Understanding what brings you joy in life

The joy of the canal

The joy of the canal

Whenever I think about my narrowboat, somehow in my mind, it is always bigger than it actually is. I suppose maybe my mind, is accustomed to living in a house. Or maybe it’s simply that I can’t wrap my head around why someone would live in such a small space. Either way, I certainly suffer from thinking of my home as bigger than it is at times! Thankfully I have refrained from buying anything large-ish without a tape measure to hand.

Downsizing for the boat was a process that started months beforehand. It continues to be an ongoing task, as I have boxes left to sort and things to be sent off to the charity shop or gifted. Parts of the process I have really enjoyed. I loved throwing out all the useless paperwork I had held onto. Or taking items that were once dear to me and gifting them to friends. Not only did the item bring joy to them but the true gift was going out of my way to spend time with them.

Overall though, it was a difficult task. It was overwhelming and it certainly felt never ending. In some ways it is still is. I have a number of items making up a few boxes, that I am not quite ready to part with yet. Then there are items I need for my self employment and necessary paperwork that I cannot dispose of. Somehow I need to find space for those on the boat in the next few months.

I loved simplifying my wardrobe. Shoes and boots that I didn’t wear. Outfits that were to big or to small or that I just didn’t wear. Even giving away the nicest outfits brought me joy. For every time I gave more away, the lighter I became. The joy and freedom of giving away my belongings, helped me to begin to see what was really important to me.

Setting myself a challenge

Knowing that space on the boat would be extremely limited, I set myself a challenge. I allowed myself one wicker basket, to place in all the items that brought me joy. To start with, this seemed like an impossible task. There were so many books I wanted to read. Craft supplies for many different projects. Gifts people had given me that I felt it would be rude to part with. There were things that I had brought with the intention of doing but had never got around it.

Yet, as I went through my items each time, the more I was able to give away. Each time I revisited something, it became easier to make a decision. The more I got rid of, the easier the process became as I started to recognise the emotions causing me to hold onto things.

I began to see how all the clutter and junk I was holding onto, was a distraction. It was a way of keeping me overwhelmed and busy, so that I wasn’t able to follow the things that brought me joy. Keeping it stopped me from taking chances or the steps that I needed to move me forward in life. It kept me distracted from understanding and knowing what was really important.

Feeling like a failure

It was also a way of making me a failure. I had so many unfinished projects. Many items I had brought thinking they were a good idea at the time. Things that had captured my interest strongly and I had pursued till I was lead down the garden path to the next area of interest.

Throughout my life, I have often been told that I do not complete anything. Yet, I have never found this to be a problem for myself. My real joy is in learning and understanding a topic, not in becoming a master in it. I love to see where one area takes me to the next. The joy is the journey.

Seeing the unfinished projects as I was clearing out, reminded me how much I was taking on other people’s opinions of myself. There was no real reason for me to hold onto items, that had no further value to me. They did not bring me joy, other than the memories of how much I enjoyed it at the time. As I cleared out the old, I was able to appreciate that I didn’t need to feel guilty about not fulfilling other people’s opinions.

Having brought my items to the boat in my wicker basket, many of them have been left untouched. When I see them, they bring me joy and in time I will return to them or gift them on. What I have came to realise, was the one thing I was really missing. When all the jobs were done at the end of the day and I had very little to do, there was only thing I really wanted to do.

Finding the real gems that bring me joy

So with the help of internet shopping and click and collect, I ordered a couple of Chromebooks. Partly to help with the girls school work and to make internet browsing easier. It helps me to plan activities for them. Activities to do and places to visit. It allows them to continue their learning through a variety of online programs. It is a tool to enhance our lives and makes things easier and to enjoy our time together more.

However, one of the most important things though, it gives me the ability to write and to put my many thoughts into words to share with others. It allows my mind to come alive and my joy to flow. It both challenges me to step outside of my comfort zone and rewards me with the content I create. I can be both seen and heard, of which I thank you for that opportunity.

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