Have you ever gone through so much in one year you just know something big, grand, and wonderful is waiting for you next year? I am pretty sure I woke up on January 1 saying, “Hello, you beautiful new blessed year; let’s do this thing!”
Then all the things start happening in life that aren’t the things you planned to happen and before you know it it’s halfway through the year and you go into panic mode. Maybe this isn’t your year at all, and things haven’t fallen beautifully into place. I suppose I am grateful that for me they have not. I know that may sound a little insane and honestly, I hope you realize just how sane it really is. You see, if things had fallen into glorious places for me then what would I have learned? Would I have grown as much as a person? Would I have become as fearless as I have? Would I have become a stronger woman? Would I have grown as close to my boys as I did? Would I love myself as much as I have come to?
How I Found Joy Even Though Life Is Hard
I have found more joy in this year than I have felt in years! Real joy and happiness. Yes, some days just suck. That is life and I have a lot going on all the time. What I have learned this year is a little more about how to handle it. One of the biggest things that I have changed is facing my fear of taking my kids camping on my own. I even went as far as to get a small pop-up camper for my boys and myself.
Imagine our first weekend out… I packed and loaded everything. I was beyond exhausted but ready for adventure, making memories with my boys and teaching them all the wilderness things. Camper loaded down, attached to my minivan after a gazillion tries, pouring sweat because it was 100 degrees at least, three boys ready to go (ages eight, six, and three), our 70-pound golden doodle and my tiny chihuahua. Terrified out of my mind. I mean, what the heck was I thinking doing all this on my own? A single mom in the woods alone with three kids? No turning back now though and without anymore excuses to stay in our driveway a little longer, we were off!
Off to the river, our new home away from home. We fell in love. Days spent from dawn to dusk by the river. Mom cooking all the meals outside and around the fire. The dogs running and playing. The kids actually getting along! What was this new world we discovered? No cell phone service, no electronics, no distractions. Just us!
We soaked up all the river water and sunshine. Let me tell you, friends, that is all you need to heal a broken mind, spirit, and body. We laughed, we caught fish, all the bugs, looked at all the cool river rocks, skipped rocks, and jumped off trees into the water. When it would begin to get dark, this momma pulled out those girl scout skills and built the fire where we ate enough s’mores to make us sick. We stayed up too late playing games and passed out from pure exhaustion in what has become our cozy little home away from home, our pop-up camper, The Wandering Poppy. I will not lie, I am still terrified every time I take the kids camping. I am outnumbered and they are all boy.
Your Life Might Be Hard, But You Can Find Joy Too
When my boys do look back, I hope they just see the year that we began a new tradition where camping on the river was our getaway. Our haven full of water, sun, starlight, and fireflies. The place where no matter how insane life can get, we have this place where we come together as a family and face our fears and try new things. A place where you learn that even though life is hard, tough, and, well, sometimes so hard, you can still find and have more joy in your life than you ever allowed yourself to have before.
Your new adventure may not be camping. Your happiness may not lie in the wilderness or on the river. It could be as simple as facing a fear that has held you back. Embracing a new change that you never had the nerve to try. I challenge you to go for it; chase that adventure, follow that new avenue, try the new thing that you have been too scared to try. If you don’t, you will never know just how it would turn out, how much it will help you grow, or how much undeniable joy it will bring into your life.
See, camping didn’t help the bad things go away at all. What it did do was teach me that it is okay to still be happy even in hard times. Because, let me tell you, camping by yourself with three young kids isn’t easy or always fun. It is a lot of work and is exhausting. That’s where I realized that life is always going to be hard, but how we react to those things is the true trial. Only you can handle your happiness and that is going to reflect how you handle the situations that come your way! I can’t control what comes my way each day, but I can embrace it and choose not to let it ruin my day, year, or life. There is always a reason to get up, push forward, and find your joy. You, my dear, are the main reason and we each owe that to ourselves.
For related articles for strong women, check out:
How Do I Know What Defines Me?
Dear Single Mom, This Is Why You Inspire Me
Bible Verses From the Grit and Grace Team on Joy
Ask Dr. Zoe – How Do I Leave the Past Behind?
A Life Full of Hardship Has Made Me Joyful
Can You Really Enjoy the Little Things in Life?
10 Tips – How to Enjoy a Road Trip With Kids
For the Woman Who Wants to Be Strong
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There is always a reason to get up, push forward, and find your joy.