Dear style & substance,
Joy is everywhere during the holiday season. Ornaments, signs, greeting cards, wrapping paper – all with just the word JOY. I am fascinated by the idea of joy. How do we find and keep them alive, especially in difficult times?
Winter holidays are the festival of gathering and light, but also time for holy rest and reflection. This time of year and the winter solstice can guide us as we explore light and darkness, joy and sorrow. Somewhere in between is the awareness and the lingering of the shadow. When winter begins we step into the lengthening of daylight and the lessening of darkness. Just as the increasing light is subtle, joy can also be a little delicate and elusive.
“The eye is always caught by light, but shadows
have more to say. “
~ Gregory Maguire
How we “see” joy and how we “experience” joy can be very different. When you envision your own interpretation of joy, you can experience it as an ubiquitous part of your life rather than fitting into a particular cultural representation. Finding your own is the key to making joy a living element in your life. Society calls out that joy resides in lively conversation, large family gatherings, busyness, and the holiday hype. Joy can also be found in silence, in quiet love, in deep conversations, in leisure and calm.
“Find out where joy resides and give it a voice that goes far beyond singing. To miss that
Joy is missing out on everything. ‘
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
On the way from elusive joy to fleeting joy, to surges of joy, to lasting joy, we invite you to look at the shadows or the edges of joy, something in between that naturally adds to your piece of happiness, silence, or consolation Peace can be.
Too much light or emotion can be extremely intense, too strong where the senses are overloaded and it is not sustainable. Similarly, too much darkness brings with it despair and a strong sense of regret that disconnects and isolates. Finding a middle ground in the shadows is an exploration of balance and contentment. Shadows add a sense of depth and texture to our life experience. They recognize the presence of light, filter and create a seductive, almost secret look or an interpretation. Shadows give the viewer a beauty, an experience that is not as extreme as bright light or deep darkness.
‘When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never fades.’
Calm down, stop, explore, and find a middle ground. Be curious and accommodating about who you hang out with and what you do in this balance of emotion and commitment. Your intensity is yours, it doesn’t have to match or match of others. Inner understanding gives your handwriting authenticity and simplicity, joie de vivre – the elevation of the spirit. You are a light and pure version, not a mirror of someone else.
A cute granddaughter was asked if she saw ANY stars while we were staring at the winter moon this week. She replied with awe and said, “I see ALL the stars!” Optimism and hope are our wish for you; a new year of hopeful light and discerning darkness. Look for ALL stars.
Sally Meisenheimer and Michele Armani are the owners of style & Substance, which offer life coaching and creative solutions. Meisenheimer and Armani are certified life coaches with many years of experience in health education, personnel development and teaching. They have been married together for over 60 years and raised seven children. Questions and comments emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.