So, this is how Joy feels

I spent most of my life having no idea how joy feels. Ever since my burnout at the end of 2014, I’ve been struggling to find my way. Writing this blog helped me to figure out that I am a writer and it led to my first book, Avoiding Burnout. It became clear that I needed to extend my offerings in order to build my brand, attract more customers and make more money.

Avoiding Burnout book launch

When I recovered enough to manage evening outings, I joined Toastmasters and honed my public speaking skills. This made sense since addressing audiences is a good way to promote books and to further engage with one’s audience.It was a great experience because I got to connect with new people, work on a skill and receive support and inspiration at every meeting. I did a bit of speaking for some clients, and I enjoyed it. However, my message was not quite distilled and I started to feel that I might be doing the wrong thing.

As I wrote about last time, I’ve created a keynote speech that I love. It’s possible to make the speech shorter and to introduce customisable pieces that pertain to the audience. I’m very excited about it and can’t wait to start marketing it. I plan to address company staff, school students, teachers and anyone who can benefit from stress management.

I’m more than half way through my second book, Mastering Stress, and I’m so enjoying it. I’m writing it in an agile way, releasing one chapter per month to my beta audience and I receive wonderful feedback. The process has become a collaborative effort with those who contribute and I’m loving it. I’m excited about this book and I’m very happy with the core message in it.

I’ve been working on my workshops and have developed a foundation one and three advanced workshops for individuals. I also have one that is suitable for companies to train their staff in effective stress management. I’m really excited about taking this forward and I feel that I can confidently sell offerings that are meaningful.

For the first time in years, I feel so aligned. I am clear on my purpose and my message to the world. I’m excited about my offerings and I’ve never had such clarity. This allows me to decline opportunities that don’t align with what I’m doing and how I want to spend my time. Somehow, I seem to be attracting all sorts of opportunities. I think there are a number of reasons for this, primarily all the work I have done in personal growth, as well as space clearing.

I got very inspired by Marie Kondo’s show Tidying Up on Netflix. My ten year old daughter got so excited by watching her show that she promptly emptied her cupboards and spend a whole day tidying her room. Systematically, I’m working through the house each weekend, tackling the various categories and I have cleared so much clutter. I have given away so many toys and a lot of old clothing, to charity. I have said goodbye and thank you to the things I no longer need in my life. My cupboards look so sparse but I don’t miss anything. I have full shelves that are vacant and it has left me with such a feeling of freedom.

We surround ourselves with so much stuff that we don’t truly need. Entering a room that is messy and cluttered causes a physical reaction in me. I feel tense and unhappy. But when I look at my beautifully organised clothing drawers and my open shelves, I feel relaxed and at peace. Things now have a place where they belong and it’s so much easier to put them away. Marie Kondo advises us to keep what ‘sparks joy’, such a beautiful choice of words.

The process of tidying is remarkably rewarding. Even if I’m feeling tired when I begin tidying, by the end I feel energized and happy. In this journey of recovery, I have made a point of listening to my own thoughts. I had very negative and harsh thoughts about myself before I got sick. I have changed these actively, and have learnt to speak in a kinder way to myself. After tidying up, I notice that my thoughts are ‘I’m so happy’ repeatedly.

I believe that this process of tidying has had a greater impact on our family than we expected. I now look at our home with new eyes and I’m tackling small maintenance projects because I want my home to be beautiful. I want to be proud of my space and happy to be in it. For many years, I didn’t have the energy or the money to work on our home and it was a source of sadness. I often felt embarrassed when we had visitors because it was untidy and poorly maintained. Now, I feel so inspired to make our home beautiful again.

Yesterday, I spent a few hours working on my workshops. I had so much fun and I loved every moment of it. I didn’t want to stop working but I had to, to cook dinner for my family. When I went inside and started cooking, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. What usually feels like a chore, didn’t feel difficult at all. I didn’t mind doing all the things I usually grumble about. It’s so clear to me that when you’re happy inside, obstacles tend to appear smaller and life just seems easier. When I’m in a great mood, it rubs off on my family and my children feel happy and calm. We often feel that following our own path is selfish, but it’s clear to me what a positive impact it has on my loved ones.

It’s hard to explain this sensation, of how joy feels. It’s like an unshakable contentment that permeates all aspects of my life and my day. It is not only as a result of having a tidier house, but because I’m doing the work that I love. I’m aligned to my life purpose and I’m making choices every day that keep me aligned. I’m taking good care of myself, I’m doing the work I’m meant to be doing and as a result, I get to live a life of joy.

How joy feels

I’d love you to live this way too. It’s very hard to explain how to get there because we all have our own journeys to travel, but if I had to summarise it:

  • Invest in yourself through whatever means works for you: books, workshops, seminars, study.
  • Heal your wounds – we carry around such heavy emotional baggage. Do this by psychotherapy, counselling, prayer, coaching, Reiki, body stress release, kinesiology, whatever works for you.
  • Forgive – let go of all the grudges and hurt you are carrying around because it holds you back from living your best life. Forgiving people doesn’t have to involve letting them know. Do it for you.
  • De-clutter – give away things that you don’t want to take into your future. Make space for more opportunities and people in your life who lift you up. They can’t make their way into your life if you’re holding onto so much junk.
  • Be brave – take the leap and do the things you’ve always dreamed about. Take a chance and back yourself because once you align with your inner compass, life becomes effortless.

Following your dreams can be a tricky and confusing path and it can take years to find your way through. It has been five years since my life fell apart and I’m so grateful that it did. I find myself in a place where I now understand how joy feels. I’m so happy and blessed with the life I lead. I want to share this with the world. Imagine spending everyday doing work that is so much fun it makes you smile from ear to ear. Imagine feeling that you can’t wait to get out of bed because you’re going to love what you spend time on in the day. I’m aware that I will have tough days and I’ll experience struggles again, but it feels as though I’ve broken through to a layer of clarity and joy that I haven’t had before. And I love it.

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I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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