December 20, 2016

It's Okay to not be Okay

I try to pay attention to my surroundings. When someone cries, I notice that either 1) the person apologizes immediately, or 2) the listener quickly says "everything will be okay." Or these both happen simultaneously. We have a strong need for things to be okay. Okay-ness provides comfort and perceived control, but it doesn't match reality. Sometimes we're okay, sometimes we're not.

It's important for us to know: it's okay to not be okay. If we make room for the not-okay places, we feel better. It takes more energy to resist fear than it does to feel it. Similarly, it's more spacious to listen with compassion than to interrupt with advice. 

Life is complicated. We can cultivate gratitude, love, and playfulness, but this doesn't mean we're always okay. Sometimes we feel sad, lonely, or ashamed. Sometimes the people we love go through tremendous difficulty. How do we experience this without being overwhelmed? For me, it's helpful to be aware and honest: Notice what's happening inside me, don't pretend I'm okay when I'm not. (And make room for others to feel whatever they're feeling, too.) Then it's important to stay with myself and allow for what's painful. My habit is to get lost in thoughts and judgments (especially self-judgment), but if I stay directly with the pain, it shifts, and I feel better. Even the slightest opening helps me remember: things change. 

If we reject the painful places within ourselves, we reject those places in others, too. Yet if we accept the dark places, we allow ourselves and others to change. We are mirrors for each other. When we're real, brave, open, and compassionate, we invite others to be the same. It's okay to not be okay. It's also okay to be happy or hopeful in a complicated world. There's no one way to live this life.

PS: If you want to practice staying with not-okayness, listen here...

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December 13, 2016

Let's Be Real

Recently, at the farmer’s market, I felt anxious: As I talked with my favorite farmer while he weighed my produce, I noticed a line forming behind me, people whose body language indicated “hurry up.” Within moments, I was absent from the lively conversation. I was in exit mode, and then I felt crabby. Upon reflection, I assumed this response came from my role as peacemaker: wanting everyone to be happy. But digging deeper, I realize my reaction came from a place of fear: not wanting to be wrong or make a mistake—not wanting attention in a negative way.

This is a long-held fear: making mistakes; being openly imperfect. I try to divulge truths of imperfection, but underneath there’s a nagging feeling of “not enough,” and then I judge myself for fearing failure as I simultaneously encourage others to be real and genuine. This is a vicious cycle, because we need to be real with each other. I feel most safe when surrounded by people who allow for mistakes; who accept me as is, even as they see where I can grow. People who tell me hard truths when needed, but don’t make a big deal about the small stuff.

This is what I try to create for everyone I encounter. And still: I fear failure. Not even in epic ways, but in everyday ways. So, the safe space that needs nurturing is within myself: allowing—perhaps encouraging—mistakes, so I can learn, grow, and heal. Being real with myself from a place of love and compassion.

E-Course: Coming Home to Yourself | Monthly Mindfulness | About Joy
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December 1, 2016

Embrace Paradox

To navigate this complex world, we must embrace paradox. We must hold in our hearts—at the same time—two seemingly different things: honesty and gentleness; persistence and patience; courage and vulnerability. And we must, with kindness, remind each other: life isn’t just one way, it’s many things all at once. Yet we can live, love, and create within paradox.

Liz Gilbert writes: “Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us. Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul and I promise—you can make anything. So please calm down now and get back to work, okay? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.”

I'm trying to say yes, but as I reread my post, I'm struck by another paradoxwithin me at this moment—being mindful and making a living through mindfulness; practicing mindfulness while marketing an e-course. This seems an important place to stay true. My workmy lifematters, yet I'm not a big deal. So calm down and get back to work, Joy: just be.

PS: If you're not familiar with me, my story, or my work, you can read my (recently added) short bio page.

E-Course: Coming Home to Yourself | Monthly Mindfulness | Guided Meditations