backwards joy

Since learning to swim, I’ve noticed that I’m always subtlety aware of forward movement. As my head twists upwards during each breath cycle, my eye catches a landmark, another swimmer, perhaps a piece of sky, all reassuring me that I’m moving forward, albeit sometimes rather slowly, progress is being made.

On a recent ocean swim, heading back towards Bondi beach, I was suddenly and acutely aware that forward movement had ceased. In fact, I was being pushed backward. Being a bit of a novice ocean swimmer, it was hard to convince me not to panic. During the milliseconds of negotiating with my anxious brain, JOY flooded my body as I was lifted with weightless ease and propelled forward with force and momentum beyond my own effort. Yup, I was merely catching a wave towards shore. And the sensation of being held down and pushed backward happened again and again just before the waves connected and thrust you forward. Beautiful little signs like seeing small fish sucked back to sea, are tells, foreshadowing the next inevitable low and high.

I reckon the sea is a lot like life. Who hasn’t been pulled under and started to panic when backward motion seemed to dominate life? We’ve all been caught in the current of pain and negativity, questioning our progress. But trusting that the Universe will propel you forward is worth remembering. If we can do that, maybe we can even find JOY in the backward motion of life, knowing it’s fleeting too.

And hey, sometimes it’s not just a wave and you are well and truly in a rip. When that happens, we all need to change tact, switch gears, and find a new path to shore. It’s no use fighting a battle you simply can’t win.

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tails of JOY

A stunning woman in New Zealand recently took her last breath and as she did so an energetic fantail entered in through her bedroom window, fully at home. To the amazement of those at hand, the bird flew through the house before finding a resting place above her bed. After a few minutes of peaceful chirping, the fantail found its way outside, back through the sliver of the opened window.

It’s worth noting in Maori culture, the fantails are seen as a sign of death inside a house. Given the magnitude of this woman and the timing of the flight, I think they must signal peace and recognition of one perfectly JOYfully lived life.

pursuing JOY

I came across an article recently that I thoroughly enjoyed. The topic was about the conundrum of chasing material possessions and losing the ability to truly enjoy our leisure time along the way. The quote I loved is:

To purchase luxury we’ve sold our ease.

In our never ending pursuit of ‘stuff’, let’s make sure we prioritize a bit of leisure. Surely its the fast track to more JOY.

right side up JOY

I was practicing yoga in my lounge recently and I got a tremendous shock. I was fully enjoying my favorite inversion, a headstand when out of the corner of my eye I saw my reflection. Yikes! Surely that’s not my face! The image I saw more closely resembled a hound dog not human. The folds of skin hung down with total relaxation into what can only be described as jowls. Somehow gravity was pulling down with enough force to cause folds of skin across even the eyes and ears.

Perhaps it’s happened. Maybe this is the year my face fell.

I thought I had a healthy level of vanity. Most days I make sure to groom my unruly eyebrows and even slather my skin with eye cream that’s probably not giving me a great return on investment. I’ve stopped short of powders, pills or procedures that would alter my body. But seeing my face upside down and completely void of elastic . . .well, it’s not a vision I’ll soon forget.

I was sharing this story with a dear (much younger and full of facial elastic) friend and she thought this was happening around us all the time. Our bodies become rounder, looser, day by day, but we don’t recognize the gradual decay until suddenly there’s an odd bit of flesh under our arm one day that’s definitely not a side boob!

So for me, I’m once again resetting my expectations and reminding myself that I truly want to age with some level of grace. Oh, and clearly I’m meant to stay right side up to fully embrace JOY!

joy face

Since moving back to the seemingly self-conscious shores of Bondi, I’ve noticed random folks engaging me in conversation. And these aren’t your run of the mill – ‘Hey, nice day today’ chats. Instead, they’ve been rather in-depth points of connection. The last one occurred just this afternoon.

After swimming some laps at Icebergs I longed for the heat of the sauna. Once I entered the tiny little room of steam it became obvious it was overcrowded and I would need to push in a bit to find a spare parcel of bench. And, the bodies that were on display were a sample of Bondi’s finest. Fit tight abs and pert bits of flesh adorned the svelte female beings while the males glistened. Oddly, once I found an inch of bench for my bottom, a young man started chatting to me. First, his questions centered on my Garmin, and then they moved to my accent, fitness routine, yadda yadda, as they say. I found it odd that this man, many many years my junior, would want to engage in dialogue with someone near exhaustion with deep set goggle marks due to complete lack of facial elastic (that’s a thing, right?)

Then it struck me. Despite my amazing partner’s short-sighted belief that I ‘rock’ a bikini, I think random people tend to speak to me in a friendly manner because I smile. I even go further. I make eye contact! Imagine that . . .I actually enjoy connecting with others and invite them in – be they strangers or dear friends. I guess I wear my JOY instead of the Bondi closed face that many folks seem to unknowingly wear.

So, what does your face say to strangers? Try injecting your’s with a bit more JOY and let the conversations flow.

the colour of joy

While Sydney has been experiencing an extraordinary level of rainfall, I’ve noticed people starting to wear darker clothes. Gone are the bright splashes of pink and yellow, floral prints and even glittered nails. Instead, we’re covering ourselves in muted tones and black from head to toe is the new norm. The gray skies seem to have permeating our wardrobes. And of course, moods seem to follow.

Which got me thinking . . . does JOY have a colour? And if so, which one is it for you?

For some, maybe black does elicit JOY. But for me, I’ve been making a conscience effort to add my fuchsia tasseled earrings to an otherwise black outfit, or even bright orange lippie to a gray ensemble. These bursts of colour feel important to my state of mind. And interestingly, people seem to respond. Over a beige top, I recently added my necklace of gumball coloured beads, and someone quickly commented how playful my outfit was.

So, what’s your colour of JOY? Be brave and try adding a few shocks of colour this rainy season. You just might find your steps are a bit lighter.

open joy

I recently came across the idea that we move through life being either open or closed. I love this idea. Perhaps since it’s so real and visual. We’ve all seen closed people. They tend to roll their shoulders into a stoop with a slumped back, making no eye contact. And of course, you can spot an open person straight away. They have an erect posture, a natural ease about their body and movements and are happy to make eye contact.

For most of life, I think I move through in quite an open fashion. I frequently not only make eye contact with strangers but actually chat with them, I notice the environment around me versus rushing through to a destination and I still get frequent comments about my posture, which is always amusing. Since the notion of being open or closed has been front of mind, I found an area where I’m absolutely lacking in remaining open. The trying environment for me isn’t cueing up for the ATM, dealing with an aggressive situation or even trying to keep focus while desperately wanting to sleep. Instead, it’s the dreaded work meeting!

As my calendar starts to fill up with meetings I can already feel myself get a little anxious. And once a meeting has started, I’m on high alert for casual chit chat versus getting down to the business at hand. As people talk I find myself trying to summarize their point in order to move along towards the finish line. A colleague recently observed, “Julie, you’re a closer. You like to wrap things up and stay on task.” Truer words have never been spoken.

So, my challenge is to stay open during meetings. Remain curious, engaged and not worried about the time ticking away or lack of any clear resolutions. Fortunately, I have plenty of opportunities to put this into practice as I look at my calendar for the week ahead. Wish me luck! Surely remaining open will allow for even more JOY to enter.