I am sitting in the middle of a large warehouse as I write this. I brought my daughter to her FRC robotics meeting and there was another group meeting here as well with police officers speaking to a group and several police cadets hanging out talking. The police cadets look so young, probably young twenties.

I hesitated to begin writing because I was worried I would need to move. I am sitting at a work table where the teams work. This warehouse houses several robotics teams. I spent the first half hour scanning around the room trying to figure out if I should go sit somewhere else. Most of the chairs off to the side have coats and bags holding the space. Once the unknown group began to disband, I figured I would not be in their way. I could have asked someone and I could have also not worried about it until someone asked me to move.

Slow to warm up to new spaces and new people

This describes myself as well as my kids. Especially my youngest who is here at the age of 14 on this high school robotics team, a new adventure for her. Meeting new people has been something that has overwhelmed her and she has always needed extra time to acclimate to new situations, places and people. She stood in the back of the room at the age of 6, watching the Taekwondo class for nearly all of the 10 weeks and only participated in the last few classes. She later went on to join the Taekwondo school where she advanced to purple belt. In the first year, at the orange belt level she participated in her first area competition. It took a long time to help her enter the large school gymnasium packed with people and nine mats were set up, each holding a separate competition. She was used to her homeschool class of about 6 kids and the monthly meet ups with her small Taekwondo School for belt testing. She almost did not even enter the building, let alone compete. There were three areas of competition at the orange belt level and she won three gold medals. She was overwhelmed by the attention she got for winning. She stood for the pictures but was not smiling.

I have not posted a blog in over a month despite setting the intention to have weekly blogs to go along with our weekly podcasts. We had my family Christmas gathering the week after Christmas and since that time, I have had less time to write and when I have had the time, I either did not open my computer or fell asleep before I could begin.

Parenting is a roller coaster journey with moments of pure joy and times of distress and chaos.

For the second time, I have chosen a word for the year. I chose the word joy.

I learned that joy is different than happiness. A simple google search provides this clarification:

Joy is an inner feeling. Happiness is an outward expression. Joy endures hardship and trials and connects with meaning and purpose. A person pursues happiness but chooses joy.

There are many sites who provide in depth explanations of the differences between joy and happiness. Some of my favorite descriptions include that joy is in the heart and of the soul compared to happiness being on the face and in the moment. Joy transcends embracing peace and contentment and happiness reacts and is transient.

I can choose joy even in the chaos of life and even when I am feeling sadness.

I can choose to find simple moments of peace and contentment no matter what is going on around me.

When my child reacts with angry behavior because of her inner turmoil, I can quietly reflect on the triumphs that she has overcome in the past. I can find joy in a hug and apology after an intense argument or outburst of anger.

I can choose to use my earbuds and connect with my inner self with music or find inspiration in a daily quote from Conversations with God.

I can choose to step outside and notice the sky or listen to a bird or even watch a bug crawling on the ground and appreciate the magic and beauty in the world we live in.

I believe that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. We are more than our bodies.

I embrace joy on a soul level and also choose to bring it to my human experience.

There are many moments when I do not choose joy but get lost in the noise and the chaos.

Yet, I can always stop and choose again.

When I arrived tonight, there were more people than I expected and I did not find an empty chair in a corner as I had envisioned. I entered the middle of the room in between where two groups were meeting and found a lone chair at a table. I was self-conscious for more than 30 minutes, scanning my environment and debating if I needed to move. I did not even take my computer out of the bag until 45 minutes had passed. As I began to write, I kept pausing and paying attention to everything around me.

An hour and a half have passed since I sat down at this table and only now am I feeling a sense of joy as I write. I have some new to me Beats earbuds my son gave me to try out and they have a noise canceling feature. I have needed this all of my life. I tend to be hyper tuned in to all that is going on around me. Somewhere along the way of becoming a mom, navigating the life of kids with mental health challenges along with my own mental health issues and a variety of other life experiences, I have had the experience of decreased focus and difficulty fully giving my attention to a project.

When I have had writing nights, I often spend more than an hour decompression usually by playing a game on my phone. I might disappear into Facebook or even watch a show or movie first. More than once, I found myself finally engrossed in writing with the need to wrap up because the coffee house was closing.

Despite the extra challenges that are part of my human experience at this time, I am reminding myself to choose to make the time to write. Writing is like therapy for me and brings me to inner peace and back to joy.


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