Thursday, February 18, 2016

Practice the Discipline of Gratitude

As a kid I had incredible teachers when it came to the theme of thankfulness.  One of my favorite stories of my mother is that of Christmastime.  It was never about presents in my family; it was about thankfulness.

Be thankful for your family.
Be thankful for your pets.
Be thankful for Christmas trees even if we don't yet understand why your eyes close shut when we bring a real one into the house.
Be thankful for your faith.
Be thankful for the oranges and apples in your stocking.
Be thankful for the large coffee table to sit around with your cousins because it won't always be there.

But the best one (and least sentimental) was to be thankful for any gift you receive no matter how repulsively horrible and sometimes even offensive it may be.

Sitting around said coffee table from above wearing velvet pants, patent leather shoes, a Peter Pan collared shirt, and satin ribbons in my hair surrounded by my 7 cousins (there are 11 of us now, but for this memory I was still only 1 of 8), each gift was passed out by Santa Pappaw one at a time.  When my turn came, I instinctively looked over at my mother with wide eyes as I watched her nod her head and mouth, "we'll take it back."  This came from the traditional conversation we had before birthday parties or family Christmas gift exchanges.

"I wish presents weren't a thing.  They make me so nervous," I would say to her as she pulled the sponge rollers out of my hair.
"They shouldn't make you nervous, Joy, they're just a way for people to show you they were thinking of you!"
"But what if I don't like what they bought me?  They wasted their money!"
"You just smile really big and say thank you.  Then we can take it back and they'll never know if that makes you feel better," she would tell me.  The mouthing of "we'll take it back" was simply a reminder that it's not about the gift, it's about the thankfulness I should have.

I've recently been re-introduced to the discipline of practicing gratitude.  Mornings are taking longer than they used to, so I'm taking some of that time to recount what all I'm grateful for.  Coincidentally I've recently encountered 2 specific instances of gratitude.  Put the thought out there, and you'll receive it back from areas that mean the most to your soul.

The first one is Hillary Clinton.  She's been my hero since the 2nd grade.  As an Arkansan, she was my First Lady (my FLOAR, if you will), and I loved that her inauguration dress on display at the Old State House with all of the other First Ladies' was so simple, yet beautiful.  She didn't spend all her time on adding the flourishes that other Arkansans had come to expect from a First Lady hosting sweet tea parties and whatnot, and I wanted to make a difference like she did.  In her Town Hall from a couple of weeks ago, she let her talking points drop for a minute and spoke about gratitude.

"Be grateful for your limitations..."

The next one is out of the brilliant minds of Jesus Clown Productions based in NYC at Mark Fisher Fitness.  The 4 people in the video are among the most inspiring to me in my journey to find enlightenment, simplicity, and gratitude.  They did an outdoor 20-minute meditation on the coldest day NYC has seen in 150 years.  At the end of the 20 minutes, they shout out what they are grateful for.  I was in tears -- the beautiful simplicity of it rendered me a raw puddle.

"I'm grateful for friends"
"I'm grateful for shoes"
"I'm grateful for meditation"
"I'm grateful for BUHLEE!"

And I am grateful for all of you.  Anyone reading this, whether I know you or not.  I am grateful for you.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Art of Creating Your Own Wedding

I'm engaged to the best person on the planet.

That's him right there.  Isn't he the best?

He proposed to me out-of-the-blue on our anniversary last June.  It happened to be the day after SCOTUS ruled same-sex marriage legal, and it was a true weekend of celebration and love all-around.  We were out at the same place we shared our first date laughing at the very talented jazz band whose leader was just OBNOXIOUS.  He called us "cats and kittens" and tried to shame the patrons into tipping.  Anyway, through our laughter (and a couple of mojitos) I said, "I like you so much.  If I had a ring, I'd give it to you."  He casually retorted, "well, I have one."  In all my eloquence I laser-focused in and said, "I need you to speak to me in real language right now."  After a single tear fell and a gorgeous ring was placed on my hand, we were engaged.

And then the wedding plans began.

Let me tell you something.  If you ever plan a wedding for yourself, do exactly what you and your future spouse want to do.  Create.  Experience joy in every step.  Understand that there doesn't have to be a template for what to do, how to behave, what to wear, who to invite, or how the ceremony looks.

We have decided to take our first steps into matrimony exactly how we plan to live our life together.  And that includes a whole heckuva lot of fun.  I don't want to give too much away since we're still 79 days away, and the beauty of it is that we have every right and ability to change (at least some stuff) at any point in those 11 weeks.  But just know that you can expect at least 2 of the following images...

Intrigued??  We certainly are!!!  Over the next few weeks I'll share some more specifics as we get into the heart of the planning as it's suddenly taking over our lives -- I mean that in the very best way possible.  It's so close!

**Keep an eye out for #JoyandAndrewNYC on social media and feel free to use it yourself if you have reason to!!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Liberated Adventure -- A New Blog

I've written for years.

In many forms:  journaling, blogging, unpublished pieces that sit on my computer or in various notebooks, and even a couple of anonymously published pieces that don't really matter because they were part of a learning and growing process.

Over the next year my life will publicly change in many ways.  From my upcoming nuptials to other changes in my life that will occur as the clock ticks on, I have loads I want to share.

But the past year is where I would love to begin.  While I certainly can't expand on all of the past 12 months in one single entry, I can sum it up with this... I have happily embarked on a glorious, life-affirming adventure.  I have opened my mind, heart, body, and soul, and a wealth of information has poured forth liberating me from the confines of myself.  I've started to love in a way I didn't know possible.  I've begun to accept things that were previously unacceptable.  And I've created space previously hidden that has opened tiny cupboards of my life that I had no idea existed.  Through all of this I unknowingly underwent lots of change that prepared me for the next season of my story.

My Liberated Adventure.

I hope you'll join me on the path and enjoy the ride...