The Foundation For Joy

The Foundation For Joy

As we rang in 2021, I was sluggish and lacked energy! I count this as a barrier to my joy and happiness. I believe we can experience joy in the everyday despite our health and wellness.....BUT if my food tastes better after sugar detox, if I have more fun with my kids the more fit I am than how much more joy can I experience if I'm improving my wellness?

I had this in mind when I set my intention for 2021 (because I reject resolutions, see my blog Screw Resolutions).  For 2021, I am committed to have the energy to be happy.

So how’s it going, you ask? Setting an intention instead of a resolution was genius! I’ve accomplished healthy changes that I feel like I will maintain as lifestyle changes.  

It is time to check in and take inventory of my energy and my happiness.  When I first claimed my intention to have the energy to be happy for 2021 it was because my energy waned with peaks and valleys and seems to only be available to things I’m passionate about that day if anything.  My happiness is similar but all too often is negatively influenced by demands on me or by negative people and disappointment.  I guess we could say my happiness is fragile.  The demands overshadowed my joy often.  Staying focused on my understanding of true happiness, I need to seek joy engaging in activities that help me become the best version of myself. I realized the barrier to that for me is low energy! (So now you see why I started here)

Fast forward three months and I’ve definitely seen improvements! I’m getting more done at work and having more patience and positive interactions with the kids.  My overall attitude is more peaceful and less irritable.  I don’t sigh before walking up the stairs a bazillion times to talk to the teens or clean the craft room. I just go! These may seem like small changes but they are big wins!  

AND…. not one day have I felt bad about my progress!

By setting the intention, I just go about my day considering whether what I’m doing, eating, drinking, etc is going to give me energy and joy or drain my energy and joy and act accordingly.  That answer isn’t always the same.  Sometimes it means water, sometimes coffee and when I’m not on the Whole30, it might mean ice cream.  Sometimes it means setting my diffuser, sometimes sitting in the sun to work, and sometimes taking the dog for a walk.  Setting the intention leaves me the wiggle room in the measurement of success to do what I need in the moment.

Here is what I’ve been doing.  In January, I started off with the intention to increase my water consumption.  I went from drinking maybe 28 oz/day to an avg 70oz/day and sometimes as much as 96oz! I’ve been able to keep that up with at least 64oz most days since.  Next I started preparing my mind to do the Whole30 again because I needed to break up with sugar! The sweet tooth is strong with me! I’ve got just one week left on the Whole30 and I’m not gonna lie. It’s been more challenging for me this time but it’s doing its job.  In March, I’ve been increasing my antioxidant intake by taking my Ningxia Red Shot daily and eating more fruits and veggies (not that hard on the Whole30).  Next, I plan on working on my sleep routine. 

Some days are better than others but everyday I’ve been happy with my progress and effort.  If I had set a resolution I would have felt defeated several times by now and probably given up.

It’s never too late to begin your own journey to wellness and happiness.  If you resonate with me and intend to have the energy to be happy, here are some ideas on things you can get started with anytime!

There are lots of ways to improve energy.  Here are a few:

  • Hydrate
  • Exercise
  • Reduce Toxins
  • Positive Mindset
  • Love on your spouse
  • Begin an essential oil regimen
  • Check your vitamin and mineral levels
  • Add fruits and veggies into your diet
  • Reduce sugar and gluten consumption
  • Snuggle your pets and kids
  • Play & have some fun
  • Meditate & Pray
  • Acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to feel them
  • Get a massage
  • Learn something new about a passion of yours
  • Consult a chiropractor
  • Journal your joys and gratitude

These are all things I’m planning to do along my journey.  Want to join me?  Friend me on FB.  My Young Living Team has a Facebook group called Bloom.  We are all working on “blooming” into the best versions of ourselves.  Once you start your essential oil regimen for wellness with me or Deanna we can add you in there and travel the road together.

If you are not already a Young Living member and want to learn how to begin an essential oil regime, I’m happy to help. We have weekly education zooms and I’m happy to chat 1:1. Just DM me!  Bloom members can join our weekly educational zooms too!

Desire more joy in your life like most other women? Join our facebook group Joy For Everyday Women for inspiration.

Love my Gallon Size Bottled Joy water bottle!?!? Here are my affiliate links.  They have a 32oz one too that I use daily!  Remember if you use essential oils in your water you need stainless steel.  Here is the combo I bought and love!

Joy was my sacrifice.

Joy was my sacrifice.

I saw a post recently that said, “stop living on autopilot, start living on purpose”, and I’ve been reflecting on it ever since.  

I believe that I was living stuck in autopilot before this pandemic.  Were you?  Are you?

Ever since I was young people have asked me, “Ila, how do you get so much done?”  In high school, I was on several teams as captain (not because of skill but because I’m an encourager who tries hard).  I had a part time job and good grades.  In college, I took full loads every semester.  One semester I took 21 credit hours while working three side jobs and holding a leadership role in the UMC campus ministry (Wesley Foundation).  Crazy, I know! When I started full-time work, I was married, earned my Master’s Degree, completed candidacy getting ordained as a UMC Deacon while I had 2 small kids and worked as youth director.  I’ve since had two more littles, advanced in my career, started a girl scout troop, continue to work with youth, and now I’ve started this #joysisters journey.  I know that’s enough to make many people exhausted but I LOVE all the things I’ve been involved in.  

To answer the question, “Ila, how do you get so much done?”, I’ve set up a routine.  I love scheduling and planning and organizing and it serves me well to accomplish the tasks that get those things done.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t also tell you that there are groups of wonderful friends and family around me that contribute as well.  They are my village; eople I adore and love.  Today, though, I want to focus on the routine part.  

In my planning, I set a routine that allows me to do things without me having to put a lot of thought into them.  Most of us probably do this getting ready in the morning, right.  You have a certain order of waking up, brushing your teeth, showering, dressing, eating breakfast, packing lunches, etc…..  I applied that same approach to entire days.  After a few weeks into a new routine, I was automated.  I could go through a day from task to task, activity to activity without having to put a lot of thought into it.  I just needed to remember where I had to be next and what we needed when I arrived.  So yes, I got a lot accomplished through routine.

Here’s the thing…….. When I look back, I mostly remember being tired.  Because my schedule was so jam packed, I didn’t have enough time to rest.  So any space my routine gave me to be in the present moment to enjoy the activity was sacrificed.  Sacrificed to what? Nothing. I simply let everything pass me by.

You know how you can get in your car to go somewhere familiar and all of the sudden you have arrived?  You are surprised and think, whoa…. I don’t remember the drive?  It feels like you went through a time warp.  You know you must have gone a certain way but you can remember.  You’ve spaced out.  

That post, “stop living on auto-pilot, start living on purpose” has helped me to see that I’ve spaced out on big chunks of time…….like years! I have my memories, but routine had me living and relying on autopilot to the point I lost touch with my purpose for all those activities and relationships.  Without a sense of purpose, you become lost.  I was spacing out and lost in my day to day just wishing to be at the end of season or that I had accomplished a goal.  

I’ve actually caught myself thinking things like that.  Other women, are like…. “I wish time would stand still” or “I wish they could stay young forever” and I was like, “I can’t wait for them to be more independent,” or “I can’t wait till we don’t have to XYZ anymore,” and “can we please skip the teen years!”  In truth, I probably think all of this but it's the latter I feel most often.  

I listened to part of a podcast the other day about jumping goals that relates here, I promise.  The woman kept using “the body she wants” as an example which was really annoying to me but it was a decent illustration.  She said if she jumped ahead and had the body she wanted tomorrow, she wouldn’t be able to keep it.  She wouldn’t be able to maintain that “body she wants” because she wouldn’t have gone through the trials and struggles to figure out how to get it.  She wouldn’t keep that body because she wouldn’t have pride in the accomplishments that got her there.  

She’s talking about the importance of living the journey!

There are quotes after quotes out there that inspire living in the movement and enjoying the journey.  I’ve read them.  At work we even emphasize, the process is more important than the product.  I tell my kids relationships are more important than things.  [Ila slaps forehead here]. Ya’ll it never sank in, until my mom got sick, the pandemic came, I read the post……  

I’ve been stuck on auto-pilot and it’s dulled my sense of purpose in the things I love and with the people I love.  So each day I live on auto-pilot, I don’t sacrifice “nothing”, I sacrifice joy.  It’s not been taken from me.  I’ve not been denied it.  I’ve sacrificed it.  

I will not sacrifice joy any longer. 

[Ila pushes button, turns off auto pilot].

Let's claim joy together! If this message and others from our blog resonate with you, join our Facebook Community Joy for Everyday Women and we invite you to start using the hashtag #joysisters.

Just Do the Next Right Thing

Just Do the Next Right Thing
Did you miss my blog post Monday? Last minute I had to fill in and deliver the message for Sunday worship. Today, I will stray from our recent joy conversation to talk about a path toward joy by sharing the message I delivered.  It happens by just doing the next right thing.  You can watch the worship service where I deliver the message HERE

I am the daughter of an alcoholic.  Don’t feel sorry for me.  That life lead me to people who shared Jesus and I’ve been able to better understand his suffering by showing the kind of grace and mercy and love that he does.  But that is a sermon for another day.

I am the daughter of an alcoholic.  In those circumstances I became skillful at developing multiple exit strategies.  These were detailed steps I would take if things went south so that I could get away safely.  

The first time I did it I was in a car, riding with a drunk behind the wheel. I ended up in enough unsafe situations that I developed a routine.

Pray.. Imagine... Pray... Watch/Wait.  

The other place that I did this was at bed time.  Arguments and abuse happened outside my room at night.  I added a little to my routine in this case.  I would pray for God’s safety and ask, not that he erect a hedge of protection, but that he encase me in a bubble.  I would close my eyes and see that bubble and when I was done praying I strategized.  How will I get out? What neighbors would I go to? How will I call the police? How will I get back in to get my sisters? When I had imagined all the possibilities I would pray again and feel calm enough to sleep.

I developed quite the skill of observation in my waiting, to the point that I could predict incidents before they occurred. This has served me well in business, as a mother, and in communicating with people who have dementia.  I can take in a lot of information from my surroundings,  assess the safety, interpret body language and react accordingly for safety.  

But that is all the exit planning does.  It’s only ever kept me in a bubble of safety.  In that bubble I’m protected and safe but lack the opportunity to explore and marvel at the wonder of God because it limits God and it limits me.  

My sister told me she read this week that the feeling of excitement and anxiety represent the same biologically and we tell our brain what to do with those feelings.  One is negative and the other is positive.

All of our feelings have opposites.  Happy/sad, excited/anxious, jealous/grateful, sorrow/joy, love/hate.  In life we can’t understand one without experiencing the other.  We can’t know love and joy and happiness if we don’t know what sadness, grief, fear and suffering feel like.  We can’t know connectedness without knowing loneliness. Heaven will be marvelous because we’ve known the suffering of earth.

We aren’t meant to be encased in a bubble and safe from the emotions of life. I hear the words of Isaiah so clearly in this scenario….

ISAIAH 40: 21-26
Do you not know, have you not heard??
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heaves like a canopy and spread them out like a tent to live in.  
He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground than he blows on them and they wither and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
"To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

I feel Isaiah is speaking to me! It’s like he’s saying, "Come on Ila!  You know better.  God is all knowing and all powerful, and ever present and why would you limit that with your silly little trajectory planning."  Isaiah reminds me that God’s got this, he’s got me. He calls me out by name just like the stars.  It’s my job to hear that call to listen and be ready.

Oh boy that makes me uncomfortable! It can be exhausting working hard to have all the faith it requires to trust that the path before us will turn out okay.

In this chapter of Isaiah, he is beginning to bring a message of hope to Judah.  They still had a 100 years of trouble and 70 years of exile before they could return to Jerusalem and they were weary.

Do you know what weary feels like?

Just this week I had worked all day through a migraine. I did all I could do to relieve it and all that was left was to try and relax in a bath.  I'm ready to get in, pull the curtain back and the tub is dirty. I bent down to clean it but the energy to do that was more than my body could take at that moment. I started to get nauseous and hyperventilate and cry.

Have you ever been so stricken by grief that you just plop down wherever you are to crawl into a ball and cry, or lay flat on your bed covering your head with a pillow.  Have you been so frozen with fear that you couldn’t make your body move if you wanted to?  During this pandemic, just asking my kids to unload the dishwasher makes me feel weary.  Maybe this pandemic has you resonating with the tribe of Judah.

Even the strongest of people get weary.  There is no doubt that tribe of Judah was weary.  With almost two generations of trouble and exile ahead of them how could they not be.

So, what do we do when we feel weary?

Psalm 119: 105 says: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path.The powerful word of God, that spoke all creation into being, that is tangible in scripture, that we hear in our hearts, is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

Let’s think about that lamp. In Biblical times they had candles and small lamps.  The lamps were small and fit into the palm of your hand.  They were made of clay with a whole in the middle for oil and the flame came out of the front.  The sphere of light from the lamp was not that big.  It was only bright enough to light up the next step, not the whole path.  We aren’t meant to see the whole path we are only meant with God in hand and heart to take the next  step.  

In the worlds of Anna from Disney’s Frozen 2, yes I’m quoting Disney.  We just do the next right thing.

In the bathroom with my migraine, it was to stand up. Then it was to go to my bed.  Then it was to rest and then it was to go back to the bath. In my grief balled on the floor it was to let it all out. Then it was to stand up.  Then it was to put water on my face.  What is your next step?

Let’s hear how Isaiah goes on to comfort the weary tribe of Judah.

Isaiah 40:27-31
Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Oh Israel?
"My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God"?
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

God does not grow weary, God does not stop fighting for our place with him.  We should not limit God or ourselves by living in bubbles of safety or by wallowing in weariness.  God is the source of our strength and our power for those who have hope.  With hope in our Lord we will not grow weary, we will soar like eagles

Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks?  The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come.  When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm it simply uses the storm to lift it higher.

Friends and family in christ, we have joy and sorrow, love and pain, sadness and happiness, anxiety and excitement to experience.  That’s life.  Would we really want it any other way?

Join me in putting down the flood light you carry and picking up the candle instead.  Join me in trusting the all powerful, all knowing, every present God of creation, Savior of the world and Lord of our lives.  Let’s exercise our trust in God by not worrying bout the path ahead but instead commit to just doing the next right thing.

Sometimes We Have to Make Our Own Joy

Sometimes We Have to Make Our Own Joy

Holding a pencil in your teeth can make you happy.  No really, try it!

In the late 80’s, psychologists did a study to find out that facial movement can impact your emotions.  It’s kinda like the power pose.  When we need to be brave before public speaking or a job interview a TED Talk taught us to stand for a few moments big and tall with legs and arms spread wide with our chest puffed out like a starfish!

How does this relate you ask?? Well, joy is more easily recognized and claimed in some people’s lives than it is in others.  Circumstances, experience, pressure and emotional baggage easily crowd in on our hearts and minds and prevent us from seeking joy let alone claiming it.  Is this you? Is your heart and mind crowded?  Is it hard for you to recognize joy in your life?  If this is you, then just like someone might “make” their own brave with the power pose, you may need to make your own joy!

Here are some ideas that can help you make your own joy.

Create a space that invites joy. 

Our bodies need Vitamin D so open those windows and let the sunshine in!  Vitamin D is a mood booster!  Clutter increases anxiety and negatively impacts sleep and focus so unclutter your space. Now add some color!  Color boosts our mood and helps balance our energy centers.  Bring nature in! Add houseplants, diffusers, and nature sounds to your space.  Along with sunlight and color these support our energy, and we need energy to be happy.  Finally, find some sentimental pictures and other items and set them out in plain sight to remind yourself you’ve been joyful before.

Spend time around positive and joy filled people.

They say you are the combination of the five people you spend the most time with, so who are you spending your time with?  Would you describe them as joyful?  If not, who do you know that you would describe as joyful? Positivity just like negativity is contagious.  Want to catch joy? Spend more time with your joyful friends and family.

Plan your joy.

It’s easy to get bogged down in to do lists and housework, work pressures, and other people's needs.  If we aren’t careful we end up tired and weary with no energy for joy.  Is that you?  If so, get out your planner and schedule some joy! Think of the activities you like to do.  Make a list of the ones that leave you feeling glad and delighted.  Maybe it's creating art or baking or playing candyland with your kids.  Whatever it is, plan it! (Then maybe do it with a pencil in your teeth.) This is an easy way to set yourself up for joyful success!

When it comes down to it.  We are responsible for the amount of joy that fills our lives. Let’s get out there #joysisters and seek joy:find happiness.

Interested in how diffusing essential oils can support positive mood and energy? I teach free introduction classes and can do one on one consults. Reply to this message and we will make a plan for you to learn. Learn more about my oily story by clicking HERE.

Hey Joysister! It’s yours! Claim it.

Hey Joysister! It’s yours! Claim it.

The expression of Joy isn't always someone jumping up and down with excitement.  It is more often a smile or warmth in your heart. 

I’m pretty fascinated with historical dramas.  It all started with Downtown Abbey.  Cory and I even won first place in a costume contest at a local PBS Season premiere showing.  Perhaps Vikings or Bridgerton is hooking you to the genre too.  I love to watch the relationships play out as characters try to discover themselves while navigating responsibility, power, love, and duty.  Most recently, I’m watching Reign.  Many plots involve maintaining a point of position, the rise and fall of rulers, lines of succession, or heirs claiming their right to the throne.  These characters believe that they can lead better than their predecessor or that the position of ruler will bring them all the power and happiness the world can provide. Sometimes you get a humble leader that wins the favor of the people only to fall to ruin or become corrupt.  They claim rights of position in search for happiness but never find it.  Most are riddled with regret.

I’ve often said I was born in the wrong time period. There are many things I love about the setting of these historical dramas: the clothes, the castles and houses, villages, and European backdrops.   I love the fireplaces in every room, big kitchens with butcher block tops, butler pantries, garden walks, celebrations and horseback riding.  

Whether part of the upstairs, downstairs, servants or royalty, all the characters are trying to find true happiness amongst their circumstances.  My observation is that the “ordinary” characters and those that sacrifice their position for the good of the people or true love are the ones that end up the happiest.  

That’s all any of us want, isn’t it... true happiness.  At any moment we want to look at our life from the bird’s eye view and be able to honestly say, “yes, I’m happy.“ How do we do this in modern circumstances though?  I say we rise up and claim it! Each and every day, be attentive to our joys.  Be present in the ordinary experiences that delight us and recognize when we express gladness in something we value and appreciate.  

Stop right now and think.  When was the last time you smiled? When was the last time your heart was full? The expression of joy isn’t always someone jumping up and down with excitement.  It is more often a smile or warmth in your heart.  Yesterday, I watched my eldest drive off on her first solo drive with her license.  The joy that I claim in that situation is that she wanted her sister to join her.  They had been talking about sharing this little bit of freedom with excitement for a couple weeks.  Watching them drive away with big smiles warmed my heart, I smiled, and claimed my joy in that movement.  Don’t get me wrong I claimed some anxiety too! But mostly, I rejoiced that they wanted to share this milestone and joy together.

How are you at recognizing your joy?  Do you go from task to task to task throughout the day not able to take a moment to relish in your own joy? That was me not too long ago.  It’s still me if I’m not intentional.  I challenge all of us to be intentional, to slow down so that we can rise up with Joy.  I challenge us to do this everyday.  I challenge us to claim our joy because when we add up our moments of joy we find the blessing of happiness.  

Join me in claiming your joy and with it claim your position as a #Joysister.  There is no fight for power involved and no regrets.  There is enough joy and happiness to go around for all of us everyday women if we will just claim it!  If you will claim your position as a #Joysister, use the hashtag and post it to your social media platform.  Friend me and and tag me #Joysister.  Invite your friends to join our Facebook community at Joy for Everyday Women. We all benefit from a larger uplifting sisterhood.

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