joy and anxiety…

During these last few months of the year, one of the main themes I’m blogging about is my journey with joy.

But I have to admit it’s hard sometimes for me to connect with joy because there are times when anxiety – and outright fear – get in the way.

My struggle with anxiety is actually what made me realize, several years ago, how very important it is for me to connect with joy… and how I need to be intentional about it. Because otherwise the anxiety and fear and grief and worry and other not-so-great-feeling things can be so much at the forefront that joy isn’t noticed (and maybe especially those small moments of joy that can pass us by before we catch them).

This isn’t about ignoring reality and pretending things are great when they’re not. It’s about paying attention, being intentional, and looking for anything big or small that brings a sense of joy.

But… is it truly possible to connect with joy and experience anxiety too?

That question has been on my mind lately, as anxiety and fear have been spiking sky high many days. Part of what’s going on for me is rebound anxiety, chemical anxiety, spurred by my body trying to adjust to no longer having anti-anxiety medication in my system. And part of what’s going on has been one life stress after another (some big, some small) piled on top of each other with seemingly little or no breathing room before something else is added to the stack.

I’m trying not to worry and fear and dread the future – but those feelings are there. I’m praying, I’m working my neural retraining programs, I’m using a variety of anxiety and stress coping tools, I’m seeking comfort in my spirituality and faith – but far too often, the anxiety and fear are dominant.

Can I really connect with joy while feeling those things?

Yes. And it’s important for me to do so.

Connecting with joy helps relieve the fear and anxiety, even if only temporarily, and even if fear and anxiety don’t completely go away.

I can sing along to a song that lights up my heart…and I’ll experience a time of joy, and the anxiety will ease, but sometimes it doesn’t completely go away. My connection to joy will mingle with a background feeling of anxiety, an unease at the edges of my awareness, maybe quieter but still present.

At other times, joy takes over and the anxiety disappears for a while. I’m grateful, so very grateful, for those times. Sunday afternoon was a recent example of this, as my husband and I took a brief walk in the park, enjoying an afternoon of somewhat-rare-lately lovely weather. I focused on joy. I breathed the fresh air. I gave thanks for the time of peace and ease.

Anxiety and fear roared back with a vengeance only a few hours later. So I focused on looking for more small moments, small things, small ways to connect with joy. Petting the cat. Snuggling under the covers to watch a favorite show. Noticing the calming glow of the fairy lights in the room.

I can’t just wait for anxiety to leave before noticing what brings me joy. I can’t simply wait for joy to unexpectedly show up (although it definitely can do that!).

I have to look for it. I have to be aware. I have to notice.

I have to consciously connect with joy.

Even when – and maybe, sometimes, especially when – anxiety is present too.

 

joy connections {the page}…

For quite a while, I’ve been feeling guided to do something to share more about JOY, with possibly (eventually) being in a group/community with others on this journey. There are so many who feel alone or isolated. And there are so many who can find some upliftment (even if it’s only a moment) from connecting more with joy.

I didn’t want something that would involve charging anything. And, because of my own healing journey and my need at the moment to be mindful of my energy, I wanted something that would be ease-full and gentle, something at a slow pace.

So I decided on a facebook page dedicated to Joy Connections.

I already have a facebook page where I mainly post about writing and creativity and this blog. I write about joy there too, but I wanted something different than my “regular” page. I wanted a space and place specifically for talking about connecting to joy – and hopefully connecting with others as well, as we share our connections to joy.

If you’re on facebook, I hope you’ll check out the new page, hit the like button, follow it, and share your own journey with joy.

You can find the Joy Connections page here.

The page doesn’t replace my posts here, it just adds something a bit different (and more often – and also shorter) than what I write here on the blog.

It’s a new part of this journey with joy… and I hope you’ll join me.

 

breathing a moment of joy and peace…

A few days ago, a weekend morning, I spent time with my husband at a small park we like to visit.

The sky was a somewhat hazy blue, and a gentle breeze kept us company.

We walked two times around the not-very-long path, with me being able to walk without holding onto to anything – not my husband’s hand, not a walking stick. (Walking unassisted while out ‘n about has been a challenge the past few years.)

Then I took a seat on one of the benches as my husband made another round on the walking path.

I took a few photos while sitting there. The above picture is one of them. Sunlight through branches and green leaves, the rolling hills in the distance.

I felt relaxed. At ease. At peace.

I felt joy.

And I breathed it in.