Personal Development

There is a story in the Buddhist tradition about a clay statue of the Buddha in a monastery in Thailand. Over the years, it was protected in the monastery from outside invaders. One day while it was being relocated, one of the monks spotted a crack in the clay. When the monk looked closer, he noticed that underneath the clay there was solid gold. The clay statue had been made of gold the whole time!

The sway of the instructor’s hips mesmerized me. Jingling like bells, the tassels of her dress sashayed in rhythm with her hips as she twisted and turned. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her flawless figure, her precise foot fall, the way her shoulders sliced through the air as she maneuvered across the dance floor. At that moment, I fell in love with belly dancing.

     At thirty-six years old, my belly roiled with nerves about taking my first formal dance classes. I had enjoyed dancing since I first watched Britney Spears and the boy bands in middle school. When I moved to music—even if I were alone in front of my dresser mirror--a feeling of longing washed over me. When I dance to music, confidence eclipses my fears, and I move into a natural rhythm even though I have no formal training. 

I knew something changed when I looked back on the person I was a year ago and don’t even recognize her. When I think of being married, the idea is a foreign concept for me. It feels like being in the in-between-state of a dream and consciousness, not knowing quite where I am for a moment. Except I never really wake up completely. I’m constantly in the state of fog and fuzzy, the “almost aware” phase. 

You would think something like being married would be hard to forget. Afterall, I was with the person for nine years and married for four and a half. I constantly have to look down at my left hand as a reminder. The two bands of metal that once snuggly encircled the flesh are gone and my finger feels exposed and empty. 

Joy. That small but powerful word inspires so much within us. We think of so many things that bring joy to our lives: Our children, our friends, our favorite movie, a song, a good meal, the people we love. It inspires us to pursue our passions, motivates us to move forward in our dreams, and has the power to evoke smiles on our faces.

Are joy and happiness the same? Can you have one without the other? Joy and happiness are different. Joy is an internal sensation of happiness. It is not an instant feeling of gratification. It happens over time and through conscious effort. Joy is when we can be our authentic selves and it lasts much longer than happiness.

I’ve recently realized something that I wish I could tell my younger self: I am worthy. I am confident. I am enough. It took more than twenty years to get to this point, but as I’ve come to realize, the journey takes precedence over the destination. With time, experience, and wisdom, most people can find the elusive “happiness” by looking withing themselves and not relying on others.

Do things happen for a reason, or do things happen and we find reasons for them? That question has been on my mind lately. I always thought the former was true, but now, I wonder if it’s not the latter. There are so many things that happen in life that have no logical explanation. Losing my mother at age six is an example. That single incident changed the trajectory of every aspect of my life and many other lives.

I asked why all of my life, but never really got a clear answer. I began speculating on reasons for such a tragic loss. To make me stronger, wiser, more appreciative of how fragile life is? To never take life for granted? To challenge me in some way? My mother’s death could not have been for nothing, could it? It couldn’t have been some cruel joke played by a God who claims love over revenge, or a horrible random occurrence set in motion by the universe. There has to be a reason somewhere.

I was lying on the floor, curled in a ball, crying another ocean. It was the third time that day I found myself in that position. Constant memories attacked me like BB pellets I couldn’t escape. The tears threatened to drown me.

The memories were of my former life, the one when I was married, had a house, a dog, a loving and caring husband. In those moments of uncontrollable sobs, I missed him terribly.

I thought about reaching out to my sister or my counselor, anyone to get the inundation of feelings out of me. I considered screaming and punching something, but since I work from home and my apartment is fairly small, I thought better of that. Then I thought of the one thing that I have always had throughout my life when I’m going through something that crushes me: writing.

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Heart of Healing
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