Celebrating the Joy in Life


“The sad in life never ends – neither does the good.”

– Julie A R Stephens




My therapist, “Looking back as your birthday comes, what do you feel that have you accomplished over the year.”


“I’ve been thinking about that. Birthdays are like a new year. I was in terrible shape when we started together, close to a year ago.  I strive to be a growing human being,” I tell my therapist. “Life for me is about serving and learning and sometimes – as much joy as I can allow inside of me. It’s the joy I struggle with. It’s the joy I’m learning to let in more often.

I know now I have limits and if someone or something isn’t a good fit, I don’t have to take that on or feel bad that I can’t. I recognize that now. Mostly I am so much better than a year ago for having finished my term, being off that bullying medical board.

I have done a lot and I continue to do lot – to make a difference. Our doctor and PA thanked me profusely for standing up for what was right and making a difference being on the board. While I am sad that bullies remain there, I have to let go for the sake of my own health.”





It can be really hard being me because I am highly sensitive – yet that same sensitivity that makes me a vulnerable target, also gives me access to so much simple joy – the wind in my hair, the sun on my face and oh my, our snowy mountains against our sapphire skies that makes my heart feel so tender and open towards…joy.


Psychologists say that studies show our brains have been hardwired through evolution to focus on the negative. Traced back to primitive man who had to be able to register threats to avoid danger and increase survival rates. Individuals who were more attuned to danger and  negativity stayed alive longer and passed on their genes. The DNA of each relative is in us; all their negative experiences are in us and some of us are highly sensitive.



My sweet, fun husband celebrating me…the Sound of Music is on the table as it is my choice for us to (again) watch together as we have just come back from Salzburg where much of the movie was filmed. ***We were at some of the exact movie locations!




I’m HERE! In the moment! October 12, 2022…This is the first site in Mirabell Gardens featured in the movie The Sound of Music is the Pegasus Fountain. The kids and Maria walk along the edge of the fountain singing before jumping off in cinematic choreography. Pegasus Fountain is located directly at the bottom of the Musical Steps at the north end of Mirabell Garden




The presentation for these eggs for our breakfast, at our hotel in Salzburg, still makes me smile. I still feel the simple joy, of surprise I did when I lifted the basket that morning. Someone took the time to do this simple thing and it made a difference and a memory. My husband bought a couple of these tiny, knitted hats for my birthday – he knows how I like little things.




I am so very happily IN THE MOMENT…the wind in my hair, the sun on my face – we are on an Alpine lake, in the postcard pretty little village of Hallstatt Austria. I liked this place so much because it reminds me of home.


Hallstatt - Wikipedia             


“The hills fill my heart with the sound of music.”



The hills are alive…with the sound of music…I connect, I get that. Living in the mountains, surrounded by nature makes me feel happily alive






My heart swells with the achy beauty in photographs that cannot show the exquisiteness but does bring back the memory of the experience the way words alone cannot.


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Enjoying the moment together…



It’s clear in the movie The Sound of Music, that Max is the type of person who avoids standing up for his beliefs in favor of self–preservation even when it comes to Nazi Germany. Max’s ‘live and let live’ attitude towards politics  is clearly wrong and brings to mind me speaking up in the medical center board meetings…speaking up about our beliefs is arguably more important than ever in our lifetime and it’s hard being bullied – the bullies count on that.




The only way to protect joy is by practicing it…this sign reached out to me on a walk in Munich.

I find it is especially meaningful to me that it is in Munich.





Girlfriends celebrating me



The sadness in life never ends and neither does the goodness.                            


My therapist continues to ask what have I learned, “What about your trip, what have you learned on your travels?”


  “On the tour, a young woman from India and I connected easily and had some meaningful conversations. I’m not sure why as we will most likely never see each other again. Also, we women are always eyeing each other’s shoes we find cute wanting to know if they are comfortable too.”


“Zappos,” I told Raj when she asked about my shoes.

“You know the founder committed suicide.” 

“I struggle with darkness. I have a therapist.”


Raj hugged me. There’s really nothing to say after that. Why we were even having such a conversation in the middle of the most stunning October day, on an alpine lake, in a storybook setting is hard to say – except it never completely leaves me.



“I’m relaying this to you as you asked me what I learned on the trip. I can get out of my comfort zone and have a meaningful experience. I can endure darkness and get through it but most importantly, I have to take care of me first and that’s not selfish.



I’ve become wiser. I know now that I will always struggle but I make the choice not to be a victim. When darkness tries to seduce me I am more aware and less vulnerable. While it is our choices that define us – some of us are born with a bent we have to overcome more than others. I now understand that I am lucky that I don’t like that loopy, floating feeling from chemicals, so I stayed away from such sources – other folks, born with their own tendencies, do like the feeling given off by the chemicals they digest and they want to repeat the experience until it is not a choice.” 


I tell my therapist,You and I together are working on a master’s program in life.”



“I go to the hills when my heart is lonely
I know I will hear what I’ve heard before
My heart will be blessed with the sound of music”


Would you, do you speak up in the midst of injustice happening? Have you found what helps you deal with life’s wrongness?


“The most precious gift we can give one another is letting them know they matter.”  Julie A R Stephens

Living in the Mountains

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4 thoughts on “Celebrating the Joy in Life

  1. Sometimes I’m a “Max” because I just don’t have the time/desire to explain my position. Also, or most importantly (to me) I don’t want to hear the other person rant on to what I already know is their position. Them telling me again, is not going to change my mind. So I don’t say my belief because I don’t feel like they will change either.
    Other times I tell my position and stand up for what I feel is correct.

    Beautiful photos of Austria.

  2. Thank you, Julie, this really hit home for me. I appreciate your honesty; it surely helps others to relate, and hopefully, it helps them step outside their safe boundaries just a little.

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