October 31, 2013

The Joy is Now. ~ Yoli Ramazzina

The joy doesn’t come after you’ve sorted through all the bullshit.

If that were true, the joy would never come because there is always more shit waiting for you just around the corner. The joy is now. It is there as you fill tissue after tissue with phlegm and snot. It is there when you wake up to water from a broken pipe saturating your laminate wood floors. It is even there when you wake up at three in the morning to discover your dog pooped all over the floor of your hotel.

The joy is there, bursting in your heart! Can’t you feel it?

Our minds tend to shade and numb our hearts from feeling the joy that exists there. This is because the mind has all our worry, stress and exhaustion creating a haze that is often difficult to look past. Luckily for me there’s Facebook.

Let me explain what I mean by that…

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I woke to the sound of running water at about four in the morning. An old pipe had burst and had been soaking our floors with water while we slept. We had the pleasure of mopping up the plethora of water that had expanded out and flowed throughout the house. This experience was truly a walk in the park compared to the events that followed, although I had no idea at the time. I chalked the early morning clean-up session to an overall shitty experience and went back to bed.

The next morning, the reality of the damage seeped in—much like how the water had seeped into and saturated our floors, despite our efforts to soak up and mop away the excess water. “Our floors are ruined,” my husband informed me.

I was not feeling the joy yet. It was there, but I was unable to acknowledge it. This lack of joy continued for me as a cleaning crew arrived to help us dry the carpet in my son’s room and assess the damage. When the team began to pull up the carpet, they discovered some old, red tiles underneath from the original floors of the house. Because of the look of the tiles and the age of the house, the team suspected that there was asbestos and refused to continue work until the floors were tested for asbestos.

Sure enough, the tests came back positive, so an abatement of the malicious materials would be needed before work of repairing the floor damage could continue. Further inspection confirmed that the tiles ran throughout the entire house, lurking underneath the more recently installed carpet and laminate flooring.

What this news meant was that our family would need to be displaced from our home for several weeks, while the abatement and other necessary work were done. And naturally, all of our furniture and belongings would need to be packed up and put into storage before any of the work could begin. The weekend right before the pack-out was to begin, I had a commitment to go out of town for a good friend’s bachelorette weekend. I was also fighting a bad cold. Basically, this was a horrible weekend for me to be going out of town. I was sick, stressed out, tired and not the least bit excited for a ladies’ weekend in wine country.

That Friday morning, I was scrolling through Facebook on my phone when I came across a post from my friend, Jen. She wrote, “The joy doesn’t come after you’ve overcome your struggle or fixed your problem, when you’ve conquered your sickness or obtained the ideal relationship. No, the joy is right now.”

I paused for moment. I felt as though a cloud of fog had lifted from my heart. Somehow seeing these words at this crucial moment in time was exactly the reminder that I needed. The joy is now. This became my mantra for the weekend. I was sick, true, and that sucked. But I wasn’t so sick that I had to miss my good friend’s last hurrah of bachelorette-ness.

Strangers would be arriving on Monday to pack up our belongings and take them away somewhere for storage, but I had a loving husband who was happy to pack up some of our more personal and meaningful belongings for us while I was away. True, we were on the verge of having to move out of our home and into a hotel with our son and two dogs, but hey…maybe it would just be our little adventure.

I strived to keep the mantra “the joy is now” in my mind throughout the weekend, even in those moments where I felt especially crappy—and it helped! I sat in the backseat of a small car, for a four-and-a half-hour drive up to Napa Valley, with a runny nose and a sore throat but hey, all I had to do was ride and look forward to a couple of nights of drinking good wine and eating delicious veggie meals with some of my best friends. I truly felt joyful. I was able to shelve the worry and the stress of the upcoming week and stay present enough to enjoy my weekend away—all because of a little status update from a friend. Thank you, Facebook! Thank you, Jen! Thank you, mantra!

And a “thank you” to myself, for letting go of the bullshit I have no control over, staying present and allowing myself to feel the joy of the current moment.

Because ultimately, it is only us, ourselves, who allow ourselves to either experience the joy or succumb to the misery.

“The joy is now” is a mantra that I continue to cling to as my family and I experience the adventure of living out of a hotel for several weeks. Believe it or not, it hasn’t remotely resembled a vacation.  My husband and I continue to work full-time jobs and our son continues to go to school. He still has homework and piano practice in the evenings. We still have our regular everyday obligations.

Thrown into the mix are extra obligations for our two dogs that have also been displaced with us. Our girls no longer have their easy-access doggie door leading them to a huge backyard haven where they can play and poop as they please. Instead, they reside in a strange hotel room with us in the evenings and we must take them out on a leash to do their business. Despite the frequent trips outdoors, they are not accustomed to relieving themselves while leashed. (When we’ve taken them for walks or trips to the park, they tend to hold it until they get back home.)

So, in our current situation, it’s no surprise that we’ve had to deal with some accidents. Our beloved pups cannot let themselves outside to potty in the middle of the night, if that is when the urge strikes them. They also can’t help it if their tummies are upset due to stress or possibly from vaccines they had to incur before being admitted to doggie daycare (a necessity because they can’t be locked up in a hotel room all day long, while my husband and I work.) So, we have woken up a few mornings this past week to find doggie diarrhea all over the downstairs floor. As I am down on hands and knees, picking up dog shit off a stale hotel room floor, I have to admit: I struggle to keep my mantra in mind.

Nonetheless, joy can to be found in just about any situation.  Despite the extra work and hassles incurred in order to have our beloved pups with us, we’ve been able to have the comfort of having them with us. If we boarded them, it would be stressful on both of them, especially Lucy with her abandonment issues, and part of our family would be missing. I feel the joy when I receive their snuggles and kisses and see the faithful wag of their tails.

Sometimes, during the difficult moments and hard times, it can be nearly impossible to hold a positive attitude and keep one’s spirits up. That is why a simple mantra can often be crucial at these times. It helps return us to a place where we don’t feel as though the world is caving down upon us. It reminds us of a time when we could think more clearly and we felt more like our true confident selves. It reminds us that this too shall pass.

For me, keeping the phrase “The joy is now” in my mind gives me the strength to see beyond the pain or distress I am feeling. This may do the same for you or perhaps it is a different mantra that suits your situation and helps you get through those rough moments. Perhaps your mantra will remind you, “I’m doing the best I can, with what I have.” Or maybe it will remind you to “be grateful” on those days you really don’t feel like there is much to be grateful for. Whatever the case, a simple mantra may be exactly what you need to cling to as a means of support through a difficult time or even as a means of appreciation through the good times.

The joy is now… as my husband, son, our two rescued bitches and I continue to live our lives and get through this trying experience together, as a family.

The joy is right now.

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Assistant Ed: Jamie Khoo/Ed: Bryonie Wise

{Photo of dogs: author’s own}

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