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Painting a New Life

Musings of the Day

Unearthing Joy

Hear this read aloud below

I’m in the habit of asking myself leading questions on a regular basis, often out loud. Known to talk to myself quite frequently, what might seem odd to some, is quite normal to me. Today I began my day with the question that has been a constant for most of my life, “Why am I here?” And what came to me was something I have gotten before, but couldn’t fully grasp. It was too simple for my mind to accept as valid.

I am here to simply live the life I was given. Not to do more. Not to accomplish great things. Not to sacrifice myself further. But to be alive and experience all that my life has to offer. I don’t have to earn the right to my life. I already have it. I don’t have to do more, contribute more, even create more, to be worthy of living. I just have to live. That might sound obvious to most of you, but it wasn’t to me. I knew it intellectually, but I had never really gotten it deep down in my belly like I did today. I was looking for something more complex, something that would require more hard work, which was what I believed was my path in life.

That brings me to the subject of joy.

Joy has not been a big part of my experience of living nor something I considered worth pursuing. It was for others, those who had the good fortune of easier lives, happier childhoods, and greater success. But not for me. I believed, mostly because of what I had been taught and consequently experienced, that I was not one of those fortunate people. I was here to endure life, not enjoy it.

When asked what brings me joy, I have usually struggled to come up with something. I enjoy certain activities, but joy for no reason is a foreign concept to me. I usually brush it aside in favor of something I consider more pressing. And there has always been something more pressing. I believed that a life focused on joy was a way of avoiding the realities of life, that life was hard and the truth of it was mostly painful. For me, given that I am most at home in the dark, the hidden recesses of life, allowing joy to be at the forefront of my desires is a very new and daring idea.

One who’s time has now come.

What does it actually mean, to allow joy?

This photo is of a piece that I’ve been designing and re-imagining for a long time. It’s almost there. Not quite, but almost. The thing is, when I was originally designing it, I remembered that I felt joy, the pure anticipation of a vision, a beckoning from my heart. But that joy turned to stressful work because I put pressure on myself to get it right, to do it in a certain amount of time and to make it in a way that others might want it too. I thought it couldn’t be just something I loved and took joy in making. Just for me. Just for the joy of it. But today I tried it on in its “almost ready” state and I felt joy! The joy of seeing a vision come to life for no other reason than I dreamed it and there it was. No agenda. Just play for play’s sake. I always wondered what play was. I didn’t realize that this was it.

Today I decided that I was going to design more pieces just for the fun of it. No timeline. Just play. Have fun seeing what shows up when I let loose the reins and allow my imagination to fly. This is different than painting. Painting is my soul work. This is about my spirit, that spark deep inside urging me to bring beauty into the world for no other reason than itself. This is allowing joy.

Along with that I have three new paintings completed. They have been patiently waiting for me to pick up my brushes again. When I did, after two years of focused work with fabrics, the absolute joy that I experience as my mind settles and the colors flow, finally came back. I experienced magic happening again. I felt joy. Any time I am in the presence of magic, I light up. Giving myself permission to paint just for the joy of it, with no agenda, no pressure, just the fun of seeing what appears in front of me…that is allowing joy.

I’ve attached a sneak peek at a corner of one of them. If you'd like to see the finished painting please sign up for my mailing list below.

Suddenly the other things I need to do in life, the things that might otherwise have felt like drudgery, aren’t anymore. Time seems to have expanded to include both the mundane and the extraordinary. My perspective has shifted, and I can only attribute it to allowing myself to take joy in the things that I love without the need to validate that I’m spending time and money doing them. I’m allowing myself joy.

Joy was there all along, but I was holding it at bay. It was hostage to accomplishment. I believed that I had to earn it by doing more of whatever it was that I didn’t want to do. I had to earn my life. Joy was buried so deep that it took years of hard work to find out that the freedom I was seeking was mine all along.

Today was a huge shift in re-creating my life and I’m so happy to share it. Yes, there is a lot of pain and I’m OK with that too. I know how to navigate the world of pain and struggle and I actually love the transformative power of the dark side of life. It has honed me in its fires and has brought me to this place of freedom to experience more of the light side of living. The darkest of the dark has made it possible for this new brilliant glow of joy to take its place alongside it, each necessary and beautiful in their own way.

I urge everyone reading this to unearth whatever sparks your joy and bring it into your life every day. Real joy. Not the pacifiers that take its place. What is it for you? Please share your thoughts and also your struggles with this. I read every comment you make.


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