Over Halfway

“Shannon, you really need to pause and realize what you have accomplished already.”

“What are you doing to celebrate?”

“You are way too hard on yourself.”

“When was the last time you sat down and listed your accomplishments?”

“I bet you are so proud of yourself.”

“Ahem.” (sent with a meme about being better than you believe you are)

Recognizing and celebrating victories in life has always been a challenge for me. My friend Amy is always telling me to “look for the sweetness in life”. 

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I always feel like there is so much more to do, so many things left unfinished. I tend to  think maybe I will stop and celebrate once I finish this thing or that. But the limits continue to get pushed back. Completing a book… but I’ve completed six now. Maybe when a publisher picks up my book… but that happened and instead of celebrating, I chose to stress over how quickly I needed to finish everything.

Maybe when I hit a bestseller list?

Or sell X number of paintings?

Reach X number of followers?

The goalposts continue to move further away.

I am beginning to realize that always focusing on the next goal can prevent me from the bliss of experiencing the moment here and now. Celebrating accomplishments can be so difficult if the message in our heads is always “you aren’t quite there yet”.

And that is why we must remind ourselves to “stop and smell the roses”. Recognizing those milestones and moments along the way allows us to enjoy this journey a little more. So today, I am taking on that challenge.

We are a little over halfway through the year and I am excited about the things I have accomplished so far. I left the hospital on December 28, 2018 and my life was forever changed.

I decided it was time to start living instead of dreaming about living.

I chose to change the way I spent my time.

I chose to believe that I was made for so much more.

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I decided that I was going to go back to work with my malfunctioning brain and see if I could make something out of the mess I had left behind in September. Not only did I prove to myself and my manager that I could do my job, I also earned a promotion and several certifications in the process.

I have been published as a guest blogger three times this year and have three more invitations looming.

I am working with a publishing company to complete my very first “me” book instead of writing for/with anyone else.

I started a content writing company and have had clientele every single week since I launched.

I decided to pour myself into my art a little more and had my biggest month ever ALREADY in August.

I decided that travel would be a priority for me and making memories with my kids was the most important thing I could do.

I have taken my kids to see their Yaya and meet their Great Grandpa.

They have also gotten to experience spelunking through caves, flying for the first time, camping in the cold, hiking in the wilderness, rock climbing in the middle of nowhere, swimming in the ocean, people watching at an anime convention, tubing on the lake for the first time, viewing fireworks from the roof of a houseboat and discovering the beautiful glory of sunset atop a mountain.

I have gone hiking on my own or with friends almost every free weekend since I have been better, exploring all kinds of new places around the Ozarks and at times testing myself more than I probably should have (cue near death experiences).

I’ve climbed boulders in a prom dress and skinny dipped in a freezing creek with an incredible, beautiful woman.

I’ve painted with nothing but mud and raw emotion.

I have been to Colorado, five Oklahoma State Parks, Los Angeles, up and down the east coast of Florida and I took the ultimate trip to Hawaii to enjoy the beauty of the island life.

I have gone on a spontaneous road trip at 9:00 pm when I knew I had to work the next day.

I have studied Spanish with my daughter daily and attempted to learn about the Japanese culture with my son.

I brought a piano home and started playing it with my girl.

I have read at least two books each month, totaling seventeen in the past seven months.

I have written something every single day. Sometimes publishing a blog, sometimes writing for myself, but always staying true to creativity.

I decided to make my health a priority and I started CrossFit and even on the weeks I can’t make class, I still workout at least three times.

I began to research foods that can cause flares and decided to avoid them as much as possible. (Still working on this one, tbh)

I have determined my boundaries and removed people and things that violated those boundaries. And in doing so, I have met some incredible new friends, people with purpose and passion and a zest for life.

I have reconnected in a deeper, more meaningful way with old friends who continually renew my spirit.

I have reevaluated my beliefs in regard to religion and politics and humanity in general.

I have had my heart shattered, only to realize it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

I have chosen to be vulnerable and open in situations that I would have run from previously.

I have really, truly LIVED this year.

I have grown, stretched like a rubber band that will never be so small again.

I have begun to truly realize that I am okay and my story may be what made me who I am, but it is far from over.

I am learning who I am, and I am really enjoying the me that I am discovering.

This has been the busiest, most fulfilling year of my life and when I realize that we still have five months left, I can’t help but wonder how much more I will be able to accomplish and ponder how much growth might come in that time.

There are still many days… like yesterday… when all I can see is the distance ahead, days where the finish line seems so very far away.

But in all honesty, there is no finish line. There are only the twists and turns of the paths we choose, so it’s up to us to make the best of them and be true to who we were created to be along the way.

Because being yourself in the world that constantly attempts to make you anything else is absolutely the biggest accomplishment one can have in life. 

So my dear beautiful friends who have sent me the above messages, thank you. Thank you for the reminder to LOOK for the things that make life feel sweet TO ME. I see it now. This life is sweeter than I ever could have imagined. And it’s only getting better from here.

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About Shannon Joy

I am a single mama with two incredible munchkins. I confuse most people and the deeper you delve into the rabbit hole, the more lost you will become. I pray a lot, work a lot, learn a lot, volunteer a lot and tend to do a lot... I love my life. The past few years have been an incredible journey, full of ups and downs. Thankfully, I have made the choice to see challenges as opportunities and it makes me so much stronger than I ever thought possible. I love to write and paint and feel that being creative is my God-given talent. I am so excited to share my life and experiences with you. Although I am a diamond in the rough, I known that I am being chiseled and hewn by God's grace and my own perseverance. I love comments and feedback, so please send a little love when you can. I will always try to respond personally and in a timely fashion.
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