Have you ever found yourself at a fork in the road? Nicole Ketchum from Chandelier By NK shares her experience of learning the shift when your business takes off while rearing a baby. Read this article on page 12 of the 2017 Lady Project Summer Gift Guide.
Joy as the theme during Leo season seemed like the perfect excuse to write about the joy of birthdays. Full disclosure, I’m a Leo and like most Leos, I love celebrating birthdays. (And, of course, compliments on my hair. Leos love that too.) I also love celebrating everyone else’s birthdays and am always confused by people who meet their birthday with dread.
No matter the number, birthdays are for celebrating all things you and finding joy in the way you travel through this life. It’s your own personal holiday, where you can indulge in the joy of being you and surround yourself with everything you love.
Where can you find joy in birthdays?
Find joy in the avalanche of wishes from so many people you love. Texts, phone calls, Facebook messages, real mail. Revel in each message and enjoy all these people who took time out of their day to think of you. Really, the most valuable thing people can give you is their time and attention, be grateful for it.
Find joy in looking back at your year and the incredible stuff you did. Did you visit a new country, welcome a new baby, stand in line all day for a U2 show and end up super close to Bono, twice? Woo hoo!
Find joy in knowing that you don’t have to go through some of this crap ever again. Looking back at a year can equally induce panic attacks and waves of stress. It can be a great relief to acknowledge that you don’t have to go through something again, like say… the 2016 election.
Find joy in making goals. Leave boring goals like maximizing your IRA contributions or exercising for New Years, and think about birthday goals as more personal, such as spending more time with people you miss or prioritizing time for being creative.
Find joy in treating yourself, whatever that may involve. Get that facial, take the day off, say yes to that lunch invitation or have Champagne at breakfast. Or, maybe do all those things… that sounds like an awesome day.
Find joy in your favorite things. Make a playlist with all your favorite songs, make your favorite food for dinner. So many days of the year, we accommodate others, and make sure other people are happy and comfortable. Put that aside and have fun letting other people make sure you’re happy for a change.
Find joy in another year of gained experience. Rather than thinking about how you could have used that knowledge for past problems, focus on using it going forward.
Find joy in making an ordinary day extraordinary. Birthdays turn a regular old Tuesday into something entirely different, and that change of perspective is restorative.
This year, find joy in another trip around the sun. It’s the best gift. When’s your birthday?
Editor's note: The white nationalist march in Charlottesville this past weekend is reprehensible and disgusting. I urge everyone to speak up and use their voice to combat white supremacy. And to my fellow women of color, don't let hateful people like this steal our joy.
rejoice over every part of you that makes them cringe:
your skin, your eyes, your hair, your language.
make your silence a love song this morning.
sing your heart out. LOUD.
don't worry about them.
what are they doing?
waving tiki torches in Charlottesville?
you don't have time to be worryin'
'bout little white boys waving
tiki torches in Charlottesville.
feel every inch of your blackness.
own it like the sun-child you are,
like there's a midnight on the inside
and praying oil on your palms.
culture says you're supposed to be angry,
but Heart says you're supposed to be healthy.
so, it's okay if Heart hurts today.
it's okay if Heart hurts tomorrow,
but don't you
ever let them steal Your joy.
open your window. do you see that sky?
see how it feels watching the earth with its eyes?
oh, how it cries when it needs to.
oh, how it smiles 'cause it wants to.
Hate working out? You’re not alone! I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who gets joy out of working out, like my best friend who shows up to a 5 am spin every single day of the week. She says it makes her happy if you can believe that. Over the years, I have started and stopped more workout regimens than I can remember, generally because I get bored or because I’m not seeing results. Below are a few methods that others have put into place to help them not only stick to working out but actually enjoy it.
Workout With A Friend
Misery loves company, right? Working out with a friend gives you someone to commiserate with. Personally, I wouldn’t mind sore thighs quite as much if I could whine about them while eating brunch after my Saturday morning yoga class. Working out with a friend also means that someone is always waiting for you to show up. You can’t keep hitting the snooze button if you know your workout buddy is waiting at the gym for you. You can also encourage each other and even compete; everyone loves a little friendly competition; maybe whoever completes their mile on the treadmill first has to buy the lattes! Don’t have anyone willing to hit the gym with you? Get creative! My mother and I live in different states, but we compete each day using our Jawbone’s to see who can get more steps in!
Sign Uo For Classes
This one usually works for me, at least for a little while. Plenty of people sign up for a gym membership, thinking that if they have that $10 or $20 fee automatically being deducted from their paycheck each month, they’ll be more motivated to actually use the gym. You don’t necessarily need to resort to that. Maybe at first, you should try purchasing four weekly barre classes on Groupon. If you find that you can stick to the regimen, it might mean that 1) you’ve picked up the habit or 2) you actually enjoy the workout. #2 is actually another perk of doing classes: there are a lot of fun ones out there, especially in Providence! This little city offers everything from hot yoga to spin to Aikido! And if you’re anything like me, you’ll appreciate having access to a trained professional who can ensure you’re doing everything right and getting the most out of your workout!
Give Yourself A Break
When you first start working out, don’t hit it too hard or too fast, especially if you have a habit of working out once or twice and then quitting. For me, working out is very unpleasant. You get hot and sore; it can actually evoke a flight or fight response in you, which will, of course, make you want to avoid the behavior. There’s no set rule out there that says you have to go to the gym and run on a treadmill for an hour every single day. You might have success for a week or two, but anyone can convince themselves to run for an hour a day for a week. Can you imagine trying to convince your brain to follow that same regimen for the next year? Be kind to yourself and give yourself plenty of time to adjust. Start out with small goals, and when you’re ready to up your ante, track your progress on a chart or in an app so you can actually see yourself improving. It’s very motivating, making it more likely that you’ll stick to your workout!
Everyone who’s traveled has experienced the post-trip slump. Whether you go on a weekend road trip three hours outside of town or a two-week-long Mediterranean cruise, you always feel the hard slap back into reality when you get home to the regular work grind.
On my last vacation in Paris, my husband mentioned how lucky people were to live there. It got me thinking; is the city as magical to these hardened Parisians as it was to us, or at some point does the sparkle fade away?
Our little city of Providence isn’t exactly a major tourist hotspot, but it does get a good amount of visitors. So what is it that’s attracting people here that we’re not seeing? When you live in a place for so long not only are you distracted by the hustle of everyday life, but you also fall into a pattern of going to the places you are familiar and comfortable with. If you try and see your own home town through the eyes of a visitor, you can experience that same excitement of going on a trip while you’re waiting for your next weekend getaway or jet-setting holiday.
Try That New Restaurant
We’re pretty lucky in Providence; we’ve got a lot of pretty amazing food spots from food trucks to fine dining. But, if you used to ask me which ones I like best, I would have named maybe ten. Us humans like to go where we know; the food is good, the price is right, and the people are nice. But if you only stick to old standbys, you don’t know what you’re missing, good or bad.
Since coming back from vacation six weeks ago I’ve tried more new restaurants in Providence than I did probably this whole year. Most of them were amazing, and a couple were disappointing. But at least now I know they suck, and can act even more like a know-it-all local when people ask for recommendations.
Do The Tourist Stuff
Go to the crowded monument, the busy museum, or on a double decker bus tour. (Yes, even you, chic New Yorkers and Silicon Valley hipsters.) If you live in a place that has these kinds of attractions that means something pretty cool and/or important happened there. Millions of tourists know more about the history of your own city than you. Don’t let them show you up like that.
Visit Different Neighborhoods
When you travel you have a limited time in that location, so you try and see as much of the region as possible. When we’re home, we go to the same coffee shop, same grocery store, same everything all the time. Traveling abroad or in different cities is all about exploring and leaving the comforts of home, but you can still get that experience locally.
Case in point, I’d been wanting to try Korean fried chicken for months since I saw it featured in a video on Facebook. When a Korean friend chicken restaurant opened in Providence it took me three months to get there because it was a cold winter and there are no close parking spots.
When we are home, the urgency is taken out of the equation because we think “I can always go another time,” a luxury we don’t have when traveling. Commit to trying something new and make plans to do it with a friend, call and make a reservation, or write it on your calendar -- whatever you have to do to commit yourself to a new experience.
In our “always on”, fake it til you make it, can’t stop won’t stop world, it can be all too easy to confuse joy - a feeling of great pleasure or happiness - with satisfaction - fulfillment of expectations.
Finding joy, for me, has been about more than just stopping to slow down and find happiness, but it has been a way for me to seek ways to cope with anxiety.
For far too long, I had been confusing the feeling you get when you check an item off a to-do list with the feeling you get when you dance, dream, or listen to the ocean. Whether you are looking to find joy for yourself, or bring more joy to others, here are some of the ways I have been able to stop, connect to the present moment, and feel undeniable happiness.
But first, do this.
Give yourself permission.
This is the first way to bring more joy into your life. I’d go so far as to argue that without taking this crucial first step, nothing else I say after this will work. Stop everything right now and tell yourself this: I deserve to enjoy a moment of happiness every single day that does not have to do with work, obligations, family, friends or otherwise. I deserve happiness for the sake of happiness.
After you’ve done that, give some of these tips for bringing more joy into your life a try.
1. Do something creative.
You don’t have to be an artist to enjoy coloring, painting, or writing. Oddly, I find an immense pleasure in painting walls, despite having no real skill for it. When we moved into our condo, everyone found it insane how much I enjoyed painting all the doors with a fresh coat of white paint, or painting our staircase into the basement grey. Something about the monotonous pattern of it is so refreshing to me - what else did I have to think about besides brush strokes?
2. Return to age 7.
Did you know that by the time you’re 7-years-old, your personality is pretty set in stone? Think back to when you were 7, what did you enjoy the most? I loved riding my bike around the neighborhood. Last summer, I bought a bike. As adults, we tend to lose touch with what we enjoyed as children - things that we found joy in when we knew not a thing about all there was to worry about in the world. Go back and find some of those things.
3. Listen to the ocean.
Or whatever body of water you’re nearest to. Heck, if you can’t get to the water, listen to a playlist of the waves crashing or rain falling. There’s a reason why whenever you go to a spa that’s the soundtrack.
4. Buy yourself flowers.
My motto with flowers is pretty simple: save the money, buy me something I can wear. But the weird thing is I love sunflowers. Recently, I started buying myself sunflowers in the market. 5-bucks, instant mood lifter in the house.
5. Push yourself to new limits physically.
I love to run. Love, love, love it. It clears my mind. But when I’m feeling overwhelmed or anxious, I find that sometimes the joy I get from a run is clouded by my thoughts. So I started taking yoga. It was new. I didn’t get it. I still don’t get it. And I am so focused on moving my body the right way that I have no time to worry about anything else - and after class, I feel amazing when I’ve completed something new.
You can sing, you can dance, you can sit and do absolutely nothing. But in my experience, the art of finding joy is all about listening to yourself. The idea of “self care” might be trendy right now, but I think it’s about more than that. Find joy wherever you can - it’s not self care, it’s self love… and self perseverance.
And if we’re going to be steadfast in our careers, our marriages, our relationships and every other aspect of our lives, why shouldn’t we also be that way about our own joy?
The 2017 Lady Project Summer Gift Guide includes a wide selection of gifts submitted by our members and articles that will leave you inspired! There are over 100 gifts all throughout the guide this summer so click through to check them out!
Less than a year ago, I never would have guessed that the first thing that would pop into my head when I heard the word “joy” would be “outside”. I’m a bookworm, a city dweller, a hater of bugs, dirt, sweat, water, and prickly plants. I’m scared of the dark; I panic when I don’t have a cell phone signal. All of those things are still true, so what exactly is it about exploring the outdoors that brings me so much joy?
My first adventure in the outdoors involved a road trip to Virginia and the Assateague National Seashore in Maryland. The trip was inspired by an Instagram of wild horses chilling on a beach in Assateague, Maryland. Seeing those horses in real life went straight to the top of my bucket list, and I immediately put in for the vacation time to make the trip…only to find that the average hotel room in the area cost $200 per night! But a campsite at the Assateague National Seashore, the stretch of woods, marshes, and beaches protected by the National Park Service? Just $30 per night.
I’ll admit, my motivation was the low cost of staying in the parks. What can I say? Saving money makes me happy! And if I hadn’t managed to score a campsite at the Assateague National Seashore, I never would have been able to see those horses. I spent weeks preparing for the trip yet I still made some very rookie mistakes. By the time I left the seashore, I was sunburnt and covered in mosquito bites. I had only slept three or four hours a night. But it was still the best trip I have ever taken.
If you’re new to spending time outside like I was, the National Park Service is a great place to start. They have parks and historic sites in every state. Most of them have visitor centers with friendly, helpful park rangers, bathrooms, gift shops, and museums. Through these parks, you get to learn about the geography and history of the area you’re visiting. These parks give you a new perspective and open your eyes to the world around you.
For example, the first national park I visited was Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, a park that is basically a winding, scenic drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains. I had grown up less than three hours away from Shenandoah but had never visited it. I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains but had never seen such gorgeous panoramic views of them before.
And on my drive home from Assateague, I stopped at places I never would have stopped before because I could get my passport stamped there. Did I not mention that the National Parks Service has passports? If there is even a small part of you that loves collecting things or going on scavenger hunts, you need to get one of these little books. They’re sold at every one of the visitor centers we went to. They look similar to a real passport on the outside, but inside they are filled with maps and lists of national parks and historic sites. When you go to a visitor center that is listed in the passport, you can have your passport stamped with a stamp that is unique to that area. Because I wanted to get stamped, I visited a lighthouse in Chincoteague. I visited the first national historic park in Delaware. I made an unscheduled stop in Philadelphia and saw the Liberty Bell.
I was amazed at how much fun and enjoyment I got from the passports. It made me feel like I was really engaged with the areas that I was visiting. And now, as a bonus, my boyfriend and I have a common goal to work together towards. We want to visit every park and historic site in those little books.
The outdoors mean something different to everyone. For a lot of people, they are calming and therapeutic. For me, they are still stressful. I still hate bugs; I still hate not being able to use my cell phone. Some people, like me, need motivation to go outside (which is why the passports are so perfect for me). I don’t mind that I need to be rewarded to go out, I’m just glad that the National Park Service finally found a way to get me to love the outdoors.