Thursday, July 8, 2010

Do what brings you joy

"When I turned 50 I decided not to do anything I didn't want to do."
This is the mantra my mother and dearest auntie live by. I'll be honest, when these two ladies - whom I adore more than anything - first announced this personal plan it took me aback. Frankly, it sounded selfish and self centered. How could anyone actually proclaim such a thing?

At the time of their pronouncement I spent my life running around like an idiot carting a kid 30 minutes north to school, turning around and spending another hour driving south to my work at the local newspaper. I was up at 5:30 a.m. and not in bed before 11 p.m. Sound familiar? Anyway, the mere audacity of saying I would not do ANYTHING I didn't want to do seemed silly at best. Nothing in my life would get done if I thought so simply. And the finely tuned machine of my life (ha ha) would com bust.

Ah, but sometimes it's the simplicity that makes an idea so intriguing. I started to think about the words and how they applied to myself. I started shedding events and commitments from my life that didn't work. I made a promise to myself to make room for the things I love to do at the top of the list and the things I hated pushed down to the bottom. Suddenly, my days were happier. I had a less clean house and a few disgruntled employers, committees and groups, but I started to feel more in control of my destiny.

It's amazing how my life started to change when I told the universe what I wanted at the top of my 'to do' list. Ah, but lessons are hard learned, aren't they? And unless one stands one's ground on a continuous basis, it all unravels again. Such was my life last week when a dear friend of mine put it a different way, "Only commit to those things that bring you joy."

It was the same mantra my mother and aunt use. Only it had a different spin. It was a gentle reminder. No matter if it's the business of my writing, homeschooling my kid, volunteering at a local museum, working at a yoga studio - I need to be doing it because I WANT to, not because I feel I HAVE to. There are many ways to make a buck and live a life. There are always choices to make.

So, do what brings you joy. Keep it simple. Not that you don't have to clean the potty anymore or take the trash out, or attend a stupid meeting with stupid people. You have a choice in how to do it. If it's really that bad, skip it. Do something fun. Take a walk. Or, attend a yoga or tai chi class. The crap will be waiting when you return.

Or, maybe it won't.

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