My given middle name is Joy. Growing up, I recall lots of kids saying they hated, or otherwise disliked their middle name. I didn't love or hate mine. The name Joy was always pretty neutral for me. For a while growing up I thought it was either a coincidence or well-devised plan. My mom had a twin sister. Her name was Joyce. My mom's name was Carolyn. My cousin's middle name is Lynn. My youthful logic of the origin of our middle names made sense to me. Joyce - Joy; Carolyn - Lynn. Twin sisters still connected through their daughters.
Now, at 43, I have a different feeling about this part of my name. And I am grateful to my parents for it. One could argue I'm likely solidly in the midst of my "mid-life", crisis or not. Like many of those who are around, or have traveled through, this part of life, I have done a lot of reflecting on my experiences; positive and negative, exhilarating and fearful, growth-producing and lesson-teaching.
I have asked myself, "Why am I here?" "What is the point of all the pain?" "What is my purpose?" While I am still in the process of figuring out my purpose, I'm starting to get a better idea. I also understand the point of the pain. Pain teaches us lessons and gives us perspective. Pain allows us to grow and work through problems. Working through pain allows us to feel accomplishment. All of our experiences have a purpose.
But, if everything has a purpose and a benefit, what about the horrible parts of life? What could have possibly been the upside of my mother and sister passing away two years ago due to a horrible disease, Myotonic Dystrophy? How could these events have any positive outcome? These were the questions that compelled me to start writing my memoir about these experiences, Running from Stillness. During my reading on the topics I came across two poignant descriptions about joy that helped me put some of the puzzle pieces together.
Pima Chodron says that "Joy is not about pleasure as opposed to pain, or cheerfulness as opposed to sadness. Joy includes everything." This statement spoke to me with such power that I stopped short when reading it, reread it several times, placed an extra book mark and took a picture of the paragraph with my phone for future reference.
Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D says that "Joy is the capacity to receive the beauty of the world..." "Joy is within us and shines through us." Of course! Joy is in and all around us. Sometimes we just have to help it along by changing our perspective in order to see what is right in front of us. We are joy!
I love my middle name now. We all need joy. I've decided to explore this topic in more depth by finally naming this blog "The Joy Cultivator" because sometimes we need to help joy grow around us, by caring for it: how we look at things, interact with others, react to events. I may even embrace my given middle name as my new pen name - Wendy Joy. What do you think?
This blog will parallel the writing of Running From Stillness. I look forward to wrestling with topics that arise and including your comments, opinions, thoughts and questions. It is my hope that this blog, and the memoir, will bring joy to others looking for answers in their own lives, and to those dealing with Myotonic Dystrophy personally or as a caregiver, friend or family member.
Thank you for joining me on this journey to cultivate joy, find peace, and embrace the adventures life presents us. Here's to recognizing our ability to reflect, learn new things, and break out of old habits that no longer serve us or bring us joy, to live the life we want to live!