It's 11pm on a Thursday and my little gals are sleeping. My head is so full of things I want to write about. I write for weeks in my head sometimes before I get a chance to put it down somewhere. It's hard, at times, to retrieve the right words as my multitasking mind likes to store things in broad ideas. The house is quiet and while watching sappy, chick TV, I realized I had to get this down before I forget. I cannot forget this. I CANNOT forget this. I'm putting it here. My journal is public. My heart laid bare.
Many months ago a friend and mentor suggested I explore the spiritual principle of Joy. What is joy? Have I ever felt it? If so, when? What brings me joy? I thought on it for awhile and I gave up. It is hard to know if you've experienced something you can't define. The closest I got was when my girls were born. Yet, it wasn't quite what I would call joy. It was blissful satisfaction. It was sacred beyond words. Joy seems too simple a word for those complex moments post birth. I gave up thinking about it.
Then, I began doing a yoga DVD from my favorite teachers, Ana Brett and Ravi Singh.
I've been having pain in my arms, neck, and shoulders. This just so happens to be where the heart chakra is located. Mushy love stuff always has been kind of cheesy for me. Not much into Kum Ba Yah or hippie dippy make love all around the world. I am too cynical for it. I've felt too much. Hurt too much. It just doesn't seem realistic. Except, as much as I'd hate to admit, there's part of me that wants to believe it. A part that wants the possibility.
So, to address the physical pain, I began doing the yoga once a week to address the heart center. Green Energy is a part of a weekly rotation of 6 practices/DVDs that I have set out for myself. Green Energy comes on Thursdays. Each time I do it, my heart center opens a little more. I can feel it being physically freed. As woo-hoo as it may sound to some, I've also experienced spiritual and emotional release as a part of this practice. I've come to understand in a deeper way some of the things that hurt me so as a child and as an adult. I've come to understand what I thought I could never.
Then, this Thursday, I felt something strange during my practice. A realization came to me as clear as the full moon in the dark of night. My happiness doesn't depend upon anyone else nor does my happiness depend upon another's being happy. It doesn't depend upon the value someone places upon me in their life. Happiness is boundlessness. It is freedom. It is self worth. It is the space you give yourself to love others within the boundaries of loving yourself. I am born free. I am born boundless. It is by choice if I feel tied down. To listen, know, and follow my own heart is the key to giving myself the space to find joy.
Where my path crosses another's there will be effect. However, the effect is the responsibility of the one whose path I cross if I am going forth in love and truth. We share each other in moments. Some moments so brief can impact a lifetime so profoundly. It is when we act from our truth, that our presence can lead another to their own. Happiness doesn't come from responsibility and obligation. Responsibility and obligation can be chosen to inform happiness.
I told a friend the other night that I have always been a results oriented person. The student, the pleaser, has always wanted to hear that I'm all right. I've needed that reassurance my whole life - the kudos, the reward, the A+, the feeling of being wanted. My happiness has hinged on what I could do for others to make them ask for my presence. My happiness has been determined by my feeling of security in bonds among people. That kind of happiness isn't real. It is lonely. It is fleeting. It is panicking. It is finite.
I'm still not sure what joy feels like, but I think I will know when I feel it. I think I owe it to myself and everyone in my life to be free enough to be happy. To acknowledge my truth, set my own goals, and work in love toward them. I just had to get it down before I forget.
Kelli Hansel Haywood is the mother of three daughters living in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky. She is a writer, weightlifter, yoga and movement instructor, chakra reader, and Reiki practitioner.