The Journey to Joy

While I was working at a summer camp in college, there was a rule that if the counselors wanted to “play on the lake” they could only go out to do that at the crack of dawn before the campers woke up.  So we’d often meet at the dock in our swimsuits and quietly back the boat out of the slip.  We’d slowly make our way out of the camp cove and into the middle of the lake.  Then we’d ski, tube, and generally laugh and cut up. 

It was the best way to get in the mood to start a full day of work with kiddos.  

I’ll never forget one specific day, I went out with a group of female counselors.  After we’d been skiing, we decided to pull off into a cove to hook up the tube.  While we were there someone (it was probably me, but I honestly don’t remember) yelled, “Hey let’s skinny-dip!”  So, of course we did.   We all jumped in the water and threw our suits over onto the side of the boat.  We laughed and giggled like we were the little kids.  Then, it was time to head back to camp.  I was the last one at the ladder waiting for them to throw me my suit, when the driver said, “Hey Crystal, you’re on the tube back to camp.”  I was like, “Well, okay, throw me my suit.”

Then came the ruckus laughter.

“Nope.  Just hop on that tube!”  So away we flew with my pale, bare backside flapping in the wind.  As we passed a poor old fisherman in a cove, just minding his own business, they screamed wildly, “WOOHOOOOO!!”  I was laughing so hard I couldn’t tell the difference between the tears and the lake water in my eyes.  Those were the good ‘ole days.  The fun, carefree, Crystal.  The girl who was always up for an adventure and laughing all the way through.

I remember so vividly what it felt like to be her . . . and I miss her.

I often catch myself wishing to be the girl I used to be, especially this time of year when I’m dreaming of all the best things I want my year to hold.  My word for the year is “Joy”.  Last year my word was “rest” and it was good.  I needed that rest.  This year, my soul is thirsty for joy.  

But not the joy of a naive 20-year-old.

I recently read this in an article by Becky Thompson:

Your goal shouldn’t be to find the “you” that was lost. Your goal should be to make friends with the woman that you have become. To embrace her for who she is. Scars and all.  Because even though she is different, she is worth knowing. She is worth being kind to… She is worth loving.”

Her words sent me searching for what “joy” looks like for me right here, right now, all 43 years of me.  I created a Pinterest board of quotes.  In fact, for days I’ve just been dropping quotes on joy into this blog post, thinking one of them would spark a jumping-off place. (ha!  No pun intended)  But none of them were it.  I couldn’t find anything about the way I wanted to claim joy in my life this year.  This morning, it suddenly dawned on me. . . . Brené Brown.  She writes about what I’m feeling. 

It didn’t take 5 seconds to find this post:  The Midlife Unraveling

“Many scholars have proposed that the struggle at midlife is about the fear that comes with our first true glimpse of mortality. Again, wishful thinking. Midlife is not about the fear of death. Midlife is death. Tearing down the walls that we spent our entire life building is death. Like it or not, at some point during midlife, you’re going down, and after that, there are only two choices: staying down or enduring rebirth.

It’s a painful irony that the very things that may have kept us safe growing up ultimately get in the way of our becoming the parents, partners, and/or people that we want to be.

Whatever the issue, it seems as if we spend the first half of our lives shutting down feelings to stop the hurt, and the second half trying to open everything back up to heal the hurt.”  ~ Brené Brown

For me, joy is the rebirth.

That’s the first step in healing the hurt. It’s not the same, naive joy I used to know.  It’s a rebirth of a different joy that is deeper, stronger, more authentic for who I am today.  It’s the joy birthed from learning to feel.  To sit with the pain.  To be vulnerable.

“Another problem is that you can create what you want to avoid. In order to maintain a wall around yourself, you have to create a sense of there being dangers outside the wall that must be avoided. You want to live. But by walling yourself off, you wall away excitement, friendships, a sense of being fully alive. When you rigidly control the moments of your life, you don’t actually feel safe. You feel rigid. Rigid is another way to say fragile and fearful.

You can’t totally wall away the sense of vulnerability, because within it lies hidden not only life, but love and joy.”  ~  

For me, this year is a journey to joy.

What about you?

What’s the thing that used to keep you safe, but is now getting in the way of you becoming the person you want to be?

What walls do you need to tear down in order to make space for the rebirth that is seeking to emerge?

What is calling to be rebirthed in you this year?

It’s a journey.

Want to take it together?

to more love . . . and joy, 

Crystal

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