Since this is the only day I get, today I decided to choose Joy. All day. And I’ll be damned if that has not been what the day has been filled with ever since.
It started with me waking up, thinking about staying in bed after going to bed, struggling to fall asleep, vibrating from the news of the day. Then realizing I actually had things to look forward to, so I got up.
I went into my routine. Writing three pages, reading devotionals, meditating with Deepak for 26 minutes. (He comes to my living room every morning. For free!)
When writing, I was identifying various feelings like excitement, sadness, fear and joy.
Excited because I get to move from landlock status in Oklahoma to Emerald Coast Gulf of Mexico status in Destin Florida a month ahead of my original September 1 escape plan.
Sad that this means I will have one less month in the same house with my favorite person on the planet, my daughter.
Fear. The usual suspects. Money, having enough, not having enough. Making friends, not dying from Covid or the next beer truck I don’t see when I’m crossing the street. Same shit. Different day. Blah, blah, blah. Exactly that. I write the same list of fears as if it is part of my diet. And I am sick. Of that!
So using my year of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy fact checking, I realize:
I have a lot
- Going for me.
- To be grateful for.
- Of friends.
- Of talent that can be monetized.
Which brings me to the topic of THIS day. One in a series of which all I get is this days, and I choose. JOY.
That doesn’t mean I won’t feel other things.
I am feeling a lot in the department of growing pains because I am doing a lot to grow in many areas, so I am good with that.
What it DOES mean, however, is that my focus as of 9am became this. “The JOY that is God guides me NOW.” Today. All day. This is my mantra.
And here is my report so far.
9 am. Decision to choose Joy begins after declaring it to about 30 witnesses.
9:30am. Went to dentist to get a crown. They didn’t give me the one I asked for, the one with the sapphire in the middle that I was gonna wear on my head, but oh well. And while I was there, I had a blast. Because I was focused on Joy. Each engagement from the front office to the dental assistant to the doctor, who has been filling the holes in my head for over thirty years was a total gas. Minus the gas.
We laughed and talked about Florida and dating sites and cooking and kids and jewelry and parenting. I left fully sated. Social outing number 1.
Next stop, alterations for my daughter’s work pants. And once again, being focused in joy, the encounter was joyful. The woman who owned the shop and I (me through my cute mask with the puppy smile painted on it so that when I put it on I look like a happy dog person hybrid because I hate not being able to show my smile in public) had a delightful exchange. About pants and hems and daughters and enjoying our conversation right while we were having it. She even said that the last person she had in her shop and she had the same conversation. About how much these little exchanges of routine errands are now mid pandemic social treasures!
Now to get the eggs. I have put this off, so puppy mask on I go to the grocery store! Get the eggs, look at the humans. Not unlike an eager puppy wanting to lick their faces and get petted, but that would have been weird. And socially inappropriate. Instead, I gathered eggs, hair and nail vitamins and shower apples.
And this is what I told the sweet lady who at self checkout with the boring blue mask, reduced the cost from organic shower apples at $500 a pound to the rightful insecticided shower apples price of $1.29 a pound.
“What is a shower apple?” She said. “I’m glad you asked. A shower apple is one of the many dining experiences that happen in my shower when my daughter is using it. I know, because I harvest shower apple cores during my showers on a regular basis.”
Time for lunch. And a delightful phone call with a fellow creative who dismisses her gifts a bit and me giving her an on the spot pep rally in her ear about life.
Then, a phone call. Money coming to me for work that comes easy to me. So much joy!
Now for more joy! I filled out my application for my next home to be. A lovely apartment with a fountain view just off a Florida bay. One with the desired natural light in the form of a wall of windows in my living room, a window in the adjacent patio wall as well as another window on the next wall above the dining space! If you know me, you know I am solar powered and that my current picture window is something that I will be leaving behind. So yay for new windows and more joy!
Next up, a conversation with a beautiful young woman. One riddled with the Universe playing pranks on us. In a good way. We were reading something written decades ago, but the relevance on the page was talking about world events just like those we are having today. We laughed at the irony as the book we were reading is one that the Universe uses to prank many people all over the world.
Then, I met with my shrink. She has been providing care for me for over two years. With a clinic that has met my needs since 2013. This includes ten stays in the psych ward. But that was not all. They could only go back to 2011. And that was not my first psych ward rodeo. That story, in its entirety, will be told later.
For thirty years, I have been under the care of a doctor for what has been at times a very cruel brain chemistry. And in that time I have become something of a mental health care connoisseur. Also, an unofficial psych ward concierge. During my last hospital stay in 2018, and I do mean LAST, the staff there knew me and my history. They had participated in saving my life and getting me back to functioning many times. One day, a young woman in her thirties came in for her first, and I suspect only psych ward stay. When she arrived, the nurses asked me to “show her around.” So I did. I told her, “You’re going to do great here.” Words she chose to have tattooed on her chest and the last time I saw her a few months ago, she was doing great. Engaged, building a home and successfully running her creative business.
Today was a pivotal moment in that I will only meet with my doctor one more time. Before she goes on with her career in the state of Texas and I move on with my life to the state of Florida.
As a teaching hospital, they would assign me to a resident psychiatrist for a one year period during which they provide me with medication management and in this case psychotherapy. And along the way, there was always an attending physician to oversee the training. This offered me some degree of continuity, which was helpful considering one of the residents I got to see for a year once laid her head across her arm on the desk during our session. Kind of like a little kid who is too tired to hold their head up. I’m hoping she chose pediatrics.
But in my case with this resident, I had the privilege of being in her care for over two years, as I was quite ill when she came on the scene. My marriage of 24 years had come to an abrupt end and I got very sick in the throws of my grief.
During the two plus years, using a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medication, she helped me get well. And let me tell you, the before and after pictures, if there were any would have had you questioning if the person in the before was the me you see today.
Today, I got to thank her and the attending, who I was just going to joke with when he came in at the end of the session. I do say to my friends that I suspect they feel good about their jobs as they have seen me go from 7 medications to 2 and being unable to leave my home or feel anything at all to the livewire contributing member of my life that I am today getting ready to start a new life at the beach.
But what happened instead was a flood of emotion. Gratitude. For these doctors and this clinic and hospital that has been at the center of my mental health care inpatient and outpatient for the last seven years. I was moved to tears and the attending even said he needed Kleenex when I finished telling them how grateful I was for the care they had given me.
So, yeah. I’m gonna dare to say, that now at 7pm, I have successfully had a day filled with joy. And I still get to hang out with my daughter.
As for my mantra. “The JOY that is God guides me NOW?”
It was and is my truth. AS long as I choose it. Every step of the way.