wisdom

joy of fear

I’ve been referred to as a daredevil or gambler with a bit of frightening consistency throughout my life. And given the number of broken bones and overall mishaps I’ve experienced, perhaps its a fair assessment.

But the bit that follows next is quite fascinating. People tend to quickly add ‘well, you obviously don’t have fear’. There seems to be a logical separation between people that ‘have fear’ and those who would never dangle from the wing strut of an airplane because they simply ‘have fear’. On the surface, you can follow the logic of the argument. But when looking closer, I can attest to the fact that I absolutely feel fear.

When climbing a mountain and struggling for that thin bit of air; when caught in a blizzard unprepared; when attempting to cycle another 100 km day in fierce cross winds; when facing the empty void of that bungee jump, sky dive, trapeze platform, paraglide or ramp that is just crazy steep for the dirt bike . . .my palms sweat. My heart is bursting through my chest. My breath shortens and seems to only inhale. Disastrous outcomes flood my mind. Does any of this sound familiar? To live is to feel fear.

The choice we each have, is what we do with that fear. For me, being able to feel the fear and do it anyway, is a wholly gratifying and JOYful way to live. Its inspired me to move countries, travel to corners of the world on solo adventures, leave perfectly solid jobs, end lovely relationships, dive into life changing love, and yes, to fall flat on my face. But I did it. Each time. To push through the layers of fright and common sense can be incredibly liberating.

So perhaps don’t limit yourself by identifying with your fears or let them paralyse you next time your palms start to sweat. Instead, see it as a playful layer of resistance that can be out manoeuvred. And yes, I’ll be reciting this to myself as I attempt to cross the Bass Strait in a little boat with sails.

optional joy

I came across a quote recently that has struck such a deep chord I need to share:

“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”

There is so much truth and richness in this set of words. We can all relate to pain. Physical pain, emotional pain, sometimes a longing and often accompanied by different layers of hurt and discomfort. Pain can be acute or a dull ache that never seems to end. We feel pain fully in our body and often at a very specific location.

Suffering though is something quite different. It’s wholly a manifestation of our mind, not our body. Once we realise that we create our suffering, we might also realise that we too can end our own suffering. Once we’ve flung ourselves onto the constant wheel of suffering it can seem impossible to jump off. We feel bad, the world is no longer a friendly place and we’re convinced that things won’t change. And the more certain we are of our condition, the more likely it will continue to flourish.

But perhaps you can catch yourself just for a moment and examine your spiraling thoughts and stories. Where are they coming from? As it turns out, the external world isn’t trying to cause you harm. Instead, you are the only person putting together a string of stories in your head and turning them into your own private movie to be played out across the screen of life. Once you catch a glimpse of this reality you are now in the driver’s seat and can change the direction of your thoughts.

As it turns out, what we experience depends on our own self directed outlook. So, do you know where to look for JOY versus suffering?

wipe out

I feel a bit duped. Or perhaps short changed. I’ve just been diagnosed with ‘Surfer’s Eye’ and I have yet to experienced the JOY of surfing. Something is amiss! I initially thought I had suffered from a glitter incident (or glincident as Keith has offered) while helping to prepare for a 3yo birthday party. The red spot on the white bit of my eye was persistent and aggravated. But apparently I can’t blame the celebration of glitter. Fortunately the red spot wasn’t related to yoga. I had a lingering suspicion that my love of all inversions had resulted in a fragile blood vessel moving beyond its normal limits.

Nope. Its definitely surfer’s eye which is a scarring on the white of the eye that occurs from over exposure to sun, wind and sand. Hmmmm, this is all starting to add up. Most mornings I’m on the beach for a soft sand run and my commute is frequently the ferry across the harbour. And then of course there’s the reality that I’ve starting sailing a bit and my love of beachside walks is well know. Adding insult to injury, or ego, I sometimes purposefully go without my sunglasses since they leave me with a very prominent white mask around my eye area, often prompting people to ask if I’ve been away skiing.

The solution? Surgery is an option but odds are that it will come back even larger. So for now, I need to override my ego, knowing that people could assume that I’m recovering from a BIG night out, and as my wise partner has suggested “maybe you shouldn’t be so vain” and start wearing my sunnies every day and embrace the fact that I have that ‘fresh from the snow’ glow!

beauty and function

I had an inspired conversation with my gorgeous teacher Keith today surrounding a speaker he enjoyed at Vivid Fest. The warm hearted aesthetic was discussing the link between form and function. The notion that things that are useful can and should also be beautiful. I love that people from Alessi to IKEA have changed our expectations of a kettle from something that heats water to an object of whimsy and grace that enjoys a spot on our bench top. The link between function and beauty feels like a positive step forward in our lives. And why should we limit this experience to our kitchenware and pillows? There is so much room to add beauty to our functional daily habits and routine. Cooking is a rich area to consider. We need to add fuel to our bodies several times a day. The ritual of shopping for fresh ingredients, preparing food with kindness and attention, and assembling a plate that allows our eyes to feast first, is a simple way to add a layer of beauty to this functional need. And what about brushing your teeth, pouring a glass a water or climbing into bed for sleep? Creatively, we can constantly add beauty to our routine. And more beauty equals more JOY in the world. So get inspired and create some beauty today.

joy TODAY!

When my gorgeous partner, Richard, purchased the JOYSTORM url for me I was over the moon with gratitude for the perfect gift. He also included the url JOYSTORM TODAY which feels like such a relevant and important battle cry for living our lives with true levity and happiness. Too often we humans can dwell in the past, reliving entire conversations and decisions which ultimately tends to lead to a state of regret or even sadness. Or, we jump forward into the mystical future and find ourselves imagining full feature length films of how our romantic lives will unfold, or the complete adult lives of our tiny children. Caught in the cycle of focusing on an imagined future tends to lead to agitation or anxiety. So, where can we find the JOY? Well, it takes place right here, in this exact moment. When we give our attention to today and exactly what is happening now . . . that’s the magic spot where JOY lives.

I think Winnie the Pooh knows this fully:

“What day is it?” “Its today” squeaked Piglet. “My favourite day”, said Pooh

We can’t change the past and we certainly can’t control the future. So go ahead, make this day your favourite one and create some JOY TODAY!

creating space

My yoga teacher was sharing the notion of ‘self interest’ and how we all seem to be striving for something, working to accomplish goals, perhaps even purchasing something that has importance to us. It struck me that while these traits are all very human and necessary, they reflect a tunnelled focus towards ones self. Conversely, the world seem to be calling out for more and more compassion directed its way. Wherever we look, if we slow down long enough to truly see, we can find people in need. Some have lost everything in a natural disaster and others might just be struggling to find a bit of joy in their day.

So what can we do to lift our gaze and shift our focus from self to others? I believe yoga can play a role. When we are in the mode of striving, accomplishments and pushing to get ahead we seem to be holding onto things rather tightly. Both in our minds and our bodies. As we practice yoga and move through the asanas on the mat we are stretching muscles and spine, literally creating more space in the body. And perhaps this newly found space can move towards the heart, making just a little bit more room. And who knows . . . maybe that heart space can be filled with compassion towards others.

There will always be time to fulfil our own small self interests, but sometimes the urgency lies in extending ourselves and offering something we have – even a smile – to others.

If you believe in a JOYful world maybe create a little space for compassion today.

love and gratitude

The wise words of Brene Brown offer:

“gratitude is the precursor to joy”

Basically, she contends that we can’t touch joy without first feeling grateful. So gratitude is almost a stepping stone to swimming in JOY. This resonate as true for me. When I see an amazing sunset and feel joy bubble out of my pores its true that there is first a deep feeling of being grateful that I’m here, in this space, witnessing this spectacular light show. Or when I’m able to coax my unicycle close to the edge of the boardwalk without falling off my spontaneous laughter gives away my state of joy. But without doubt, I’m feeling grateful for my functioning body and the introduction of this joy maker into my life by Richard.

What are you grateful for? Does it lead you to JOY? I’m always incredibly grateful for the layers of love that exist in my life and I’ve started exploring the connection between love and joy. This article sparked my interest as it tackles the notion of love in a fresh perspective:

http://www.theschooloflife.com/melbourne/blog/2015/03/love-and-work/

I hope it brings you some thoughtful contemplation and perhaps even a deeper sense of gratitude. And after all, how lucky are we that JOY is so readily available and we know the shortcut!

evaporated stress

I just know you’ll enjoy this guest post . . . its by my divine and inspiring partner, Richard. He’s such a wealth of ideas and a master at sourcing JOY and integrating it into his daily life.

For most people the daily commute is a chore. I know driving in busy traffic turns me into a frustrated lane hopper. And bussing makes me feel like I’m a pawn in a human traffic ring. However there are many ways to brighten up the routine. Recently, I have ignored social pressure and found joyful ways to commute. My favourite is via kayak. An option for me as my work is often directly on the other side of Sydney Harbour. The paddle takes about an hour each way, which isn’t a fast commute, but I enjoy every stroke and would like to be out exercising for that time anyway. I do get some funny looks as I walk from the beach to office with little more than a paddle in hand, but most people offer encouraging remarks. I have yet to witness a traffic jam on the harbour, there are no parking issues and I arrive at work (and home) with a wide salty smile. As a bonus, I feel like spoiling myself with super foods on the money saved from tolls, ferries, tickets, petrol, parking, etc. Cycling is another lovely way to commute. Although, it can involve some stress when competing with hurried cars, trucks, buses, and taxis. It’s a little different for me as I’m on a rather tall, 36″ geared unicycle, which is another joy-mobile. Running is a healthy option, although since it’s a long run for me, it’s only practical infrequently. I also enjoy commuting by motorcycle. It doesn’t satisfy my need for exercise, but it is a lot more liberating and faster than driving, and it feels much safer than cycling. Walking is a beautiful option. A 30-60 minute walk is, in my view, much more attractive than a 15 minute vehicular commute. Many people can combine a long walk with public transport, which can be made even more joyful by sharing part of the walk/commute with a loved one. Let’s face it – anything is better than stressing behind a wheel or squished into a bus. Many employers support these healthy alternatives by providing showers, lockers and laundry services in the workplace. I encourage everyone to de-stress by seeking out more active and JOYFUL ways to commute.

Hopefully this leaves you inspired to re-think your daily commute! Get creative and imagine arriving at your place of work with a mile wide smile versus a collection of stressful layers.

joyful habits

I absolutely love this sentiment (thank you sister Nicky for sending it my way) and find it so true! At times I feel like people are addicted to some sort of drama compulsion. If there isn’t something falling apart in their life or the life of someone close to them they seem to have little to say. A related chapter of this compulsion is perhaps the endless self assessments, introspection, analysis and desire to really ‘know’ oneself. While I applaud a healthy level of self awareness, this habit of continual navel gazing can become a form of self absorption that dances on the fringes of addiction.

So where do you want to place your attention? What do you want to offer the world? Let’s all aim to spread just a little bit more JOY. After all, its rather contagious.