In the spirit of gratitude, let’s talk about what joy brings to our individual lives. So joy huh… Fun fact…did you know that joy can be both a noun and a verb? Which means it is both a tangible thing and an action. Think about that for a minute. It is something you can have and be! Joy is defined as a source of cause of delight. Or to experience great pleasure of delight. Ask yourself, how do I experience joy? For me, one of the things that bring me joy is the laughter of children. I am the great aunt to 12 amazing little souls. And when I hear them laugh, it feels like my heart sings in union and it makes me smile and giggle. Have you ever heard someone laugh and the joy in their laughter makes you all ooey-gooey good. When was the last time you experienced that feeling?
What if I told you that that is your natural state of being and you living your best life in all the authentic bliss is your birthright and is how you are designed to live? Do you believe that?
We often think because we have experienced heartbreak, loss, or even bouts of depression or loneliness that we aren’t entitled to the joy that is naturally ours. Joy is your birthright! It is the natural essence of who you are.
I started thinking about my life. All of it! Not just the Facebook or Instagram version but all of it. Things that ignite my joy, my tribe that I share this journey with, my heartbreak, my grief which let me tell you is overwhelming at times, my profound sense of pride and integrity. And I got that “a-ha” moment of count it all joy.
Count it all joy. Let’s think about that for a minute…everything that has happened in your life, decide to count it all joy. I think about the movie Inside/Out. Do y’all know that movie? Please watch it if you haven’t seen it. The story follows Riley as she is becomes a teenager and all the emotions that go along with that experience and the one character-named Joy works to keep everyone in line and happy. In fact, Joy works really hard to keep her nemesis Sadness from ever taking control and making Riley sad. Finally, Joy realizes that Riley needs Sadness and the other emotions to complete her. And that sadness is not necessarily a bad thing. Sadness is helpful and can inform and give you insight to what’s happening. I think about the last 10 years and the journey back to rediscover my joy.
My beloved brother Michael made his transition 10 years ago. I didn’t want to live. My grief was overwhelming on a good day and simply impossible to manage on a bad day. I went through bouts of depression and was even suicidal at one point. I had reconciled in my own mind that the life I dreamed was never going to be. But over in the corner was my joy looking for me. Peeking her head out like is it safe for me to come out now? Am I the only one who ever felt that way? Then one day, I was walking along Michigan Ave and I heard Michael say “Look Anjie… it’s hydrangeas!” and I started laughing and crying at the same time. And an overwhelming sense of joy poured out of me, over me, consumed me in a way that was indescribable at best. And my joy jumped out and was like yes! She’s back and then I couldn’t get out of bed for 2 days. But the memory of the hydrangeas that Michael and I shared together kept replaying in my head and I kept smiling which made my joy joyful. And made me feel lighter.
Little by little joy just kept showing up in new and surprising ways. So, I want to encourage you to incorporate joy in your life. Count it all joy. I often wonder who would I be if I didn’t know and love Michael and if he didn’t love and nurture me so. I definitely would not be the person that I am and losing him has transformed me into a powerful woman of faith with a wisdom that I think he transferred to me somehow. This version of me is someone I am getting to know better day-by-day. My joy is making way for more joy. My joy is creating a path for grace and growth. See, because joy is a gift from God. It is our birthright to be joyous. Joy is not an emotion that can be forced, fabricated, or faked. Joy exists and is not dependent upon the circumstances of our lives. When we are living an authentic life, we have joy, we experience joy, and joy flows in abundance.
I want you to think about where you have dismissed your joy and become complacent. I encourage you to ask your internal joy how to find your way back to it. Homework Alert!! I want you to think of three things that bring you joy every day. I guarantee you that each day the list will grow beyond three.
Remember to enjoy the simple things. Enjoy the day life brings. Just enjoy and celebrate. Joy will lift you to new heights. Peace and Blessings.
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