Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Pope that Saved the Planet

I, like most people, don’t like being upset all the time, my natural state is- 

wait for it...    Joy!

So as with many of us, the last 4 years have frayed my nerves to the point of crispy 😣. What’s been most upsetting in 2020 is watching folks let our country divide itself instead of pulling together. I mean I get it everyone's passions are running high, patience running low... 

but it is so self-destructive.


Now normally when it comes election time I encourage my friends and family to vote and try to make it light and fun by talking about my love for voting stickers. They might infer my leanings but I rarely come out and say who I think folks should vote for because usually it's none of my business. This year of course was different and I felt for many reason that I needed to take a stand

Not long after, a close friend called me to get advice on how I was dealing with our mutual friends who are Conservatives. I confessed I had been avoiding them. She wasn't the first to raise this concern in our group of friends but I was at a loss. 

Couple days later I realized I was being a hypocrite and a coward by not sharing with these dear friends of over 30 years how I felt; not to change their vote per se, but to share what was going on with me and that many of us who they care about are upset over this president. It did not go well. 

Received a curt text back from one of the two ending our friendship declaring that pro-life was the main thing they vote on (although there was more said, it is unimportant here) and she and her neighborhood friends would be gladly voting for Trump. 


At first I was hurt and then mad and then I got a pit in my stomach that this is happening all over America, probably the world. People who are normally rational loving people are letting this one topic divide them because it is so polarizing. (Would this Catholic suburban mom really be voting for a thrice wife-cheating, vulgar, showman like Trump if not for the judges?) 

I could not let it go. I know, I know this is an issue for me- but hear me out because it might have ironically been a sign leading me to a solution to it all...

As an aside, this situation came along at the time of the year when the MacArthur Genius fellowship awards are announced. Each year for at least a decade my best pal Vickie and I always send each other the announcement with a: 

Can't believe it wasn't our year. 

We joke about the mystery behind how they are selected and how we really do need to do more to save the world. I mean shouldn't we all?!

So while stewing on the state of the world and contemplating how we are ever going to recover in the US from this chaos of such divided politics, 

I pondered and mapped out what would really make a difference: 

What could save the world? 

How could I help it along?

Well as often happens, the solution hit me in the middle of the night...

The #1 thing dividing US politics is the issue of abortion

The #1 global threat is climate change

The #1 cause of suffering in the world is poverty

What one thing could begin to solve these 3 major problems?

Well, I won't spoil it for you but I figured it out and this slidedoc outlines what I believe could make the biggest difference in solving our divide, easing poverty and saving the planet.

If after you read it you are nodding your head and thinking ~ 

By golly, Joy you are a genius! 

Please do find a way to get word to the Pope and the MacArthur folks... 

I would really like to be able to save the world 🌎 and beat Vickie to it! 😜 

[Timing note: I have been working on this project for weeks, Vickie helped me with final edits Monday, and I uploaded it Tuesday night. I had been waiting to finish this post when the I woke up Wednesday morning to an announcement on the Pope's view regarding gay civil unions. So for folks thinking this proposal seems preposterous- I say who knows we might be days away from it coming true- one can always hope! 🙏 ]

Monday, August 3, 2020

What's Your Plan, Man?

President Trump tweeted last week again how the election is going to be fraudulent and that he is even open to discuss delaying the date from November 3rd.
Just inquiring right?

Nope! He has been doing everything he can think of to try and suppress the vote, slow the mail and sow distrust in the election.

It's SO serious that I am now doing what I wouldn't have even thought of before... I will give up in-person voting for mail-in voting. I was originally planning to vote early which I have done a couple of times but there has been a stress on in person voting with less poll workers available and who knows if the virus might flare up again in Illinois.

So yes, Joy Meredith is sacrificing my love of the voting sticker and the buzz of in-person-same-day-voting so that I can make sure my vote is in before November 3rd.

I have a plan to get my signed ballot hand delivered to a drop box the week I receive it. And I will be encouraging my friends and family to do the same.

Voting is not something I take lightly. It was something our forefathers fought a revolution over and our soldiers defend our rights to participate in to this very day.

If you've never voted before now is the perfect time to get registered and make your voice heard. There are very few requirements to be a decent citizen, voting is one of them.

I try very hard to live and let live. And even though I'm opinionated on many subjects I mostly feel like it's none of my business what other people choose to do. But this is different! This year, this election is the difference between getting a pandemic under control and letting ten of thousands more folks in our country die. I won't even harp on the kids in cages and assault on decency. But Trump is clearly not up to the job of running our country so we need to relieve him of that burden.

So what's your plan?

No seriously... What's your plan, man?!

Update 09.21.20: Since I wrote this post I re-evaluated the importance of having the votes tallied the night of Nov 3rd and since there was enough time for me to change my option I will now be doing early in-person voting when that begins in IL. Anyway you do it please make sure you have a plan and get your voted counted this year. Stay safe and healthy ✌📮! 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Hair is Everything!

2020 has been one crazy year! Geez I mean 6 months 😏 

Heck, don't need to tell you- you know you've been living it too. I mean my goodness. So a couple of weeks ago when I decided I needed a change I went blonde. 

Been having a little bit of an identity crisis ever since. Every time I walk into the bathroom or pass a mirror I scare myself a little. Who is this stranger I'm living with? 
I know that sounds bizarre but being a brunette was part of my identity. My hair use to match my clothes, my jewelry, my makeup and my personalty. 

Of course I've been pacing myself so I was talking with my friend Vickie about how it feels strange and I might need to switch back after the summer because it so doesn't feel like me. And I made the mistake of off handedly saying luckily my hair grows fast and it's never freaked me out to try different looks-- who cares it's just hair. 
Ha! She immediately reminded me: Hair is everything! 

If you want to change your life, change your life.  
It's not going to happen in here.         

Ah, Anthony, true so true! Well kind of...

Because yes, hair can't change everything in your life, but it can change some of your life. It can change a few things. It can change how you see yourself and be the catalyst to jump start the other things you want to change.

That is afterall the reason why when they do a TV makeover the most drastic change is the hair which then matches the new outfit which is then accentuated by the new makeup which leads to the new swagger and sway of a self confident awakening in someone who had been blind to their awesomeness and beauty.

We all get used to ourselves. Numb to our fabulousness. Dull.

I refuse to let a pandemic and our country in upheaval ruin my year or my decade to come. Yes, we need to wear a mask, re-educate ourselves in our use of antiracist rhetoric and actions, and gear up for a life-changing election... but we also need to reinvest in ourselves. Take this pause as a sign we might be in need of a change.

Hair is simple (ok, yes it did take 5 steps) and a fixable chance to take to tweak your life. To try on a new YOU. To see if there is a fresher, more joyful way to be in the world. And now is the time to go for it. Some Clairol and some nerve and voila!

As I had guessed this pause is going to be a bumpy ride and no one knows when we'll be fully open and operating at normal again. We will surely need to not just re-imagine ourselves but the world we go back into. It is scary but also an exciting time to explore what might be possible.

It's not time to sell everything and move to Walden Pond just yet... but why not take a chance now so that when things are more normal you at least experimented with a different way of being. Don't go back to same old, same old. That is so last decade.

What can you try on to mark this time of transition for yourself? What kickstart do you need to feel your best? Because darling... if you look good, you'll feel good and when you feel good you can do anything you set your mind to.
Even change this crazy, dysfunctional world... and that my dear is EVERYTHING!!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Pace Yourself

My motto for this surreal time in our lives to myself or anyone I speak with is: pace yourself.

In early March I had been at a conference in Houston (traveling through two airports) just when the rumblings that we were going to need to be more careful with handshaking had begun. Most thought it was just hype. No urgency, little concern.

By March 12th I had been sent home from work sick-  still believe it was just a regular cold as I never got a fever or the cough. Since that time most people have also been sent home. Now that we're in week 7,  just pacing myself has kept me sane (-ish 😜).

Here's what I mean by that.. be concerned when things warrant it, laid back when they don't. Rise to the occasion if I'm needed, let things go when I'm not. I check in with my friends that are essential workers or having a hard time but don't get dramatic- not helpful. I'm working during the day and zooming most nights, but if I need to handle something I do it when the timing is right not necessarily by the clock on the wall.

People are anxious to get back into their routines, their offices/jobs, get their hair done and be served a sit down meal- I get it. I do. Not everyone thrives in their homes all day. This is where my gift for calmness kicks in. I can live like this for a very long time. Don't want to, but I can. And I know we all have different lifestyles and concerns but in order to not drive ourselves nuts we need to find the pace that works for us. Here's a couple of things that have worked for me or that I'm at least trying to practice:

  • Meditation: I am a regular meditator but I've been even more diligent about checking in with my zen while this craziness is all around us. Normally I use Headspace but I've been grateful that this Oprah & Deepak Hope In Uncertain Times one is now free to use. If you're tense- or even if you think you're not -deep breaths make everything better (of course away from others). 😌🙏
  • Weekdays: Staying away from junk food (chocolate, sugar, chips) or alcohol during the week. And in bed by 11. Find what feels good for you so you're not beating yourself up but still staying as healthy as you can.
  • Zooming: I'm on video-conferencing during the day for meetings and co-worker communications but now I am keeping in touch with my family and friends most nights as well. To keep things fun my family and I are doing theme calls (above was hat day). Take advantage of the tech that makes it possible to see people even when you're not seeing people. 
  • Music: There is a singer I adore 😍who I see once or twice a year when I visit my sister in WI but now he's doing Facebook live shows so every Saturday I make myself an adult beverage, grab a little organizing project to do and sing and dance around the house and rock out with Phil Calkins.
    • The other thing I've been really enjoying is cleaning to Parisian tunes. Makes me feel like I'm somewhere else even while folding laundry. 🎶
  • Flowers: We need live things in our life so if you don't have a pet or person in your space grab some plants or flowers to pep up your place. It's a small expense (esp. at Trader Joes) for a much more happy day. 🌺😊🌷
  • Love List: No need to wait until Thanksgiving! Make a list of the people you love and pick a couple to check in with each week. Doesn't need to be long talk, but call them and tell them you love them. Priceless! 🥰
  • Forgive Everyone: Good idea even when not in a pandemic but especially great reminder- life is precious and most folks are doing their best. If this was actually the end of the world what would you want to have had said? 

These days I am not even pretending to play a doctor on Twitter- I really have no idea how the rest of the year is going to go. But I believe it's going to be a lot longer to get back to some sort of normal then most think; I'm guessing at least a year. So I'm doing what I can: being in touch with those I love, keeping expenses low, trying to be understanding of others moods and concerns, and mostly taking care of myself so I can take care of others when needed and others don't need to take care of me. 

This pause is a great time to declutter the rest of your home, reevaluate your lifestyle (mapping helps 😉), get back to essentialism, and rejoice in how grateful we are to be alive and well and living through this unprecedented time. 

And if that's too much to contemplate- no worries... just pace yourself however is going to work for you. Because I know it feels sad but it could be so so much worse.  All you need to do is live through this pandemic. Not perfectly, not even gracefully on days that's not possible, but just get through it. 

This isn't a sprint, isn't even a marathon, this might be our new way to be in the world. Instead of running yourself down find what will make that ok for you. For me, I've found to make JOY out of this situation I need to pace myself

Stay healthy, well and joyful 🤗

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Theme 2020

The past decade was filled with lots of good, lots of love, much fun, and as is with being human, some deep sadness as well. 
I always love a new year but I'm extra excited to start 2020 because its name is part theme in itself! So cheers to creating a vision of even more happiness, more appreciation and more love ❤️🤍💗
JOY Only to me means to focus on the good in people, avoid the drama, be the most myself I can be and most importantly to keep things in perspective. Get it: 2020, focus, perspective.
I've got a vision of this decade as my happiest and most fulfilling ever. Thanks for the inspiration Garry Shandling!

And since I've lost my Mom, several people I've loved and a version of a life I thought I was going to have for myself... all in this past decade... it's just another reminder we only have so much time, energy and life to live. 

JOY is the most important thing for me at this time in my life and luckily my mother's lasting gift was reminding it's a part of me wherever I go. 

Cheers to 2020!!! and to 
 JOY Only  🙏☺️🎊

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Zen Diaries: Garry's Gift

As I do each year around this time I was contemplating my theme for 2020-- wanted something worthy of the new decade and the happiness I want to create. At the same time Judd Apatow has been promoting his new book: It's Garry Shandling's Book. And while I haven't yet read the book it reminded me of how much I loved, loved, loved the documentary: The Zen Diaries Of Garry Shandling.

You don't have to like Garry or even comedy to get something profound from the life he lived. It's really more of an exploration of the human condition: how we carry wounds around with us throughout life; how loss and betrayals can make us both mentally and physically ill; how friends can be our family; and how even if you find the answer to a happy life you have to actively practice that knowledge to get to the joy.

Judd did an absolutely amazing job putting this film together and because he loved Garry, but also wanted to show him raw as well, you get to see so much of what leads to success, what tortures someone who has it all, and what goes unsaid- which is stingingly tragic. Garry left behind some brilliant comedy but I believe this portraiture of him as a man- faults, neuroses and all- is his greatest gift. 

This is one of Garry's notes that Judd had shared on social media that I remind myself of often, so this year it helped me pick my theme:

Must LET GO of ALL attachment to life, to good & bad... JOY Only

Garry lived a remarkable life and he left us words to practice by. Thank you, Garry. 
And for sharing so generously your friendship and love for Garry: Thank you, Judd. 

May our lives be a beautiful practice of JOY Only in to this new decade ahead!


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Peace, Love & Joy

Couple of weeks ago I had a wonderful lunch with my uber talented sorority sister, Karyn, and the conversation turned to her art and some projects she is working on and who inspires her. And that lead to us talking about how some people generate an image that can transform their art or message to such a degree that they become known for it.

On my way home that day I wondered what image would I want to be known for 🤔

And as much as I adore the red smiley face which is the symbol of the Circle of Joy I feel we can't get to JOY without two other steps.

We need to:

BE at Peace with ourselves and the world... 
which leads to KNOWing Love... which leads to FEELing JOY.

When we are little we feel JOY all the time because it's our natural state until we get told we're doing life wrong- by our parents, teachers, lovers, society. And so it gets harder and harder to have raw moments of JOY. How do we get back there? I've found the simplest way for me to get more JOY in my life is to be at PEACE with myself and then with the world we are surrounded by. Mediation helps. So does compassion for knowing people are doing the best they can with where they are at the moment. And if we ourselves want to be less crazed we need to simply let them do them and focus on our inner PEACE so we can be as powerful as we can be in the world.

When we are at PEACE we then can learn or remember how lovable we are. How lovable others are. Knowing LOVE changes our energy, our tone, our experience of ourselves, others and our world. Unless we LOVE ourself we have a hard time loving our life or anyone in it. And it's almost impossible to feel the depth of LOVE when we hold back because we haven't received or learned to give the LOVE we are capable of knowing as a human in this world. 

Yet if we can quiet ourselves to be at PEACE, then open ourselves enough to know LOVE, then it's a way shorter journey to feel JOY. It flows to us when we get the two other elements in line.

So it might be greedy but I want to have three symbols I am known for. And not only are they symbolic, they are a formula and a practice I want to live my life by:

What word symbolizes the message you have for yourself and the world? What image visually summarizes what you are up to this year/decade/life? What do you want to be known for?
If nothing comes to mind... please ponder! We need you and me and all of us at our most inspired if we are going to fully live the lives we have been gifted.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Thank You for the Clarity

By nature I'm a fixer- I like to fix things: problems, people, situations. I've spent (read: wasted) a great deal of time in my life thinking everything had a solution and every story could have a happy ending. I blame growing up on 80's sitcoms and my love for romantic comedies. Roughly 30% of my delusion alone I've traced back to Hugh Grant- bad boys with good voices and sheepish grins were my kryptonite.

Anyway, now after a lot of disappointment and frustration I know that there is only so much you can do and when things don't work out after you've tried you darnedest- you have to realize: it is what it is. 

As a control freak it is super hard to accept: things don't always come together at the end of the half hour, or when you find a person that makes you melt, or when you work your butt off at a job.

Yet, there is some good news in seeing this: clarity!

When someone or some situation shows you what's what with them-- instead of fighting or denying it, it's much more empowering to be thankful for the clarity.

Thank the cheater for making it easier to move on to find a new love; thank the boss for not promoting you so you can go find your truer calling or better run company; thank the old friend for betraying you because now you have more time to devote to yourself instead of her.

Disappointment and heartbreak is a signpost that that is not where or with whom you belong. It stings- I know- trust me I know! But, Yay! Now there is clarity. Now you can be free to go find the person, friend or work that sparks joy in you ;)

Try suffering less next time you get hurt and instead thanking the universe for clarity so you can go find the joy you deserve in life. It is way better and more powerful to live with clarity then rose-colored glasses. Tip: Keep the frames, but get clear lenses. 🤓