Saturday, March 9, 2013

Savoring Joy

Affirmation: I savor all the joyful experiences of my life.

I have read that most people remember their negative or sad experiences better than they remember their positive, happy experiences. According to the article we have a tendency to dwell on the negative and sad and to barely notice the joyful experiences therefore, not fully absorbing them. The advice given was that we take more notice of the uplifting events; that we let them soak into our cellular structure by savoring them, not letting them slip by unvalued.

Recently, I adopted the tool of each morning writing out three joys experienced the day before.  The practice is helping me pay closer attention to what enhances the quality of my life.  I notice those things that make me smile and make a mental note.  Then by writing them out the next day  Im recording them not only on paper but in my heart. 

My mother-in-law turned 92 this year. Have you ever wondered what youd be like in your old age, or if youll even have an old age? (Thats a whole other topic.) My mom, Margaret is 90 this year.

My mother-in-law is named Yolanda. They both live independently and are lucky enough to live in adult communities that offer not only a myriad of services but easy access to community. They are also in very good health.  I visit my mom regularly.  Getting old is not for the faint of heart.  It can be a very difficult time of life.  I often wonder what that will be like for me.  I've been taking note of how different people approach what appears to be the same situation.  I'm taking notes with the hope that I will learn how to maintain my sense of joy and adventure.  Is it a deep abiding faith?  Is it cellular, once an optimist, always an optimist?  Is it being able to review your life and value, truly value, all you've accomplished?

My husband and I usually travel to see Yolanda for her birthday. I spend the time soaking in the joy that Yolanda eludes. She counts her birthday cards and reads each one to us and tells us about the people who sent them, if we don't already know them. If we do know them, she tells us about them anyway. She tells us how wonderful they all are. How kind and talented and smart they are. Its such fun to listen to her take pleasure in her family and friends. Shes one of the most non-judgmental, unconditionally loving people I have ever met. Ive been blessed by having her for a mentor and a friend. Ive learned so much from this woman who readily accepted me as her daughter simply because her son loved me.

We moved away from the New York area very soon after her first granddaughter was born. Melissa was six weeks old and we moved to a farm town five hours away. They must have been so unsettled by our decision. But, they never let on, neither she nor Sandys dad, Joe. They simply showed up any chance they got bringing home cooked meals and gifts galore. I was young. I was a little defensive about keeping my own space, my own house and I didnt fully appreciate what a gift I was being given.  Now, a grandmother myself I fully appreciate all she and Sandy's father did for us.

She now lives in Savannah. She moved there right before her 90th birthday. We drove her to the airport; she got on a plane and began a whole new life. I was in awe. I can only hope that when Im 90 I will have the gumption to make a lifestyle change.

There are so many lessons to learn about life from Yolanda. She has a deep abiding faith.  She loves people; they are usually good and kind and generous, according to her.  She's lived a rich life caring for her family and pursuing a career.  Her whole view of life is flavored with love: love of God, love of family and friends, love of memories, love of being alive each and every day.  Im sure you have people in your life from whom you too have learned a lot. But, one of the lessons I took away from sharing Yolanda's celebrations with her was how important it is to savor the joys of our lives and to absorb them. I believe it will color our attitude, our health, our quality of life not only now but for the rest of our lives and then maybe we too can be 90 or 92 or 100+ and giggle and enjoy all the wonderful moments and celebrations of our lives.

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