IWSG – March 2020 – Life Changing 2019

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-floorfor-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.

Apparently not.

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.

Really?

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

Puerto Vallarta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Los Ayala, Nayarit

Bucerias, Nayarit

Hubby’s lovable niece and her husband!

IWSG was created by Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh — because Alex understands we need a safe place to congregate, insecurity is part of our creative nature, and together we’re stronger.

On the first Wednesday of each month, you can write on any subject related to your writing journey or adopt the option of answering the month’s question. Either way, you’re in safe territory.

If this sounds like a good place to be, sign up here.

IWSG’s Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Remember, the question is optional!

March 4 question – Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?
The awesome co-hosts for the March 4 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!
When you’ve got a moment, could you please stop by and thank the hosts for their time. They’re the reason nobody gets left without visitors.

Comments 32

  1. And your name is joy!
    Thanks – my moment happened quite a few years ago – 38 or so. I’d had back surgery but was in pain again a year later. Took me awhile but I finally got it – life starts now! I paid attention to my creativity, began a meditation practice that still goes strong and entered psychotherapy, eventually becoming a therapist myself. So grateful.
    And there is nothing in your story that shouldn’t be shared. It is luminous with authent. Thank you.

  2. No one wants to go through such a horrible ordeal, but glad you found your peace and your joy. Unhappy is virtuous? Not according to my God!
    Great photos – looks like a fun time.
    Glad you are back and ready to rumble with us.

  3. You have braved it Joy! So glad to know it’s behind you. I so agree. Live in the now. Your happiness doesn’t need to wait. This is the best time to have fun! Great pictures there.

  4. I have never thought unhappiness equated to holiness – but I have been flummoxed by negative self talk. For me, it originates in a non-religious place, but it definitely takes affirmations to beat it. I had a grandmother who had a joyful faith and remembering her walk has helped me discover joy.

  5. I love it. Joylene, really? Yes, I did it. I never noticed the salvia ducts filled but they do, don’t they? This made me chuckle too.

    I was never taught God wanted you to suffer, so being happy was okay. However, I was taught you should bear suffering stoically and with little complaint. Sometimes, well, a lot really, I am not very stoic.

    Until 2015 forward I was a happy person most of the time no matter what. Life changed unexpectedly in the monetary and the physical at the same time. I am also somewhat isolated which does not help a person state of mine. Too much isolation is not good for you.

    I have had a hard time overcoming or even just swimming through sometimes because there are no big changes yet only hints that change may be on the way. Learning to be okay in the middle of is a huge challenge. You are inspiring. I so felt for you. You are so brave. I am sorry you had to suffer through that too, even if a lot of good emerged. How scared you must have been.

    Yeah, I have a lot of negative talk going sometimes. I, like you, am reading a lot the stuff you named, doing the gratitude journal, mediation, sound, energy, and aromatherapy and such. My experience has been a struggle maintaining over time, but I do find moments of I’m okay. I am happy in this moment.

    I wrote about some of my struggles here if you are interested in reading it and how I am working to reframe my thought patterns. https://medium.com/change-your-mind/life-is-a-tragedy-the-victorians-had-it-right-or-did-they-a3fb796a8aee?source=friends_link&sk=88b872e7d86787b11f05faf9b1cf0ca0

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      Looking back, I’m sure God didn’t want me to suffer. I think part of the problem was our priest had been in a concentration camp during WW2. He was a bitter man and his sermons were a reflection of that.

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  6. No, not weird at all. I suffered excruciating migraines for 25 years, tried all Western med (and some Eastern) and found that magnets helped more than anything. Go figure. I was weird to everyone else but happy to myself!

  7. Dear Joy,
    Your story made me cringe, ache, cry, and in the end celebrate your recovery. Thank you for showing us in elegant words how you turned your life around. I’m proud to be your friend. Your story is important and needs to be shared with the hope to inspire others.

  8. Hi,
    Through my face in God, I found myself. I found not to depend on people to make me happy. I had to find that happiness, that joy, that courage, or whatever else I needed within me. That was one of the greatest lessons that I have learned over my short life.
    I am glad you found your happiness. When we find our happiness, I believe that is a way of saying we have found ourselves.
    Wishing you all the best.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  9. I’ve seen people online refer to you as Jo, but I’ve never been inclined to shorten your name because I like to see it as JOYlene. It’s wonderful to see you owning that JOY now. Your story is almost as painful to read as I’m sure it was painful to live, but I’m so glad you’ve uncovered the dormant nugget of truth: no matter what happens to us in life, we are in charge of how we respond…of our reactions and feelings. Joy is ours for the taking.

    Forty-plus years ago I probably wouldn’t have agreed with that statement. And subsequent reality checks remind me that sometimes bad things DO happen to good people. Still, I firmly believe we don’t have to like our circumstances, or be especially happy to experience joy anyway.

    Did I ever mention to you a favourite book — ‘One Thousand Gifts: a Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are’ by Ann Voskamp? It was her first book. I had been following her blog for years, loving her unique way of writing, her expressions of faith, and her accompanying photography. It was Ann’s book that inspired me to record three ordinary joys every day for a year. She said, “Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle.” When we actually LOOK for the little miracles that exist around us we become so much more aware of the importance of gratitude in our life. Love to you and continued joy always ~ CJG

  10. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. I know you dropped out for a while, so now I understand why. I knew you could get through the pain and agony when I read how you dragged your body, short arms and all to get help. And you hung in there when you didn’t. It’s a mindset, I see now. We do have to decide to smile instead of complaining and being cranky. It’s our choice. I am so happy for you and am smiling as I write this comment. You need to write a book!! Hugs.

  11. I’ve always known that each of us are responsible for our own happiness. For me, it was a struggle. I went out and found it. I had to do that each day for a very long time. I found it again today, and treasure it because living with depression sucked.

    Some people don’t get it. I’m glad you do.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  12. I’m so glad that this trial led you to find happiness again! I remember reading a book once (title escapes me now) of how God uses our difficult times to bring us closer to Him. That has been true for me.
    Loved your pictures of your trips!

  13. I remember when that happened and I am so delighted you have come through stronger and better. I hope the joy of writing is back – my mother-in-law wants to read more books by you.

  14. What a traumatic experience, but it’s wonderful that you’ve found your positivity and come through it all. I find that if I fully laugh when enjoying things, it makes me happier (and makes the laughs all the more real after that.) Love the pictures!

  15. What an amazing story, Joylene! I can’t imagine what you went through, but you certainly rose above it. My mother-in-law fell in our home years ago, when Terry and I were at work. I guess “collapsed” would be a better word. She broke/cracked some vertebrae in her back. She lay there about six hours, but couldn’t move to reach the phone. I was horrified to arrive home and find her. It’s such an alone, terrifying, painful thing to be so helpless. I am so glad that you are back and better than ever ~ You have come so far!!! I try to flash big smiles at people every day! Hugs to you!

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  17. Wow, what a story, Joylene. You’ve been to hell and back. Now you get to reclaim your strength and your right to happiness. I’m proud of the way you’ve turned a disaster around and made it bolster you.
    And, smiling makes me feel fab. As my grandmother used to say, share your smile, someone else may not have one. 🙂

  18. Oh my gosh, Joylene! I am so sorry to hear of all your troubles. But like everyone says: Bravo to you for coming through them with resilience. You are the best. Thanks for sharing your trials and stories with your followers. May you have smooth sailing from now on. God bless!

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    Thanks so much, everyone. (Jan, Alex, David, Sonia, Tyrean, Yolanda, Juneta, John, Jacqui, Lynn, Pat, Dave, Carol, Janet, Anna, Chrys, Jenni, Diane, Susan, Karen, Louise, Lynda, Yvette, Allie, Victoria, and Judy) Your comments mean a lot.

  20. This is a helpful article. I surely can enrich my knowledge by studying this.
    Your idea is really outstanding. Thank’s to share us such a significant thing.

    King regards,
    Dinesen Dencker

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