Many of us are still impacted directly or indirectly by the lingering darkness from the pandemic and a difficult world in its wake. Perhaps it is in our family, perhaps in our workplaces, perhaps with struggling friends or coworkers. One that comes to mind is death and self-destruction from despair and mental illness among young people who find themselves unable to cope with this world. It is all around us.

Given this reality, I have been reflecting on how to create more Joy in the world as it stands. At some point I had the faulty understanding that pursuing my dreams at all cost with my womenswear workshop would create joy. In hindsight this is incorrect. Joy has actually very little to do with our goals – instead it is the choices we make about how to live as we move through life.

Interestingly I have been reflecting deeply on this fact in the past few weeks as I find myself bone tired from a demanding schedule and the lingering absences from the pandemic and a still new community such as the energizing influences of friends, social engagements and in person work. It was an odd realization when I honed in on the problem. I believe I have been focused on the wrong thing – the goal of getting out our first 20 finished blouses, opening the womenswear workshop, being able to go full time with my womenswear business, bringing the sewers on full time. I have created such a grinding schedule to get there that I began to squeeze out the energy of joy, love and abundance that is so important in what we do.

So in the midst of these realizations I honed in on the problem that needed fixing: I needed to reprioritize love and joy in this work and let everything else reflect that priority. During my last-minute trip home, my mom and I got to work on an art project together – a woman’s form made of stiffened, naturally dyed fabric and yarn. I felt a sense of joy, expansiveness and intimacy with myself and my heart that I had not felt for a long time. Indeed, for the past many years I would dismiss making the time to create something that had nothing to do with my business, my day job, or chores. But in having that stolen time with my mom, I got to realize how indispensable it is for having the energy for life that is required to create abundance and move mountains.

When I look around, I believe that I’m not the only one who needs to prioritize joy. Without the energy of joy we don’t have access to the vital energy we need to move forward to find kinship, compassion and love for ourselves, our communities and the work that needs to be done. It is love and joy that allows us to think outside of the box towards new ways of being. It is love for ourselves that allows us to set boundaries with our other obligations so that the precious energy of Joy can remain alive and well.

I acknowledge as I write this that there are plenty of less than joyful activities that we must move through each week – take business expenses for instance which are particularly irksome when one is working a full time job and so must do them on the weekend. There is no getting around the fact that they must be kept up to date and yet if I prioritize Joy I might ask – how can I make this easier? What other parts of my life can I downshift on so that I am not spending my Sunday afternoon logging my business expenses? I am of the belief that that dream in our heart is not there to torture us, to grind us down until we collapse into an exhausted heap. But it does force us to grow in significant and scary ways that require A LOT of courage.

I challenge you to courageously examine your life and prioritize joy. I am cheering you on. Thank you for your support.