I crave to quench my thirst for more; more of the things that make my heart soar.
Those are simple things, like someone who pays attention when the light turns green and makes the arrow-
yes, I am talking to you, canary yellow 1978 Firebird!
Or the joy of using a public restroom without having sprinkles of someone else’s p-p on the seat-
yes, I am talking to you, the lady who used the bathroom before me at the Starbucks in Decatur!
And, meeting delightful people at the tables around me as we all get cool and caffinated.
That is what makes my heart sing, bringing my internal temperature down to cool and joyful.
December 3, 1978, I was in rehearsal for The Messiah on Hilton Head Island. A writer for The Island Packet attended that night, to do a story about the annual concert. She asked for the oldest and youngest members of the choir, and two of us raised our hand when the age of 23 was called. But I was still 22—for one more day. Spontaneously… the beginning notes of Happy Birthday, and ninety-six voices, in harmony, brought a rush of energy stronger than any tide I’ve ever felt. I’ve savored the memory on the eve of every birthday since.
“Do you have any regrets?” Deneice asked when I turned fifty.
I don’t hold onto regrets for long, so I had to search hard.
I don’t know when or why, but somewhere, sometime, I stopped singing.
Last week, some Sacred Harp—or shape note—saangers were at the Decatur library. They don’t perform, they demonstrate. And then you sing too. Or “saang.” Antique saangin’. A capella. Loud and forceful, in four parts. There is no need to be good: when in doubt, saang louder. It is not timid, but full out.
In the back of my Sacred Harp tune book is a scribbled note from fifteen years ago. Someone said it sounds like “a Bulgarian peasant woman calling hogs.”
The lyrics may not jive with my spiritual beliefs. Nor is my voice as clear and true. But I don’t care too much. It is FUN, and I am singing again! It juices the psyche and fills the soul.
Poet David Whyte recounts a discussion about fatigue with a Benedictine monk who said, …”the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest. …The antidote…is wholeheartedness. You’re so exhausted because you can’t be wholehearted at what you’re doing…[for] your real conversation with life is through poetry.”
It gave me pause. What am I not doing with my whole heart? At what price?
Perhaps this is the draw for the twenty and thirty-something urbanites discovering what the geezers have known for decades. Shape note saangin’ brings great joy because it is wholehearted.
This scenic message on how to raise your Joy Factor is brought to you by Wendy and the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Take a few minutes to savor the beauty and be reminded of how to create a life that you love!
Earlier in the week, I shared that I got a manicure and pedicure with my sister—good times! What I did not share is that I painted my toes green with butterflies on the big toes. It is the simple things in life that raise my Joy Factor!
I do have to admit, there was a process to choosing this beautiful color. There is this little mental checklist I went through:
Do I like the color? Will it clash with or match with the clothes/shoes I wear? Does it make me happy? What will others think of my green toes?
It is this last question that always throws me for a loop.
Why do I care what other people think about the color I put on my toenails? It is nail polish, it is removable. I have a tattoo, pierced nose and pierced belly button-why should green tootsies be a big deal?
That little nagging thought that others may not “approve” of me gets in the way of my Joy Factor being its best. The beautiful thing is that my recovery time is so much shorter these days when that thought comes up; I can step back into making a choice from what brings me joy vs. what I thing will bring others joy.
The funny thing is that when it brings me joy, it usually brings others joy as well. I have gotten so many compliments on my fun toes. I can also sense that it is not everyone’s favorite color – so be it.
Here is what I make up as true, as I give myself permission to express myself authentically with my emerald toes, it gives other people the go-ahead to have fun with their authentic expression as well. And here is what I know is true, when I look at my toes, I am happy and when I am happy, magic happens!
What is your “green toe” experience? Please tell, inquiring minds want to know.
Last week I was lucky enough to have a “sister day”. Since my sister Lisa has kids, the opportunities to have sister time are few and far between. It was a wonderful f day filled with lunch, gabbing and the main event-a manicure and a pedicure. As delightful as all of the things we did were, the best part of our time together, was just being together. I savor the relationships that I have where I can truly by myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I do express myself authentically all day, every day. It is the “sister” relationships where I can have the most fun, letting my hair down to blow in the wind. I am lucky enough to have other “sisters” in my life, women that love me as I am no matter what.
Spending time with Lisa last week reminded me how important it is to carve out time in my schedule to be with my soul sisters. The time I get to spend with these women, whether it is on the phone or in person feeds my spirit. This is a special type of self-care, the kind that keeps on giving for days on end.
Here is what each of my lovely sisters reminds me of:
1. Go with the flow. The best way to survive a busy life is to stay in the moment-thank you, Lisa!
2. Live your dreams. As the Universe presents opportunities, grab them and go-you can always readjust later—thank you, Bernadette!
3. You can do it. When you put your mind to something and move forward a little bit each day, you achieve what may have seemed unachievable – thank you, Sandra.
4. It is never too late. Even if your dream takes 5, 10, 20 years to manifest, if it is important enough to you, it will happen in divine order – thank you, Aunt Nancy.
5. Have fun with everything you do. There are a couple of sisters that remind me that I can choose to have fun with everything in my life—out with serious, in with fun! Thank you, Trish and Runa!
This list could go on for pages. I would love to hear what you learn from your “sisters”! Share with us, so we can enjoy the gifts of friendship with you!
Until recently, we only had Abbey Road, our Australian Shepherd. We just adopted Eli Moses Velcro Watkins a month and a half ago. He is a border collie/terrier/hound/wild man mix. Abbey is 8 years old and we think Eli is a year and a half or so. They have raised my Joy Factor in ways I could not have imagined. Watching them play with each other is so sweet – it fills my heart with joy. They truly exhibit the ingredients of raising your Joy Factor.
Passion is a way of life for them. Whether it is eating, playing, sleeping or stalking the squirrels, they do it at a 100%. When they want love, they ask for it. When they want to give love, they do – sometimes by licking my face in the middle of the night.
Authentic Expression is all that they know. They have not been taught to be anyone but themselves. They do not care what other people think. This is evident by a bit of their Self-Care. Who else can sit in the middle of a room of people and clean themselves in areas that I do not have to describe here today?
When they play, and they play hard, they have boundaries that they honor most of the time. When Abbey needs her own time, she takes it. Eli gets it and leaves her alone. They take a break and go at it again later.
My intentions today are to honor my passions at 100%, be myself and not let what others may think of me stop me from doing what I love. I will take care of my body and my spirit. I will take time for myself to re-energize, so I can jump back into the game feeling great. And most of all, I will wag more and bark less.
What do your pets teach you?
One of Coca-Cola’s tag lines, “It’s the real thing”, refers to the original recipe of this popular drink. As we continue to learn about new ingredients to use in your recipe to raise your Joy Factor, I invite you to explore what Authentic Expression is to you. Are you expressing yourself in a way that is in alignment with the real you?
Last week I was watching Ellen - she definitely raises my Joy Factor! One of her guests was Chely Wright. Chely is the first major country artist to come out as gay. Yes, KD Lang came out in 1992, but she had abandoned the country music genre by then. It took courage for her to express herself authentically. By sharing her story, she opens up the door for others to live their authentic life.
It is vulnerable to truly be who you are. There is a lot of external pressure to be like everyone else, or be what other people want you to be. When you live your life with a lack of authenticity, it is not a lot of fun!
You are here to live your best life. Explore what Authentic Expression is for you. Sometimes it is easier to start by looking at what Authentic Expression is not. Once you uncover that that is, you can start making little adjustments towards Authentic Expression. You will soon be living a life that expresses the real you!
I know from experience that this is easier said than done. Worrying about what other people think can get in the way of expressing myself authentically. A wise woman once told me that it is none of my business what other people think. I do my best to remember that advice each and every day.
I know that I am not Coca-Cola, yet my tag line these days is, “what you see is what you get!”
If you had a tag line that spoke to your Authentic Expression, what would it be?
At this point, we are half way through the first month of the new decade. If we look at the year in 2 week increments, we are approximately 1/26 through the year. Calculating like that is enough to lower your Joy Factor. Looking at it that way has me ask, “what have I got done so far this year?” Before I answer that question, I am going to tell you that where I am and where you are is perfect!
2010 started with us having Mars and Mercury in retrograde. I know this partly because of my theme for this year: Allowing. Part of allowing is asking for help, from seen and unseen sources. Seen sources are my marketing team, bookeeper, assistant, etc. In the unseen arena, I am learning more about the planets and how they support us, or not, in manifesting what we desire. Simply put, when a planet is in retrograde, whatever the energy of that planet is, it is going in the opposite direction. That makes the energy wonky. Mercury rules communication. That is why my computer crashed right around the holidays-joy, joy!
Retrograde also points us to slowing down and being more intentional. That was very challenging for me to be with at the beginning of the year. Easing into 2010 has been very different than the “full steam ahead” energy I have put out there in the past. I cried myself to sleep Monday, January 4th, wondering if I was ever going to get my drive back for the work I am so passionate about. Taking the week off between Christmas and New Years, partnered with a shift in planetary energy, can mess with your groove. I am so thankful that we get a new start each day; Tuesday, I was back in my groove, slowly, yet surely.
The essence of this message is, if you are noticing that even though it is the beginning of the year and you feel like you should be doing more than you are and you are not, be gentle on yourself and ask yourself these questions:
1. Are you focusing your energy on things that you are most passionate about?
2. If you are, where can you acknowledge yourself for what you have done, rather than beating yourself up for what you have not done?
3. What is one thing that you can do today that will move you closer to honoring what you want to create in your life?
As you focus on creating alignment with your theme, intentions or goals for 2010, remember to honor the components that support you in raising your Joy Factor.
What we are speaking to today is a combination of self-care and authenticity. Take care of your needs first and you will be able to express yourself authentically. If that means you need to spend more time marinating on an idea, before you move forward, so be it. Hold the intention that you are going to move forward. Set up the support and accountability you need and tap into that inspired action. It is from this place that you will fall madly in love with the life you lead and manifest all that you desire.
I am excited that it is Christmas week! There is something about this time that is very festive and energizing. I could hardly wait to get out of bed today to get the week going. I believe that is a combination of loving my life and my internal little girl getting very excited about the holidays.
I spent part of the weekend with my niece, Emily. I took her to Breakfast with Santa in downtown Decatur on Saturday. She is 7 and this is probably the last year, she will believe in Santa. I let myself experience the weekend through her eyes-it was so much fun! The wonder, the delight, the curiosity that she had about Santa was adorable. “Is Santa watching me now?” That was the question of the weekend.
I would ask her, are you being a good girl? She affirmed yes with enthusiasm. We would giggle!
What does being a good girl mean as an adult? I like to think that if there was a Santa, I would be on the nice list vs. the naughty-even though I know I have my naughty moments. As I ponder, what nice girl means to me, here are a couple of things that show up:
I do my best to love myself and others unconditionally-some days it is easier than others. Anne Lamott says that the mind is like a dangerous neighborhood, you should not go there alone. When I do, I can make stuff up that stops me from loving unconditionally.
I am generous, funny, loyal, kind, thoughtful, honest, joyful and always looking to improve what I feel is not working in my life. When I honor these qualities, it is my true authentic expression.
It feels wonderful to take a minute and write my list that I would give to Santa. It is a glorious affirmation of who I am and who I will continue to be.
What qualities would be on your list of being a nice person? Write down a few and notice how these simple, yet powerful words will raise your Joy Factor.
Emily talked so much about wanting an Easy Bake oven,I think my “little girl” wants one as well. Chocolate cake anyone?