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When joy is blurry

by Andrea Updyke

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What happens when your kids are out of school for two weeks, 3 out of 4 people in your family get sick and you have to cancel all your holiday plans? Well, life happens. And despite the imperfection, life is good.

new year

2014 is fading into memory, but there are a few lessons I want to remember for 2015 in my quest to live in the moment and be a better person (mom, wife, friend, employee). It wasn’t a particularly hard year in terms of plans changing or things going wrong. We had our share of hardships, but they would definitely fall into the minor category.

As I zoom out at the year as a whole, I can see where my choices had a direct impact on the way I lived my life. I worked more for a season and realized it was killing me, so I cut back my hours. Somewhere around the beginning of summer, I basically stopped moving. My half marathons were done, I began to gain weight and I just gave up because life got busy (see working too much). As a result, I stopped caring. I stopped being motivated to do much of anything. I became less social and basically just survived each day. It sounds a bit extreme to say it now, because it didn’t always feel like that. But I can see it in the rearview pretty clearly, even amongst the many blessings of 2014.

During our two weeks of illness-induced captivity last month, I had quite a bit of time to think. I decided that I can’t go on like this. And I can’t make any choices based on the way I look in a mirror or the number on the scales. I am fortunate to have a job I love with manageable hours and new outlets for 2015 that I am really excited about. But there is also something empowering about taking responsibility for my time, my attitude and my health.

At the beginning of this week, I put our scales in the closet. I rejoined the YMCA so I can exercise several times a week, but not for my usual reasons. This year, my choices are not based on weight loss, though I would welcome it. This year, I am taking responsibility for my contributions and my moods. I am making a conscious effort to accept the way I feel, physically and emotionally, and do something about it. I’m going to listen to my tired, hungry, thirsty, aging body for a change. Maybe it has a few things to say after all these years.

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This is how I am choosing joy.

For the better part of last year, I settled for habit. Habits are super hard to break y’all. And when it came to my body, I realized that stepping on a scale hasn’t made a single bit of difference in the way my patterns go. So instead of doing the same things I’ve always done, I am attacking this differently. Because when I am grumpy or frumpy, or just down in general, my kids are affected, my marriage is affected and that is just so wrong when I can do something about it.

oscar happy

I was invited to share my “joy journey” this year as part of the Happy Mama Movement and I almost said no. I thought I am not happy right now, what can I possibly say to anyone when I am so messed up?

In the end, that feeling is what made me say yes. Because we all go through this, perhaps at different stages of life. But the last person I want to hear from, is someone who figured it out and has the secret. The secret is, we don’t figure it out. We just live. We love each other, we serve each other, we rejoice with those who rejoice and we weep with those who weep. Sometimes joy doesn’t feel like joy. Joy does not equal happiness. Joy can be blurry. Joy is working through hard things and seeing the light.

mama cal

I’m choosing joy because there is no other choice. There is no life without joy and I want to live. I don’t just want to survive. I want to live!

I am joining Team #HappyMamas on this year-long journey and I hope you will come along with us.

How will you choose joy in 2015?

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11 comments

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11 comments

Jen Lee Reeves January 7, 2015 - 1:20 pm

Joy is blurry. I hadn’t thought of it that way… but it is. And when it ebbs and flows in unusual ways, my personal health is one of the first things to go. I will join you in making different priorities and focus on the joy and healthy life choices. Happy new year!

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Andrea Updyke January 7, 2015 - 2:30 pm

It’s ALWAYS the first to go. I think this year was a real eye-opener for how much it affected my moods. Good luck!

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@FiddleDeeAsh January 7, 2015 - 1:28 pm

I know we talked about this last year, about catching ourselves being happy and thinking “Wow, am I still capable of laughing randomly?!” I love that joy doesn’t have to be perfectly clear. Definitely a lot of points hitting home for me in this one!

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Andrea Updyke January 7, 2015 - 2:29 pm

Yay! And it’s so true, right? When random laughter is not the norm, it’s definitely time to regroup.

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MelACulbertson January 7, 2015 - 4:50 pm

Love this, Andrea! We’re always last on our own lists, trying to meet everyone’s needs before our own. Here here for starting off the year with a fresh perspective!

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Nicole H. January 7, 2015 - 6:18 pm

I’m so glad you’re joining us this year. I can empathize with that blurry feeling. I’ve been there a while myself. I have had to re-focus and scale back my approach to tackling joy. I’m glad you’re finding ways to put yourself first in an effort to make the whole picture of your life happier. It is so worth the effort.

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Dude Mom January 8, 2015 - 9:50 am

Hooray! YOU are the reason I wanted to start this whole movement. Because you are me! And all of us. But we can do this together.

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Elaine A. January 8, 2015 - 1:38 pm

I’m along for the ride and I’m so glad you decided to join us! Happy New Year!

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