Just Go Left

The Joy Report: August 2015

Choosing Joy, PersonalAshtenComment

Welcome to the first edition of The Joy Report; a monthly update on my "joy journey" including links, products, faces and things that are bringing me joy each month! Here, we will talk about how to find the joy in life, even when things don't seem to be going right. 

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I was sitting in a meeting for the non-profit organization I worked for in 2006, when our web developer mentioned a friend of a friend of a friend knew this woman who was writing about her life online, and finding a lot of fulfillment from it. My fellow intern and I scooted back to our desks as fast as we could, furiously Googling and staring wide-eyed at our screens: a whole new world. I was hooked. Blogging became a much-needed creative outlet for me: a journey into the depths of the Internet, where I could share and connect with others. I've ducked in and out of blogging over the last nine years: stopping and starting, growing and changing, but always feeling a need to share my story, no matter who was reading.

Last year, I walked away from a blog I poured my heart into because I was changing, and the Internet was changing. Something about that blog didn't feel right anymore; something about the Internet didn't seem as kind anymore. I struggled with my decision to let that blog go, much like I've struggled to let go of a few toxic relationships in my life. If I'm being honest? That blog wasn't bringing me joy anymore. It felt like a chore, like something I HAD to do everyday, not something I WANTED to do everyday. I watched myself change from someone who poured her heart into each post into someone who was going through the motions. I wrapped up a lot of my identity in that blog: it's where I chronicled Warner's sickness, the start of my relationship with Kyle and coming out of the "dark cave of depression" I was in for almost two years, not to mention all the hours I spent hunting for the perfect GIF. Even though I knew it was the right thing to do, I felt a sense of loss when I let it go. 

I started exploring life without the World Wide Web (does anyone call it that anymore?): thinking about this blog, and about joy. I've learned that joy does not come easy to me. When life hands me a lemon, I don't always make lemonade right away: I make my "sour lemon" face, I dig my heels in to negativity and I resist for awhile. In the months I spent prepping this blog, there were many times I doubted myself and doubted the mission I was so set on. If joy doesn't always come easy for me, I wondered, would it make this blog less enjoyable or less authentic? I asked myself this question over and over, until one morning the answer just sort of....happened:

It's not just about the joy: it's about the journey.

One of the many reasons I was drawn to blogging was the ability to connect with people like me from across the miles. People who aren't perfect, who are looking for a connection and writing down their thoughts/feelings. I connected with their journeys, their struggles, their triumphs and realized this is what joy is: authenticity. I believe authenticity comes from honestly; from sharing your journey with as much vulnerability as you can muster. For me, it means accepting that my life will not always be joyful, and that there will be times that I have to choke down a few sour lemons before I make lemonade. My authenticity comes from my ability to share my heart in these posts, and knowing that my heart might not always be warm and fuzzy. I'm learning to place the journey above the destination, and this month I am starting to hone in on what that really means. I'm bringing back my excitement in blogging and sharing while also learning how to set boundaries, and accept growth and change with open arms. 

Maybe I will also learn to find some joy in sour lemons.....

little things bringing me joy:

  • I've been working with my friend Jess Ekstrom on an exciting project for the blog next month.  I get so much joy from collaborating with creative, talented and motivated people. 
  • I love Simi from The Micro Harvest. She wrote this post about loneliness and success and productivity and it was everything I wanted/needed to hear and more. She's so freaking wise.
  • Jen from The Happy, Healthy Balance killed the game with this post about authenticity. I now ask myself these questions every morning before I start my day. Seriously awesome. 
  • My blogging go-to-gal, Amber from Mr. Thomas and Me shared this goodness about branding. I just wanted to wrap my arms around this post and hug it. I also want to hug Amber 99% of the time. (The other 1% is me sleeping)

I can't wait for this book!