This year, I stopped searching to find happiness. That is when I discovered a life of Joy.

Certainly more fun than a broken leg… I serendipitously stumbled into an experience of Joy this year. And In all honesty, it feels a little weird even to be admitting that.

This year just seems to be getting wackier, nuttier and crazier all the time. People are feeling anxious, depressed, oppressed, lost, angry, and hopeless, to name a few.

Me too. This year I have experienced depression, anxiety, feeling penned in, intense anger, helplessness, hopelessness, overwhelm, irritability, frustration, boredom, restlessness, loneliness, vulnerability, loss, grief, exhaustion and also thinking that I am as nutty as a fruitcake.

But with all this insanity of our current world circumstances, I also have also had a deep experience of peace, contentment, love, immense gratitude, connection, compassion, faith, trust, and yes, even Joy.

Something shifted for me this year. With all the tragedy going on in our world, and all the loss I myself faced, I started to really pay attention to and notice all the little and big things that I was grateful for, which led me to this divine experience of Joy that I have never quite felt before.

Stumbling into Joy is nothing that I intentionally “did”.
It is actually something I “undid”.
I stopped complaining.
I stopped letting my fear run my life.
I stopped searching.
I stopped operating from my ego’s perspective of my identity… telling me that I was only okay if I had X, Y, and Z; or did A, B, and C, and maintained this image of Self that I thought would keep me safe.

When I stopped complaining, I found myself naturally listening. Listening not to others; nor to the voice of fear or ego in my head; but to the voice of my true nature inside. That is the voice that now guides me. I can tell when I am not listening to my true nature, because there is usually a complaint or a “should” somewhere in my head. Noticing that I am complaining is a sure signal that I am not listening to what is true for me and remembering that all experience comes from inside me, not from the world around me.

When I stop letting my fear run my life (and this is a regular practice!) I find that safety, connection, love and abundance are all experiences of being that are always present underneath my busy mind. I just have to slow down, get present in the moment and let go of the attachment to the story in my head.

When I am in a mindset of “fear” it just means that I am putting priority on what is outside of me that I cannot control (although my ego likes to think it can control), vs listening to what is alive within me. Now why the hell would I do that?
Not letting fear run my life gives me permission to let my creativity, my gifts, my true nature lead MY life! Not something outside of me.

When I stopped searching, I found myself slowing down, pausing and becoming present to not just the beauty all around me, but to the preciousness of my existence and connection to all of life.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  ~Albert Einstein

I stopped searching and started to experience for myself how each moment is an unrepeatable miracle. Each moment is precious and unique. Although I have heard this before, this year I started to really feel it.

Could it be that all the loss I experienced this year has driven me to appreciation? Could it be?

Or maybe I just stopped searching for a light outside of myself and slowed down long enough to see that the light is inside me. It is this, the light of energy within me that has me feeling, breathing, thinking, creating. It has me consciously aware… So that I can experience this crazy thing we call life.

It is because of this light of energy inside me that I can appreciate the birds singing in the morning and eating the greens in my garden; that I can feel the heartache for those that have lost their homes and loved ones in the nearby California fires, yet also be so grateful that I am home safe with my husband in a sky filled with smoke and ash.

It is this light inside me that had me crying almost daily when I fractured my femur last December and could not walk for nearly 2 months.

And it is this light inside me that had me crying tears of Joy, just last week and nearly 10 months later after the final surgery taking out the plate and screws that held my leg together.

There is always something to be grateful for. This I now know.

Maybe it’s just because I am now more enthralled by the experience of Joy and the unrepeatable miracle of each minute we have. Maybe because when I find myself complaining or “shoulding” myself I recognize that I am the only one that gets to experience my life. Why complain my way through it when I could instead ask myself…

What if this is all perfect?

And being human means I get to have an experience of life that is wonderful, and crazy and tragic. Being human means I love, and I lose. And the loss allows me to be that much more grateful for the miracle of all of it!
Finding the gratitude brings me right back to how precious life is.

I know first hand that life can change on a dime. It did for me when I fractured my femur when stumbling in a dark room last December.

But now I am stumbling into Joy, daily.
I sing to my 4 silly goats (Beatrice, Maude, Gladys-Mabel and Zeus). I dance with my adorable dog Ruby. I tell my husband I miss him when he travels… and that used to be really hard for me to say those words!

Joy is a practice. Every day. Remembering that anything can change in a moment. Remembering that I am the only one who gets to experience my life. Why wouldn’t I want to experience appreciation, love and Joy. That is up to me completely!

Every time I listen to my true nature, I access gratitude, Joy, creativity and love. Now that is worth stumbling into.