Are you letting JOY lead?

July has been a month full of adventures, growth, and self-discovery. The first weekend found me swimming a class V rapid in Colorado. The middle of the month I was in Belize with my mentor and coach on a transformative trip with an amazing group of women where I got to inner tube the Maca River in the jungle. 

And this weekend, I’m camping with my hubs in Nevada’s dry desert where I spent a few hours paddling around in my kayak – a total 360 from the humid jungle I was in last weekend.

Yes, floating on water is definitely a happy place for me!

Fierce joy book cover

This weekend, I rested, taking not one but two naps on Saturday, and I read an amazing memoir, Fierce Joy: Choosing Brave Over Perfect by Susie Rinehart, a woman who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in her brain stem. She’s not only surviving but thriving. Her healing included surgery and radiation as well as a lot of deep emotional work to reconnect with her voice and herself.

She asks repeatedly throughout the narrative a variation of this question, “When did I last say what I felt, not what I thought others wanted to hear?” as she addresses the scourge of perfectionism that directed much of her life until her diagnosis.

So much of her message resonated…loudly. Like her, I also grew up with chronic bronchitis and pneumonia and as an adult struggle with migraines and headaches. They hit when I push too hard, when that loud fear-based voice keeps chanting, “As soon as you get this one last thing done, you can rest.”

But rest and play weren’t happening because as a creative soul, I never finished everything. I just kept thinking of new things to create!

I also have spent far too much of my life worrying about what others will think and adjusting my behavior accordingly. 

I’ve pushed myself too hard, volunteered when I didn’t want to, agreed to activities that didn’t interest me and on and on. Rather than possibly offending someone, I’ve silenced my voice, diminished myself, and gone along, just so I could spend all weekend in bed with a migraine – a forced rest.

It was super interesting to read this book because I felt so much of me in her descriptions of how she’s approached life. Thankfully, I didn’t have the impetus of a rare form of cancer wrapping itself around my brain stem to encourage me to make some changes. 

Instead, I had a long cry in the bathtub last spring, and listened when my inner voice challenged me to play and rest and live with joyful intent. Since I’ve started this new journey, I’ve gotten back to my writing (fiction, blogging, and deep soul writing in my journal) all of which I’d neglected. And, I’m putting together workshops to get back to teaching which I’ve missed.

In a nutshell, I’m learning to say “F-that” to pushing so hard and to things I just flat out don’t want to do.

When I sit quietly with myself in meditation or while quilting or with my journal or even on a walk, run, or bike ride, I can hear ME, my own intuitive voice within which is guiding this whole journey.

The trick is three-fold:

1) Quieting down enough to hear her (which is really getting OUT of my head and into my body and soul), and

2) Trusting what I hear because sometimes, what she says doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense though I’m doing my best to follow her directions, one step at a time.

3) Acting on it. This can be the scariest part but also the most rewarding.

It’s about letting JOY lead, not to a Polly-Anna life that’s only filled with laughter and butterflies, but to a life that’s built on the whisperings (and shoutings) of the soul, that honors who you are and who you are meant to become, that moves us out of a place of worry and into a place of deep trust that we are held and loved.

Play is MORE than a game of monopoly. It’s finding YOUR soul’s play, where she feels powerful and strong and heard. Where JOY happens whether that’s with a pen in hand, floating on water, running, or painting. It’s YOUR joyful playful place.

So, here’s the question, are you letting JOY lead? 

What might your life look like if you did? How might it change?



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