The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Joey

Last month Eli Pacheco showed us the beauty of enthusiasm meeting life through creativity, family, and dreams. In my monthly series, The Life Enthusiast Chronicles, lovely humans from all over the world remind us how awesome life can be.

This week I’m super excited to feature the wonderful Joey Mottern of Joeyfully Stated, who is visiting us from Indianapolis. Oh, man…I can’t remember how I stumbled upon Joey’s blog, but I’m so glad I did. Her writing is full of sass and heart, speaking to the wonders hidden inside what most of us think as the ushe (the usual, for my non-American friends).

Through domestic trials and tribulations, insights gained from being deep in the trenches of life, Joey brings humor and intellect to her experiences. We’re the lucky ones she lets tag along while she’s on her Life Enthusiast journey.

Connect with Joey on Twitter.


joey

To be sure, I am not one to leap out of bed in the morning with a big smile on my face, ready to tackle each day with enthusiasm. My enthusiasm for life is not that sort.

I love waking on my own, in the languid stillness of my body. I like to linger there, sliding my feet between the sheets, processing the images and emotions of dreams, my thoughts slowly grasping the day ahead of me.

For about 180 days of the year, morning means waking up to an alarm and trying to focus on the brutal shock of reality with tired, burning eyes. Most of those mornings are dark and cold.

Quite frankly, I am only easily motivated to get out of bed by the sheer fact that I can get back into bed later. Every morning I tell myself I will have a nap. About twice a week, I actually take one.

sadie_snow
The dog and I perform an intricate morning dance. She tries to herd me as I shuffle down the hall to rouse the children. The dog seems to think it’s a race.

I envy her enthusiasm. She’s mastered living in the now.

Every morning, she hurries out of our bedroom in a rush to lie down somewhere else. I really don’t understand it. But then, she probably doesn’t understand my adoration for the growling bitter water machine, or why I’m not excited, either.

We head outside to revel in the weather and the landscape. I lived elsewhere for seven years and I was homesick. Returning home has restored my sense of belonging to a place with all four seasons.

I am grateful for snow and icicles, for green grass and garden blooms, for bees on the apple trees, and I am even grateful for our rusty old swing set.

jim_treeWhen the weather is suitable, the dog and I walk. Each time I leave my house, I discover something new.

Most of the year, green spaces calm me. I’m pleased by flights of birds, the scurry of squirrels, or a brief visit from a praying mantis. Even in the winter, I applaud Mother Nature for giving everything a rest. I can just as easily admire the black barren branches lacing a gray sky.

The fresh air is vital. The outdoors keep me connected.

Several days a week, my work day belongs to me, and I don’t work. Oh, I might do some cooking or cleaning, maybe paint or sew something, but mostly, I relax. I read and I write most of the day.

all_four

My real work begins when the children arrive home from school. I make order out of chaos. When the meals have been eaten and the kitchen is clean, when the stuff of life is organized for yet another day, when everyone has laughed and loved enough, I get to fall back into bed with my love.

Sounds damn near idyllic, doesn’t it?

For years, I flit and fret about trying to control every detail of my life. I cared what other people thought, I did what other people said I should, and most importantly I sought out what society showed me was ideal.

You know what? I didn’t much care for it.

While I grappled with the unattainable goal of perfection, while I suffered in failure, I wasn’t still enough to notice the authentic happiness around me. My life felt like a burden of survival and endurance more often than not.

They called it BEING STRONG, but it MADE ME SICK.

Being strong attracted people who pushed my boundaries and siphoned my energy. Being strong led to constant fear and panic. Being strong included too many words like flare, lesion, biopsy, and sepsis.

Eventually, being strong took me to therapy, and that’s where I was amazed to learn that I could learn to seek happiness instead of perfection.

family_feet

I learned that gratitude is a light out of darkness of fear.

“You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” is an age-old aphorism because its wisdom holds true. No matter how bad things seem to be, someone else has it worse.

Gratitude is the reason for my joie de vivre. I’m enthusiastic about my simple life because it is simple. I appreciate most what I have gone without.

Today, I am not in pain.
Today, my husband is not at war.
Today, none of my children are in the hospital.
Today, I have enough money to keep us sheltered and fed.
Today, I live in a temperate place.
Today, I am not overwhelmed.

In the sleepless hours of the night, I can choose to recount everything that aggrieves me or I can be thankful for everything that doesn’t.

Gratitude gives me enthusiasm about life. I’m constantly saying I’m here to enjoy my life — I simply cannot do it without gratitude. Every moment that life isn’t hectic, complicated, fraught with crises, is a gift.

Why would I want to miss a single minute of that?

34 thoughts on “The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Joey

  1. Stan R. Mitchell says:

    Beautiful post!

    And I especially liked these two parts:

    “While I grappled with the unattainable goal of perfection, while I suffered in failure, I wasn’t still enough to notice the authentic happiness around me. My life felt like a burden of survival and endurance more often than not.”

    “I learned that gratitude is a light out of darkness of fear.”

    Thanks for sharing such wisdom with us!!!

  2. Letizia says:

    What a beautiful post. “that I could learn to seek happiness instead of perfection” that is such a great life lesson. And I know what Joey means about living in a place with four seasons, I love the transition from season to season (made all the sweeter when you have a dog by your side to remind you to savour it).

  3. Sheila says:

    I love this – thank you for the reminder that we need to step back, breathe, and enjoy everything around us. Your dog made me smile along with your words. She has the same expression that mine would have, as if saying, “Come on, let’s go. There’s so much to enjoy.”

  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    “when everyone has laughed and loved enough” and “learn to seek happiness instead of perfection”—Yes and yes. Loved those two sentences. I loved the whole post, actually. You offer up a wonderful mantra on how to live this life: with gratitude. On the days I’m more grumbly than grateful, I slap myself upside the head and make a ‘grateful’ list like you did above. Gives me instant perspective. Great post, Joey!

  5. danniehill says:

    I love this post, Joey. Giving up is something that many people have no idea what it means. Being happy, pursuing happiness, not walking in the rut of other people’s lives is a beautiful way to live, but it isn’t always easy. I envy your walks with that beautiful dog!

  6. joey says:

    Reblogged this on joeyfullystated and commented:
    I was the guest writer for Britt Skrabanek’s series The Life Enthusiastic Chronicles today.
    This was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever written. There weren’t any guidelines, and each piece in the series is as different as the writer.
    I hope you’ll take a look.

  7. Dan Antion says:

    Perfection is overrated. In fact, I think it’s a lie. It’s made up to justify choices that reduce happiness for many of the people involved. I like your approach much better.

  8. dalecooper57 says:

    My wife just cannot get her head round the fact that I can get out of bed and leave for work twenty minutes later, whereas she needs two hours, four cigarettes and three cups of coffee to get her morning motor running. Sounds like you are more (possibly minus the cigarettes) on her daybreak wavelength.
    Lovely post.

  9. Roy McCarthy says:

    Very well said Joey. If the world’s population, or even half of it, were thankful for what they have rather than lusting after what others have then we’d all be very happy and thankful.

  10. edwinasepisodes says:

    That was a lovely. positive post Joey. I feel that we are all too quick to find what is missing from our lives instead of savouring and being grateful for what we already have, as you so rightly point out. 🙂

  11. reocochran says:

    It started out great with such meaningful and from the heart words. Gratitude takes you out of darkness and is the impetus to keep on going. Those things and people you love, they will keep you irritated but also give you Joy, Joey. I always felt your blog “byline” about a neurotic and narratives meant a lot to those who may also feel and think about their imperfections. You get us to laugh and forget about all that. ♡ Yes, to Joeyfullystated.
    Thank you for the beautiful chance, Britt to hear more about otgers. You have a generous heart!

  12. Shakti Ghosal says:

    What a beautiful ode to gratitude!

    I have noticed that Gratitude somehow gets linked to a mindset of abundance. I have experienced the power of this principle. Whenever I act as if I already have what I want, even those things which have not yet happened for me, I always feel peaceful and supported.

    But I have long deliberated on an aspect that occurs again and again in my life. How do I show gratitude towards someone who does not even understand how deeply he has hurt me?”
    When I think of this deeply, I realise that I feel hurt since the other person has failed to acknowledge the fact that he has done wrong. But even if he were to understand the situation, what benefit would that bring to me. I show gratitude and forgiveness from a selfish angle, for maintaining my own well-being. If this be so, does the person who has hurt me really needs to be involved in my process? What stops me from simply releasing that pent up negative energy and moving on?

    When I am in conflict with someone, with whom do I get most upset or disappointed? My belief is that when I am displeased with someone else, I’m really reacting to or rejecting some part of me that I can not love right now. Or, I’m blaming myself for being involved in the painful situation because I was vulnerable, unwise, weak or complicit enough to get hurt.

    Finding gratitude is a fundamental step in the self-improvement process. We cannot expect anything new to come into our lives without first having a genuine sense of appreciation for what we have now.

    Gratitude invites a sense of humility and a focus on what truly matters – which can be especially challenging in our materialistic society. It might help us to reflect that while we may not have everything we want, most of us do have more than everything we need. As Mahatma Gandhi had said, “The world has enough for our needs but not enough for our greed.” Gratitude is what brings everything into balance and provides a proper perspective.

    Cheers and God bless!

    Shakti

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