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On November 25th, I was “mom shamed” for the first time.
If you follow along on Instagram, you already know the drill. But to quickly catch us all up, I posted a picture on my Instagram that was sponsored by a car company. I was holding my Starbucks out the window, celebrating fall adventures – including visiting our month-ish old daughter in the NICU, where she’s been since her premature birth on October 17th.
An early comment on the post read: “I just don’t understand how you can be so happy and make all these posts with your child in the NICU. Anytime my kids were in the hospital I never left their side. Are you ok?”
SO many of you so kindly + professionally jumped into supportive mode, exactly like any good girlfriend would, and for that I’m SO thankful. Having a community like y’all is truly special, and the CURowd never disappoints. 😉 But this Monday Mantra is not to rehash any of that absurdity.
This Monday Mantra is about JOY.
Because later on in that same comment thread, the original woman said that “the overwhelming joy in each post is disturbing,” referring to the joy that I apparently exude through my content.
Especially with it being the Christmas season, and especially with the climate of our world today, I’m here today to say:
Create your own joy.
Create your own opportunities to become more joyful in life. Stop waiting for joy to fall into your lap. I heard the coolest quote on happiness once that said, “Happiness isn’t served to you; it’s earned. It’s created.” Think about that.
Happiness is earned. Joy is EARNED.
Meaning, it takes intentional action to achieve.
Happiness isn’t just something we magically stumble upon on the sidewalk.
Joy isn’t something we luckily sit next to on the subway.
Sure, we might witness someone ELSE’S joy by sheer happenstance, but to absorb that + carry it onward for ourselves? That takes some effort. It can be HARD to find joy in some circumstances. Heck, maybe even downright impossible. But nothing is impossible with God. And the *only* way that we’ve gotten through what we have so far is through the sheer power of prayer, and by intentionally choosing to create our own joy every single day – to recognize + celebrate the good things and little victories instead of dwelling on anything less.
Create your own joy.
When you want to become smarter in something, what do you do?
What about becoming stronger? Whether that’s at the gym, or in the mind?
You take control of the one thing that you always can control no matter the circumstance: your perspective. And when you put your perspective in check, the pieces start coming together to form a better, brighter picture that more closely resembles your end goal. When you study to become smarter, you’re setting yourself up for success by doing everything in your power to know more tomorrow than you do today. Same when you’re working out – you do 10 pushups today so that you can do 15 pushups tomorrow. Do more today to be more tomorrow.
So ya wanna feel more joy in life? What are you doing today to be more joyful tomorrow? Are you filling your moments with things that make you happy? Are you focusing your mind on positives instead of negatives? Are you shifting your perspective to the good instead of harboring on the not-so-good? If we sit and sulk, we can’t blame anyone but ourselves for our lack of happiness. Heck, if anything, we made our own moods MORE sucky by sulking and sitting in that feeling of “everything sucks” rather than TRYING to brighten the day with something sunnier.
Create your own joy.
Here’s the deal (because we keep it real).
Yes, our current situation – in many ways – “sucks.”
It sucked having our daughter nearly two whole months early, because of unexpected medical complications that put both her and my own life in danger.
It sucked being on Magnesium Sulfate, and it sucked being catetherized in the vagina. (Although still laughing about that one…)
It sucked living at the NICU for weeks, feeling helpless as I worked by her bedside as she slept, just to distract my mind.
And it sucked even more when she got mysteriously sick and required immediate emergency transfer to a bigger, better NICU…an hour and half away from our house.
It sucks commuting every single day to see her instead of snuggling her by the Christmas tree whenever for as long as we want.
It sucks having to watch her from a camera in the moments when we can’t be physically with her during the day.
There’s a WHOLE LOTTA LIFE to live, and a whole lotta life that can feel pretty darn sucky at times. And every coin has a head AND a tail. Some things in life are obviously joyful. Like being personally serenaded by Justin Timberlake or winning a prize in Bingo (hollah!). But other things in life might not be *just* joyful – finding the joy in the moment can be like finding a $20 bill in a pocket, when you’re up to your elbows in dirty clothes on laundry day.
Joy comes from perspective. And while there is so much “suck” in the situation, there is still JOY to be found + celebrated in the now-5-pound peanut that is Olivia Grace, who just so happens to be the best thing on planet Earth.
Sure – to someone who refuses to choose joy and/or can’t create her own, being joyful in our current situation might seem absurd – downright delusional. But at the end of that day, I feel sorry for folks like that. Because when you can’t create your own joy, your life lacks a whole ‘notha level of happiness that no one is responsible for but yourself. Stop b*tching about your own life if you’re not actively working to change it.
And at the end of the day, don’t just take it from me – take it from good ol’ Albus Dumbledore. “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.”
Create your own joy.
Have can you create your own joy this week?
The challenge is on – make every day a bit more joyful through your thoughts + actions this week. For yourself, and for someone else around you.
P.S. Here are 10 ways to Choose JOY this Christmas Season!