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how joy is a toughie for me

This post is part of my friend Hannah Marcotti’s Joy Up Stories Series. The Joy Up begins August 1st with hundreds of women who are ready to claim their joy and deepen love, ritual, trust and rhythm.

Joy is a toughie for me.
I’m generally a pretty happy person, but I’m a big ol’ worrier, too, and that often (ok, almost always) gets in the ways of my experiencing real, profound joy in my life. There’s a part of me that’s always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Joy, in my mind, is the feeling of living in the present moment and feeling deep contentment.
And I can honestly say, this is not my experience of life most of the time. 
There’s a difference between joy and happiness. I think you can be happy and not be joyful. Joy is acceptance of the way things are. And gratitude for it all. I often find myself judging the present moment, wishing things were somehow different, worrying about this, that, and the other. (What if there’s an earthquake? What if something happens to someone in my family? What if I get cancer? What if I never sell anything again? What if my tooth falls out? What if what if what if?) Sometimes I feel like a big relentless wound up ball of worry.
The times when I do find those fleeting, flickering moments of true, deep joy are usually when I’m outdoors– walking in my neighborhood, hiking, running, biking, sitting by water…. There’s something about observing the beauty of nature that makes me remember that everything is ok, exactly as it is, right now.
This morning while I was running at Mt. Tabor, I had an odd sensation after sprinting 6 flights of stairs… I was panting, recovering, and feeling so joyful. I got out of my own way. I soared up the stairs. When I got to the top I felt SO GOOD. I wasn’t judging, I wasn’t comparing, I was just BEING.

So I think maybe JOY is getting out of your own way and just letting the universe take you into its flow.

I don’t really what my point is here, but I’m having a bit of an a-ha moment that I need to take some more time to just BE outdoors, soaking in the nature around me. (Good thing I’m planning to take a half-day next week to go to the beach by myself, eh?!) It’s easy for me to get so busy that I don’t make time for resting and relaxing and doing the things that fill me up.
But when I do, I get really excited by things like blooming artichokes:

And birds and trees and seed pods and dirt… and then I get home and feel so fulfilled. Being outdoors is good for my soul. I think you cultivate joy in your life by doing things that make your soul sing. And that, for me, is being in nature.
What makes your soul sing? When do you feel deeply, profoundly filled with joy? I’d love to hear in the comments!

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