Wednesday 20 December 2023

Joyful Friendships and Joyful self care - being intentional about experiencing joy

 Aware that the year is coming to an end and that I am two months behind on my posts about my joyful year I have implored myself to open up my laptop and get to work telling you about my joyful focuses for October and November.

As you may remember every year I choose a "word of the year" which acts as a focus and motivation to shape the year ahead.  I use the word to inform my attitude and my actions and I try to think about it's meaning and context in my life. 

Each month of this year I have focused on a different aspect of my life and how "joyful" can influence that part of my life.  In October I chose "friendship" as my monthly focus.  

For a while I had been in a bit of a dark place with regards to friendships, still mourning the loss of some of my closest friends when we moved across the country, and still others moving away, I was starting to feel like no one liked me or my children and I ended up closing ourselves in a bit.  I made it seem like we were busy with other things, but we weren't busy, I was just sad and lonely, and feeling like I wasn't a likable person.  

Luckily (by the grace of God) I decided to claw my way out of this hole I have got myself into, rather than languishing and becoming depressed, and change my mindset and attitude.  I decided to put myself out there again and work harder on my friendships.  I wanted to experience joyfulness in my friendships.

So I committed to going to our groups and meetups whenever we could instead of making excuses and I arranged some meet ups with old friends.  Just the action of doing these things really helped and gave me joy.  Seeing people, making connections and talking to other women all helped me feel better about myself and my capacity for being a good friend to others as well as drawing good friends to me. 

The climax of the month was the Baptism of my two youngest children.  We invited the Godparents who are good friends of ours, some other friends and family and had an absolutely wonderful afternoon together, it warmed my heart so much to be with such special people who had all come to encourage and support us. It was so special. 

November brought a self-care focus.  Self-care is something I am notoriously bad at. I find that there is a little part of my brain which likes to be a martyr and as such feels a strange sense of righteousness in wearing myself to the bone.  Clearly this is not good, it's not what God wants, it's not righteousness at all.  So I made small changes to that in November.  

Self-care is a difficult thing for mothers as so much of our lives require sacrifice for others, it is easy to believe that we don't deserve self-care, or that it is selfish.  But we all know it is important because it helps us be the best versions of ourselves which is what our family deserves. It's a win-win situation.  

The climax of my "Joyful self-care" focus was a visit to "Float in the Forest" which is a flotation tank centre near me.  My sister-in-law bought me a voucher for my birthday and I finally cashed it in.  I spent a blissful hour floating in the dark in a pod of very salty water and took myself out to lunch afterwards where I sat in a caf√© reading a book, eating a delicious lunch and feeling very much like Carrie Bradshaw! It felt so good to spoil myself and really relax.  


One of the things I realised over the past two months of joyful focuses is that to have a more joyful life takes intention.  It hasn't just happened because I said the word, it's taken action from me, it's taken work, commitment and planning.  I had to plan my date with myself at the floatation centre, I had to organise the Baptism, I had to make the decision to join meet ups and actually go there.  This year "Joyful" has been my rudder but I have still had to paddle the boat forwards. 

Now we are in December and I am focusing on my family enjoying a "Joyful Christmas".  I'll be sad that this word-of-the-year has ended because it's been so wonderful, but I will reflect on that another day. 

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