finding the joy connections…

So it’s been a while.

No real excuses other than life happening. And life right now – even with some wonderful times – is a challenge in various ways.  The need for self-care is high, and self-care can look like many different things, and can vary at different times.

One way I’m tapping into self-care is consciously finding what I call the joy connections.

Joy connections are those things, even tiny or seemingly unremarkable things, that connect me with joy.

One very small example that relates to this blog is making the decision to change my tagline and switch my header font color back to blue – because it’s my absolute favorite color, and looking at it brings me joy.

Another joy connection for me is painting. I’ve been deliberately making the space and the choice to spend time at the easel. Because painting on large canvases grounds me, calms me, and brings me joy.

Joy connection for me definitely involves those I love.

Including our sweet kitty…

And I’ve been remembering and reconnecting with things I love, things I used to do, but have put away or pushed aside – or somehow thought I couldn’t have in my life anymore.

Like our old 35mm film camera.

I always loved using this camera so much. Whether changing lenses, or focusing, or simply just holding it in my hands and the feel of it, this camera always made me feel connected to my creativity and to my joy.

But for years, this camera has been put away. Just because it’s not digital.

And then a couple of weeks ago while I was telling a friend in a text about how I never used this camera anymore, it hit me: There’s absolutely no reason for me to stop using something I love, something that’s brought me so much joy.

No reason at all. Sure, it’s less convenient than digital. But the point is the joy it gives me.

So I got the camera out of its case, put in new batteries and film, got reacquainted with its various lenses and settings… and now it’s part of my life again.

It’s a little thing to give myself permission to get out a put-away object I love, and start using it again.

It’s a little thing to take just a few minutes to stand at the canvas and paint a few strokes.

It’s a little thing to give our kitty a cuddle or reach out to hold my husband’s hand.

But sometimes it’s those little things that can connect us with deep joy.

Being aware of what brings joy – and then consciously, deliberately, intentionally bringing those things into a day or a week – it can make such a difference.

And this is one way self-care looks. By choosing to find (and make) those joy connections.

replenish…

For the past few years, I’ve chosen a word of the year. Or – to be more accurate – a word has chosen me each year.

New Year’s resolutions never really were my jam. But when I heard about the word-of-the-year as a way of choosing a word or theme to focus on and incorporate through the year, it resonated with me.

The words always seem to choose me, coming to me and fitting inside my bones with a knowing of this is my word. It usually happens when I’m not consciously thinking about a new word-of-the-year. And the words have always shown up for me sometime during the period of mid-August through mid-November… along with a strong nudge not to wait until the calendar year begins before I put the word into action.

(Not that these words aren’t in action at other times anyway. But the word-of-the-year gives that theme more emphasis in my life – and my experience has been that the word, the theme, shows its light side and its shadow side as it teaches me, gives me its medicine, roots into my being.)

I carry all my previous year-words with me, as they continue to work magic and healing, as they continue to offer me lessons and guidance, as they continue to be important reminders and touchstones for me.

Nourish.

Clarity.

Integration.

Sovereignty. (The word with me this year, 2015.)

Several weeks ago, in the middle of watching a tv show and not consciously thinking about a word-of-the-year, all of a sudden I knew what my 2016 word would be. And just as surely, I knew I wasn’t meant to wait until 2016 to embrace this word, this theme.

Replenish is the word that has chosen me this time.

When I google the word, these meanings come up:

fill (something) up again

recharge

freshen

restore

I’m already incorporating the word – replenish – into my life, on all levels. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. In my work, in my play, in my self-care, in my health, in my time.

My commitment is to replenish myself and my life. To fill the well. To recharge and restore.

In every area of my life.

And as I do, I’ll continue to embrace previous words of previous years, because they’re important too. Nourish. Clarity. Integration. Sovereignty. (And so many other words that are important to incorporate but haven’t appeared as my word-of-the-year.)

Replenish.

Is there some area of your life that needs to be restored or recharged? Do you need to fill the well? Do you need nourishment and replenishment?

If so… what can you do today that would help replenish you?

Do that – whatever it is – if you can.

calming the anxiety…

For a variety of reasons – some I can identify and probably some beneath my conscious awareness – my anxiety has been amped up this summer.

Some of my usual tools haven’t been helping as much as they typically do. And sometimes I forget to use some of the tools I’ve learned and gathered over the years. (I don’t know why, but there can be times in the midst of ‘stuff’ that I can forget that I know what I know.)

Around a month or so ago, I realized the thing this summer that’s been absolutely calming my anxiety, every time, no matter what, is painting.

Playing with paint on the canvas.

 

Or in the big spiral-bound pad.

Moving the paint on the canvas or the paper as I stand at the table-top easel in my kitchen.

I’m still using the other tools in my “toolkit” of anxiety-reduction techniques that help me.

I’m being more conscious about returning to some of the tools that I’d been forgetting (or had let slide).

I’m focusing a lot on my self-care.

But the sure-fire way to still my inner trembling, to completely quiet my anxious thoughts and underlying feelings of anxiety – for me, this summer – it’s turned out to be painting. More than anything else.

When I realized this was happening, I was sort of surprised. But I welcome the times of total freedom from the anxious feelings.

I’ve known for quite a while that letting myself paint was soul-care for me. Painting whatever colors seem to be calling to me at the time, moving my hand or my brush in whatever way feels good at the time, not worrying about how it looks, not wondering whether I’ll show it to anyone, not being concerned what anyone will think if I do show what I’ve painted.

Just being with the paint and the painting. In the moment. In the flow. In the now.

Losing myself and my anxiety in the calming of painting.

Whatever does this for you – whatever stills the anxiety, whatever calms you, whatever connects you to the flow that helps you find your inner quiet when you need it – I hope you make time for that.  ♥