak which I’ve tried to put a leash on in the past. The leash has come off and it has opened my heart to so much joy. Instead of living my life as the dutiful girl who does her best to live up to everyone else’s expectations, I now do what gives me joy. I am still helpful to others as much as possible, because this is such a big part of who I am. The difference is that I now make sure that I am taking care of myself too. I’ve broken the drawing paper back out, I’ve dusted off my writing cap, I have no hesitation in going out to play or staying in to play, if I want to put a blue streak in my hair in the morning I do it. It can even be as simple as saying no to a request to do something for another person if I am not feeling well. The old me would not have dreamed of saying no, but I’ve learned the difference between being kind to others and being taken advantage of. It just feels good to be me without hesitation, without apologizing for it, and seeing doors opening up in my life which I’ve only dreamed of in the past. It amazes me when I look back at all of the lessons I’ve learned and where they’ve led. Of course I could have continued living that old life as that stranger to even myself, but I’m so glad that I haven’t. Please join me on the journey…be yourself and let the light which is uniquely yours shine!

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4 thoughts on “A Heart Full of Hope and Joy

  1. Aww thanks sister. It does feel good. A lot of ground still to cover…then again there always will be, but I am happy to have reached where I am now. You've come a long way yourself. It's fantastic! I love you too. *HUGS*

  2. That's great Luke! I'm very happy that the post was helpful to you. Best wishes in your endeavor. I wanted to ask you again…on a previous post you commented that 'Jo hopes that I feel better soon'. I asked who that was but I guess you didn't visit the post again. I'm curious 🙂

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