inspirational tools to create life balance in your everyday

rediscovering joy – april 2009


Underneath my computer is the wooden bin table lent to us by our dear friend, Sally. Before they lent it to us, Sally’s husband Bill sanded it back until the wood glowed the color of honey. I’m told that this table has traveled its way around the San Francisco Bay Area since the sixties amongst their friends and extended family. The shared energy feels good in the corner of our bedroom, as if the wood has soaked in the energy from each unique home. As the sunlight streams in our windows today and the temperatures rise to meet the new season that will arrive on Saturday, something shifts. Perhaps it is the hint of a smile that twitches at the corner of my mouth or the lightness of the windows being open or the soft leaves arriving like cherished letters upon the dry branches of the trees, but something is changing.

This morning a passage from the book “High Tide in Tucson” by Barbara Kingsolver was shared with me by someone dear in my life. Her words arrived wise and relevent from the pages of the book to my heart. Kingsolver writes, “Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job or a limb or a loved one, a graduation, bringing a new baby home: it’s impossible to think at first how this all will be possible. Eventually, what moves it all forward is the subterranean ebb and flow of being alive among the living.” She goes on to describe how “in my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress…until I learned to be in love with my life again.” Reading this passage, I feel the same way that I feel when I look into the colors of this table, a connection with shared experience.

One of the most difficult tasks in life, is not to lose ourselves to the times in our lives that feel beyond our own strength. Over the past month, I was presented with a situation in my life where due to my recent experiences, I was not strong enough to be there for someone close to me. The emotions that came up for me were like the king tides we used to watch in Sydney when we lived off-shore. The tide of emotion rose slowly and they all of a sudden, it began pouring over the sides. It is a very difficult thing, to admit to ourselves and those that depend on us, that we are not whole enough or strong enough to be in a situation with them. The only way that I felt I could look after myself and the other person was to step away. The weeks that followed were hard and I felt thankful for the existing practices of yoga and meditation and the daily walks that were already set up in my life to support me.

In order to greet ourselves again after the emotional landscapes of our lives change, we most go gently. Mindfulness of what is here and now, rather than what was or could be, is a gentle way back to stability. After a time of uncertainty or an identity shift, we must learn to meet joy again as if we are being introduced to her for the first time. Taking walks and witnessing the enormity of the dark clouds moving through the sky to reveal that beautiful blue reminds us of impermanence. Witnessing the fragility of the petals on a flower as it is pulled hard against the wind and yet still remains in tact reminds us of our own inner strength.

This morning, the dedication that my students showed towards their yoga practice, urged me back into the present moment. On my drive home, the new white blossoming trees from a distance appeared cold and laden with snow. As I drove closer I could see that these new white blossoms draped lightly like pale french ribbons over their long slender branches. They reminded me that from a distance things can appear insurmountable, however when we view them up close there is often unexpected light and beauty. It is so tempting for all of us to stay closed when we are hurting, yet when we allow the possibility of joy back into our lives, our pain or our fear or our shock becomes diluted ever so surely by what we find in this present moment.

In difficult times, I worry about the amount of time that we now spend with our fingers against the keyboard communicating between computers or texting between phones, instead of connecting over a cup of tea or walking side by side along a warm dusty trail. In the times that we are emerging from something new or difficult, it is so important to seek depth and beauty from our outer worlds. The richness we receive from being in nature, healing through music, contact with authentic friends and healthy delicious food, coax our inner dialogues back into a place of balance for the heart. Walking barefoot in the sand, feeling the power of the wind on the top of the mountain, tasting the basil against the tomato, peeling back the glue on the seal of a letter, smelling the depth of chimney smoke or the soft scent of budding blossoms, it is these doses of living that I believe feed us back into our joy.

And in conjunction with our mindfulness of these rich details, we also need to embrace patience. The steps that we take into the future are never as fast as the steps we take into the past. Feelings sometimes move slowly. They need time to be felt and understood before they transform into something else. In times of new identity or difficulty, give yourself time and honor where you have arrived to even if you don’t understand it yet. Understanding may come later, what is important is to care for yourself in the moment. Life is always changing and so are we. The difficult and life changing situations need not be sought out. They arrive without invitation and with them new strength will inevitably bloom.

We can only trust in our hearts that we will make it through what at first may seem like a darkness. And the way that we do this, as Barbara Kingsolver so eloquently reminds us, is by being more mindful of what is concrete and real around us. This may be the smile of a friend or the laughter of a child or the sanctuary you find in your art. These things are real. Embrace them before you rush into the judgments you may have about yourself or others. They will teach you about the love that is waiting in pockets of your heart. With mindfulness of the mundane and extraordinary actions that make up your everyday life, you can climb your way out of anything. Today as I watched my husband peg the laundry on the clothesline I saw how this everyday chore for him is simply a joy. It is in the details of our own unique experience that we rediscover our true nature.

This month, regardless of what season opens in your life and whether the circumstances you find yourself in are welcome or not, I invite you to be an archaeologist for joy in your everyday life. Start by setting aside an hour of your time to create a manifest for your joy. Clear a space in the sun and turn on the music that makes you feel whole. Turn it up loud and surround yourself with art supplies and light. If you need to, dig into your child’s art box or buy a dollar pack of crayons and some stickers from a nearby store. Take a large piece of white paper and draw a symbol in the center of the page that reminds you of joy. Above this write “Rediscovering Joy in 2009”. From the center of this page in colors and symbols and sentences, draw and write yourself back into joy. When writing, try to use the present tense. On my manifest, I have written, “I am shopping at the farmer’s market filling the wooden basket on my bike with joy” and “I am having dinner parties under the stars” and also “I am sewing new colorful squares into my quilt.” Give your creativity permission to explore the activities you have only dreamed of and as a result you will be giving yourself the permission to have this experience now rather than later. In each moment, if we take the time to look, we will find that joy is waiting for us in the corners.

By keeping your list in a place where you can see it, you will begin to weave your intentions for joy into your everyday life. Make a commitment for a week to write down one instance where you rediscover joy each day on your manifest or in your journal. Continue this practice if you find it is helpful in rediscovering activities that support you. Start speaking your joy of things in everyday conversation. Let it spill over like a king tide into your life and before you know it, in times of uncertainty, it will become easier and easier to reteach yourself back into the light, even if only one blossom at a time.

This is a monthly inspiration piece brought to you by author Christina Adler at ‘everyday balance’. If you would like to share your experience with these tools, please feel free to email me by visiting the contacts section on the home page. To subscribe for a monthly reminder for these inspiration pieces, simply fill in your name and email address on the home page under “subscribe to everyday balance.” For information regarding life coaching appointments in person, by telephone or online, visit the ‘for life coaching’ section of this website. Photo taken by Christina Adler in Windsor, California.

posted under 2009 life balance

ancient blooms


for so many weeks these
have held the cold outside
of themselves

curved and ancient
they wind around each other
and from a distance
create a horizon

of a hundred tiny blackbirds
and yet up close their
branches feel surprisingly rough
brittle sharp edges

break under the light weight
of my hands
and I wonder how much of the sun has
soaked in from these new spring days

like a deep ravine
their light is hidden
until it erupts without warning
one windy afternoon

walking the dry and crackled
it is as if the belly of this branch
were light itself

from each edge
soft as lambs ears
green leaves climb
from nowhere to surprise

me out of habitual hurried thought
into what is right in front of me
and I cannot help but feel again surprised
that out of nothing climbs life

full and soft
and again not from light but from darkness
comes something more beautiful than we had thought possible

copyright – Christina Adler – 30 March 2009 – Windsor, California USA

posted under 2009 poetry