(Also, that’s a tiny orchid in the picture which may just be my new favorite flower. So tiny! So cute! Let’s hope I don’t kill it. I may be life itself but my inability to keep orchids alive might cast doubt on that assertion…)
What’s all this nonsense about following the joy, and who exactly gave you these instructions? I want details, you say! Okay here you go… A tiny bit of the journey.
Just Follow the Joy is a mantra, a message, a path. It came to me one day when I was walking my beagles and (once again) asking the universe, I give up! What do you want me to do?!
And the Voice –(not the tv show though I hear it is excellent!)–the Voice within me, the WISE voice, the voice that takes no bullshit, the voice of love and grace and clarity–said, follow the joy.
It would have been way more convenient if this voice told me how to look for a job or what job to be looking for exactly or maybe a set of detailed instructions about the meaning of this, but none of that came with this voice. And every time I checked in again, there it was. Just follow the joy!
For some you, this might seem pretty logical. Ok yes, following joy sounds like a good plan you say. But for me, I like to keep things complicated. This seemed…too simple. Too frivolous. TOO joyful.
I would like to now interject and add, What kind of nutty conditioning have I undergone that makes the embracing of joy so difficult and dare I say REBELLIOUS? I have this precious life in a body, a body that can eat starbursts (yes the candy) and go roller skating and sing karaoke and dance to “Thriller” and climb trees and paint pictures! HOW AMAZING IS THAT!
Why on earth would I say no to ANY of that? Oh thanks for the offer, but I’d rather sit over here in human misery, thanks. I enjoy bleakness, sadness, turmoil, heartbreak! Yeah that sounds like a good plan!
It took a bit for me to embrace my highest self’s message. I finally decided that she probably has my best interests at heart so I’d be wise to listen. It did, however, mean saying thank you, next to all sorts of things that at one time I thought would fulfill me but were actually sucking me dry. Thank you, next to a law career. Thank you, next to the idea of respectability and prestige and frankly ego-gratifying stuff. Thank you, next to giving my power away willy-nilly! (And with it my joy and creativity! And the tree climbing!)
So here I am, at long last, ready to embrace the joy. I’ve dropped a bunch of false selves and the bologna that upheld them. There ain’t much more to shed. Time to come out of hiding and do the work! Create the creations! From inner-alignment of heart and mind. From love. From…wait for it…a place of…JOY!
I recently gave notice at a job that gave me a lot of freedom, paid me very well, and was in many ways a great gig! But it was tied a sense of self that no longer exists…a self that viewed the world very differently than I do now, and it is time to say goodbye. not just to the job but to a way of being that no longer fits.
Thank you, next.
What is next…? I’ll be following the joy to see where it takes me. It will involve embracing my gifts of art and writing to be in service to my village. This is exciting and a little frightening too.To quote the title of a Anne Lamott book, HELP! THANKS! WOW! I’ll be sharing my journey on these pages and I invite you to join me as I discover where it leads!*
*(Hopefully to some income. Income is good. But hopefully leads to futher joy too! (Obviously!) And freedom! And creativity! And more tree climbing!)
Why hello my friends and people of the internet! If you are reading this post you at some point clicked “FOLLOW”, maybe because you have known me since I was in diapers (though I no longer am, let me be clear), maybe because we went to school back in the days when I owned a Debbie Gibson-style hat (and wore it to school though sadly there are no photographs to document this), or maybe because you were sleep-scrolling on your phone and thought, sure, I’ll read the random ramblings of this lady and follow her blog and never think about it again.
Well I’m here today to talk about some ch-ch-changes. BIG CHANGES! To the blog yes but really more importantly to me. The lady behind the blow. The Oz behind the curtain if you will.
Let me cut to the chase. This BLOG IS CHANGING NAMES AND FOCUS. (Pause for dramatic gasps.)
That’s right. You probably don’t keep track of these things but my blog used to be called “Mourning Dove Motherhood.” I wrote about being a mom, losing my mom, some other sad stuff, then some happy stuff, then some angry–ARGHH FIGHT THE MAN! BRING DOWN THE PATRIARCHY!–stuff, then I kinda stopped writing. Then I popped my head out recently and gave you all a little teaser, like hey I’m coming back!
Well here I am! Back! Here is the deal. I realized that I am very much entering a new cycle. The blog and its name and jive doesn’t fit so much anymore. I’m still momming it up, yes, but I’m not thinking about grief or writing about grief or healing from giref or any of that jazz anymore. (HALLELUJAH!). At least it is not longer the main focus of my life. That is progress my friends. PHEW. Frankly, I’m impressed you came here to watch it all unfold. I mean, it is intense just thinking about it.
That brings me to the NOW. I’m retooling this blog to focus on where I’m at today, which is cultivating joy and bringing creations (art, writing, so much more!) into the world. I know you have questions so let’s do a pretend Q and A session alright?
Sarah’s imaginary q&a session with her readers:
Q: Blog lady, I don’t know you or care much about this, but I have questions. Lots of questions Like, what is the new name of the blog?
A: Random follower, I’m so glad you asked! It’s going to be called JUST FOLLOW THE JOY.
Q: Cool, cool. What’s the story behind the blog name?
A: I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED! It comes form something that came to me about a year ago. I was trying to figure out my life direction and was walking and asked the universe/higher self/great mother–what do I need to DO WITH MY LIFE ALREADY. And I heard “JUST FOLLOW THE JOY.” This phrase kept popping up again and again, every. single. damn. time. I aked for life assistance. Let’s just say I finally gave in and decided to heed the advice. FINE, I WILL HAVE FUN FOR ONCE. So yeah, that’s the new blog name right there! (Also, you could say Joy is my middle name. You could say that because my parents gave me that as my middle name for real. So, it’s like a play on words…Just Follow the (Sarah) Joy! HA! Ya dig me?)
Q: Listen, I signed up to read about your grief and miscarriage and infertilty which frankly is a lot more interesting that all this “follow the joy” business. Why the bait and switch?
A: Dearest follower reader (whoa hat was creepy – make me sound like a cult leader), I do apologize for any inconvenience due to the change in my life focus and blog direction. Please note that you may unsubscribe at any time! Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
Q: No really, why didn’t you just create a new blog?
A: I considered it, but I figured all of THAT STUFF (grief, healing, loss, healing, miscarriage, healing, infertility, healing) was what got me to HERE, and that people might like to see the full picture…the entire journey from soup to nuts if you will. You hung with me through the pain so I figure you are entitled to some joy, eh?
A: I want you to take a nice deep inhale. Hold your breath for three seconds. Good, good. Now exhale. Excellent. If you type in that old url you will be redirected to http://www.justfollowthejoy.com. It is that easy! All my old posts are still there for your sad/poignant reading pleasure.
Q: Let’s say I want to make a soup and start with chicken stock. But I don’t have any in my freezer. Can I make a quick stock today or am I screwed?
A: Oh, this isn’t a cooking blog. You are definitely in the wrong place. I once burned spaghetti that I was boiling in a pot of water.
Q: I think I’ll be ok with all of this. But is there anything I need to do, other than finish reading this ridiculous q and a?
A: SO GLAD YOU ASKED! I didn’t set you up for that question at all.
It seems I’ve been HIDING IN MY SHELL. For like, a while. Months and months! It was necessary, this journey inward and focused on dealing with some life situations, but time to renter the world already!
So here I am, poking my head out, tentatively at first but pretty soon I’ll be back in the swing of things just like old times, me and WordPress doing our thing. For now, imagine me waving hello! What you been up to? Ready to take on March? Stick your head out of your shell too? I think good things are in store!
Adorable turtle model is courtesy of The Everglades Wonder Gardens @theevergladeswondergardens where your’s truly took the photo. This little dude’s probably more of a metaphor for someone trying to bust loose from fences (internal? External?) but he’s just so gosh darn cute I had to include him.
Bye for now! But see ya soon! (PROMISE!) .
(Pssttt! Do you like following things more on Instagram than on wordpress? Keep up with my posts in Instagram at @followthejoy!) #justfollowthejoy
It’s been five years since we said goodbye, but even that phrase “goodbye” doesn’t seem exactly right. We talk all the time. You flood my YouTube feed with Mormon Tabernacle Choir music, and when I ignore you, you up the ante by sending a Mormon tabernacle choir rendition of ABBA’s Dancing Queen. Yeah you knew I’d click it and I did and about died of laughter watching it. Why am I not surprised you’d be pulling off goofy antics even from heaven?
You’d be thrilled I took the day off work to grieve/celebrate YOU…and to make some art while rocking out to music. (Don’t worry, I’m not only listening to new wave. I’ll throw some Linda Ronstandt and Streisand in rotation too.)
We’ll be having a slice of chocolate cake tonight to celebrate your life. Zoey says you get some too, and she’s pretty sure you can eat as much as you want in heaven without getting a belly ache! I bet she’s right. We love you. Keep a listen for the sound of bells….we might put on some tabernacle jams in your honor.
It’s all got me thinking: What do we do with chaos? That is, other than respond with fear. (Or booking a one-way flight directly to Justin-Trudeau-land.)
All I know is that I have a predictable pattern I use when the latest crazy drops from the heavens and into my news feed. And–because you’ll notice one of the below steps is writing (HA!)–I’m gonna write about it and share with you
Let’s call it, Sarah’s Seven Steps™ to Responding to the Chaos: (fictional trademark and everything.)
Denial. Muttering over and over How is this HAPPENING? This can’t be happening!
ALL-CAPS STAGE. (AKA seeking validation from those who see it the way you do.) Post to facebook with crazy emoji faces that basically scream “OMG GUYS DO YOU SEE THIS IS?!” *Yes they do unless they don’t and in that case your article won’t make them “see” it. (Not that I heed this advice, I do this ALL THE TIME. See the all caps??!)
Fight or Flight. Responding with, “I’ve gotta do something! There are kids in cages! “OR,“Nope nope nope. Can’t deal with the crazy today! Gonna binge watch Making-It.”
Grapple with existential angst. Chocolate helps. So does talking aloud to beagles.
Surrender.Sweet, sweet surrender. You know, facing the feelings under it all. Having a good cry about the children. Discovering that you feel a lot better after facing the feels.
Magic! Transmuting/alchemizing the pain. (Which auto correct wants to change to “Schematizing” – sure that works too.) You feel the feels, you eat the chocolate…now what? For me, I transmute the pain through art or writing. I take the pain and turn it into joy.It’s basically magic.
Repeat. Again and again and again. The world is at bonkers-level crazy after all. And maybe bit by bit…our creations of joy build a beautiful new world out of the chaos.
THAT’S ALL I GOT. (OH: and vote in the midterms. Do that too! Register to vote and/or request your vote-by-mail if you haven’t yet!)
What about you? How do you cope with the crazy? Did I miss any steps? What level comes next you think?
At some point this past year I decided I wanted my life to be about pursuit of joy rather than reduction of suffering. And to paraphrase Frost, it has made all the difference.
For me it looks like embracing my inner artist. I was born an artist but along the way morphed, conformed, forgot. It’s all good. The journey back to myself has been so sweet! I’m leaping into fear, taking an undergrad art class with students who are literally half my age. Fear and joy! Fear and joy! Even the smell of art supplies makes my heart sing.
Are there any small ways you can increase joy? Share you victories below!! I’m so happy to give virtual high fives to you brave souls.
I make art and I decided I wanted to give it away AND help shine light on the horrific child separation policy. Here is my plan: I’ll send you five free cards in the mail in return that you use them to advocate to end the child separation policy. Send a note to an elected official, the media, friends, whomever. We will nudge each other to raise our voices and send disillusionment to the curb. AND if you are still on the fence about doing this–when you sign up you will be entered to win a tote bag or a print too!!! Because why not spread even more love?
It’s that easy!
Here’s the tote. Oooo! Ahhhh!
Here is the full print (pardon the shadowy picture, better picture to come soon):
Any Artist’s Way fans in the house? I started the 12-week book-guided journey today. I’m really excited!
If you aren’t familiar with the book, it helps to unblock and tap into the innate creativity we are all (yes all!) born with. The author does this by guiding the reader through twelve weeks of creative exercises along with two simple routines: daily writing called morning pages and weekly artist dates with yourself. The writing is for your own eyes only, serves as a brain dump primarily. The artists dates (time you carve out for yourself, for whatever strikes your fancy!) then helps fill your creative cup.
If anyone knows of a blogging community that does the program as a group, let me know!
I’m excited to see where it takes me.
We are all artists, as the author reminds us, though our dominant culture would like to deny it. Check out the book’s guiding principles below. Any favorites? I love number 5–the idea that using our creativity is not indulgence, childish or frivolous but rather a gift back to God/Goddess. Beautiful!