My children screaming at one another does not bring me joy and unfortunately it is a sound that I hear daily. I used to envision myself ripping my ears from my head and throwing the bleeding ears to my children and yelling: “now I don’t have to hear you anymore!”—my kids would then be diagnosed with PTSD and probably taken from me, and I would have no ears. So, there goes that idea! I tend to be a bit dramatic, maybe that’s where my children get their histrionics. But I hear SO much more of their bickering since quitting my job after the birth of my fourth child. Having children brings out the best and worst in a person, or maybe that’s just me. I was starting to see more days with the worst person than the best.
Some moms are better at patience. Some moms are better at talking calmly to their kids and baking sweet treats and making crafts. But me, sometimes I would want to lock my kids in a closet and give them Benadryl and have them take a long nap—speaking in hyperbole here! I would never harm my children. I love my children. Very much. I love them so much that at every birth I would let go of some special part of myself—including valuable braincells. The other day when I went to buy sleds, I couldn’t think of the word sled. S-L-E-D, a four-letter word that is very simple, but I had to ask the cashier:
“Do you sell those things that kids ride in the snow with?”
The 17-year-old, looked at me with a dumbfounded look and said, “Sleds?”
“Oh yeah! That’s what their called!” I laughed back.
My brain is not what it used to be, and neither is any part of me. Some days I would daydream about the old me; living life to the fullest, laughing, telling jokes, and looking good. Some days I would long for a simpler time. My daydreams wouldn’t last long because I would be jolted back to reality by my two-year-old screaming at her older brother, “you’re not my BEST FRIEND! NO ONE is my BEST FRIEND!” I realized that I was becoming a new person and I had to stop pretending like I was going to get the old me back. This new person, I didn’t like too much. She didn’t have as much fun. This new person was very frustrated and controlling. I realized that either I needed to change my attitude or accept my new grumpy self.
I started to change my attitude.
I began by falling back in love with me and being grateful for what I had been given.
And thanks to Marie Kondo, I started asking myself what brings me joy? And not just regarding tidying up, but to experiences and everything else in life that matters. I decided that being a passive player in this game of life wasn’t cuttin’ it any longer. I needed to dive in. I needed to experience love and joy and not just watch from the sidelines. I wanted to live out my gratefulness by living life to the fullest, as cliché as it may sound.
So, what brings me joy?
Puzzles bring me joy! I love to solve puzzles and I love my introvert time. I love sitting at my counter for hours and days at a time and completing a puzzle. I am not able to do this as often as I like, but I love it.
Audiobooks and library apps bring me joy! I love listening to audiobooks. I never would have thought that I would love listening to books, but I do. I have finished ten books since January.
Swimming brings me joy! I decided that I needed to do something for a workout. I have always wanted to be able to swim laps as a cardio and lift weights to build muscle but just always came up with an excuse of why I couldn’t. SO, I signed up for an adult swim lesson. I was so scared at my first lesson. I was thinking about what other people would think of me, but to my surprise, no one was thinking about me. I love swimming! I had a minor setback last week but I’m okay. I went to practice what I had learned through lessons, and I panicked and couldn’t swim in the deep end. I kept telling myself that something was in the water like a shark, alligator, or a scary clown —I was the only one in the pool, it was six in the morning. The lifeguard just watched and said nothing. I did one quarter of a lap and then I did the walk of shame and left the pool. I was crippled by this irrational fear. This setback didn’t stop me, I went back two days later and swam in the deep end.
I started writing again and stopped caring about my missing braincells. I love to write and who cares if some people don’t want to read what I have to say. Writing brings me joy and gives me life.
My body brings me joy! I started looking in the mirror while I’m naked and telling myself: “This body is mine. It was a gift to me, and I love it.” This is not easy for me. Why is it so darn hard to look at myself naked and genuinely say “I love you”? Because when I look at my naked body, I immediately start to critique it. I say: “Look at those love handles! Say goodbye to ever wearing a two-piece swimsuit again, MY GOSH those stretch marks. Goodness, those nipples are different sizes, they don’t look anything like the original.” And this self-deprecating talk would continue until I verbally told myself to stop. My inner critique is a monster and not just about my outward appearance, but it has some nasty things to say about everything. How I parent. How I eat. How I work or not work. The best way for me to combat this is by telling myself: “This body is mine. It was a gift to me, and I love it”.
My body has birthed four beautiful children. Stretching and releasing with the marks to prove it. This body has gained weight and lost weight; it has been fit and been flabby. This body, my body is mine and I need to love it. I need to love it because I have four children that I am trying to teach how to love their bodies.
My family brings me joy. I enjoy them more. I stop what I am doing and play with them. I kiss them more and rub their heads. I talk longer and laugh louder. I am intentional but I am not perfect. I still have moments of crazy. But I am trying.
Lastly, God brings me joy! I started checking in with God more regularly. He is my ultimate sustainer and if I am not right with God, I quickly find myself losing patience quicker. It’s not just about reading my Bible, it’s more one-on-one talks and finding the time to just be with him and worship.
I desire to live a full life and experience joy! -Gigi Hahl
Meet Gigi: Jillian “GiGi” Hahl is a chauffeur, financial analyst, strategist, and storyteller, or as some call it SAHM (Stay At Home Mom). She lives in Denver, Colorado and enjoys learning anything new. She once had a cat named Kitty because the name slightly paid homage to one of her favorite movies Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She loves meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. You can find her at roaming the aisles of Costco on the first Sunday of the month.
*Hey everyone, it’s me Liz again:). I’m so thankful for the beautiful and honest message that Gigi shared with us today! I know for my heart, it was encouraging! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to connect everyone with Gigi’s work and I can tell you, I’ve admired her writing and her mothering skills for the last several years! She’s the real deal ya’ll and what an honor it has been to have her as part of our blogging community:). P.S.-I too wish to roam the aisles of Costco with her:)!
Go The Extra Mile: Check out “Lean Back” from Capital City Music, one of my new favorite songs- so so good, so… listen all the way to the end. A great reminder of the love of Our Heavenly Father, and the joy and goodness we can experience in Him!