I am really good at taking care of myself. I pay attention to the things that make me happy, and I do them. Joy has been one of my core values for as long as I can remember, I have it tattooed on my arm to remind me daily to choose joy.

Recently I have begun to experience the difference between choosing or seeking joy, and allowing it.

I am intentional about the things I do to bring me joy: I book trips to places I love, I get facials, I eat pastries, I sing in the car, I go to yoga. This isn’t about those things. Those things are incredibly important, don’t get me wrong. I NEED to do those things. This is about the unplanned joy, the kind that I have missed out on at times because I didn’t allow it.

For me, the ability to give myself this allowing has come with age. Specifically the wonderful thing that has begun to happen since I entered my 40’s. When this feeling began to seep in, I thought it was not caring. I kept thinking it was that I didn’t care what others thought anymore. It felt good.

I see now it is caring more about others. The difference is that I see and hear what they actually care about, and not just if and what they think about me. It has given me an incredible freedom to not have to think about myself so much.

What is important to note is that I still care about myself and for myself. I still do the things that bring me joy. By caring for myself this way, I have the space to experience the spontaneous joy that comes from truly being with others and the world around me.

This is what I imagine it is to be truly present. My head is not thinking about how I look in my clothes, or that I wish I looked more like the person talking to me in my clothes, or being included or excluded, or what I don’t have or have too much of. . . I am allowing myself to experience where I am and who I am with.

Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments. Like the kind where I feel like I couldn’t possibly fit in with the people I am surrounded by, or how I should really eat fewer pastries, or how my clothes are fitting me just a little differently lately (again pastries).

And then I remember how insanely blessed I am, and the ease with which I live my life, and I allow.

I allow joy.