In January I tried something new for me – choosing one little word to focus on throughout the year. I chose joy because I thought it would help me be more present, positive, and reflective. I thought I could be creative by choosing joy, finding joy, and spreading joy. This has turned out to be far more challenging than I expected.
It feels like 2022 has been peppering me with one thing after another. COVID running through our family, our dog suddenly getting sick and dying, my grandmother suddenly passing away days after that, stock market hits, and the latest- a broken foot.
I definitely did not find the joy in kicking a clogged Shop-Vac to unclog it when cleaning the garage one Saturday. It led to a cracked navicular bone – small bone near the ankle/metatarsals above your arch – in my right foot (think driving foot). It went undiagnosed for three weeks, including one excruciating week where I walked around Disney World in my sneakers. After finally getting an MRI, I found out that I do indeed have a broken bone. So now the 4-6 weeks on crutches begins.
4-6 weeks is not that much time in reality. But, I’m an over thinker and was told this particular bone isn’t in an ideal place for healing and so after giving it the best chance to heal I still may need surgery to put in a screw. And so this was kind of crushing to me – more so mentally than physically. In my moments of self pity (and self loathing at my self pity because this could be far worse, other people have it far worse than this), I have tried coming back to that one little word: joy.
But where’s the joy in this? I’m busy. I don’t really like to relax because it’s hard for me to sit still. I’m juggling parenting my 6 and 8 year old with a husband who has challenging job hours that change on a dime. I am the default parent. It is hard. This is my first year literacy coaching and that’s half time. I have a second grade class full of loving yet demanding students. I am coaching my daughter’s lacrosse team (that began this week). I don’t have time to be down for the count. Too many people depend on me. Now my independence is waning (albeit temporarily) and the depression is mounting. So is the anxiety.
There has to be a way to pivot. There has to be a way to find joy in this. It’s in my supportive friends who have offered listening ears, validating comments, dinner offers, kid practice rides, and coffee visit promises. It’s in my children who looked at me wide-eyed when Mom couldn’t physically stand in the kitchen to make dinner like every other single night. They took out garbage, carried dirty laundry baskets down the stairs, got me a glass of water, and sat as close as possible to me on the couch and that felt really good.
I enjoy being a helper, a doer, someone other people can depend on. I often feel this weight on my shoulders of holding it all together for everyone. If I’m not managing my household (let alone everything at school), it will all fall apart. It’s hard for me to be on the receiving end. It’s hard for time to ask for help.
Maybe this is an opportunity to work on becoming comfortable with asking for help – letting go of tasks and expectations. Maybe my family will rise up and help out and we will be a stronger team who shared the load going forward. I am forced to let go of tidying things and taking umpteen trips up and down the stairs each day. Maybe I will find out I was making life harder for myself than it needed to be. Maybe being somewhat immobile will provide time for reflection and a way to change my mindset about what is important.
I am determined to still focus on my one little word of the year: joy.