#IChooseJoy

It always starts with a choice. Choices begins when your mom says to you (at an age when you’re  beginning to understand such questions)  – “It’s up to you. If you behave  yourself, we can go in the store. If not, we can just go home.” ( I am sure I said that to my kids upon occasion…) Do you want your blankie? Do you want more juice? How about when you finally got to pick out your own clothes – or voice what kind what kind of sandwich you wanted for lunch – or say if you wanted a kitty or a puppy. There is one choice X a million in those formative years.

Then the choices graduated to BIGGER issues. Ah, the teen year choices  – SO many it makes a teen’s head spin, which IS why we need to walk them through this time with some grace and mercy – it is like the whole world has appeared on their doorstep demanding – WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? There is one choice X a million in those years

Fast forward past childhood and teenage years, into adult hood and all the moments and seasons and circumstances that hurl at you without warning and unexpected – CHOICES come with every food group, every bill, every child, every vacation, every belief you follow, every single item placed within your home, and on and on. There is one choice X a million in those years.

So you find yourself on the OTHER side of critical life changing choices. Maybe you now only answer to your self. Maybe on the other side of marriage, is now widowhood. Maybe now on the other side of parenthood, is now an empty nest. Maybe on the other side of happiness, is…..wait. Other side? There is another side to happiness? Yes. Happiness comes from the outside of your life – things that make you happy ~ they can be big or small ~ such as a vacation on a cruise ship can make you happy just as well as a bowl of pine  cones or a favorite coffee creamer. The other side of happiness is NOT based on things, and is not contingent on tangible things or even your feelings.

The other side of happiness is JOY. And it IS a choice. Hit song – “Happy” ~~~WHY is this SO popular?  BECAUSE WE ALL JUST WANT TO BE HAPPY.  The irony of this is – I can have a big house and find no satisfaction. I can have a ton of friends, and still feel alone. I can have all the ‘toys’, power, fame, bank accounts, and prime vacation spots and STILL be depressed. Happiness is fleeting. That is why you see people who you think SHOULD be happy, and they are not. The definition of HAPPY is:  pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness,  enjoyment, satisfaction. See the word JOY? It IS part of being happy; truly happy. Joy itself means: delight, gladness, triumph, ecstasy, exuberance, euphoria, bliss, rejoicing. The two go together. But ONE is a choice. So, choose JOY. Embrace life….NOT only allowing things to determine your level of delight…joy is an INSIDE thing. It is that peace in the storm thing…it is what holds you together when by all means you should be falling apart. It is MORE than a feel-good fleeting moment that ends when that Pumpkin Latte is gone.

Do I always feel happy? Nope. But in its absence, I can still have joy. I can still have an inner glow in my soul that assures me All Is Well. JOY is a matter of the heart. It is NOT determined by outside forces and if you protect it, it can NOT be stolen by outside forces. After the house is gone, the car is gone, the mate is gone, the family is gone and even the family pet is gone – we can STILL rejoice. joy imageThis is my ONE choice  in these years – after all is said, and done, and gone, I still choose JOY.

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#HopeIsTheBestGiftOfAll

Contrary to what we would like to believe, not everyone likes Christmas. Not that everyone doesn’t like the elements of the holiday…the gifts, the cookies, the music…etc. The deepest intricate meaning of Christmas is HOPE. And unfortunately, a lot of people are just plum out of hope. Enter ‘oh humbug’ feelings. It’s easy to shrug off and ignore those who are not enjoying the wonder of the season like you. Think Elf – there are those of us (clearing throat….) who truly LOVE Christmas, and would sing at the top of our lungs in the subway (if we lived near one..), and smile till our face hurt. I want to be very sensitive though, to those who simply are – sad. We recently went to an inner city and passed out hot soup and blankets to homeless people. Today I am baking cookies for them. Obviously not all of them, though I wish I could. I want to live out what I think HOPE looks like. It’s easy to talk, give someone a speech or a glib cliche’, but what mankind needs most this Christmas season is to SEE what HOPE looks like. I believe it should look a lot like LOVE.  ImageIf you get a hug (after years of NOT getting one) -that looks like HOPE. If someone asks you your name (after so many years, that you really have to stop and think what it is)- that looks like HOPE. If a stranger offers you a large cup of peppermint hot chocolate (for no reason)- that looks like HOPE. If  you wonder how you are going to buy your child a present (and someone who picked their name off an Angel tree gets that child EXACTLY what they wanted)- that looks like HOPE. If you are lying alone in the dark, in a nursing home (and a stranger appears at your door to sing a song you have long forgotten) – that looks like HOPE. What can we each do to live out the true message of Christmas; that light has shined in the darkness, that music has silenced the fear, that love has given us all a reason to get up, and try, one more time.

#GoBeHopeToSomeone