Sunday, 26 February 2012

Finding J-O-Y

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.
Ernest Hemingway

This opening paragraph is an excerpt taken from an email from a new dear friend of mine who got to have her own NICU experience this year and I asked her if I could share it:

 "I spent a great deal of time last year trying to decide what my new years resolutions for this year would be and finally decided to only have one, and it was to find and experience joy. Ironic that I spent the first month and a half in the hospital! The amazing thing was that I have been surrounded by joy and you have been the star of the show and my greatest example of that so far! Thank you! Keep finding joy! I think you're amazing!"

I found (and find) Jaime's words SO inspiring (and wonderfully kind)!  How simplistic is that for a resolution?  Find J-O-Y in life.  Even when you (that would be me) are in the worst crisis of your life thus far there is still joy there, sometimes you just need to look harder.  Braeden is certainly my joy.  I've experienced such love and devotion for this little guy, not to mention disbelief that he can continue to fight his fight and succeed.  It is a horrific road to travel when your child is clinging to life but it is a road that also opens you up to receiving joy in many different ways.  It certainly has been a struggle some days but I've tried to remain open to the positives in my day and to me positives = J-O-Y.

Lia's Rules for J-O-Y:
  1. It is unlimited, you just need to look for it
  2. Take the time to pause, J-O-Y is there
  3. Listen to your friends and family when they compliment you, don't try to justify it.  If they see it and say it then it must be true.
  4. Find the simplest things in life, they can bring the most joy
  5. Embrace L-O-V-E for yourself and others, we certainly don't need to be 'in love' to experience pure love and joy  
Meeting Kelsey
I suppose really in a funny kinda way that I am thankful for all that has happened in the past few months.  I've had to live my life day-to-day or hour-to-hour and for that I'm thankful.  It is so easy to overbook ourselves and never take the time to just 'be'.  Living life in the moment is intense and I don't necessarily suggest a long haul at it but I would suggest that you do it for a week.  Don't schedule things until they come up if you can, take life one day at a time for one week and see what happens and how you feel.  For the past several years it has seemed as though time goes faster and faster but when you live life day to day it really just all slows down.  In many ways it surprises me that Braeden is coming up to 16 weeks but also in many ways it has already gone too fast.  One foot in front of the other, one day at a time and finding my J-O-Y along the way.

The joy in life is to be used for a purpose. I want to be used up when I die.
George Bernard Shaw

One thing as parents that we generally forget to do is take any time for ourselves.  I'm a perfect example of that, it is to the point at times when I do find myself alone that I'm not sure what to do with myself anymore!  What I've done to work in time for myself these days is that I have a book to read in my bag when I go to the hospital and when Braeden crashes then I have a little bit of time to myself to read (which has always been one of my favourite pastimes).  Sometimes I do it while holding him and sometimes I just take in the joy of being in his presence while he is asleep in his crib.  Another thing that I find helps is to take a short walk (as I am certainly not finding time for exercise these days!).  I find taking the walk harder because I feel that I never have enough time with Braeden but I also know it is important for my own mental health.  When I walk, I think, when I think I can clear my head and look a little bit into the future or face the next hour of my day.
Our children grow far too fast, how many times have you said to a child (yours or someone else's), "How did you get so big?".  My children have brought me the biggest J-O-Y of all in my life and have challenged me as a person and a Mom more than I ever could have imagined.  Up until October 2011 I thought that I would have a lifetime to enjoy my children, I was one to believe that 'that won't happen to me'.  I suppose that is a common thought until it does in fact happen to you or someone you know.  Almost losing one of my children (on several occasions) over the past few months has opened my eyes even further to the fragility of life.  We've all known someone that has left us and this world too young but when it is the possibility of an infant it just seems so impossibly cruel.  I think that is why I've strived (and struggled) to find positives in each day, to try to come to terms with the possibility of losing him.  Braeden still has an incredibly difficult and tenuous journey ahead of him and each day, week, month and year we have him I need to find the J-O-Y in that.  I think it is every parents nightmare to outlive a child so the blessing in disguise Michael and I have here is to truly enjoy each and everyday with our children, to see their J-O-Y and as a result fulfill ours.

It is not a perfect science but it works for me.  I've fully experienced the last few months of my life and I'm not sure how many people could really say that.  How much of life is really physical and how much is simply mental?  I know for me that when I can take the time to find J-O-Y then the physicality of it really isn't so hard anymore.

Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love.
Mother Teresa

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