What does Joy mean to you?
This is one of those questions I have been asking myself for a while. What does joy look like, feel like, smell like, sound like to me. My joy will inevitably differ from other people's joy just because the things that bring me joy are personal to me. So I ask, If you cannot define in some shape or form what you want, how will you be able to work towards it?
Joy usually is associated to moments of happiness, when I think of joy I automatically think of happiness. I think of where I have been happy in my life and how much joy it brought me. But is that joy momentary, despite still being happy about how it made me feel? So how can I make joy be constant? I read about some interesting traits of a joyful person but how do people become joyful as a part of their innate nature?
It has been a hazy few weeks and hope can feel lost at these weird times, especially when you cannot find joy amidst the fear, sorrow, pain and uncertainty.
So I decided I will find and create my own joy as I have done so many times over before. My ability to have hope in better days is what propelled me to create the Journal to Joy programme. Putting this together has been a passion of mine for such a long time and I felt it is needed more now than ever with high and low energy in the air - people need to find balance and bring back hope. This can be achieved when exploring the spectrum of joy, what lens you perceive joy and how it presents itself to you.
Many people who know me know that I am a very big advocate of self-care and well being. It is not only my profession but it is my projects, my speech, my poetry, my songs but in all it is reflected in my writing. I do this through finding hope in my situations around me.
Through journaling, I have been able to seek out my strengths, my powers to overcome obstacles and use this to write hope with intention and free flow! I have had to really come to terms with many personally testing moments over the past few years and I've managed to support my healing journey my way. In the way that helps me in the most effective ways through writing towards joy during every upheaved situation.
There is a huge importance on being able to support yourself long term and to be your own healer! So many people go to therapy for a perceived quick fix and think that it didn't work because they are "not healed". That is because they didn't do the work outside of the therapy sessions. They did not practice self healing.
Let's be real, how can you be truly heal in such a short time from the things that may be deep rooted within you. Judgement of yourself and others, unhealthy behaviours, guised view of the world and how you fit in it! That work is solidified outside of therapy! The long haul work. The life work.
The work of hope and working towards more joyful and better days. I have found journaling to be my long haul therapy.
Since I was 11 years old I have used journaling and diarising life events as my way to express without limitation. Blank pages never end and can never judge you. Blank pages allow you to be free, open and raw with no rules or restrictions!
Journaling helped me manage and express my emotions of loosing my mother, school issues, relationship breakdown, physical and emotional abuse, learning to become an adult, exploring the meaning of womanhood and discovering the importance of sisterhood within and outside of your blood line family and most importantly throughout becoming a mother. Journaling got me through being a mature student, a worker, a person learning culture, a person that is part of a community - absolutely everything.
Writing towards joy has guided me through understanding what I wanted and needed for myself as this changes day by day, sometimes by the hour. Self reflection has helped me build boundaries where there were none and remove the restricted walls to my soul. It has helped me overcome a multitude of life stressors that I didn't opt for or want and carve out what I do want at multiple stages of my life!
During this time of Covid 19, that which I call solitude season, I have utilised journaling more than ever. Firstly, creating and using journal prompts but then it got to a point where the flow just happened and using this method as my release as I navigate through my 'temporary normal' I have been able to create my new normal. Such an empowering experience that I had to share it with others!
So here is a word of encouragement, if you are struggling with managing your emotions, are stripped of hope and are seeking Joy, expose yourself to the benefits of creative expression and bring your attention to the joys of life you already have, are able to create and share with others, now and in an after life.
I want us all to come out of this pandemic as resilient beings.
Able to cultivate a journaling discipline that contributes to your armour of protection when combating hard times now and in times to come.
I ran the Journal to Joy school over a 28 day period where I facilitated a virtual safe space to help guide and nourish the group's journaling habits. The aim was to use the 28 daily journal prompts - accompanied with self reflection exercises, to explore your emotions towards the different moments in your life, such as childhood and teenage years, shared experiences and the journey to your current self.
The group had two weekly check ins to share any learning from the self exploration and 'notes to self'. This was my first long term project that required alot of planning and personal development. I learnt so much in the processes involved from the preparation to delivery and execution and most importantly the reflexive phase once it was all over. This is definitely a learning experience, one that I will take on board when I run the school again, until next time....