On Joy

Joy is sometimes a blessing, but it is often a conquest.  Our magic moment helps us to change and sends us off in search of our dreams.  Yes, we are going to suffer,we will have difficult times, and we will experience many disappointments – but all of this is transitory it leaves no permanent mark.  And one day we will look back with pride and faith at the journey we have taken. 
 ~  Paulo Coehlo, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

It has been a hard week, full of the highest of peaks and the lowest depths of valleys.

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it another 150,000 times before all is said and done:  this is hard. Some days, I feel the loss of family, friends and familiarity very acutely.  I’m still trying to identify the triggers so I can work with them instead of being broadsided by them.

It all takes time.

I’ve been trying various things to meet people and to make this place my home.  I’m taking classes (line dancing and yoga) and joining things (Bible study, youth group activities).  I’ve been making a concerted effort to put myself “out there”when it may seem just easier to retreat to my couch and my kitties.

One of the ways I’ve decided to do that is to start my own book club in town.  The first meetup was this Thursday and as I drove to the restaurant, I was so very anxious.  What if no one showed up and I was at a table for 8 alone?  What if people showed up but didn’t like me?  Or I didn’t like them?  Everything I do here feels an awful lot like the first day of school or a first date.

Thankfully, four of the eight showed up and they were the “right” four.  We had a great discussion of the book we read but more importantly, had a great conversation overall about authors and books and reading.  It felt so very good.  I was so encouraged.  I came home to find my friends on Facebook eagerly awaiting word (since my last status was that I was freaking out!)  I filled them in and was also texting with my best friend.  She had some very sage advice:  to not let anyone steal my joy the next day.  We all have people in our lives who have that effect on us;  some seem unfortunately surrounded by them.  But often, I find that I can do it all by myself.  But I went into yesterday still riding high and determined not to let my joy be stolen.

For the most part, I succeeded.  Every day has its ups and downs and it was no different.  And today started out much the same.  But then I learned a dear friend had lost her three-year battle with pancreatic cancer.  Even when you know that terrible news like that is forthcoming, it is still a blow.  I wept and wondered why her;  why another dear friend from the same company who we lost to lung cancer a few years ago.

But as I thought about these two amazing, strong, fun-loving women and all the things they had taught me, one thing stood out – the same thing my friend told me Thursday night.  They both were women who refused to let anything steal their joy.  That’s not to say they never went though tough times because to say they went through tough times was an understatement, especially in their final months.  But when I think of them, I think of the parties – the baby showers, the bridal showers, the birthday parties;  I think of the nights out for drinks or dinner.  I think of all the laughs and oh my, there were SO many laughs!  Because no matter what, they had a joy deep in their souls.

And that is how I want to remember them…and what I want to emulate.

Rest in peace, my friends.  I know you are partying together tonight in heaven. 
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