As I post this, (18th June 2019) it’s exactly a year since my book, Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness was published.
I planned to write a positive & inspiring post about how I’ve changed in the last year but the Universe had other plans.
Or to be more specific grief intervened & sucked most of the life & enthusiasm out of me leaving me struggling to write, especially to write anything joyful.
This Friday, exactly a year after my book launch party, I’ll be at a ‘celebration of life’ for a friend’s husband & at the same time Roger will be 150 miles away at the funeral of another friend.
So not exactly the week I was hoping for.
To research the anticipated blog I spent time reading through the journals I’ve written over the last couple of years. It was really interesting & I’ll be writing about my discoveries in due course. One thing which stood out in my writing is how much I’m aware of how differently I feel each day.
Accepting all of life as it happens
I’ve learned to accept how I feel in each moment, to allow each emotion in with an open heart, knowing it will leave when it’s worked its’ own special magic.
That was a huge realisation but it felt like there was something missing.
I took time out to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book City of Girls (which I absolutely recommend) & also to listen to some of the interviews she’s done to publicise it. And I got my answer in her interview with Oprah Winfrey for Super Soul.
Oprah asked Liz what she’d learned about herself as she worked through grief & this is what she answered; ‘your job is to find mercy for yourself, that’s your job on earth.’ Also that it’s ‘never our job to be perfect, it’s to find mercy & compassion’ in everything we do.
Deep in my heart I felt that I’d found what I was looking for. Mercy felt like the right word, but I wasn’t sure exactly what it meant.
What is mercy?
Of course there are many dictionary definitions plus mercy is important in many religions. After some research I settled on:
‘Compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.’
‘Kindness that makes you forgive someone that you have authority over.’
One of the sources of the word is a Hebrew term hesed which means ‘loving kindness’.
How does it work in practice?
In Chapter 9 of Finding Joy I write about those tricky words starting with self, such as acceptance, love, kindness & forgiveness & perhaps mercy embodies all of them.
I think we can agree that they’re all fabulous concepts; & it’s hard to argue against the ideas of compassion, forgiveness & loving kindness.
The second part of the definition, applying them to someone you have absolute authority over is more of a challenge because the only person who fits that bill, the one person you can truly punish or harm is yourself. I know, ouch!
To me it feels like a circular process, accepting how I feel in any moment, & being merciful, each feeding the other. It’s not easy, every single moment of your life you have the choice how you treat yourself. Seeking loving kindness, mercy & compassion are truly empowering & will change your life.
What mercy means to me
When in struggle my pattern used to be to try & keep going, hoping that I could push through, wishing that things would change & knowing deep down that they wouldn’t. I’d spend hours at my desk trying to force myself to write, resisting what my heart knew which was that the words would not come today.
Staying in that stuck place can be very alluring though. I fully appreciate how important it is to grieve & there’s also time to bring in more compassion & loving kindness. For me this means breaking old patterns & doing things differently. So last week when I was feeling overwhelmed, instead of continuing to sit at my desk, I broke it up & did something nurturing.
The first thing was to get energy moving round my body. Anything to break the pattern of sitting so something as small as going to the kitchen to make a drink was a good start.
It’s at times like this I have to force myself to go to a yoga class. Those times when I’d really rather sit on the sofa & watch TV are when I need yoga most. It gets me out of my head & into my body, it encourages some of the feelings I’m bottling up to move & to release. And I feel so much better afterwards.
Being creative is always positive too, as is achieving something (especially if I don’t have to think too hard). A task as seemingly insignificant as sorting my embroidery cottons & deciding which I wanted to buy brought a lot of satisfaction. This week photography was very therapeutic; I felt so much better after 30 minutes walking round the house & garden taking photos.
I’ve read that healing flows from our heads to our hearts through our hands, so maybe that’s it. All I know is it works for me.
I’ll end with this
Apologies for not being positive & joyful, I could have forced myself to write something happier but that would be a misrepresentation of my life as it is at the moment. And one thing I ALWAYS do is to write from a place of truth & authenticity.
And I’ll end with this;
Will you join me?
Are you ready to show up with an open heart & a willingness to experience all of life?
Do you choose to treat yourself with lovingkindness, to find mercy & compassion, to embrace the glorious mess that you are & love her to bits?
It might just change your life.
I’d love to hear what you think
To celebrate Finding Joy’s first birthday, I’ve dropped the prices on Amazon until the end of June.