On Becoming a Joy Warrior . . . Practice R.A.W.

20150826_194007One of the things I’ve learned over a lifetime, but especially in the past couple of years, is the significance of slowing down and really paying attention.  It’s the only way I am able to be open to the small details that bring daily joy.  When I barrel through life too quickly, I forget to look, and I don’t see.  I remember someone I worked with who struggled with depression telling me that, when the depression hit, it seemed as if the world went from “color to black and white.”  Likewise, brain trauma can create an experience of a black and white world, where the flashes of color, the moments of wonder, and the surprise of unexpected joy are not easily found.  So I use a practice from Nia, the form of movement I teach, called “R.A.W.” It stands for “Relaxed, Alert, Waiting.”  Relaxed of body, alert of mind, and my spirit waiting for . . . That’s the fun part.  Open to waiting for the magic of the unknown, the little detail that brings a moment of joy.  So, as a self-proclaimed joy warrior, I make it my practice, my discipline, to be in RAW, ready to notice moments that bring joy, to the best of my ability.  This means letting go of the pre-occupations that distract me, as well as the story lines that may have been comforting in their familiarity, but which no longer serve me.  I share a couple of photos of my joy surprise from a recent trip to Port Townsend, Wa.

20150826_193954These beauties were a part of my daily walk to a Nia training I was attending.  They are barriers, gateways, transformed by those who pass by into pillars of detailed beauty.  I added to them everyday as I walked by.  They were (and are) a reminder to me of the value of transforming what has seemed like a barrier, or a stopping point, into a place to pause and re-collect.  Since I’ve been home, I’ve been creating my own versions as I walk around my “stomping grounds,” hoping that they will help others to stop for a moment and appreciate.  Slowing down calms the confusion that is still present in my brain, at times.  It brings clarity.  Cultivating and seeking joy is the fuel that moves me out of the frustration of living with brain challenge.  I don’t ignore the challenge, but I choose joy!