Making the time for joy

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Two weeks ago I shared an activity I used to create timelines and tasks from the vision I have for my business. It was a practical tool to achieve concrete goals. But there’s another important goal in my life that I don’t want to put on a timeline – creating space for the activities that are guaranteed to bring me joy.

I’m lucky to have great relationships and a lot of fun in my life. Joy is the next level beyond fun. Joy is all encompassing happiness that seeps into my soul. For me, greater joy means amping up:

  • Live music. In November I saw Har Mar Superstar at the Turf Club. It was amazing. The beats pulsed through my entire body. I danced. I laughed. I turned to my friends in the middle and said, “I’m so happy.” I love how music instantly creates the feeling of community among strangers. I need more of this.
  • Really getting outside. I’m great an organizing outdoorsy activities in the city. Want to go biking to breweries? Walk around Lake of the Isles? Cross-country ski at Theodore Wirth? I’ll plan the route, send out the invite, and show up with bells on. But it’s been years since I went camping or hiked the North Shore. I want to go on a 10-mile hike, build a campfire, and see the Milky Way.
  • Community and real conversation. I have wonderful friends. We have a ton of fun cooking, traveling, and playing games. But I felt like there was a different aspect of community that I was seeking. In December I started attending Intertwine, a community designed to share stories, listen, reflect, and participate in meaningful conversation. It was exactly the gap I’d been looking to fill.
  • Mini-adventures. I tend to think of adventure in grand terms. It usually involves getting on a plane for at least 8 hours. This kind of adventure is really important to me, but it can only happen occasionally. I need that quick hit of energy from exploring new places, activities, and events closer to home. Two summers ago my mom and I took a day trip to Stockholm and Maiden Rock, Wisconsin. We ate quiche in a bakery, shopped in a cute boutique, wandered art galleries, had a great lunch, and sampled cider at Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery. I felt like I had a vacation! And I was gone for a total of 8 hours.

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What will it take to make this happen? First and foremost, I will have to make it a priority to proactively get these activities on the calendar and round up people to join me (because a big part of my joy is the people!). I have already planned an overnight to Duluth in February. Intertwine events are a priority in my schedule. I’ll organize a camping trip once the weather is warmer and I’m keeping my eyes open for live music opportunities. I’m sure I will also have to say no to a few things in order to create room for these joy-filled activities.

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Do you want to create more joy in your life? Consider the following:

  • What activities and environments bring you true joy? Think about moments where you lose track of time and revel in being alive in this world. When your body feels awake and your heart is free. It does not have to be grandiose. It might be playing the guitar, doing art projects with your kids, or biking around the lake.
  • What do you need to eliminate to make room for joy? Perhaps you need to stop participating in that book club that feels more like an obligation than fun. Trade 30 minutes on the elliptical for a dance class. Clear your calendar one weekend in June to make time for a family camping trip.
  • What is your mindset towards joy? Do you allow yourself to let go and experience joy? There’s a certain freedom and release in experiencing joy, but joy is also vulnerable. If you experience fear and hold back when joy creeps into your life, I recommend reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly or watching her Ted Talk on vulnerability. She has great ideas and reflections on the topic.

Cheers to creating more joy in 2018!

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.

La Viajera (The Woman Traveler)

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Note: A few months ago I posted a story called The Traveler. The experiences in the article were mine, but I wrote the traveler as a man. A friend that has traveled with me around the world questioned this and challenged me to write a second piece as a woman traveler. What a fun challenge it has been! Here she is, La Viajera.

The sun emerges between passing clouds and transforms la viajera’s auburn hair into a fiery red. The wind carries her hair in nonsensical patterns of dancing flames. She does not try to contain it. She lifts her face to the sun and her heart to the sky. A smile rises from her chest and gently appears on her lips.

La viajera sees a clearing along the path where a large flat rock juts over the river, beckoning for her to rest. She sits and quickly tugs off her hiking boots, peels away her socks, and plunges her feet into the icy river. The pristine waters of Patagonia rush around the contours of her feet and between her toes. Cold penetrates her bones and provides relief against the miles of trails la viajera has covered today. A thundering roar catches her attention and she turns with just enough time to see a glacier calving upstream.

Her legs are depleted, but her soul is replenished. She feels the energy of the earth and the glory of being alive in the world. Here, thousands of miles south of her home and surrounded by unfamiliar landscapes, she is free.

She lays back on the rock. The warmth of the boulder seeps into her body while the icy water continues to barrel past her feet. She relaxes fully into the sunshine, breathing it in and radiating the light back out into the world around her.

This feeling of freedom and connection isn’t new for la viajera. It bubbled up when she explored a temple in Angkor Wat with a friend. A rickshaw driver waited somewhere on the other side of the temple, but he was patient and there was no hurry. They turned among ruins of sculptures and tumbling walls towards whatever captured their fancy. Curiosity drove their path forward.

And again when she cycled along one-lane farm roads through endless vineyards in Provence. La viajera got lost more times than she could count in that afternoon of biking, but it didn’t matter. The kindness of strangers and multifaceted communication of English, French, gestures and smiles reminded her of what is good in this world.

And the many times she packed up her Honda Civic and left for a week, a month, a year. The exhilaration of unknown destinations flooded every corner of her body as she drove away from home. Excitement, fear, and wonder merged to form an addictive elixir streaming through her veins. The open road temporarily satisfied this yearning, but it’s only a matter of time before the hunger for new lands flares up and demands attention.

But la viajera is not thinking about that today. Right now she is laying in the sun on a rock next to a river, eyes closed and heart beating in tune with the pulse of the earth beneath her.

 

Heather Whelpley is a coach working with people that want to have a meaningful career and live up to their own potential, but feel stuck in their job. See her home page to learn more. She is also the host of Destination Soul Shine, a community dedicated to nourishing your soul and making your spirit shine. Like Destination Soul Shine on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @destinationsoulshine for resources to inspire you to live a meaningful, healthy, creative life.