Monday, 20 January 2014

Joy pockets

Source: here
I'm bringing back joy pockets.

I want to focus on the good in my life for a while.

Because I have been too focused on the bad.

Things have gone wrong in my life, as with all lives I am sure, in childhood and otherwise, but it's made me live in fear of things going wrong again. I try to protect myself and stay in control by imagining and preparing for the worst. 
Worst case scenarios.

But I never imagine and prepare for the best.
Best case scenarios.

I think I've numbed myself, lived a half life in shadow.  

And I think we all see what we want to see. And because I've made myself focus on the bad, well, surprise surprise, it seems that's what I see.

Now I'm not talking about the cult of positivity though - where everything that goes wrong is your own fault because you just weren't positive enough.

No.  Bad things just happen sometimes.
Bad things.

But just because you tried to prepare for that worst case scenario, imagined that monster truck careering down the road towards you, doesn't mean it won't hurt you when it hits. That it won't break you. 

But you'll have missed out on life while you waited for the impact.

Good things happen too sometimes.
Good things.

So is there any point in trying to protect yourself at all?

I'm tending to think not.

In hiding out with my fears, in holding onto my insecurities to make me feel secure, I'm missing many of those moments which added together make up my life. I'm only seeing the bad, but I don't believe in or trust the good.  Those moments of joy or happiness, of kindness and flashes of hope.  It's not enough that they are true, that they are - I must notice them.  I must believe in them to experience them.  

And if they are my life, but I am not experiencing them, then am I living at all?

Or am I just existing?

All because I'm afraid of that truck?

The worst won't necessarily come to pass.  And while the best won't necessarily happen either, might it be it definitely won't happen if you can't even imagine it into being?

And the thing is that I have survived anything bad that has happened to me so far. I might have broken down or near enough but I've put myself back together. 

Isn't this a very good reason to live without fear?

Proof, if I needed it, that life goes on?

Yes. But there is also a crucial paradox.

Ultimately of course life doesn't go on forever.  In the end, we will all be broken beyond repair. A truck is on it's way, though maybe not the ones you fear day to day - there's no way around that.

I think there is a choice then.

Cower in the shadows and hope pain won't find you (it will).

Or step out into the light and give life all you've got.Trust in and experience the purity of each moment.  Roll with the beauty and the pain. 

Because one thing is certain.  None of it is forever.

Realising that I've been stuck in a pattern of seeing the bad things, for now I'm going to focus on the good things. And only the good things. I'm not turning my back on the bad - just turning away for now.  I'm re-tuning.  Leaping back from that grim imagined future.

Dealing in best case scenarios.  

Free falling into the moments.  My life. 

And this is why I'm bringing back joy pockets, and here they are:-
My biggest joy pocket of all.

  • the bittersweet last few months of her being 3
  • thinking if she is self-aware at 3, she will be ok, and proud of her and myself for how I've guided her in this  "Mammy I am sorry for saying I would never cuddle you again.  I was angry about the apple falling".
  • her expression last night when I told her people knitted blankets for her before she was born as she was loved even then.
  • finding a cherry tomato and a clementine packed away in Tupperware boxes in her play kitchen
  • seeing how open and loving she is with people - but not indiscriminately so
  • new lights in the kitchen and dining room
  •  a two week holiday booked in Portugal 
  • a reassuring visit to the school we have in mind
  • an architect came to see the house - if we could afford the vision it would be brilliant
  • the sun is out today and everything is golden
  • starting to suspect that I am normal and acceptable after all - reading this book Introvert Power and therapy
  • more birds are coming into the garden
  • listened to this radio play Aonach Hourne - suspenseful, beautiful and heartbreaking
  • the realisation that it could be a very good thing to just be what I am and to stop denying it or apologising for it
I'd love to read about your joy pockets if you'd like to share.


Sylvia said...

Hello! I found your link at Vibrant Wanderings! We seem to have a bit in common. I also tend to dwell on the bad that might happen rather than having faith that good will happen. I was never like this though until my daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2000. Ever since then I haven't been able to shake that "catastrophe is waiting around the corner" feeling. I am trying to live in and appreciate each moment that I have! BYW- Your little one is so very adorable!

sparklingbay said...

Sylvia, thanks for commenting. I am sorry to hear about your daughter's diagnosis and hope she is doing well. I think "catastrophising" is very common and NORMAL after a trauma like that. For me, it's not about focusing just on the good necessarily, albeit this is something I need to do right now to rebalance the scales. Ultimately it's more about acknowledging that both good and bad things happen, not just the bad. I wish you all the best.

Melissa said...

Beautiful and thought provoking thoughts (as usual) on focusing on the good. Thanks for letting us read your joy pockets. These last few months of three really are bittersweet, aren't they? I'm seeing so much blossoming, and yet four just seems so old to me, impossibly old.

Introvert Therapy looks like a great book. Would you recommend it? It took me most of my life to realize I'm an introvert at heart, and the more I embrace it, the better life is. I'll be looking forward to reading about your holiday, and perhaps even seeing what you end up doing with the house, even if it's not the architect's full vision.

sparklingbay said...

I really feel the early years are over at 4 which does make me sad. The book is very good for validation, though I have started to skim some parts. You're way ahead of me in self-awareness - I thought I was just anti-social which was fine but not completely normal. Nice to realise I am not anti-social and feel normal!

Amanda Riley said...

oh fun~ I loved when Monica did the "keeping it real" posts, and have for a while thought about asking her if she'd mind if I started them up again, and here you are starting up with "joy pockets". nice.

great points, too- all of it. personally, I often find blogging helps my outlook the way food journaling helps people make better food choices. as though I am accountable. though I suppose it's more that I'm trying to focus on the good, to search it out so that I can write about it for Claire to look back on.... and often if I'm writing about something (patience, say...) it's probably what I'm needed to work on at the moment. So, I write/post to help myself find my way through it, if that makes sense. to motivate me in the direction I want to be going in..... though be sure there's plenty of gunk lurking in the background if you pan out. alright- enough rambling. joy pockets, then:

*it's sugaring time here in western NC- tomorrow we'll boil for the first time this year!
*gosh- Claire, too, is nearly four.... in just 9 days! I'm savoring what seems like the last bit of babyhood in there...... 4 does indeed sound old. all kid, no baby in that.
*she's asleep earlier than usual and so I"m getting off the computer to enjoy some reading and fiddle practicing (still just the scales for me so far)
*we had flurries today and I'm wishing for more snow, REAL snow, this winter
*I've a tea date with a friend this Thursday and a massage on Friday- ahhhhhh
*I just had an article published online- I wasn't paid for it, but heck it's a start. hooray!

that's good for now~

Stephen Spitalny said...

I went to a talk by Rick Hanson the other day and I suggest you check his website out. He explains so clearly why we tend to focus on the negative, and offers ideas on how to rewire our brains to be able to live more with the positive. It has to do with Negative thoughts stick like velcro and positive things slide off like teflon - and it is all because of how our brains needed to clue us in to dangers and threats long, long ago and we haven't really moved beyond that to be able to take in and enjoy and live with the positive. Anyway, Rick Hanson -

My own website is

sparklingbay said...

Yes I agree, I often find that I don't really know what I think until I write it down, or else I work it out as I write.
Sugaring time! That is just great - maple syrup is expensive here, it's an exotic foodstuff really. Your ockets all sound great. A what is that...;-)