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Joy is Intentional

Joy is something that we all call fleeting and sticks around only when we don’t think it’s really there.

It shows up in memories and we realize that the thing we thought was just another day was something special. But why can’t we see it when it’s right in front of us?

Joy is one thing, Happiness is another

I think the biggest thing that I’ve found in my own life, and a few others that I watch and make my own conclusions is that we chase what makes us happy.

Happy is easy enough to create, but it like, the sugar rush of hard candy, doesn’t always last. It’s useful when we need a pick-me-up in the middle of a day that turned into the train wreck you couldn’t turn away from.

It’s a surface emotion, one that you can see when and where you’re looking at it. Joy, on the other hand, doesn’t really show up until you’re watching the memory in your mind later. But it’s not like it’s always there for you right then.

It’s the leftover of that moment. Where you were setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July one year on someone’s field outside of town. It’s that memory you take from that college town even though you left the rest of it in the rearview when you graduated.

It’s the memory of standing in an Alabama Target on your way to somewhere (I really didn’t have a clue I’d be ending up in Charleston in a few months) and knowing that you were on to something new.

It was your forty days in the wilderness as you joke now. But damn, did you learn something about all the things you saw. You get to have a relationship with your aunt that lived 1000 miles away growing up, something your siblings don’t have.

You know that around the country there are pockets of the same people that you grew up with, just a slightly different accent. To quote the song ‘Country is country wide’.

Bringing in the present to keep more Joy

Joy is one of those emotions that no one really knows how to make it, or what to do with it because every person is different. But we all seem to agree that it’s a good feeling.

I started the journey into knowing myself by journaling. I had nasty depression and the days all ran together. I started with just writing the day on a page and filling it in if I felt like it, I could go back and fill things in if I remembered. I started that in 2013.

This box is a 51qt or 14x14x22 inches. The one next to is full of my writing…

There was research into how to combat the days running into each other and the advice at the time was to write what happened each day down so that you could differentiate them.

It worked–mostly.

I should also say that I’m a bit of weird recycler and wasting paper really got on my nerves. So those blank pages really got under my skin and I would do something about them. And that was also how I started a collection of washi tape that is probably more than I need but I like it, so I have it.

This tactic would not work on my roommate who would just put the journal in the recycling bin. But it started the train for me.

After a while I decided that I wanted to really get to know what was floating around in my head. I also spent way too much time in a craft store and well, it’s not like I went in there a newbie. We should not discuss my stash of paper or yarn or fabric. It was my money to spend how I liked.

Accidentally Intentional

When I decided that I was going to be a writer there was a lot of talk about women and how they needed to decide what they’re publishing name was because if they married it would change and all that. I decided to circumvent that by dropping my last name, for a variety of reasons and just stick with my middle name for publishing.

Which is Joy. And boy is there a joke my mom used to tell me when I was younger and being a pain.

She decided that since my father said my initials had to be JJG because he had a dream (not getting into that) and she finally got a first name that wasn’t some crazy ex-girlfriend of his, she still had to come up with the middle name.

So she decided on Joy, so that I’d always be one, even when I wasn’t.

She denies now that this was the real reason, but I like to think that she knew the man she’d married, and knew that I would be a stubborn little fool intent on making my life and others more difficult*.

The thing is, it’s been a massive reminder to me as I write that Joy is the thing that I want to cultivate.

Not happiness.

Not contentment.

But JOY, which requires me to be a little uncomfortable most of the time because the little homebody that I am has the most joy in going to musical events. There is an energy there that is…addictive.

It’s part of the reason that I am moving in October. To a city that usually has a lot of shows going on. But right now there isn’t much, which is fine because I really don’t need the temptation to go to a show that I can’t afford while I’m getting settled and back on being ahead of my bills which will take about six months.

Which also happens to be about the same amount of time for shows to start up again. Good timing or what?

Where is your intention?

Your intentions are going to get you somewhere. But where is that somewhere?

We hear that the road to hell is paved in good intentions, but are those the intentions we chose or the ones that were thrust upon us by well meaning individuals that thought they were doing us a favor and in turn we continued the favor?

As I’ve learned in the last few weeks, I can meet my inner expectations with a level of grit that surprises no one. But you want to throw your expectation on top of that list?

Forget it. If it doesn’t matter to me, it won’t get done.

I have a friend who unless someone is holding her to it, she won’t be able to get it done. Does that make her less of an adult because outer accountability is a necessary part of her accomplishments?

No, unless she doesn’t set up the necessary accountability that she knows she needs. She’s an adult, which means that she can do things the way that works for her, instead of a way a different adult says she has to.

I’m not going to lie, reading The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin the last two weeks has been eye opening. From understanding that I really do have an issue with how I view money and that not everyone is a bootstraps person when they need something in their lives.

I’m more compassionate about some things. Not about people not calling to say that they are going to be late or not come in to work. That’s probably never going to change but I can work on being less angry about it. But that goes back to the money issue I’m working through now.

You’ve got homework again, but trust me it’ll make a world of difference.

Make a list of your expectations, inner and others, that you feel pressing in on you. All of them, even the ones that you don’t actually have any feelings that are correct like, you must be married by thirty or you’re an old maid.

Yeah, that’s on my list. It’s not true but that doesn’t take it off the list.

So this week, see what’s weighing on you. Keep the door wide open to that space in your mind. You’ll find a few things that you didn’t know were there. But we’ll work on what to do with them next.

As always, find a little more joy in your life, even if it’s only reading something by a Joy.

*Eventually the wisdom teeth removal story will come out and yeah, she knew what I was like at fourteen.

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