Cultivating Joy is the latest collaborative release from Author Linda Joy. Connected Woman Magazine recently reached out to many of the contributing authors of Cultivating Joy and are happy to feature four of the authors of this collaborative project about their individual journey to Joy and how you too can find the path to yours.
Tell us about your family life.
MM-I am blessed with two beautiful sons that are both big enough to pick me up and twirl me around (and have been known to do just that). They are my sunshine and although now young men living on their own they still bring me laughter and tears, all the motherhood joys. My extended family is a huge gaggle of love that lives several states away. I adore social media, which keeps us all connected and well informed of each other’s lives. My parents are both living and at the center of it all. I have found that as I have aged my relationships with the entire clan has expanded and grown rich with depth.
FD- I am married with four children. My oldest son is 17, the twins are 14 (boy & girl), and our youngest son is 6. We all have very busy lives with work (I teach and have a business) and school activities but strive to spend fun, quality time together. With my oldest son looking at colleges now and the twins not far behind, we can see that there will be many changes coming in the next few years. People often tell me that they do not understand how I get everything done, but to me, it often seems effortless. Things seem to flow and fall into place with scheduling and finding time to spend together outside of school, work, and other activities.
PN- I am married to the love of my life and together we have six adult children, four grandchildren and we’re expecting grand baby number five in April 2016. While my husband and I are empty nesters we treasure our family. Every other Wednesday night we host Family Dinner – all are welcome – we love the noise, the conversation, the good food, and most importantly, the great company.
PH- I live in central Wisconsin. I run my business from my home office nestled on 40 acres of fairy-filled woodland. My husband and I have 7 children between us and two giggling grandsons.
Cultivating Joy highlights 8 areas, Getting Real, New Perspective, Overcoming, Motherhood, The Circle of Life, Finding Your Bliss, Inner Connection and Honoring Yourself. Tell us about the area in which you contributed and how in general it applies to your path to joy?
MM-I’m a contributing author under New Perspective, which fits me and the work I bring to the world perfectly. Years ago I surveyed my then clients and asked what our work together brought to their lives. The resounding answer was “a new perspective”. My personal path to joy includes allowing myself to consider different perspectives around an event or experience before I make a choice about what it may mean to my life situation. The choice of considering a new perspective has made all the difference in how my life events have become stepping-stones instead of hurdles toward joy.
FD- My story was part of the Getting Real chapter of Cultivating Joy. My story describes my “waking up” to the fact that I create the emotions that surround circumstances in my life and I am responsible for the emotions that I assign to these circumstances and events. Particularly at work, I’ve experienced and observed how easy it is to get caught up in the drama that occurs and how much stress can be associated with one’s work environment. It is my hope that people will read my story and realize that they too are in control of how much joy they experience in their daily lives no matter what is going on around them.
PN– My story is in the first chapter, Getting Real. I love that my story fit right in because my path to joy was and is all about getting real with myself, owning my stories, and writing new endings.
PH- My story “I Choose Joy” was featured in “The Circle of Life” category. My dad passed away this last December and I shared my experience of our last month together. I am filled with gratitude for having such a wonderful man as he as my father, the life lessons he taught me and the joy I choose to embrace while cherishing the time we shared together. In my story I explain that life isn’t perfect, it’s filled with good times and not so good times. We experience sadness and joy…both are present in life. Living in one (sadness) keeps you stuck, while choosing joy moves you forward.
Joy is not something that exists outside of us, it is something that is always present, ready to be claimed and is cultivated in our lives through our experiences and the choices we make. Living a joyous life is about finding the beauty, grace and joy that is present in our lives, regardless of what is going on around us and sometimes because of it. My father’s passing lead me to question the purpose of death. And while I’m not sure death has a purpose, I decided that if it does it shakes us from the illusion of promised tomorrows. It prompts us to stop putting off what we dream of today, and reminds us how quickly time passes. My dad showed me the beauty of a life well-lived. I have a deeper appreciation for life and the importance of joy in everyday living because of him.
When you hear the word Joy what are the first 3 things, people or words you think of?
MM-Sunshine, my journal, crisp mountain air (with the scent of pine)
FD- The first three things I think of when I hear the word Joy are babies, the color yellow, and upbeat music. I think of babies and young children first because their sense of joy is unfiltered. They experience joy daily and express it without hesitation. The color yellow reminds me of happy, bright feelings as does upbeat, inspirational music.
PN- I think of my two dogs, Taz and Edgar, both now in puppy heaven. They were such good teachers to keep my tail wagging and to love unconditionally. I think of pressing pause and knowing that joy can be in my next breath – all I need to do is pause and slow down. I think of my children when they were young and now my grandchildren. There is nothing more joyful than the sound of giggles from a toddler.
PH- Joy means being able to meet life with curiosity, acceptance, gratitude and grace. (I know that’s four words, but I don’t think I can eliminate one ). Joy is the ability to celebrate the moments that make up our life.
Before your “cultivation”, describe how you felt? Stuck? Unmotivated?
MM-I often felt frustrated and exhausted. I was pushing time, people and money around in my life. I was pushing everything to move faster or in the direction I wanted. I was exhausted and frustrated.
FD- Before my “cultivation,” I felt not only stuck but trapped in my circumstances. I felt like I had no control over what happened at work and that I just had to accept all the responsibilities and demands that were placed on me no matter how unrealistic they were. I felt that I had no choice in making any decisions and that when I did not fulfill the demands, there would always be negative consequences. Freedom is a feeling that I value deeply and so I felt like my freedom was being taken away.
PN-I was the definition of insanity….doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results .
PH- It’s easy to fall into despair and grief over loss, whether of a loved one, a relationship, job…whatever we face in life. I realized that I had a choice to fall into my grief and let it overwhelm me or I could celebrate my dad, what he taught me, and the moments we shared together. I chose to live my life as he wanted us to do, not mourning his loss but remembering him and living life fully.
Was there a particular life event that you feel was the catalyst that caused the imbalance in your joy tank?
MM-For me it was the cumulative effects of being a perfectionist -meets -overachiever -meets -people pleaser. It was the perfect storm to bring me to my knees.
FD-I believe that it was a series of events that gradually led me to the imbalance in my joy tank. It started with one experience during which my job was eliminated, then moving from job to job where I was never really happy with the path I was on so I just talked myself into tolerating what I didn’t like about each position because I knew that I wanted to move into entrepreneurial work in the end. I think the road to me feeling unjoyful at work was a long and gradual one, where I learned to tolerate what I didn’t like and talk myself into everything being OK because I was paid a good salary. Deep down, though, I enjoyed the essence of the jobs which involved teaching, just not all of the demands and politics surrounding it.
PN- It was more like death by 1,000 paper cuts. There was, however, a definite catalyst that caused me to counter balance doing the same thing over and over again…divorce and breast cancer shook me to my core…and convinced me to do life differently.
PH- The thought of living in a world without my dad was not something I wanted to face. I couldn’t imagine a life without him. And I didn’t want to imagine it. I questioned how my life could be happy if he wasn’t here.
What was your AHA moment when you knew things had to change?
MM-I had a health crisis that caused me so much pain and discomfort that I started to open my mind to other perspectives to better understand how to heal my body. Reaching for alternative perspectives around health was a huge AHA for me. I had not been raised with any awareness around healing other than to take a pill to relieve symptoms. We all know that doesn’t work for very long.
FD- My ‘aha’ moment as described in my story occurred when my principal called me in to discuss the resignation paperwork that I had submitted. I found my ‘aha’ and my message of change in the principal’s words.
PH- There wasn’t one moment but a culmination of moments during our last weeks together. I witnessed my father face his cancer and these last days with a sense of peace. He exemplified the grace of acceptance and gratitude for the life he lived and the people he loved. He had no regrets. I witnessed the beauty of a life fully lived which reaffirmed for me the importance of following your heart, not taking one day for granted and making the most out of the time we have together while we’re here. Most importantly I understood the true meaning of legacy…how we each have an opportunity to touch the lives of others in a way that not only benefits them, but will benefit the lives of people for generations to come. Many of whom we’ll never even know. We each have an amazing opportunity to share love and empower others within every day.
Who is your favorite author or book genre?
MM- Books are a big part of my joy. I’m a self-proclaimed life learner and reading at least one book at any given time. I have so many favorite authors so let me just say anyone teaching about self-awareness and self-mastery are probably on my bookshelf.
FD– Two of my favorite authors are bell hooks and Octavia Butler. I also really enjoy reading spiritual/self-development books.
PN- I’m a huge fan of historical fiction and science-fiction. Some of my favorite authors include Diana Gabaldon (Outlander fame), Philippa Gregory, and Isaac Asimov. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time is The Martian by Andy Weir.
PH- I have so many! Dr Wayne Dyer’s “You’ll See It When You Believe It” was the first of many books to change my life, how I perceive “reality” and recognize the power that we each have to make a real and lasting difference in the world.
Is this your first book? If not please share with other your other written works.
MM-This is actually my third book. I have been a contributing author in Soul Whispers III, Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: CHOOSING HAPPINESS, as well as Inspiration For a Woman’s Soul: CULTIVATING JOY.
FD- I have contributed chapters to three other books. I wrote a chapter titled “Moving through Fear” in Soul Whispers III: Soul Wisdom for Living the Life of Your Dreams (Volume 3) by Sophia Fairchild and Denise Linn (2012); a chapter titled “The Value of a Pilot Program” in The Wisdom of Midlife Women 2 Kindle Edition by Linda Joy (2015); and a chapter in the soon to be released Unleash Your Inner Magnificence Kindle Edition by Linda Joy (11/2015).
PN-I have co-authored two other books, Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Choosing Happiness and Wisdom for Midlife Women 2.
PH- This is my first published book. I’m thrilled to be a part of this beautiful anthology of stories.
Is writing hard for you or did it come easily?
MM-Once I overcame the resistance of doing it perfectly and just allowed myself to capture my story in my words it was an absolutely delightful experience.
FD- Once I have decided on a topic or story to write about, the writing of the actual story comes easily. Most often, it will take me quite a bit of time, meditation, and thought on what story to focus on. For me, that is the most difficult part, and then once the story has been decided upon, it just flows freely.
PN-Writing flows for me – it’s not always pretty or easy, but I can face down a blank page pretty well.
PH- Writing comes easily for me. I imagine that I’m talking with the reader. I think about what I want to share with them and how others sharing their experiences have helped me when I thought I was the only one who faced what I was experiencing. When I focus on how my experiences can help others, the words flow through me.
What inspired you to participate in this project?
MM-My inspiration was the desire to get my voice out into the world. My life experiences have been rich soil in which I have cultivated my own self-awareness. Self-awareness has brought me a freedom I never dreamed possible and a state-of-joy that changed the entire game of life. I desire to guide many others to cultivate this for themselves. This book was one way for me to let my experiences be heard in hopes of connecting others to their ability to transform their obstacles into stepping-stones toward freedom and joy.
FD-The opportunity to participate in this project was brought to me by a trusted friend who had participated in a previous book project with Linda Joy. Her introduction of me to the project as well as seeing the other publishing projects that Linda Joy created, I knew that I wanted to participate in an inspiring story that will reach and help others to be inspired as well. Participating in this project has been an amazing experience, full of support, guidance, and gratitude in sharing my story.
PN- Having participated in two other projects, I know I can trust publisher Linda Joy and editor Bryna Rene Haynes with my stories. They are phenomenal.
PH- Several things inspired me. First, I loved the idea behind this project, sharing personal stories to empower other women and I had a powerful story to share. Second, I knew Linda Joy, publisher of Inspired Living Publishing, was a woman who would hold our stories sacred. And third, I knew Linda’s publishing company empowers women around the world and that this project would positively impact many lives. I feel honored to be one of the contributors to this anthology of stories.
What advice would you give to women in general who feel their joy is tapped out or being pushed to the side?
MM-My clients know I ask Power Questions intended to wake-up self-awareness. My Power Question would be to ask themselves “what change is trying to occur that I am resisting?” The answer may be something like: to apply for that new position, to get more rest, to forget about doing it perfectly, to allow my child to not be in soccer this season or a plethora of other answers. Just listen to your own wisdom that will answer you once you ask the Power Question. (Psst. The answer is often very subtle so don’t look for the ticker-tape parade)
FD- My first piece of advice would be to remember what does bring you joy. Find ways to bring more of the activities that bring you joy into your life. I also recommend starting a journal, if you don’t already have one. Journaling certainly helps me to sort out the feelings I associate with events and circumstances from the objective facts of the circumstances. This bit of separation helps me to take a step back and see what I can do to either completely change the situation, or to change the emotions that I associate with the situation.
PN- I would ask them to reflect on how they are contributing to their own lack of joy. What choices and decisions are they making that push joy out I would ask them to list their top priorities and then ask why they weren’t on their list. Too often women get caught in the trap of caretaking at the expense of their own joy and happiness.
PH- Although it may feel at times that joy is something outside of you, that sometimes “happens” to you, joy exists WITHIN you. It may be buried under pain and fear. You may not even remember what joy feels like. At times feeling the pain may be what serves you in the moment…but don’t live there, don’t let it define you, let it pass through you and look again. Joy is there if you open your heart to finding it and the more you look for it, the more joy you’ll experience in your life.
How do you maintain the balance of joy while balancing your home life and/or career? How do you replenish your “happy”?
MM-For me happy and Joy are two different things. Happy is a feeling that is felt and passes through me. Joy is more of a state-of-Being. Joy lasts for moments and sometimes hours or days. So while in this state-of-Being of Joy, I can actually feel sadness pass through me or frustration. Have you ever laughed and cried at the same time? It is an example of a feeling moving through you while in a different state-of-Being.
Life can be challenging (would you really want it any other way?). To maintain a high that Joy brings I start by taking responsibility for being in a state-of-Joy each morning. This is my #1 responsibility or job as I start each day. I have a morning ritual that ensures I am in a state-of-Joy as I move through my day. If ever I find myself out of joy and desire to get back into that state-of-Being I take a deep breathe and ask myself “What am I resisting right now that is keeping from being in Joy”. It is easy to get bumped out of that state and just as easy to get back into it. We are powerful beyond measure and with a little awareness, desire and discipline we can achieve it.
FD- It is important to me to continue to do things for me that bring me joy. While it is easy for me to get caught up in what everyone else needs and balancing the children’s activities and school requirements with my husband’s non-traditional work schedule, just having some time to reflect, listen to music, or work on projects of my own, replenishes my “happy.”
PN- For me, this became a matter of life or death. When I was faced with breast cancer and the realization that I could die from it, I counter balanced my life pretty quickly. By nature I am an overachieving, type A, go-getter. That won’t change but what I did change was learning how to create space for me and what’s important to me. Practicing yoga, journaling, and practicing martial arts have played a huge role in how I rearranged my life. I fill my happiness well by creating clutter free space in my head, being in silence (even if it’s for only 5 minutes), and learning how to press pause when my overachieving self begins to drift off the edge of the universe.
PH- I make a conscious choice not to get caught up in the busyness of the day. I refuse to be in a hurry. I remind myself not to take things for granted and I make a point of doing something I love each day and make self-care an important part of my schedule to ensure that I’m refueling my energy. I understand that I cannot be the best I can be for others if I’m not taking care of myself.
Tell us about any businesses or upcoming endeavors you would like to promote?
MM-Thank you for asking. I would love to share a gift with your readers. This gift will give a sampling of my work and also share powerful tools to more fully engage in our sacred journey – our life. I call this Radically Engaged Living™ and this tool will guide you to the first step which is awareness. https://soulcompass.leadpages.co/mariannemackenzie-freegift/
FD- Next month, November 13-15, I will be a guest speaker at the Living in Alignment Feng Shui & Space Clearing Conference in San Luis Obispo, CA. It will be an awesome conference (www.interioralignment.com).
I am also setting the schedule to teach more feng shui and space clearing certification courses in 2016. Details will be found on my website (www.feliciadhaiti.com)
PN- Thank you! I am teaching a class December 11, 2015 called “New Beginnings: Creating Powerful Intentions for 2016.” I am teaching both an online version and an in person version. For details, visit www.createpowerfulintentions.com
I am teaching yoga nidra at the Move Breathe Explore retreat in Hull, MA on January 23, 2016. Registration is now open and people can buy tickets at www.movebreatheexplore.com
PH- I am a transformational business – life coach and money mystic http://www.paulahoulihan.com . Enjoy my gift Activate Your Money Magic e-guide filled with tips and practices to activate YOUR money magic.
I’d like to promote this empowering book: Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Cultivating Joy filled with real stories written by real women who discovered the key to living true joy. You can order your copy of Cultivating Joy today and receive access to over 50 transformational gifts for a limited time. >>www.CultivatingJoyBook.com
And I’d like to promote our “Cultivating Joy Video Series” which starts November 2nd.
This video series includes interviews of each of the Cultivating Joy authors. No scripts and nothing to buy … just two women in sacred conversation about life, joy, and the wisdom and hard lessons learned along the way. Registration is free and you’ll receive 50 empowering gifts when you register: bit.ly/JOY_VIDEOS
Anything to add?
MM-We would love to hear from you so we can share our upcoming events and coaching services. Contact us at mm@MarianneMacKenzie.com and visit online at www.MarianneMacKenzie.com
FD- At the end of August, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I feel that it is especially important for my health and my recovery to maintain joy in my daily life. My health has really made clear to me the people and things that are most important in my life. I have learned to prioritize even more and really let go of the things in my life that do not bring me joy.
PN- Thank you so much for inviting me to participate. My free eBook, “30 Ways to Boost Your Positivity” is available for download. It won’t be around too much longer. Readers can download it at www.peggynolan.com.
PH- Remember the magic of who you are. You are not the things that happen to you, the roles that people assign to you or the ideas that limit you. You are an expression of the Divine. Follow you heart and you’ll be amazed at where it will lead you.
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