In any transition—let me say, at any time—there is always the opportunity to find joy. Joy shapes us in ways we can’t anticipate. It points us in directions we may not have considered. The simplicity of joy—a morning walk, holding a baby, an afternoon nap, reading a good novel, snuggling with a cat or dog—awakens the senses. To feel the fullness of time or connection is to touch joy. And in this delight comes the wonder of being alive.
The joy of being alive brings us striking ideas and startling inner direction.
We often struggle to know a new way, to identify a different or better job, relationship, physical body, or financial future. Our culture tends to believe in the path of suffering over joy.
When I find myself in that bind, I try to remind myself that I have lost my way. I try to pause and hear what’s underneath the push of busyness, goal setting, or workaholism. What I often find is a sadness that I don’t belong to the world, not the way I am now. And I know that this displacement from self and people around me cannot be real or healthy. Compassionately, I listen. And then I try to bring myself back by finding joy.
We live in a time of collective uncertainty. The pandemic, which seems to be waning in America, rages uncontrollably in other parts of the world. No one knows how long it will last. Some people are returning to work after being out of the office for more than a year. Others have lost jobs and are looking for new work. People, like me, who have left careers intentionally stand on a threshold between the past and an unformed future.
A few years ago in a yoga class, I had a moment of awareness about myself and the women around me on their mats. We’ve practiced together for at least ten years. All of us were trying so hard, and we were so precious in our trying. I wrote the following poem about the gratitude I felt for my body. I realized how capable and beautiful and joyful it was. I’m sharing it with you here, in case you need to celebrate yourself too. In case you need to remember this: please hear me now. Whatever you’re struggling with, you belong and you deserve joy.
The advertising world would have me hate it, abandon it
at Anna Wintour’s narrow hardwood door.
But I love these feet that carry me
and the soft flesh that comes with babies,
and breasts that ripen and spill milk. And these hands
that knit alpaca yarns and wrap around
warm bread with butter and coffee,
and other hands. I love my skin that shivers
in the morning, and these hips that sway
in the evening to jazz that pours itself into the room
and me in a silk dress that looks and feels
like the sea. And laughter with my children,
shoulders touching shaking shoulders.
I no longer listen to disembodied voices
speaking from slender Madison Avenue buildings,
nor search for myself in glossy lithe pages
because I live here.
I regard myself from the inside.
Lisa is a writer and creator of Figuring Out What’s Next, a self-paced, online, joy-packed course to help steer you back to yourself. To learn more, check out the link below. Feel free to email me too if you have any questions about it.