Make Space for Joy

Dear Everyone:

A natural Joy seeker...

This week’s edition of Cereal With Hand Poured Milk finds us on the cusp of summer. COVID cases are steadily declining, school is out (or out-ish) for summer break, and if you’re vaccinated, masks are out, too. Yet despite these happy milestones, most folks are still feeling a bit flattened...


This is why it’s important to make space for Joy.


~~


One of the dangers inherent in living through these times of chronic, toxic stress is the Big Lie that our Joy should be deferred. Or denied. If we listen too long, this lie becomes lived habit.


Some of this messaging comes from a cultural worship of work, striving, hustle, gain, advancement, and extraction to the exclusion of all else. Some of it is based in fear: if I slow down - if I stop for joy - will I start again? Will karma get me for not finishing the task first? Will someone see me having fun and think I’m lazy, or don’t understand THE IMPORTANCE OF THESE TIMES?


Recently, Lodestar’s Coaching Master Class received accreditation from the International Coaching Federation (ICF). This is the culmination of two years of labor, love, striving and ongoing co-creation with my partners, Dr. Ann V. Deaton and Antoinette Ayers. When I opened the confirmation email, I smiled, exhaled at the milestone, shot off a “celebratory” response to my partners, and moved on to a series of to-do’s in a very busy day.


It wasn’t until much later that I realized I hadn’t taken so much as a moment to experience Joy in the accomplishment. To connect and celebrate with the women who spent these years building and creating with me. I’ve become so accustomed to Tridemic Hustle that I had overlooked the opportunity to pause and really enjoy the moment.


Most of us appreciate the importance of Joy – and of sharing it with others. It simply has become habit to overlook or ignore in the chaos, the stress, and the trauma of these times.


~~


Joseph taught me a lesson in making space for Joy the day he was diagnosed with cancer.

With one phone call — “I’m sorry, it’s leukemia” — we were transformed from a healthy, active family to one whose child was in ICU with a life-threatening diagnosis.

The hours following that call were expectedly dizzying and terrifying, filled with tears and poorly comprehended explanations. There were calls and more calls from frantic family and friends. Biopsies and LPs and PICC line placement and chemotherapeutic agents and and, and and…


Amid this slow-rolling chaos, Joseph cracked a cancer joke. It was so wildly inappropriate that we simply stared at each other for a long moment before starting to laugh. From there, it was game-on for cancer-mocking. We “died" laughing — a better death than leukemia, he quipped — at increasingly dark, twisty comments. We recruited visitors, family and eventually even his doctors and nurses to the sport. We wrote cancer cards and designed cancer wear; to this day my favorite t-shirt reads, “Cancer Does Not Excuse Assholery."


I recently asked Joseph what he remembers from that week in ICU. He shrugged and said, “I remember all the fun. I remember all the laughing.”

He only remembers the Joy. ~~


What brings you Joy?


Now more than ever, this question deserves attention. When did you last make time and space to seek or allow Joy?


Last week’s edition of HPM was a reminder that not everything is a Face-Eating Bear. But unwinding the stress and trauma pathways that were created and reinforced over the last 15 months will take something more than recognizing Cute Chipmunks when we encounter them – we’re also going to have to get intentional about what deserves our attention.


{That one of you, Dear Readers, immediately sent me a photo of a Bear actually EATING a Cute Chipmunk is testament to the awesome power of dark, twisty humor}


If you’re struggling to remember Joy, you aren’t alone. But feelings follow our thinking, they don’t lead. Right now is great time to learn to recognize and reinforce the thinking that makes space for moments of Joy, and to become deliberate about seeking and introducing it into our daily lives.


Thinking leads. Feelings follow.


~~


As we head into summer’s opening weekend, let’s reflect on what sparks Joy and decide to make more space for it.


Play. Laugh. Connect with and give time to people you love.


And don’t forget to hydrate.


More soon,


Dr. K


#HandPouredMilk #Lodestar #TraumaResponsive #Coaching #Tridemic #TridemicRecovery

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