Until 2019, I hadn’t made a new year’s resolution in 20 years. Every one of them (probably 35) ended badly, so I decided better to quit than to fail. Not that my life had no successes, I just expected bad stuff to happen, and sure enough, it did.
April 12, 2017, at 10:30 am, I stood on a stool at the back door of our apartment on the top floor (4th floor)to save a pigeon caught in the rod iron stand holding up the A/C.
He died — I fell and broke my femur.
People break bones; I get that. It was the stranded-on-the-floor–for-8-hours part that left me devastated. I went from believing I’d get up, or someone would find me, to crawling back into the house to locate my phone. Which guaranteed nobody in the building would hear my cries for help.
In 5 hours, I crawled 7 feet to the daybed (across from the bedroom door in the photo below). It took that long because I had to hold my breath, move an inch, hold my breath, move an inch.
When my parents showed up around 3 o’clock and wouldn’t help me off the floor or throw me a blanket so I wouldn’t get pneumonia, I was thwarted with grief. Then I remembered they’d been dead for 35 and 18 years respectively.
I don’t know how but I reached the daybed and pulled the sheets off, which brought down the pillows. My phone was on the table. I now faced two problems. One: the dining room is sunken. Two: my arms are short. It took me an hour to slide off the higher floor and inch close enough to know that no way could I stretch my fingers to reach my phone. I was done. Both mentally and physically.
At 7:15 pm, I heard a knock at the door. I tried yelling “Help!” It came out a squeak. But the door was ajar enough that Mary stuck her head in and spotted me on the floor. What she saw scared her bad. Sobbing, she cradled me in her arms and promised (in Spanish; which sounded so sweet) that I would be okay. A few moments later, everyone in the building was in our apartment offering their support.
You’ve heard the stories, right? Someone describes the exact moment in time when their lives changed forever. Well, sadly I’m not a quick study and it took 20 months before I could announce, “I Get It!”
Fast-forward from April 12, 2017 … Our house sold after being on the market for 6 years, we moved into a 5th wheel for 3 months, returned to Bucerias for 6 months, back in Canada April ’18, then drove from British Columbia to New Brunswick, where we spent the summer camping on Salmon River.
This entire time the pain in my feet, legs, hips, and back became excruciating. To add to that, I developed a chronic, double ear infection that wouldn’t heal. I was depressed, full of self-pity, and waiting for more bad stuff to happen.
In September, we drove back across Canada (3269 miles) and then flew down to Mexico in November. I started therapy 4 days a week. At the end of the month, when the pain hadn’t subsided, my holistic healer, chiropractor, and friend encouraged me to ask myself some difficult questions. “Do you believe in the Law of Attraction? Are you ready to surrender and believe in your own power? Do you think you’re worth good health?”
“I think so.”
She asked me if I was ready to be happy unconditionally.
I wanted to say yes, but how could I? Everybody knows you need a reason to be happy.
So, I started with small changes. I went back to listening to Eckhart Tolle, Mooji, Dalai Lama, Sadhguru, Abraham Hicks, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Dyer on Youtube. I hung around happy people. I meditated. I prayed. I listened to healing music. I wrote in my gratitude diary. I used my go-to mantra: Everything always works out for me. I squashed doubts before they grew. I saw my cup as half full. I stopped settling for second best. Or good enough. Every time the pain threatened to bring me down, I smile. Nothing was going to stop me from feeling happy.
Was it easy? No. But by Christmas, the pain was gone!
January 1, 2019, I woke up and, with my eyes still closed, saw the hours I’d lain on the cold tile floor with a broken femur as the best thing that had ever happened to me. Then I made my first resolution in 20+ years. I would attend a spiritual retreat in Bali before the year was up. It didn’t matter that I had no idea how I’d pay for it, how I’d get there, or who I’d find to go with me. I knew I was going.
Then I laughed. I’d been literally knocked to the ground to prove I was deserving of happiness. Sure life didn’t suddenly become perfect. But the knowledge that I was in control of what I thought brought immediate empowerment. I no longer had to wait for outside forces to prove my worth. I could pull joy from within me any time I wanted. I finally understood that when contrast rose in my life, something equally good followed.
To some of you, I know my story must sound lame. It wasn’t that long ago that I’d have agreed profusely. I was raised Catholic; I learned early on that being unhappy was virtuous. Being unhappy was humbling. You don’t throw your happiness into everyone else’s face or stick it out there for the world to see. You suffer. You share your suffering. You compare notes. And if you are happy, you don’t brag. That’s cruel. Everyone knows there isn’t enough happiness to go around.
Today I’m not embarrassed to admit I’m loving my life. The weird/good part, I’m surrounded by like-minded people. We’re not responsible for each other’s happiness. No one is under pressure to make certain everything works out for me. My husband is relaxed. My children are relaxed. My friends are relaxed. And I’m planting seeds where I can.
Next month I’ll share my fabulous 2019 story: second car trip across Canada, solo trip to Bali, and life here in Bucerias. Maybe my story will convince you to create yours?
Should any of this resonates with you, understand: bad things don’t have to happen to good people. Don’t wait for something to knock you to the ground. Stop that inner voice that says, “I’ll be happy as soon as my children are happy, I lose weight, pay off my mortgage, get that promotion, sign that publishing contract, find love, or smell those roses.”
Instead, right now, this second, smile. For no reason. Feel it pulling your skin taut. Feel the fluid gathering in your saliva ducts. Keep smiling. Feel those puckered cheeks. If you’d like to say, “Joylene, really?” smile when you say it. Smile for a full minute, then tell me in the comments below how it makes you feel. Granted, the first few days, I felt a bit silly.
Here are photos from January, February, and March 2019.
Marianna visited for New Year’s. I babysat her for the first 10 years of her life.
My sweet cousin Jackie from Manitoba came down. She’s my favourite, depending on who’s listening. LOL
Grandson Reece visited during spring break. 14 is a great age.
Bahia de Banderas
La Cruz de huanacaxtle
Los Ayala, Nayarit
Hubby’s lovable niece and her husband!
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