We get the opportunity to travel this big beautiful country and Canada! If someone would have asked me "What is your joy?" 10 years ago I would have totally been stumped...What do you mean? What is that? Back then my life looked A LOT different than it does today. A typical day in the life of Candy went something like this; get up on a Monday morning with just enough time to take a shower, run out the door of a temporary house because again I am ending yet another relationship. In between leaving a home I loved, I moved into a crappy trailer, in a crappy neighborhood, with a crappy vehicle on its last leg, just to start over once again. With my teenage children in tow, I have now uprooted them from the only life they have known on a farm full of animals with quiet wide open space and little to no neighbors; into a typical low income mobile home park where everybody knows everybody AND their business. You can literally hear your neighbor sneeze lol. This was a huge transition period for all of us. Just one of the many baby steps I took in the hopes of a better life. I worked in a very male dominated industry, managing a crew of men, customer service, dispatching, billing, basically anything that needed to be done. During my 10 years with this union company, as a non union employee, I was under paid, under appreciated. The official title of my position with this company was Controller/Administrative Assistant it was one of leadership. Although I was put into this leadership position by the owner, many times it was undermined when the men I managed would run to the owner/boss and complain once again that I was being a B***ch by simply expecting them to do their jobs with excellence.
At this point, I had tried on several occasions to quit this job that I absolutely hated just to be drawn back in with another promise of more money. As a single mother, that was all the motivation I needed to keep going through the motions in order to make sure my kids had everything that they needed. At the end of a work day, I would return home, go for a walk to get dinner...I would work a deal with my kids..."you want dinner tonight...you get to walk with me to go get it" it was my way of spending time with them plus the added benefit of creating healthier habits by walking. Then I would watch a TV program or two with my kids only to fall into bed, just to start this day all over again tomorrow. This was also the point in my life that I was like, screw it, I don't need a man in my life full time. Previously, I would try to find someone to fill the void in my life always, expecting to find a fairytale relationship. In reality, I was avoiding loneliness, believing the stories I had grown up hearing "you need a man in your life", "don't marry for love, marry for money" "you will never make it on your own"....Oh geez!!! This time was different, I was learning what was working for ME and my kids! When my mindset began to change, my life began to change, I was finally learning what I wanted out of life....so much of this period of time was not pretty or fun that is for sure. In fact, I am pretty sure there may be a few country songs that could be written about that time too lol. All fired up and ready to do something different once again. I had told my boss that I was quitting my job to move to another state because I saw an opportunity to do something different with my life. Well, once again I chickened out when he offered me more money. In that moment, I decided to believe the same thoughts (story/excuse that I had created) that I needed this job to provide for my kids, no matter how miserable I was.
You may be wondering...what changed? About six months, prior to this most recent relationship failure, I woke up one day and decided I didn't like who I was becoming. My life was sinking deeper into a place I didn't want to see myself or my kids be a part of any longer; smoking, drinking every night, horrible eating habits, angry with my choices, no goals, just trying to get through the next day. A loveless relationship made out of convenience and false promises, turning into something hateful and mean. Then being told by my family doctor, if I kept doing what I was doing, "You will die". Not to mention, also being told by my son's doctor that because of my smoking I was causing more damage to him too....OMG! Talk about a wake up call!!! How many more signs from the universe did I need to have in order to do something different?
Basically, I had to start somewhere, so it all started with little baby steps. I quit smoking, drinking every night, started exercising and eating better. Believe me when I tell you, this was not an easy time in my life. Like, miraculously I just woke up one day and my whole life was better lol....to this day, I am still learning! During this transition, I lost many relationships, friends and family members that were encouraging me to keep doing what I have always done. My significant other and friends would offer me cigarettes and a drink whenever I seemed "stressed out". He refused to eat healthier or exercise going as far as making fun of me when I would. Once, I remember him bringing a bucket of chicken and a beer when he decided to take a walk with me lol. In fact, I recall him getting angry when I wouldn't cook the way I used to, even though he had also been given strict dietary restrictions of his own from a family doctor. The happier I became with my decisions the more "Friends" and "Family" started moving away from me.The stronger I became, the less they wanted to be around me. Now, I do have a couple of family members that stood up for me and encouraged me to keep going too and for them I am very grateful!
Ok, now that I have jumped through a rabbit hole with you...let's get back to how I started finding my joy. This process started with baby steps as well, I began thinking and asking myself....Who am I? What do I love to do? What activities make me happy? What kind of person do I want to be? As a single mom, I really started with small things like, remembering what I liked to do before I had kids. I loved reading, drawing, walking, biking, hiking and I really loved dancing and singing. Growing up in a big family, I realized I had never really done anything by myself! Kinda funny to think about it now. So, I started spending time with just me, going to the movies by myself, coffee shops to sit by myself, having my own bedroom was a huge step for me and something I had never really experienced! Sometimes, it was just a few minutes and sometimes I would include my kids in the adventure of finding out who I was...we created some pretty crazy memories during this time of self discovery too! By the time Joshua and I came together I was getting pretty clear about who I was and what I wanted out of life. However, it is easy to fall back into old patterns. Joshua and I chose daily to continue learning together, we ask each other questions like, "How do you want to be loved?" "What makes you happy?". We do our best to communicate what is working and what isn't working so we can try something different.
Joshua and I used to say that we wanted to travel, wanted a simple life, financial freedom, to do what we want to do, when we want to do it. These are all things we used to "say" and now....we just do it! Still working on the financial freedom and I believe we are getting close ;) We have discovered through experience money, time and people are just excuses made up out of fear of the unknown. Our own excuses keep us from taking any risks because out of habit and being comfortable we would rather stay in the same job, relationship, habits, house or whatever "story" we created to keep us safe....at least we know what to expect, right?. Even if it is unhappy, unfulfilled and miserable. Since then, I have discovered that as long as I keep doing what makes me happy, everything else just falls into place...it doesn't always look the way I think it is going to LOL and we have everything we need and more!
I have grown so much since then, even just recalling these past experiences seems like a dream or a past life altogether. Since then, I have discovered so much about myself with the love and support of my husband Joshua along with the grace and patience of my kids too....I am still learning <3 Now as we travel one of my favorite questions for people that we meet or friends that we get to spend time with is always..."What is your joy?" I am amazed how many times people will look at me with a blank expression, sometimes a sad or surprised expression when they answer "I don't know?". Great!!! Do you want to learn what it is?!?! These questions always excite me, to watch someone take that little spark of curiosity and watch their face change as they start to dream about the possibilities!!!
10 years ago I could not have told you what my joy was either and now I am still discovering all of the new and different ways I experience joy!!! Some of these things include, traveling with my best friend, spending time with my kids (grandkids), discovering new adventures, places and friends, performing, singing, watching someone light up when I sing for them....these are just a few and the list just goes on <3 Do you know how I know these are the things that bring me joy? When others tell me how happy and young I look....that is all the feedback I need to keep doing what I love most....thank you and keep it coming!!!