Choosing Joy

I’ve been in a funk the past few weeks. It seems like every time I am starting to be able to get back on my feet and do more, I have an even bigger setback, and again I’m very limited and in a lot of pain. It frustrates me…this is the first time in a long time that I’ve really
struggled even with things like cooking and baking because I simply can’t get around the kitchen.

I spoke to an older and wiser trusted friend and his suggestion was choosing joy. And usually, it’s a comment that leads to considerable eye rolling on my part. It’s very easy for someone in good physical health to tell someone who’s been severely physically limited with daily chronic pain for 8 years to cheer up, count your blessings and look on the bright side. It’s always struck me as false. If I said this was all fine, I’d be lying. I’m in pain. I’ve been in pain for years. It isn’t fair that most people double my age are in better physical shape. It’s not fair that there is little, if anything, I can do to change it.  Except my attitude, which is a hell of a lot harder to change, and much harder than popping a pill.

Parts of me grieve all that I’ve lost, from food to mobility to physical freedom. But the key words are parts of me. Pretending not to have sadness isn’t a way to have balance. Neither is diving headfirst into grief. Everything, from sorrow to joy to frustration to hope needs to have a seat the table and needs to be acknowledged. And yet the art is where we choose to put most of our attention. It reminds me of a traditional Native American story

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

I’ve also seen the story as a Chinese story with tigers, so I guess that proves that wisdom is universal.

I hope I can keep reminding myself to have the strength to spend most of my energy feeding beauty, love and joy.  And it’s been such fun to see how much of a difference it makes when I focus my life on finding joy, no matter what.  Pain seems less prominent,  people seem more dear, flowers more beautiful, cats more hug-gable.

Wishing you and yours many days of joy.

About Cheryl Harris

Life played a funny trick on me. I've studied nutrition for years, and much to my surprise, found out that I could manage many of my health issues via diet. I've been GF for years, and I've got a bunch of allergies and sensitivities. But it definitely doesn't keep me from cooking, baking and enjoying my food. Thanks for stopping by.
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9 Responses to Choosing Joy

  1. My heart goes out to you, Cheryl. It’s very hard to choose joy when there’s pain present. I admire your determination greatly. I’ve heard that proverb before (the Cherokee version) and it always inspires me. Thanks, Cheryl.

    xoxo,
    Shirley

  2. Thanks, Shirley. It’s really a great one because we can all relate to it.

  3. Ricki says:

    Cheryl, I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been having such a hard time! It’s so easy to let the negatives get to us, but not always so easy to find the positives, as you seem to do so well, especially when, as you rightly point out, it is not fair.

    You are always an inspiration to me and I admire both your realism and your positive approach to, well, pretty much everything. Thanks for repeating the proverb, which I had never heard before. I love it. I hope you are more mobile soon–am sending positive wishes and pain-busting energy your way. And big hugs. xo

  4. Rhonnie says:

    From one to another – yes. It’s extremely difficult to here some one else who seems healthy and at the top of their game to say, “look at the bright side, and count your blessings.” But I’ve been on both sides of that coin now, and can stand up (with more than a little help from God some days), and say everything’s cool.
    Chin up. You’re not done yet. At least you know where to start. And that’s a good thing.
    Take care, and God bless.
    ~Rhonnie

  5. Ricki dear, thanks for the hug!

    Rhonnie-Indeed! Every time things get really challenging there’s a period of adjustment to the new changes. And yet each time it gets easier.

  6. Amanda says:

    Have you read 29 Gifts by Cami Walker? I have it on my iPad and through Kindle. If you have a reading device I’ll see how I can loan it to you. I think it would be very inspirational in your situation.

    I pray your pain eases and you can complete some things that bring you joy.

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  8. What an incredible post Cheryl. Thank you for this. It is amazing how much we can change with actually making the choice to change our attitude and/or thoughts… I can relate to this so much! (((((((((((((((hugs!))))))))))))))))) And I appreciate you so much.

  9. Amanda, I’ll add that to my reading list…maybe talk my meditation group into picking that one. It looks intriguing.
    Carrie, you’re very welcome, and thanks for saying so.

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