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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?