JOY Stalking

“I shouldn’t have a beer tonight,” she tells herself, as she does almost every night even though it sounds delicious. 

She remembers how one of her dearest friends kept smoking cigarettes long after she, herself, had quit. She recalls the friend saying “This is so bad for me” nearly every time she lit up her smoke, and she remembers thinking —or saying? likely thinking—I’m pretty confident that your thoughts about the smoking are as bad as the actual cigarette. If you’re gonna smoke it, you might as well enjoy it.


Joy is a potent substance. 



That’s partly how she (as in, the author, not the friend) healed a 15-year eating disorder—by outsmarting the scary, secret, shadowy-ness of her affliction and reacquainting herself with the illuminating factor of JOY. 


If you and she were in an elevator and she only had a moment to tell you about it, it may have gone like this: First she practiced NOT eating her binge foods in hiding. (SUPER hard—Where did she ever get the nerve?) Then she did her best to find JOY in what she was eating—slowing down to TASTE. She was good at enjoying regular foods, but binge foods were another story. They were cheap stuffing. 

She pretended—fake it till you make it!—like it was all an experiment with no deadline and no hope but to befriend the litany of food that haunted her. When she felt the need to overeat—gobble/consume/destroy—ice cream and cookies, well then, she thought to herself, time to reacquaint with those things again in a better way. (ie, buy a high quality version, eat while at the park in the sun, smiling at strangers...)


Her bulimia was rooted in shame, crazy-deep roots like a wild fig tree, and a beast to free herself from. Hating a thing only gives it more grip. Finding the joy softens its clutch enough for a bit of intuitive guidance to wiggle in. Outsmarting the thinker, if you will. 

So after spending the entire calendar year of 2007 pretending she could find JOY in a her most troubling, shameful habits, lo-behold, it actually started to work. She established a different—and lasting— relationship with food. 



So how then was she to apply this wisdom to her current situation?

She, as everyone, has been inside of a pandemic for one year. Frigid wet, sloppy weather has never before been such a hindrance to social interaction and sanity. She recently read about a phenomenon called the "Pandemic Wall," a term for the mental and emotional fatigue related to this long game of COVID-living. 

This rings true for her. She feels tired at levels that her early-COVID tools for regulation and restoration now barely seem to touch. Her soil needs much more than just sun and water. As does the soil of her husband and her eleven-year-old and five-year-old daughters. This internal depletion shows up differently for all of them.


Her headache has been relentless for days. Like it’s pissed. She has offered it massage and chiro and multiple EFT sessions and strength training and tons, oh tons, of yoga. And it is pushing back the way her eleven-year-old does when she offers the suggestion to take a deep breath while said eleven-year-old is in the throws of a big emotion. Not helpful, mom


Mantras help, but the dry-soil irritation is quick to return. She tells herself something like woman, your feelings of overwhelm as a mom are totally valid, while taking an invaluable moment in the guest bedroom, curled up in Child’s Pose like an acorn. Most days, she is flying solo with her five-year-old who has been out of school for a year. Wonderful little creature she is, but requiring 110% of mom's attention at all the given times. So solo time is acute and highly scheduled with her husband who works from home half-time. 

The headache is the cause-of as well as the symptom-of irritation. (Classic chicken and egg.) A body that feels like parts and pieces fused together with swells and inflammation. So tender. 

If she were a doctor, she'd tell herself that this is high time for some medical-grade Joy, followed by a continuous IV drip of all her favorite things—bird silhouettes on the tip of a branch, warm spring sunshine, her dog falling asleep while sitting up—liquified and delivered via tube into her veins. 

(She smiles as she stops to consider what the IV drip of her family members would look like. She'll bookmark that for future inquiry.)


Separate from family-joy and husband-joy, it needs to be her own self-propelled, cellular experience. Fresh-created, borrowed, cultivated-vintage, it matters not. As long as it lightens the grip, she is on the right track.



So here she is. Poised at her blue desk like a mannequin from Macy’s—strong, upright posture, arms at 90 degrees and framing her notebook. 

Alright then, she thinks to herself, cracking another beer. She vows to pause with every sip, tasting, breathing, calling in JOY like an ancestor or a superpower. 


(The next few or many blogs will be the results of her Joy Stalking. Stay tuned.💕)





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