How to Live a Joyful Life – Or Not

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Living a joyful life has always been one of my goals.

Are you living a joyful life?  Do you know someone who is?  You’ve seen those people – they absolutely love what they do, they always look like they’re having a good time, in love with life.

Doubling our joy on 8 Women DreamThe desire to live a joyful life was probably somewhere behind my joining 8 Women Dream.  The wish to recapture riding joy and success was the motivation for my dream to become an accomplished equestrian.

So, how’s all that going for me?

Not well.

I try to live a joyful life; really, I do.

I think to myself: I’m going to savor each day . . .  even though I’m stuck at court dealing with some unreasonable kid.

I tell myself: I’m going to appreciate my family . . .  even when my Dad doesn’t return my “Happy Thanksgiving” call and forgets my kids’ birthdays.

I tell myself: I’m going to enjoy what I’m doing right now . . .  even when Nikki has his ears pinned (in horse language this means, “YOU are PISSING ME OFF!”) and is once again dragging me to the nearest patch of grass.

I tell myself: I will not  let my lack of friends get to me . . . even when I’m clearly excluded by the other mommies, without clear explanation (at least that I can discern).

I tell myself: I will not be overwhelmed and stressed out by my responsibilities . . . even when my house is a mess, I have court every single day, I’m behind on float e-mails, phone calls, and material acquisition, my animals are being trouble,  and my kids are arguing over who gets to pet which part of the dog (he’s a big dog – there’s plenty of petting room for all!!).   I am lucky to have all of those blessings.

I tell myself: I will not let the bone-chilling cold dampen my mood . . . even when I’m walking around my house, in the dark, with a flashlight, trying to remember where all our spigots are (we live on 4 acres)  in order to disconnect the hoses so they don’t freeze (how IS disconnecting the hose going to help with freezing?  I honestly don’t understand that), my fingers and toes are freezing and I’m thinking, “Thank God I don’t live in the Mid-West as I clearly don’t have enough body fat for this sort of task.”

Why, oh why can’t I be joyful?

I’ll get there . . . someday.  And, hopefully, the lesson I have scheduled on Wednesday at 11:00 will help.  Wish me luck!  And warm fingers and toes so I can feel my reins and stirrups.

Oh, and does anyone know any good (and reasonably priced) house / dog / horse sitters?

‘Til next week!


(Danelle left 8 Women Dream in March of 2010 and is still working  on her dream is to become an accomplished equestrian)

  • Gisele

    Sometimes in chasing a dream you can loose family and friends who become worried that you are changing. There are those people who try and get in the way of your dreams, and those that set out to sabotage your dreams. It can make for tricky territories. You have to ask yourself if you are willing to accept these possibilities and still move forward. If you are, then you’ve picked a good dream.

  • Yvonne

    Your posts are my favorites. Good luck in the Rose parade!!!

  • Randy

    I found this post when I was looking for the parade schedule and had to come see what this is all about. You are a pretty funny writer and this blog looks pretty interesting. I’d like to see this horse of yours. Do you ever post video? It would help to see him running about to assess his personality with you. Good luck with your dream Miss D.


  • This site is fantastic. I like it a lot The fact that you care enough to ask if you did anything shows you are a caring person. Those ladies should welcome you with open arms.
    You’d have to be kind and fun to do that crazy float thing you do. Good luck with that! Are you going to tell everyone where to look for your float in the parade? Tiff

  • If they don’t include you buy a big bumper sticker that says, “I found my inner bitch and ran with her” and cut them off in the school parking lot every chance you get.

    That would be my nice, gentle southern way of handling it.

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    I agree with Skye – I think you are a joyous person in that I always have fun when we get together. I would guess that your float friends adore you too . .

  • SH

    Albert Schweitzer said, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”

    But then he also said, “Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.”

    If I had to guess I would say that you are more of a joyous person than you realize, but probably have a lot of responsibilities in your life that lead to worry and fear.


  • TC

    I think your posts are very funny, which is a reflection of how you handle stress: with humor.

    Some mothers are too worried about who their kids are playing with rather than letting the kids decide and tell the parents.

    Brian has always been able to choose his own friends, but I know there are some parents out there who want to control that experience. I’ve watched it too much as soccer coach and rugby coach. Ultimately the kids whose parents try and control everything end up being the most rebellious after they move out of the house.

    Just look at Tiger Woods.

    Just don’t take it personally if those mothers are controlling their kids play experiences, smile to yourself and think of Tiger Woods.


  • Catherine, Site Admin

    Glad your lesson went well.

    Those mothers are losing out on a wonderful, thoughtful, honest caring person.

    I think once they find out all the fun things you are involved with they will love to get together for play dates for your kids.

    Plus I agree with Rachel, they may think you are busy or are not interested.

    Often times my reasons for not seeing people have everything to do with my budget and nothing to do with how badly I would like to spend more time with them.

  • Wendy

    I am so glad your lesson was great! Sometimes I wonder if I am losing sight and inspiration towards my dream. Then today riding the bus at 5:30 in the monring to SF to do a make up class, I found myself thinking, “I can’t wait to finish this semester so I can paint!”. I had to smile. Keep going and trying differnt ways to make you dream come true. Good luck with float week.

  • Hey Danelle, glad you are able to find quiet time for yourself in your busy days … so important! Keep that up!

    I would definitely ask another mom for coffee and agree with Rachel about trusting your gut… Maybe you’ll just end up having a pleasant chat about your kids and other things and not feel the need to ask! If it feels right you could just say, “Hey I’m feeling left out of the mom’s circle and am not sure why… Did I do anything to offend anyone?” or whatever. You probably didn’t sweetheart – everyone is so busy with their own “stuff” that when we think they are thinking about us, they are usually just thinking about themselves… Comforting in a weird way, I guess?

    And Rachel I am THRILLED that your son took to the journaling… even if it took a while – and that you saw some results! That is so awesome. Makes me so happy that it has made a difference for you, and that you are spending more time reflecting on what you are grateful for. :-) Yay! That is definitely one of the paths to joy…


  • Rachel

    It’s not stupid at all. If you really feel comfortable enough with her, it might even be a good idea. I think your own gut will tell you whether it’s okay to do. And if you have her for coffee, and don’t feel like you should ask it, you will have made a nice friendly gesture, which is something that likable people do.

    So glad to hear about the good lesson :)

    I like the sound of the 10 minutes in the stable. I can picture it, and the picture feels comforting.

  • Danelle, the equestrian

    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for all the positive thoughts and suggestions!

    A little update: My Dad suddenly called me yesterday (I think he felt the karma from my post or something!).

    About the “other mommies” – once again, when picking up my son, I felt actively excluded. So, I think I’m going to go ahead and ask one of them whom I feel most comfortable with to coffee next week and inquire if I did something to make them dislike me. Is that stupid? Or maybe it just sounds desperate and needy. **Sigh**.

    Remy – I did check out that website. Thanks for finding it!

    Meditation – Hmmm . . . I find just a few minutes in the barn does me a world of good. And, I really try to do even 10 minutes of yoga a night. That’s my quiet time.

    Oh, I found a good house / dog / horse sitter. I think.

    Kim – I’d love to get together with you but I think we’re gone at float almost all of the Christmas break. Maybe after the first of the year??

    And, last, but certainly not least . . . my lesson yesterday was great!!

  • Wow Heather, Remy and I think your son and our 14/15 year old sons were separated at birth.

    My ex husband half joked one day, “Brian, if you tried to have a positive thought these days, I am afraid that it would die of loneliness.”

    It did make our 14 year old laugh – because his dad’s message was received.

  • Rachel

    I was just thinking about what I’ve been doing in response to Lisa’s gratefulness post. I have not written every day since then, but I do take a minute, even if it’s while driving or whatever, to think of what I would write if I got around to it. So there’s something that may help, but takes almost no time.

    Usually, it’s not something big, and if I start off with something I should be grateful for, but isn’t doing it for me (like “family” which brings on the nagging “Why doesn’t Dad return my call?”), I go on until I come up with some little thing that I do feel. I really think it’s helped to turn my focus, and make it easier to find the joy.

    It took me until last week to buy the journals as I’d planned, and finally yesterday I gave them to the kids, and did the journaling with my son. I decided not to make my daughters do it — just to suggest (and let them know how much I’d like them to do it with me.)

    My son (as expected) resisted. The first time I suggested it (Thanksgiving weekend) he fought the idea tooth and nail. He snarled at me, “I’m grateful for NOTHING!” Yesterday, while waiting to see the doctor in the morning, we talked about it again — giving him some warning that I’d want him to journal that evening. He gave me some of the same arguments as earlier. When I suggested maybe he had a friend he was greatful for, he says, “No. Everyone at school is so negative.” Pot, meet kettle.

    However, as soon as we got home that evening, he started asking questions about what I expected from it. He couldn’t wait for me to join him. I’m trying to make dinner, and he’s all, “Where is the journal?” and “Can you get me a pen?” He did it on his own while I was cooking, and then sat down and wrote more while I did mine later. We also had a really easy time with the homework yesterday. He started reading on his own while I was cleaning up from dinner, and wanted to come read out loud to me (usually he fights when I ask him to read out loud so I can check he’s actually reading.) He took all his spelling mistakes in stride.

    I know it won’t work that kind of magic every day, but I have some hope that he will soon have an easier time finding his own joy.

  • Rachel

    I think meditation is a great suggestion, even for busy moms.

    It is hard to take a little time out when we’re very busy, but it’s always worth it when we discipline ourselves to do it. I’ve tried meditation, and it didn’t come easy to me, and I’ve never had the patience to work at it long to get it. But I do have some rules for myself, like get outside for at least 5 minutes every day around lunch time (important October – January, anyway), and get away from my desk to eat lunch by the big window. There are times I feel too busy to follow those rules (& just take lunch at my desk), but I’m always happier when I make myself do it (no matter how busy I am), and the truth is, I work more efficiently when I take time to do these little things.

  • Hey Danelle, as someone who also looks to cultivate joy in my life, I have to say the thing that helps me most with that is my meditation practice (which of course I’m sure may just sound like “oh no, another thing to add to my busy day!” to you). I know our situations are different – you’re a busy mom and I’m single, you’re pulling together the Rose Parade Float while juggling a million other things – you have tons going on.

    I just find that taking a *little* bit of quiet time and writing down intentions for the day or week (to be joyful, or happy or at peace) actually can make a big difference, at least for me… I try to start my day with meditation and/or affirmations.

    If you don’t find that there is time for this now, perhaps it could be a goal for the future, or maybe you can just celebrate the joy when you stumble onto it and not berate yourself if it’s “not there” in a stressful moment… Wait for the little moments to surprise you and embrace them when they do.

    Don’t know if this helps or not, do know that you amaze me with all you do, and I will be here cheering you on in your goal of living the most joyful life possible too…


  • Kim

    Sometimes people are just intimidated by greatness, and you are great! Maybe they are afraid to approach you. I’d love to have you and your kids over one day during Christmas break. We have a huge trampoline that they can play on and Bridget loves little kids. Let’s talk!

  • Rachel

    “I tell myself: I will not let my lack of friends get to me . . . even when I’m clearly excluded by the other mommies, without clear explanation (at least that I can discern).”

    Hah, isn’t that story familiar. I’m going through some of that myself as we speak. I have learned, over the years, that most of the time, the reason has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with them. Maybe they’re busy, they have their friends established, they don’t have time/energy for people they’re not already intimately familiar with. Who knows?

    But it’s still so hard to be left out. No one enjoys that. There’s one guy in particular — I LIKE him, and it just sort of kills me to feel like someone I like, doesn’t like me. (He’s always nice & polite, but not friendly with me as he is with others.) Part of me wants it to be something I did, with the idea that I can find out and FIX that. (How? It’s not like I can just walk up and ask him, “Why don’t you like me?” and expect an honest answer. He’d think I was a freak!)

    These days, though, I’m bouncing back from that, and most days able to appreciate the good people I have in my life, rather than worrying about those who don’t want me.

    “So each year I live for Dec 21 – not Christmas – as the 21st is the shortest day of the year and every day after the sun sets just a little later.”

    Oh yes. I personally tolerate cold perfectly well. It’s the darkness that gets ya. I look for those lengthening days like nobody’s business. And they’re coming… I think almost everyone feels that to some degree. And when the light comes back, it really is easier to get over the setbacks, and enjoy the good things.

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    I am happy to help in any way I can. I know my ex husband would come take care of your place and animals. He’s trustworthy and great with animals. He’s physically fit and able to handle horses (he has handled them in the past)

    Does that sound like a personal ad?

    I do find you to be such fun, and I love your practical way of looking at everything. Hell, you introduced us to Watermelon soup!

    This is not my time of year either. I was always cold before I was diagnosed with Hashimotos disease and was sure the thyroid medication would take that away and I would embrace Winter like a child with ice cream.

    Not happenin’.

    So each year I live for Dec 21 – not Christmas – as the 21st is the shortest day of the year and every day after the sun sets just a little later. Heather will tell you that I look up the time each day and begin telling her when the sun will set as I look forward to going home in the light again.

    I’m sorry but if this weather doesn’t produce snow than I am not interested and could someone please make it rain – I’ll even take some thunder and lightning.


  • Remy G

    Danelle – in this early morning hour, I will only have time to suggest something like this, in response to your mommies play time question…

    I started a meetup group for photographers last year cause I was lonely taking photos by myself, and now we have over 100 people joined, and about 20 or so each time we go out to an event. You don’t have to start a meetup, but when I searched for “kids” in the 95409 area code (my moms, I didn’t know the zip in Sebastopol) I got this hit, and hey, the group is in Sebastopol. You may find that there are other groups in the area that better meet your needs, but I guess I just wanted to support you in finding the group or activity for you, cause they are out there. If the groups of mommies you know now aren’t including you, then that is their loss. Just in meeting you on Friday, I know you are an incredible women with alot of experience, insight, and yeah there is some FUN in there…which I’m almost sure can produce joy….
    And my niece does housesit but Im not sure if she has horse experience. What would you need her to do? She is in her mid 30s and single and very responsible.