Boy, last week was a week, huh?
I’m back in Ohio right now — I had a shoot on Friday, and so I stayed for the weekend. We celebrated my brother’s birthday and just had some great family time. We went to the pumpkin patch with my nieces, and carved a silly pumpkin that evening.
Oh gosh – this was too funny. My nieces and I were carving the pumpkin together — and they were in charge of the “artistic” aspects of the jackolantern. Well, we’re carving it, and she goes, “Let’s give it a butt with poop coming out!” hahaha So…being the “cool aunt,” we officially have the funniest and sPOOkiest pumpkin in the neighborhood!
But the commercial shoot was hysterical. It was a political spot. And wouldn’t you know — my character was a “liberal feminist.” They died my hair pink and gave me a punk rock makeover, complete with two nose rings and two lip rings! (both fake of course!)
The whole time, I was thinking to myself, if only my blog friends could see me now!
So any who – also last week, I had such an interesting experience.
Monday night, I went with a friend to this really hip and exclusive women’s professional workspace/sisterhood. It’s run like a sorority, in that you have to pledge and pay dues, but it gives you access to these incredible shared workspaces throughout the city. They’re right out of a Pinterest board. So cute. It’s got a wine bar, make up room, workout classes, organic cafe. But the coolest part of the organization is that twice a week, they offer these incredible “enrichment” opportunities — speakers, workshops, roundtables — with really powerful and influential women.
And so my friend, being a member, got a “Plus One” and invited me to a workshop on joy!
It was so fascinating. The speaker had just published a book on joy. And she has spent the last several years studying joy — what it is, when and how we feel it, and then what I thought was especially interesting were the 10 characteristics/aesthetics of joy.
She described joy – which is different from happiness – as that contagious emotion that makes you want to jump up and down. And those aesthetics and characteristics of joy, are that is has energy – such as vibrant color and light; it’s playful – with lots of round shapes ie, bubbles, circles, polka dots; it has an element of surprise; it can be symmetrical, or a pattern; it can have lots of open space; it can include nature. She had all these elements of things that inspire joy.
And it was such a well done workshop. This woman has devoted the last ten years of her life to studying joy, and you could tell. And the women were absolutely entranced and eating out of the palm of her hand.
It was quite a sight, actually. There were about 500 New York millennial women gathered in this bright, pink-colored workspace that was straight out of Pinterest. We were all dressed in our Zara black, sipping on after-work champagne, and nibbling on the organic kale chips provided by the space.
Wall to wall women. All clamoring to learn more about joy…doesn’t that communicate something.
But about halfway through the workshop, I found myself looking around, and thinking to myself…This is great, but there is a gaping hole here. In that hour and a half I spent taking copious notes, — and truly enjoying myself and her compelling presentation — but by the end, it had become glaringly obvious to me that something big was missing. She was missing the whole point, in fact.
Yes, joy was all of those things that this woman was sharing about.
But true joy is a spiritual gift. True joy comes from God.
I got home that night, honestly kind of disappointed. Yes, I had a wonderful time with my friend, and the presentation truly was an awesome, feel-good workshop, but I got home and felt hollow. I can only attest it to Vegan meat. You believe you’re eating a real hamburger, only until afterwards, your friend tells you, surprise! That was made from fermented soy beans!
But it was the secular definition of joy. And it boiled down to puppies, babies with round eyes and round faces, bright colors, fresh air, and spontaneous moments that make you smile.
A superficial definition to the soul-deep emotion that transforms hearts and sets spirits free.
So that night, I was on a mission. I wanted to learn about true joy. I was like a caveman on the quest for real meat.
So to whom did I turn? None other than the OG spiritual director, Fr. Mike Schmitz.
Joy is something that deeply impacts the heart, the body, the mind, the soul.
For true joy is knowing that we are known by God, loved by God, and always with God.
True joy is knowing that we are known by God, loved by God, and always with God.
There it is. It is the overwhelming state of wellbeing and peace that comes from that union and intimate relationship with God.
But if we’re being totally and completely honest here – feeling loved by God and experiencing that true joy can be really difficult for a lot of people. How can you feel something so abstract, from the surface? Because for many, it falls short as an idea that isn’t physically tangible.
We were created for communion: with God and with others. Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matt 22:38. When you show someone an act of kindness, or express an interest in someone — the response you receive, and the feelings you have — those are the moments where we get a glimpse of His true joy and true love.
God allows us to feel His love as we love others. And it is then where we receive His true joy.
Jesus said in John 15:11 – These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
Joy is a foundation of life. It is an influencing force in everything that we do – our words, actions, choices.
And I want to live my life with an undertone of joy that makes people ask, “Why is she different? What does she have that gives her that joy?
I want to live my life in a way that points to Him. Because you never know — you could be the only Gospel a person encounters that day, that week, that year. And what a powerful way to be an evangelist for Christ without even saying a word — simply by the joyful way you live.
So yeah, joy is found in the bright colors and the playful whimsy of this world. But it is so much more than that. For those are the expression of the foundational freedom and exuberance that come from being seen, being loved and being with God.
That’s true joy. That’s the foundation upon which I want to build my life.
Lastly, last week was the kickoff of my email newsletter! I’ve been getting some really great feedback about the daily videos that are in the newsletter. So I’m excited about continuing with this new branch of BBB! And if you want to join my newsletter, you can leave me a comment, or sign up in the box below!
And to get a taste of one of those videos, you can watch the video from this morning, below!
A big thank you to my foundational sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. I cannot begin to express how beneficial therapy was for my recovery from anorexia. Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.
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