This past May, we brought our 6 month old Miniature Australian Shepherd pup, Marty, to Waterton just as Spring was beginning to finally fully break open. We had taken him there through the winter, of course, but those trips were characterized by wind, cold, and large amounts of snow.
Arriving on a Friday evening, we were all energized by the longer, warmer days and burgeoning green. The snow had melted and we moved around the yard, organizing and tidying up but mostly just happy to be outside. Marty was beside himself with spring fever, bounding around us on the grass yet staying close, ecstatic to be outside with his people. We were heartened by his lack of wandering.
The next morning Dan and George left the cabin early for a round of golf. I slept in a bit then was woken to Marty restlessly moving about, wanting out. Remembering the success of the previous evening, I opened the porch door thinking that he would just do his business in the yard and then I could call him back in.
I didn’t realize, however, that there was a herd of bighorn sheep right across the street. Within seconds Marty was gone, excitedly chasing the entire herd. It all happened in a moment. Before I even had my shoes on the sheep and our pup were past all of the cabins and furiously heading into the forest and up the mountain.
Thank goodness the park was quiet. It must have been a sight, me bolting up behind this menagerie of animals in my pajamas. Screaming Marty’s name, my panic quickly gave way to despair imagining that our dog was perhaps gone forever and that I would soon be explaining to my family this new reality and also how it was all my fault.
My only rays of hope were glimpses of his little white head looking down at me,
grinning, glowing even, his face awash with pure delight and uninhibited joy – then he would delightedly take off again.
It was then that the word ‘shepherd’ ran through my mind as well as its meaning ‘sheep herder’.
I realized our little dog was obviously completely and utterly blissed out, doing exactly what he was born and meant to do in this world ~
and if a sly and waiting cougar pounced on him at least he would die completely happy.
Thank goodness one didn’t and we was still have our sweet Marty to love who did return to me that morning. And this moment was one of the most powerful images I have ever been gifted in terms of understanding joy.
looking quite calm and innocent here
A very wise woman that I am blessed to know actually spent a good amount of time last week breaking down to me what it actually means to follow your heart. And she really had to break it down, because as much as I love to talk about it -my mind, rather than my heart, dearly loves to run the show and it is habitual for me to defer to fretting and worry, overthinking, over-deliberating, and on it goes.
But I know for sure that when I am in a place of joy I am
kinder. wiser. brighter. more inspired. clearer. more decisive. more productive & effective. more loving.
Seriously this is actually world-changing stuff.
What brings me joy?
strong black tea in the morning. conversations with kids. the birch tree out my office window. writing. Chapter trips with my girls. my birthday. going out for breakfast. watching Marty’s antics. a new unlined journal. black roller pens. candles that smell like the forest. putting up the Christmas tree (early). Scotland. watching George play badminton. phone chats with Alex. watching Olivia perform. the neighbourhood kids playing outside. Dan’s laugh. green tea and chocolate. berries and hot buttered toast. yoga. windless walks. decorating a cake with my girls. stationery. stickers. dreaming about travel. dinners out with Dan where we talk for hours and plan. coffee dates. soulful conversations with friends. tapping into my inner guidance. hanging out with Glenna in Victoria. a good Netflix series. browsing through a bookstore. spontaneous beautiful chats as I move through my day. the ocean. mountains. spending a day exploring a new city. cafes. journaling. old pubs. self-guided walking tours. watching my kids blossom. watching Ry sing and play. conflicts that resolve into love and deeper understandings. real news stories that show people loving and accepting one another, and flourishing. kids being creative. real concerted efforts to protect our environment. Waterton. mountain lakes. wildflowers. old world decorating. a glass of wine and beautiful conversation. babies. a good laugh or cry. puppies. dabbing on essential oils. tea stores where you can lift every lid and smell all the teas for hours. Broadway musicals. Celtic music. castles. beautiful new friendships and gorgeous old connections that endure. tartan blankets. saying ‘I love you’. clay mugs. our fireplace. peace. hope. kindness. beauty. healing words. setting off on a road trip. beautiful food. lazy mornings. family gathering. winter. rainy days. art supplies. magazines. all my kids under one roof. holidays. our porch. planning. dreaming. setting off on a trip. coming home. staying home. heart-centered business that strive to make the world a better place. our table. collaboration. gorgeous scarves. writing. building my work. peace.
to name just a few.
in my happy place
What brings you joy? Don’t think about it too hard. Make a list!
and then just follow those sheep!