How to Choose Joy

In my life I have learned that the way to not just survive but THRIVE is to choose joy. It is no secret that I’ve been faced with a few unthinkable tragedies so I’ve picked up some wisdom on the subject along the way. These are my 10 top tips to choose joy and sparkle your way through this crazy life.

  1. Allow yourself to feel. Every feeling you have is valid and should be fully felt. When you are sad it’s ok to cry. That doesn’t mean you aren’t choosing joy. It means you are being kind to yourself. AND those low moments make the joy even more beautiful.
  2. Think on your blessings. I could completely overwhelm myself with the feelings of anger and bitterness. I could choose to focus on the awful things that have happened, but instead I choose to think on the blessings. I choose to focus on the moments I had with Caden and the beauty of everything his life accomplished. When you feel yourself start to feel overwhelmed with the what ifs and the losses just start thinking about all of the wonderful things in your life. I promise there are lots.
  3. Keep a gratitude journal. Speaking of all of the wonderful things, start writing them down. Every time something happens that you are grateful for, put it in your journal. Every time you think about something beautiful in your life, write it down. Soon your pages will be FULL of joy. Look back in your journal when you’re having a tough time.
  4. Begin each day with a positive thought. Wake up with an attitude of gratitude. Thank God for the amazing things you’ve been given. Think about something you are looking forward to. Compliment yourself. Doing this first thing in the morning, before you even get out of bed, starts your day off right. You can even have mantras, quotes, or Bible verses written on your mirror as reminders each day.
  5. Take time to enjoy the moments. Don’t get so busy and overwhelmed with your life that you forget to appreciate the small moments. A child’s laughter, a kiss from your spouse, breathing in the smell of freshly cut grass, the first sip of your favorite tea, a hug from a friend, or a snuggle in your coziest blanket. Take a second to soak these things in and savor them. These are the moments that matter.
  6. Surround yourself with uplifting people. The people you surround yourself with may be one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Don’t get consumed with negative Nancy’s who have set up camp in somberville. That will only bring you down. Surround yourself with people who will uplift and encourage you, those who live out confidence and positivity in their own life. Make sure you have people you can trust to go to in your broken moments who will do nothing but hold you until your pieces fit back together again and then do the same for them in return. Confide in these people, grow with each other, and love the heck out of one another.
  7. Do more of what you love. It is not selfish to take care of yourself. It is necessary. Do the things that bring your heart joy. Bake, sing, dance around the living room, go for a run, read, volunteer. Whatever it is that makes your soul smile, DO IT and do it often.
  8. Practice positive self talk. Oh the dreaded moments when we start to feel overwhelmed and incapable. They hurt. It is in those moments that it’s important to know how to pull yourself out. I struggle with feelings of guilt, shame, and total misery. When I feel myself sinking I begin to remind myself that I’m strong and I’m capable. I’m loved and I’m admired. I have potential and purpose. I can turn tragedy into beauty and wreckage into hope. I am fully equipped. I choose joy instead of misery and my soul will rise from this stronger. Do not let yourself live in negativity. Those thoughts have no place in your mind and will only bring harm.
  9. Smile. Seriously. Endorphins! Smiling can instantly improve your mood. Try it. Say “I am happy.” without smiling and then say it with a smile. See how different it feels? Just smiling can give you strength and energy and will completely change your mood so do it even when you don’t feel like it!
  10. Love others. This is the BIGGEST step. Loving others is how you unlock true joy. Taking the sparkle in your soul and sharing it with others makes the joy multiply. Do something kind for someone. Compliment a stranger. LISTEN. Make someone feel special. And here’s the kicker, share your story. Yep, you have one and it WILL change someone’s life. Someone is out there that only you can love in the way they need to be loved <3 There is something so tragically beautiful about loving other’s when your heart is shattered. It’s like instead of all of your old pieces fitting back together, each piece just grows into something incredibly beautiful and somehow all of those pieces work in harmony again.

Joy is a choice. It is something we have to consciously do daily. Joy is a soul feeling that the sadness and darkness of this world can’t touch. I know right now life may seem dark, you feel broken and wounded and it hurts to even breathe, but hear me out. You will make it. You will smile again. It may feel sloppy and weird, but you will.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes. “Joy is not in the circumstance. It is in you”

<3 #ichoosejoy

**Huge thank you to Beth Adams for the beautiful photo. You can find her on Facebook here, check out her Etsy shop here, or visit her webpage.

Baby Mine

"Rest your head close to my heart, never to part, baby of mine" 
I sang this song to Caden the first time I got to hold him up to my chest without the wires and tubes. I'd sung this song many times, but this time was different. It was the last time I'd sing it to my sweet son in my arms... our parting words. Seconds later he went to be with Jesus.

I remember when I found out I was pregnant with him, dreaming of my life with two babies. A boy and a girl. The completed puzzle of our family. I had a conversation with my friend who is a NICU nurse saying I just couldn't imagine the pain of having a sick baby. Then I got Caden's diagnosis, and I just couldn't imagine the pain of losing him.

We always think it will never be us, until it is. 
Having a funeral with a tiny casket is something that only exists in movies until it becomes the heavy reality that is your life and even then, when it's real, you won't know what to do.

This kind of loss, it's one you can't prepare for or ever come back from. It changes you down to your soul. It courses through every vein in your body.

Some days, you question if it's all some crazy nightmare or delusion because the ache is too much to make sense of.

There is no getting over. Only acceptance and the soft touch of slight healing. But, just like a deep injury, a large scar remains. You will never be the same.

But different isn't all bad. While I will never be thankful that Caden died, I can be thankful for what it taught me. How it grew me. I can control some of this unwanted change for good. I keep him close by living out his legacy of joy and love. I can let my change change the world.

And I'll keep my sweet little man "close to my heart, never to part" until I can kiss his sweet cheek again. Every night when his sister and I sing that song, we'll think of him and miss him, but also be filled with big love. ❤

Grief changes you, but you get to decide... does it win and become ruler of your life? Or does the deep love that created it? #ichoosejoy

Mommy, do you need a time out?

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Today was one of those days that tested every ability of mine as a mother and a decent human being. The leave your wallet at home, public tantrum, potty in the car, what-the-heck-did-i-just-step-in kind of day. I sent a text to my husband this morning at 10:31am saying “I need a break” immediately followed by a text to the bestie saying “TEQUILA” <<< You getting the picture of what kind of day it was? 

You’ve all had those days where you seriously question your sanity. Every breath I took today was greeted with a challenge and a high pitched, toddler-y "NOOOOOOOO!" Work? NOT HAPPENING. Workout? TRY AGAIN. Lunch? HAHAHA. Even my trusty partner in crime the iPad turned it’s back on me today (#badmoms unite!) I was EXHAUSTED!!! 

I love my daughter with every fiber of my being, so much it hurts, but tonight bed time was a welcome friend. My sweet girl is Miss Independent. There is no rocking to sleep going on around here. She’s been that way since we brought her home from the hospital. So tonight we did the usual…story, blow kissies to bubby in Heaven, say prayers, give night night kissies and I walk out of the room. ENTER shrill screaming cries. SERIOUSLY?!

I gave it a minute, for the sake of my sanity and her safety, and then went in because this wasn’t just a whine. It was that cry that implants itself in your heart and you are magnetically forced to find the child kind of cry.

Jesus, be my patience. 

I bent down next to her bed, and instead of the expected kicking and hitting and flailing (because, ya know, toddler logic) the sweet thing wrapped her arms around me, nuzzled her head into my chest and said “Mommy, TOO (I love you in 2 year old)” *I melt* She pulled my arm around her and laid her hand on mine and in that moment I realized my sweet baby had a huge message for me. 

Maybe sometimes our kids are acting wild because WE need a time out. 

With the craziness of the day, I hadn’t even taken my own advice to take a minute to breathe. My sweet angel was forcing me to do just that. I let my heart sink in to the rhythm of her deep breathing and surrender to God. After all, that message didn’t come from nowhere! The chaos of the day was stemming from my stress and then manifesting itself as a strung out toddler. 

Sometimes the biggest time (and sanity) saver is to actually take a few minutes to refresh and refocus! I know, IT's HARD when you feel like you don't even have a second to pee, but seriously TAKE IT. The choice is, continue to let things spiral out of control, or MAKE THE TIME.

🎶 Paw Patrol is a girl's best friend 🎶 <<< song lyrics change when you become a mommy. Diamond's ain't got nothin' on paw patrol and 5 min of mommy time. 

If I would have taken a few minutes to myself today, I could have gotten SO MUCH more done with efficiency instead of grey hairs! So now, after my forced time out, (which I totally went into with the attitude of a toddler **DON'T MAKE ME**) I am feeling ready to tackle my to-do list (maybe) and then get up to do it all again tomorrow with a little more grace and a few more time outs. 

So Mommy, do you need a time out?