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funny thing about joy…

…is that you only really find it when you’re too busy having fun to go looking for it.” That’s one of my favorite Curly Girl cards, and it was particularly relevant today.

I woke up feeling better. Why, you ask? I can’t put my finger on it. But it was such a pleasing surprise that I wasn’t going to complain and risk scaring it away. All of a sudden it was clear to me that I need to take back my life. I’m not sure from where, or whom, but it certainly was mine to claim so I reached up and snatched it. And now it’s back, and I’m in my happy little zone once again, feeling like anything is (hopefully) possible. I’ve done a lot of thinking today. At times I was fired up (in a motivated sort of way) and at other times I was stunned at some of the realizations I came to. Ready? Good. Here we go…..

It all started with this teeny little feeling of exhuberance that was nestled up against my heart this morning. I didn’t interrogate it, lest it shrink back into the shadows it came from, but I let it sit for a while and ruminate. And it sat there like a happy little glow within. I let it hang around while I got ready for work, and continued to encourage it throughout the morning. It became clear pretty quickly that today’s topic was “joy” and I decided to explore it a bit more because, let’s face it, you can never spend too much time dwelling on pure happiness.

I began thinking about the things I want to do for myself. I mean, REALLY thinking. And several things came to me. For one, I have plane tickets to use, so I decided I need to take a trip. Possibly to visit a friend in San Diego, possibly to wine country with my family in June (that one also fell straight into my lap this morning, quite serendipitously), possibly to Washington D.C. to visit family friends. The world is my oyster at the moment, at least with these airline tickets. So I need to choose wisely and plan something fast before I either decide it’s a) not important to take time for myself or b) the tickets expire. Then I kept going with this whole idea of “doing things for me”….and it led me to several other places.

One such place involves seeing friends I haven’t made time for recently- margaritas with Nick, coffee talk with Lad, a girls’ Tarot card night with the lovelies…all things that are long overdue. As if on cue, I had a friend stop in this morning to catch up after being in Naples all winter, and we had a delightful round of “what’s new with you” (since she hadn’t been around for the last few months of Entertainment in the Life of Annie, it was a doozie of a catchup, and quite entertaining indeed…) There was head-shaking. There were belly laughs. There was advice dispensed. There were decisions made.

Besides making time for friends (duh, that’s such an obvious one,) and planning a trip (again, quite the cliche), my thoughts led me to other places as well. And I decided it’s time for me to reclaim my personal life. A daunting task, no doubt, considering the garbage that has littered it over the past, oh say 18 months.

Step One: I realized something today (and I’m not going to tell you where I was when I realized it but I can assure you it’s pretty humorous)…my friend Tina has urged me lately to identify the pattern I’ve found myself engaging in, which has caused me to perpetually circle the drain in relationships, so to speak. I told her I couldn’t see a pattern, I couldn’t see a commonality among these situations, these people, no matter how much I strained to see one. It was mind boggling to me how I continued to end up in less than satisfactory situations, with always the same complaint- “he’s great, but here’s the thing…” when I couldn’t see what they all had in common.

These men were all extremely different from each other- a musician, a doctor, a drifter, a businessman, a free spirit… but yet there was something nagging at me…what was it? They all lied. Dishonesty. It’s right there in black and white staring me smack in the face. They. All. Lied. To the other significant people in their lives. One lied to his wife. The next lied to his girlfriend. The next lied to his soon-to-be-ex-wife. The next lied to his girlfriend who was “on the way out.” The next lied to his girlfriend. They all felt they had to lie to other people in order to spend time with me. Who is that fair to? Answer: no one.

The craziness about it is that I wasn’t lied to. They were “on the level” with me. But I was always the one in the wings. I was always the one waiting to see if they would decide I was worthwhile, deserving of their emotional investment. What didn’t make sense to me is that none of them seemed happy. They were all in situations that were less than ideal, but rather than be proactive and DO something about it, they continued to stay there, wasting away, but spending time with me all the while in order to boost themselves up- in order to make up the slack that was present in their current relationships. I was the stand-in.

Why did I think that was enough? I don’t know. Why I didn’t think I deserved more is beyond me. But today I got up and realized, “I deserve it all.” And someday I’ll find it.

In the meantime, I’m going to take trips. I’m going to buy wine to drink with my avocado/mozzarella/tomato salad that I’ll enjoy solo at home after Ryan goes to bed. I’m going to write, write, write until I’m bleary-eyed. And then I’ll write some more. I’m going to find new music, just for me. I’m going to take care of myself, my life, my heart. And I’m going to be happy that way.

“Funny thing about joy…is that you only really find it when you’re too busy having fun to go looking for it.”

Damn straight.

*Post-script: I took this shot in May while I was on a fantastic trip out West with my mom….I think my quote about joy applies perfectly to this shot (and many others I took that night) because I decided to explore Seattle on my own, on foot. I set out with my camera, got a mug of chai and walked around Seattle for hours. It was perfect. And I found that afterward, my heart was completely full…

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