By Quotidian Peace;

Things have been challenging lately. A considerable amount of change is going on – in a household that thrives on consistency and routine. And this is why I used the word challenging instead of difficult. In fact, replacing the word change with growth would be more accurate. I have started working, Alexander received a promotion, Miriam graduated from physical therapy and occupational therapy. I’ve continued to tackle cupboards, closets, and bookshelves, clearing out years of clutter & chaos. We are in great shape financially, such great shape that we are looking at moving to a slightly larger house (in a much quieter neighborhood) this summer.

But – change is difficult and sometimes painful. It’s leaving the familiar and walking into the unknown. I am an anxious person. There is always a haze of anxiety surrounding me. I am always prepared for the other shoe to drop, for something to go wrong. It is easier for me to deal with failure than success. This sudden good fortune makes me distrustful, worried. And that is where joy comes in.

Joy is how I drown out my anxious thoughts. Joy in simple, daily moments. I have started filling a journal with moments of joy and happy memories. I seek it out during my day as a reminder that I’m OK. The other day I was walking Miriam home from the bus stop. My friend was with me and Miriam was talking a mile a minute. I looked down and my heart stopped. Miriam was holding onto my sweater, needing that connection with me. It was such a simple gesture, but the meaning behind it was once immense. My fiercely independent girl still needs her mom, even if not fully aware of it.

That moment lead me to think about my own childhood and memories from it. I remembered my dad mowing the lawn, making sure to save the lawn clippings. Our dog loved to sit in the clippings on a hot summer day – saving those clippings was an act of love. My mother calling me ‘dolly’ and brushing my hair from my face. Watching my mother rub my father’s back and comfort him after his father died.

My mind quickly begins to overflow with joyful memories. My father holding my kitten, stomping down the hallway to the scale and insisting that there was no way that cat weighed 2 pounds. My parents visiting after Miriam was born. They rushed in the door, cooing over her. My father laid her down on her blanket, wanting to see her kick just like I talked about. My father and his uncle in my sun porch, installing linoleum and joking with each other. Later, I watched those two men eating french fries and dipping them in marshmallow fluff, making sure to scrape the container clean.

Joy isn’t the only way I deal with anxiety – I have a box of tricks I’ve learned over the years. I use my bullet journal, DBT , exercise, writing. I have learned how to ride the waves and make it back to shore in one piece. Joy, though, is what I focus on through the day. I seek it out wherever I go, and I try to spread it as well. I spread it through small acts of kindness, such as buying a woman’s coffee, or listening to a resident who needs to express painful memories. The act of listening is a form of joy, even if it’s difficult. It’s knowing that you are allowing someone to express regret and pain with no judgment. It might not be a conventional form of joy, but it is there.

And it’s with these memories and acts that I can face the future. I have no control over what is going to happen. I have an anxiety radio in my hand. Sometimes it’s so loud that it’s all I can hear, other times it’s a low hum. The same phrases repeat over and over – climate change, political unrest, financial uncertainty, fear of losing something dear to me. When it becomes too much to bear I pull my patchwork quilt of joy over me. I snuggle into it, surround myself with the warmth of it, and let myself just be.

Quotidian Peace
4 Oct, 2021

Author: Workers' Archive

Covering sensitivity at work and beyond on my website:

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