Joy Through Sacrifice


Watching an interesting TED talk today about a young Arctic surfer (yes, you heard me right, that was Arctic surfer), he said something that really struck me–not about surfing, but about sacrifice. As you can imagine, someone who surfs in frigid waters does a fair amount of sacrificing.  He does it in part to get away from the normal tropic crowds, but also to take these amazing photographs. To paraphrase very loosely he said something like: most things worth any kind of real joy usually involve some kind of sacrifice.

That gave me pause.

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I began thinking about some of the things that take sacrifice but bring joy:

  • 9 months of carrying a baby: the worrying, the weight gain, the hormone shifts, the vomiting, the swelling, the potential dangers involved…
  • being in a relationship: any kind really. It’s constant ups and downs, bargaining (with the kids, partners, co-workers, family members), tears, give/take, compromises, giving away parts of yourself at times
  • having a dream or goal: these can take huge amounts of time, money, changes in lifestyle and re-evaluating ourselves for the final outcome
  • moving somewhere new: leaving friends and family behind; leaving a career or job, doing something scary, taking a leap of faith
  • starting over (with a job/a person/or alone: leaving your comfort zone, stretching parts of yourself you may not know you had, or totally remaking yourself
  • helping others or someone else: living with less than normal, learning about other cultures (which maybe is uncomfortable), focusing less on “me”
  • giving up something completely: getting used to life “without”, feeling what it’s like when others perceive because we are now “different”
  • changing our point of view for the greater good: getting into arguments (political/family?), battling within ourselves over the old point of view, reconciling what’s right/wrong
  • coming out: about our sexual orientation, addictions, mental health, illness, abuse, political view or anything else we’ve been keeping inside for fear of judgement, shame or condemnation
  • sharing our home with animals: limiting our work day, getting up in the middle of the night, cleaning up hair, poop and vomit off the floor
  • Waiting: for anything you want, it can be excruciating at times because we are a culture of wanting everything now, having patience is like hot iron swirling in our bellies…the loss of precious time while we wait
  • standing up for what you believe when others around you don’t agree: this can be going to rallies or being a vegan, it can bring agitation or arguments from others, confrontations or simply tiresome questions
  • sharing our home with children: never having peace and quiet (or rarely); suddenly realizing you have to sacrifice so much and become a very good teacher when you hardly know yourself (or much else for that matter…)

There are so many more things…what can you add to the list? And it all comes down to mindset like anything else really. We give to get. Nothing comes easily really.  It seems like many things feel like work these days, and trying to pick out the little pieces of joy can be tough. But when you think about the sacrifices we make all adding up to something beautiful–that it’s the wrapping surrounding the gift inside, then it doesn’t feel quite so much like drudgery. 

So when you are climbing that next mountain and it feels like hell: the boots are giving you blisters, the sweating like a banshee and the mosquitoes buzzing around your head: remember that when you get to the top you will see this incredible view of the world below. Every step you took to get there was worth what lies before you as you look out. See it as you breathe the joy and try to remember that you couldn’t have experienced the splendor without a bit of pain.

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Mountain 


A friend sent me this post card a week or so ago. She’s from where I moved a year ago, although that’s not where I met her.

I think it must remind her, as it certainly does me, of an amazing and beautiful mountain there. Supposedly the most climbed mountain in the world I heard. It was right near my home, and within sight of my walks.

There are no mountains where I live now, and while I used to complain bitterly as I ran or biked up any hill, now I honestly miss them.

The monotony of flat terrain may be something I never get used to I’m afraid. Mountains just inspire. They fill one’s heart with strength and power.

I climbed that mountain a few times, as well as smaller versions, many more. I helped to rescue injured hikers off and even jogged a few trails back in the day. And one time I even got so lost on one of the local mountains that they were ready to rescue me with dogs when I made my way off a road after running miles and hours off course!

Now I only fear getting stuck in traffic or hit by another car. Or struck by lightning in a crazy tropical storm. If I’m really unlucky, a hurricane may hit.

But nothing will be like me and the mountain… My wits against hers. That raw, majestic solitude–just beckoning me: come closer.

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Tiny Home


There comes a time in life where dreams, schemes and your belief system all come crashing together and it’s time to see if you can walk your talk. So it has come to pass for me.

For some time now I have been fascinated and, well, even more than that, committed, shall we say to the idea of tiny homes. The idea of minimalizing one’s space and one’s ‘stuff’ as George Carlin so wonderfully put it in a beautiful routine some years ago–and living in much less square footage.

Some do it in as little as 150 square feet! These folks amaze me. The homes I follow on Instagram are lovely, quaint, mobile (some of them), in trees, on water, in the mountains, in the city, in the desert, eco-friendly, made out of recycled material–you name it. But the one thing they have in common is that the living space is very small.

When I made my move last year, I went from a three/four bedroom farm house, to a one bedroom apartment. The square footage was maybe 400-500 feet less if you included the porches I had, which we used quite a bit. What I knew was that I gave up lots of ‘stuff’ and space…willingly. Gave my things to friends, the dump or anyone who would take it. And it felt freeing!

But I still had lots actually. This place I’m in now was advertised as 1000 square feet. It was hard to believe, but when I comfortably moved in the stuff I had, it appeared to be true.

Now will come to true test of my willingness and ability to carry out  my hope and dream to live more simply. Today I just put in an offer to own a condo that is less than 700 square feet of living space. No, it’s not an amazing and beautifully made tiny house in the middle of some lush forest. But is an adorable space that overlooks water. It was very peaceful.


The other part of it that was so attractive is that it is part of a community. This is another ideal that I feel is very important for me personally, and  for the healing of the world. Instead of many individual, separate houses–each with their own lawn mowers, weed eaters, tools etc. (all creating more garbage for the world)– more communal living I feel is what is needed. Plus creating community, where people care for and about one another; instead of neighborhoods where no-one knows their neighbor anymore which has been becoming the standard. It takes a village to raise our kids. Maybe this would help to stop some of the hatred?
This place has a pool (three actually), workout area, community room and I hear it’s very active. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone. I already know folks from work who live there and it’s very close to my job, so my co-workers and I can socialize more.

Of course, I am nowhere near the closing and anything can happen, but I feel hopeful. Things have been going well for me here recently . My Mom has been such a big help with this all and has encouraged me with this decision.

Now to make the tiny space into a tiny home with big contentment.