Search This Blog

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Impending Joy

Most days before I break my intermittent fast, I go outside and start walking. I take the baby in the stroller and we enjoy the beautiful weather. Canyon is my most easy-going baby and his little personality makes long walks uneventful. He either chills, eats or sleeps.

I put my headphones on and google author lectures. Since I’m working on my memoir Starving Girl, I want to hear how best-selling authors do it; how they stay motivated and what advice they have for upcoming writers. I’ve been introduced to sensational authors and every day it’s like I meet a new friend, one imparticular is shame researcher Dr. Brene Brown. I’m sure many of you have heard of her and if you haven’t, she’s worth getting to know.

So, she researches shame, but her work started out when she wanted to research connection. She gathered research and what she found when asking people about connection was they wanted to talk about disconnection. Her researcher pointed to two groups – those who lived with shame and those who lived with their whole heart. The only difference between the two groups was those who lived whole-hearted and experienced true connection believed they were worthy of love.

Isn’t that amazing?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. Every since I was a little girl, I’ve been taught I’m a child of God. With that belief, we are all worthy of love, but I still have a difficult time manifesting it. 

Do we really believe we are worthy of love?  It's not easy.  

Brene Brown touches on many beautiful angles of human connection, but one pretty much summed me up. I had to listen to her describe it a few times before I really understood. It’s called impending joy.

Let me explain.

Dr. Brown says the only emotion more uncomfortable then shame is joy.

Wait, what?

She says “If you ask me what’s the most terrifying, difficult emotion we feel as humans, I would say joy.”  Why?  Because as soon as we experience it, we’re afraid it’s going to be taken away. She continues by saying, “It’s when we lose our tolerance for vulnerability. Joy becomes foreboding: ‘I’m scared it’s going to be taken away. The other shoe’s going to drop…’ What we do in moments of joyfulness is, we try to beat vulnerability to the punch.”

The way she articulates this hit me at the heart. I’ve noticed this tendency in my own life. My family and I might have just arrived at a beautiful vacation spot, and instead of feeling full-on joy, I rush into unpacking. The counselor and the kids might be checking out the view, while I’m upset it’s past bedtime. I’ve forgotten to look at the view.

I tend to use busy-ness and many times, joy is overlooked. With so many kids, I know the shoe (sometimes literary) is going to fall at any time. In an attempt to prevent further chaos, I try to predict my next move and miss the little and sometimes giant joyful things.

I started wondering “When was the last time I allowed myself to feel joy?” Because let me tell you, I’m surrounded by happy joyful moments all the time in my life, but I don’t think I’m letting many of them fall whole-heartedly into my lap. I see them, I see others experience them, but I’m too busy. I think joy will take up too much time.

I think because I've been practicing and actively seeking joy, yesterday it found me and completely caught me off guard. Full on, belly laughing, out-of-breath joy! 

I was a kid again, no responsibilities and I felt so alive. I was playing with my daughter singing ring-around-the- rosie, “We all fall down,” and she and I laughed, rolling around on the trampoline. We'd run, she would catch me and asked to be hugged. Oh, the gift of a child asking to be hugged was completely exhilarating.  I’d spin her around and look in those gorgeous eyes and I marveled she was mine.

After listening to Dr. Brown, I’ve been actively seeking joy in my life. I’m forcing myself open, being vulnerable to the risks of living in the moment. It’s taken some practice, a little here and a little there like these beautiful moments.

Everyday, Eden brings home little gifts from school.  They might be feathers, rocks, flowers or leaves.  She brings them home for me and they are an expression of her creativity and love.  

At night, I help Reef write in his journal.  I've taken the time to watch how he thinks, how his eyes light up when a creative idea enters his mind.  I'm watching a writer be born and it's amazing.

And how Canyon likes the baby he sees in the mirror.  I found this adorable and pray he always loves himself this way.  He's getting to know himself. 

The joy of those moments made time stand still. My baby, my husband, my kids, there is so much goodness in them. I’m on a mission to find joy wherever it present's itself and Dr. Brown says it starts with gratitude. 

Check out her TED talk. Dr. Brown’s a life changer, for sure.


  1. Thank you Laura for giving me so much to think about. I think I avoid joy as well at times, not allowing myself to feel it full on, not taking time for it. Lots to think about here.

  2. Dr. Brown dives into many emotions of human connection and shows what they really represent. It's fascinating.