Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's Complicated when your life is Up In The Air

Spent the last few days enjoying the post holiday calm by seeing friends and some great movies. Two in particular I loved: It's Complicated (Streep / Baldwin) and Up In The Air (Clooney). And they were both entertaining and thought provoking. Good questions to ponder at the end of one year and the beginning of a new one:

It's Complicated: Relationships linger in our lives for many reasons. Don't we need to figure them out before we can commit to healthy new ones? I believe there is an energy block when we don't complete a love relationship that distracts us from attracting a new love. I've struggled with this one myself, having spent years pining over someone who would not have made me happy in the long run. What makes things complicated is that there are also times when an old love is exactly what we need both temporarily or possibly permanently only in a different phase of our lives. Either way, if we don't look at reevaluating our relationships, we're wasting valuable energy. Reunite or release? Festering is not good for the soul.

Up In The Air: Are we living a valuable life filled with love or are we just passing GO and collecting frequent flyer miles? What is our destination in life? What game are we playing? Worthwhile to figure out before we spend our days away.

Both movies are reminders that we need to take time to look at our lives while were living them. And ask ourselves: Is this the life I want for myself?

I will be pondering both questions in-depth in the next few days and then using Me Mapping to take a look into what needs to be closed in 2009 and what I want to engage with in 2010.

How's your life... complicated? up in the air? Maybe 2010 is a good time to land, simplify, and figure You out.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fresh New Decade


I love a clean sheet of paper, a blank slate, new paint... anything that is crisp and neat and symbolic of a new beginning. That is why I love New Years... ah, fresh start! This year is the start of a new decade and there is just something about 2010 that seems numerically interesting and lucky. Do you feel it?
     The last decade was rough. You know, you were there. But I feel like 2010 is a good time to start anew. In addition to finishing up my book Finding Joy, I will also be beginning a new work adventure (more to follow) so I'm feeling very full of possibilities. As is my tradition on New Years Day, Friday I will be Me Mapping all day and closing out 2009 and creating 2010. I usually like to come up with a few themes for the year to inspire me and keep things in perspective. I think this year instead of multiple themes I will narrow it down to one maybe two. Top contender: I'm In It To Win It!
      I am also a big fan of rhyming so also looking at: If Not In 2010, When? Both kinda connected.
     Years tend to run together, so if I feel like they have a theme or slogan I'm more likely to feel compelled by a narrative of what I want bring into my life vs just existing day-to-day.
     I will share more about Me Mapping into the New Year, but until then try on some themes for 2010 with me and see if anything strikes you.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

MEN And Their Daddy-Issues

Many people think that success in life is measured by the business you build, the money you bank, the family you create... I think it is the peace and joy you feel inside when all of that is stripped away and you are alone with yourself. Not that those other aspects aren't wonderful to include in a full life, but I know people (and so do you) who seem to have everything and yet are miserable.

Life use to be about survival: don't get eaten by a lion, and find something to eat and woohoo you are the man! But as we evolved, we wanted to be happy and fulfilled too. When I watch Mad Men I always end the experience asking myself: why do I continue to watch this show when it is so depressing. Not one character seems to enjoy anything in their lives but cocktail hour-- which even though I am all for, does not make a complete life.

We laugh thinking how far we have come from those sexist, racist, homophobic days; and how ridiculous the following hippy, free-love, druggie era was too. We are so enlightened, we think to ourselves. And yet, our last president took us into a trillion dollar war because he had to finish the business his daddy didn't and revenge:
After-all, this the guy that tried to kill my dad at one time.
                                                    ~ President G.W. Bush
Tiger is another example of how someone who seemed to have everything, willingly participated in behavior that lead to his life imploding. The cheating is only the most sensationalist aspect of this sordid affair, what I find more interesting is how it might all lead back to his unresolved daddy-isses (rumor has it that Earl also had affairs and Tiger was devastated by his father's philandering). 

I am no therapist, nor do I have the training to diagnose what is the root of Tiger's distructive behavior, but I do think it points out that we need to invest as much time, money, and energy figuring ourselves out as we do on education, business consultants, and trainers. Or in the case of Michael Jackson, who spent a fortune to avoid looking like his father and recreating his childhood, therapy instead of plastic surgery and Neverland.

If daddy-issues can start a trillion dollar war, take down a billion dollar sport star, and a legendary entertainer- this is not just a warm-fuzzy topic. What people ignore in their personal lives ends up in all other aspects of their lives... eventually. Women have Oprah, girlfriends, an entire self-help industry catering to them, not to mention less stigma going into therapy when they are ready to heal their own issues. Men really need to find something that works for them or at least start stealing some of ours.

Finding joy in life is about knowing ourselves and when we don't invest in the time, a good therapist, books, seminars, studies, etc. to figure ourselves out... life is a little rough.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Case For Not Having Kids

"Joy, you would be a GREAT mom!" People feel compelled to tell me this, like my friend Peggy did on Monday. Here is the thing, I know that they mean it as a compliment so I take it that way. But they also mean, why aren't you breeding and joining us in this miracle of life? To which I say, thanks but no thanks!

First I must state that I feel like starting a family is the most important decision a person can make (this includes of course who you pick as a spouse) and that is why long ago I pondered good and hard if this was something I wanted in my life? And the answer was: no. No drama, no regrets, it just wasn't something that I wanted to dedicate the next 18+ years of my life doing. I truly applaud those who have chosen the path and do a great job at it, and try and hold my contempt and find compassion for the ones who are shitty at it.

Biologically most people can reproduce, for goodness sakes rabbits can do it in multiples. But truly great parenting is an art, not an easy or perfect one, and it takes dedication, work, and skills. That is why I get really irritated with people who treat it so cavalierly. If someone is not completely committed to parenting a child and all that that entails, they should not have kids (don't even get me started on teen mothers). In the last century our population has exploded; there are already millions of children that have no one to care for them. Besides, no one has such golden DNA that it needs to be passed on; even the Dalai Lama and Jesus' DNA was not vital to their holiness.

What is needed, and what I try to bring to the table, are caring adults to engage in a child's life. Parents are important but so are mentors, teachers, coaches, and... Aunties.

Today I got a call from my best friend Jennifer's son Max (far right in pic), who couldn't wait to play Joy To The World to me on the piano. I had gone to see him in a holiday production Monday night and after he wanted to show me how good he was on the piano. When I asked if he knew my song, he said he didn't. Within two days he learned the song and couldn't wait to show me how
fast a learner he is. Now would I have even had the time to go to his concert if I had my own kids to raise, uh... no!

Last Spring I went to see another BF's daughter in her school play. One of the mothers I was introduced to said
"Oh, you must be her mom's friend who comes a whole hour to see her every year in her plays." Good thing the lights were about to go out because I was so touched that Elizabeth was boasting about me backstage, I started to tear up.

To me, parents put in all the work and I get to swoop in and have all the fun- or in the case of the teens in my life, the deep conversations. But I am so honored to be a part of a child's life that I can for the time I am there (my max: 6 hrs) be totally engaged in their world.

When the kids can't wait to show me what they are going to be for Halloween in August (above) or go to the zoo, or share which colleges they are scoping, I say thanks for all the hard work you parents do... and YAY Auntie Joy for not being one of them.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Graduate to Greatness

About two years ago I got a call from an old sorority sister who wanted to chat about some things that were going on in her life. During the conversation she said that something I had said to her a couple of years prior had really stuck with her and she thanked me for it. Fast forward to our meetup this spring... there was a lot going on with her (not really pertinent to the story so not sharing) but we got into a very frank conversation about where she was in life. And after listening to her vent for a while, I just couldn't help myself and had to set my compassion aside and just tell her how ridiculous she was being.

Here is the thing I have noticed with people (especially my friends with kids), they just forget how amazing they are. And I'm not just talking how cute their hair is, but I mean how deep down awesome they are as people and brilliant they are intellectually. I have identified two issues: working moms feel so run down doing everything they don't feel they do anything "good enough" so they beat themselves up. Stay-at-home moms are so accustomed to doing for everyone and rarely getting an attaboy, they forget they have minds and the little creatures in their homes wouldn't be who they are without their wondrous parenting.

Back to my friend: She was so numb to her greatness that when I started talking about it bluntly with her, she was overwhelmed. And before she could even absorb it, I (only because of limited time and b/c I knew she needed a swift kick) challenged her to do something about becoming who she was meant to be and stop whining. Month and months go by so you can imagine my delight when I read this Facebook exchange:

Her: just finished first semester of grad school...
Me: Yippeee! SO proud of You!
Her: Joy you were my inspiration to start...Thank you

Point of this story is that sometimes we need friends that tell it like it is and we need to be brave enough to ask, absorb and get in action. (BTW: I am good at giving, but I also value the friends of mine who do this for me in my times of need too.) And also, we never know when someone is going to take our words to heart; so try and speak truthfully, directly, and constructively. My friend is going to be an amazing contribution to the teaching community when she is finished with schooling, and because of one lunch (and of course all her hard work) those students lives will be touched immeasurably.

If I may say so myself, I am pretty proud of the greatness I cajoled out of her :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lucky Me: I'm In It to Win It!

I've had a remarkable 2 weeks of lucky wins. The funny thing is that I rarely enter contests or try to win prizes- a little skeptical once you know that so many are just to get your information to sell to some third party that bombards you with junk. That being said, in the last two weeks I have won two books and a Flip Cam. 2 of the 3 were from Twitter contests of writers that I had been following and felt I could trust, and the other was from another writer who I was participating in a weekly meditation program with. The exciting thing was the two books were on my seamlessly endless Amazon list that I had intended to buy, so it was like winning money. And the Flip Cam was something I really wanted for Santa to bring, so it was like Christmas early.

High on winner's fumes, I decided to go out and get a few lottery tickets (3 scratches 1 MegaMillions) and 2/3 scratch offs were FREE ticket winners and then I landed the Mega Ball so that means technically I won the lottery too. Sure, add it all together and it means I broke even (2 free + $2), but that is not the point. It reminded me you have to be in it to win.

In it to win it is not just for gambling (which I do not encourage anyone to get addicted to, it can be very destructive) but as a prompt for life. Dating: in it to win it. Job hunting: in it to win it. ..... So even though it's a little early for declarations, I am going to adopt in it to win it as a theme for 2010. Because I don't know about you, but sometimes I am not always in it and maybe that is where all the winners are.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Love, Joy & GLEE

GLEE! Such an adorable show. But, we're not here to talk adorability. First a little background: Will & Emma are both teachers and while crushing on each other, there are of course obstacles keeping them apart.

Ok, back to lesson... something happens and Emma decides to finally just lay it on the line and tell Will that she would do anything to be with him. Commercial/interaction with kids/singing...and then Will realizes his life would suck with out her. (Kelly Clarkson blaring in background- click GLEE to see how it ends.)

So here is the life lesson: Just Say It! Especially when it comes to love. There is nothing more tragic in life than not going for the love that you want. Even if it is unrequited (which I get totally sucks, believe me I've been there) at least you said it.

There are no guarantees in life, but if we don't at least go for it we'll never find our JOY!

(...and in your search for love, may I suggest you check out The Dating Optimist she gives excellent advise ☺)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Element

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Sir Ken Robinson is an amazing book, so much so I had a hard time just reading it and letting it go. The point of the book is that when we are in our "Element" we are at our bests. You can read the review and find out more by clicking the link, but first let me digress...

I have been actively using Twitter for the last year and have become almost addicted to it and only justifying my time on it reasoning that: I have actually booked 2 speaking gigs through connections; have kept in touch with Laurie (my agent) and other writers; and have made some amazing business connections too.

How does this apply to the book? Well there are two twenty-something gals (Jessica & Carolyn) who I have been tweeting with and I have found myself in awe of the fact they are so young and have created so much for themselves. They annoyingly will say, oh it's not a huge deal what we've done... to which I say bullshit! If I could have written my first book or started a business when I was their age, I would have been in heaven. When I was just out of college no one started their own thing, closest you got was taking over your family owned business. I didn't get to explore my creative side until I was mid-thirties and though I wouldn't have changed a thing now (ok, I would've but then again I wouldn't be the 2009-wise-Joy-that-I-am if I had) I am so excited for them. Sometimes I think I am more proud of them they they are of themselves because they don't seem to grasp how amazingly brave, bold & slightly fool-hearty it is to go off and follow their passions. Do they have it all figured out, no... but they are so ahead of the curve it's breathtaking.

How does this apply to the book? Well if we weren't so set on squashing all the creativity out of kids going through our school system, or so concerned as parents that our kids "fit in", then maybe everyone would find their Element by 20. But many of us need to wait way longer or tragically never even get to discover ours and die without sharing our unique gift with the world. Dammit, I think this is something that needs to change. Sir Ken even lays out the theory that if we don't our very existence as a planet might be in peril (really, he makes a good scare-the-shit-out-of-you case for it too).

So not only did I write a heart-felt review of the book, but I also came up with an idea for a show based on it that would be perfect for Oprah's new network OWN (read more in review). Bottom line: we all need to be in our Element to thrive and I am so grateful that I am well on my way to ripening. If you haven't found yours, what the hell are you waiting for?

Friday, December 4, 2009


yada, yada, yada... back to blogging. I was twittering away when I realized I couldn't say everything I wanted to say in 140 ct. So, I am going to write about my latest quest, Finding Joy (the working title of my next book) and keep a record of what is and is not bringing the joy.