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Blog

Joy Road

Amber Adrian

In a rather macabre attempt to make myself feel better about the things I haven’t accomplished, I keep listing the dire things that have happened over the past ten years in a bizarre litany of grief:

Break up

Getting fired

Losing my dad

Losing my apartment

Miscarriage

Break up

Break up

Break up

(I’ve got to stop counting break ups.)

I find this list strangely comforting.

Sure, it was over a period of ten years, but that’s still eight rather intense grief processes. I would just be getting my feet under me after the last one when the next would hit. I spent my entire thirties feeling like a toddler on the shore who kept getting dragged under the waves.

So with all that, maybe it’s okay that I didn’t get married or get a book published or have a baby or build a million dollar company.

(I know people wrangle that much and more and still do at least one of those things if not a number of those things but I am doing my best to focus on my path rather than compare myself to other people who maybe don’t spend so much of their time in flannel pajamas.)

But what the past decade did give me on that enforced roller coaster of zen was a solid sense of myself and why I’m here.

I feel like I know what I’m on the planet to do - and that’s no small thing.

It’s the other things that people my age seem to have figured out that throw me.

(Having a family, supporting yourself well, buying a house, etc.)

Spirit = check. World = WTF?

(I saw an internet meme yesterday that said, “I’m not broke, I’m California broke” and I laughed the laugh of one who has done the math on her home state and wept.)

Now that I’m forty and we just crossed the threshold of the new year, I’m doing my best to stop with the grief litany so I can start choosing joy instead. Focusing on that, rather than on all the other things.

As a nice counterpoint, here are some of the small, lovely things in my world that I’m choosing to focus on:

How much I love my little garden cottage and its yellows and reds and turquoises.

My collection of crystals.

Sally, my stuffed therapy otter.

Hiking to the ocean.

My Harry Potter sheets (yes, I’m that person).

My favorite books.

My morning coffee.

The yellow roses I bought myself.

Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge.

The candles I light every night, just because I like the glow.

Tossing a new recipe into the crockpot every week.

I have no idea what the next few months will bring, much less the next few years, much less the next decade, but I plan to focus more on the joy than the other thing.

The beauty of a rather rocky decade - and, yes, there were many wonderful things as well* - is that it cleared the way for joy. My system needed a complete overhaul so that I could get anywhere close to that depth of lightness. And overhauled it was.

* Running a marathon, living by the beach in Santa Monica (the apartment I lost), spending a month in Amsterdam and Costa Rica and New York (there was a hurricane but oh well), getting to love a few truly wonderful people, adopting Sally, meeting a goat named Chadwick, writing some of my favorite things, reading some of my favorite things.

If I was going to make a new year’s resolution, it would be joy.

Choosing joy. Focusing on joy. Allowing joy.

There’s a street sign in Sonoma that keeps roaming through my head: Joy Road.

Ever since I passed it last year, the phrase “Joy Road” has become a new litany, a better one, in the thickets of my brain.

If I was less lazy, I’d go steal that sign and nail it to my front door.

Instead, I’ll just keep choosing the joy road. As best I can.