Things look a little different ’round here

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?

Q: What will happen when I try to go to http://www.mourningdovemotherhood.com? I AM REALLY FREAKING OUT ABOUT THIS.

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.

The only action that you do need to takeis to like me on me new Facebook page, ‘k mate? SO WHAT DO YOU SAY? JUST FOLLOW THE JOY ON FACEBOOK!

Oh, and on instagram too!

What the heck, I’m even on bloglovin’!

Follow my (new and improved, now with zero trans fat!) blog with Bloglovin 

Poking my head out to say hello!

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

Dear mom

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?

I mean seriously a bell choir is performing ABBA. It’s amazing 😂

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.)

Mom and me.

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.

Love,

Sarah Joy

It’s probably not completely doomed!

“It is probably not completely fucked and doomed. At worst, it’s only slightly fucked and doomed.”  Mantra by *Sam Lamott (@samlamott) (*Offspring of one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott!)

Is it me, or does the world feel a little bit chaotic lately? Pretty sure that this week we moved up a notch from You Gotta be Kidding Me to This is Getting Pretty Bonkers.

6939ffec-dac1-4c72-b109-1cc2b48cce94-786-0000008410ad7071

Chaos galore. We’ve got hurricanes!! 3,000 dead people miraculously coming back to life from said hurricanes!! Taking money from the people who help during hurricanes so we can detain more children! (Although…if we can bring the dead back to life, maybe we don’t need FEMA??)

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.)

  1. Denial. Muttering over and over How is this HAPPENING? This can’t be happening! 
  2. 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??!)
  3. 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.” 
  4. Grapple with existential angst. Chocolate helps. So does talking aloud to beagles. 
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?

1d49b925-4615-4444-b251-2458d9b8207a-786-00000083dcf4eab6-1

theodor-adorno-art-quotes-the-task-of-art-today-is-to-bring-chaos-into

Pursuing joy

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.

You can change how the story ends

Like many, I’ve been gutted by the horrific story of immigrant children being separated from their families and detained. I noticed something as I scrolled social media. Whether my friends are on the right or left, the story they tell seems to finish the same way. “This is happening and we can’t stop it.”  Those on the left, out of urgent fear, point to where we are headed (“Do you see the parallels to Nazi Germany??”)–(to be fair, often out of a desire to make others see the horror and hope to stop it. Unfortunately I think this has the unintended effect of paralyzing us.) Those on the right may justify where we are headed as being okay (“Other leaders did bad stuff to immigrants, too, so what gives!). But both tend to say the same thing: this (bad/good) thing is happening and the outcome is inevitable. You do not have the power to change it.

Oh but yes you do.

When we witness horror, despair, injustice–unthinkable atrocities like children being separated from their families and detained–our heart wants to shut down. It is too much. I can’t do this. This can’t be happening. Or, serves them right, they broke the law, send them back home. I never said life was fair. Hearts shut down and fear/bitterness/anger takes hold.

This past week I was finding myself teetering between shutting down (“I’m going to ignore Facebook right now”) and also automatically writing the story’s ending. (“This is Nazi, Germany. This escalates from here. Next comes the [insert parade of horrors]”).

But then I realized that when my mind creates that ending, that is the ending we get. So I decided to choose a different endingThis story will end with love of millions raising voices and declaring, we demand ferocious, expansive love that protects, lifts, liberates, reunites and heals.  

I’ve decided that I’m going to create my reality based on love. I’m going to make the bold declaration that my choice has ripples — the people around me can also choose to be emboldened by love and light and join me in making a different ending to the story.

If you want love, be love.

If you want peace, be peace.

If you want hope, be hope. 

Every breath in, every breath out, I can choose to listen to the fear or to the love. Right now, in this moment, and for the next moment and the moment after that, I’m choosing to side with love. I’m daring to dream a new ending to the story. I dare you to do the same.

 

 

My postcards are here!

Yes, that’s right, I’ve begun penning my note to Marco Rubio. I’ve got lots to say.

What’s this all about you ask?

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):

You can sign up for your free postcards here. Whaddya say. Let’s shine some light into the darkness.

Creativity is the Natural Order of Life

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!

artistwaybp3
Image credit

Where the rubber meets the road

Can we talk about how hard April has been? Really hard. You would think I’d be prepared, knowing it’s the cruellest month and all. But nope.

t-s-eliot-quotes-5180.png

There has been an endless onslaught of bad news for people I care about. Tragedy, loss, injustice. One after another. (I need to close my FB feed for real.) It’s all knocked me down more than I expected. I’ve been feeling old grief wounds surface. I’ve been emotional-eating chocolate. And if I’m totally honest, I have to admit I’ve been wallowing in it a bit.

It is ok, we all need to wallow sometimes. But I decided this morning that I was done wallowing. I am not powerless (though I often feel powerless). I am not a victim of life. (Though I sometimes want to pout and believe I am.)  I am a co-creator of life. I am a participant and I don’t believe bad things happen because we are bad. I believe that nature has its rhythms and cycles and we are not immune to them. The baby tree that is knocked over in a hurricane doesn’t take it personally. The exploding ant that blows itself up to save its village doesn’t take it personally. (Um, maybe he should though??)

This is not to minimize the grief and despair we go through with major losses, pain or hurt. But the difference is that for me this past month, I wasn’t the actual victim of all the horrible stuff that went down. That doesn’t mean I don’t have empathy. (Oh Lord I do.) BUT pointing to the parade of tragedies as proof that life is awful and I’m doomed probably isn’t helpful either.

On this blog I like to talk a lot about how surrender, grace, gratitude and art/writing has helped me to release and transmute pain. Now the rubber is meeting the road, so to speak. I need to walk my walk and not just talk my talk.

For me it means I had to get outside into nature. (It always, always heals me.) I took a long walk, like many of the walks I took when I was deep in grief, and I started talking out loud to the oaks (and my beagles), asking for help to release and also recounting all I’m grateful for. Wouldn’t you know it but about a minute into this a mourning dove flew and landed about ten feet away. And then a mockingbird (another bird of meaning for me) landed on a branch and stared deeply into my eyes. Well, then I lost it, crying/laughing because yes. Ask and you will receive. Ask for help and you will be met with love. I walked for a while longer and felt so much better. I also started hearing the words I had to write today — a sure sign that I needed to sit down and write as well.

So here I am. The crazy-lady-who-talks-to-trees-and-birds-and-writes-about-it. And feels infinitely better. I’m going to keep showing up when it is hard and doing what I need to do. I’m going to be the best beacon of light I can when others are having hard times, (but I know that requires me to take care of my own baggage when needed). I’m going to go gentle with myself. I’m going to go gentle with others.

(And I’m also going to remind myself that April is thankfully over in EIGHT SHORT DAYS!)

 

 

I’d like to thank all the Sarahs . . .

I think it’s time to forgive all the Sarahs. Heck, not just forgive them — thank them!

They were doing the best they could. They had lessons to learn! I couldn’t be who I am today without them. Wait, this is sounding like an acceptance speech . . .

“I’d like to thank the academy, my husband, my agent, and I’d especially like to thank all the Sarahs who helped me get to where I am today:

“Law-school-Sarah, thank you for showing me what is possible when all my focus is channeled to one task. You showed me that if I stand squarely in my masculine I can achieve pretty much anything I set my mind to. (Never mind if most of it is a pointless exercise in competition, winner-take-all gamesmanship, and distorted-masculinity. But I digress.) You also showed me that there is a cost to be paid when it means shutting down my feminine energy that is the source of vitality, joy and creativity. Law school Sarah, I look at photos of you and I think, damn, that girl just needs a break. Your hair is dry, your face is puffy and you don’t really exude happiness do you? You showed me the costs of polarity within myself. Thanks for that very big lesson, girl. Now go get a facial!

“I’d also like to thank grieving, collapsed on the sofa new-mom-Sarah for showing me the gifts of surrender. Girl, you had a tough time of it too. Your mom died, your cat died, and you could have probably used a facial as well. But wow you learned that there are times to surrender and throw your arms up. To proclaim to the universe, I don’t have any answers so some help here would be appreciated. You learned to be still and receive. You gave so much of yourself that you were due for a long period of rest and renewal. You found your way back to your heart and lit the spark of the divine feminine within. You transmuted pain with your writing and art. That is kind of a big deal! I’m so thankful for you for showing the way back to the things that make my heart sing. What a gift!

giphy

“And lastly–this is the hardest one because it is so raw–I’d like to thank infertility Sarah. I didn’t want to see your gifts because not fair! But alas, you had them too. If it weren’t for you I wouldn’t have demanded my own vitality. Imagine that. It took a representative of the patriarchy–a male in a white lab coat, discussing my body like it was a machine to be fixed and tweaked–for me to realize that this was not okay. It was not okay that my body was dried up, spent, and lacking in feminine life force itself! It was a confirmation of something I knew and had ignored: that I had given too much and my cup was empty, that there had to be a better way of living than depending on another cup of coffee. You showed me, dear heartbroken Sarah, that you matter.  You matter beyond comprehension. You matter more than your ability  to create new life. Imagine if you had waited to learn this lesson from staring at a different clinical diagnosis? What a gift that you were shaken awake.

“What’s that? You cut to commercial five minutes ago? But there are so many other Sarahs to thank! Fine, but I won’t leave this stage without a fight. Oprah for president! Impeach Trump! You will not silence me!!” [Mic cut.]

For real though, there are other Sarahs to thank. But for today this will do.

What past selves do you think you might be able to forgive? It’s okay if it doesn’t come easily or quickly. This post is the end product of more sad, self-indulgent journal entries than I care to admit!