I'm excited to share that JOY IS NOW turns one this week. To be honest, it crept up on me. I'm not very good at taking pause to acknowledge milestones in my work. There are victories and failures on the daily and much of my time is spent problem solving out of or into one of these states. And I love that constant. I long to put the puzzle together. When the last piece is placed, I've already started on the next. More often than not I like the process more than the product. The questions more than the answers.

Upon reflecting on birthing JOY a year ago, I was drawn to consider the first year of life. To witness infancy and now be at the precipice of a slightly more independent project that is beginning to have a life of its own. What it has been like to raise an idea. And watch it grow and spark experiences I couldn't have possibly imagined. It feels big and it is. 

I've spoken before about how endings very often evoke beginnings. We witness this in nature as we sit in the quiet of winter, seeds being buried, dried flora riding the wind to become next year's vibrant color palette of trees and blossoms. Where there is birth there is death, loss, gain, beginnings, endings. These seemingly opposites lean so closely into each other until they become almost indistinguishable. 

And yet we forget this. I forget this. And sometimes life presents us with circumstances where the acknowledgement of a natural cycle of equity seems almost impossible. There is gain and loss. Every moment. Hard to imagine at times. I have been there, in the depths, unable to see the existence of more than one reality. I imagine many of us visited these places this past year.  Life is hard right now and wherever we started from, it's harder now. And while the past year has been unimaginably difficult, it has also existed. As a timestamp, as a gathering of minutes, hours, weeks. The time, this time, never stopped counting despite how challenging it has been. Time counts whether in celebration or the depths of grief. It all counts. 

And I guess that in some way, this project, JOY IS NOW, spanning this past year, exists as a testament to the time. The minutes, hours, then days, weeks, months, turning to years where part of us was waiting for things to get better. A worry to withstand things getting worse. A wondering of when, how, and if there is relief. And yet it all counted. 

I can see it in my daughter's aged face. How her voice sounds older. That she is taller, wiser, different. In the pandemic dog we adopted last July, who now is 100% part of our family. She no longer looks away when we hold her. She learned to trust for the first time in her life that she would have reliable access to food. She understands that a pile of skateboards at the door means she will be left alone soon with her older and much wiser doggie brother.  

And I see it here, in JOY IS NOW, in these conversations, in the belief that we could continue to be curious, vulnerable, and very much alive at a time when death has been all around us. 

I am so grateful to you. Those of you who have joined me here to ask questions, dive deep, explore what we know and what we don't. To give space to our fear, anger, grief, worry, and more importantly not lose sight of our curiosity, wonder, love, delight and JOY that deserves equity with our collective trauma. 

They say raising a child takes a village, and no doubt this is true. And JOY has taken a village. A group of loyal and adventurous listeners tuning in for weekly conversations about what we think and feel at a time when it has been really hard to think and feel. The most gracious and brilliant group of guests who signed up to explore, be curious and sit in not knowing. A huge feat when not knowing seems to be a daily practice these days. In a sense, JOY has been a collaboration in the belief that it all counts. All the minutes, even when we don't want them to. That there is always something to seek even when calling on our own curiosity seems an impossible task. 

I still don't know where JOY is going, or even explicitly why I started this endeavor. What I do know is that I am now on a mission to continue. I'm happy to say I have an incredible lineup of guests for the rest of season 2 and I will begin recording Season 3 in early 2022. 

Under normal circumstances perhaps I would have thrown a party filled with music, art, and all the joy we could muster. But moving away from normal and forward to better looks like leaning into what we do have. And that’s each other, in person or in this magical virtual realm. So let’s save the in person celebration for next time around the sun. To celebrate this birthday consider signing up for the weekly newsletter - oooooh its' good and includes exclusive excerpts from my daily writing practice I don’t share anywhere else, leave a review on Apple Podcasts and sharing an episode with a friend. And if you would like to be a guest, or know someone who is down with getting curious, email me at las@lisaandersonshaffer.com I'd love to hear from you about being a guest and all the other things including your favorite dessert.. 

Know that if I had a carvel ice cream cake I'd be sharing it with you right now. 

Thank you for being here and here's to being one. 

Listen to this episode of JOY IS NOW here. 

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