One year ago today I lost my job. Just shy of being with the company ten years, I was invited into an executive’s office and told, “your position has been eliminated.” They said it was not my fault and was due to a reallocation of their budget after the company was purchased by a private equity firm. They said I was being laid off, but it felt more like, “get out.” I was told to gather my things immediately and leave the building. Fighting tears, I was escorted out the front door.
Coming home early and having to tell my kids what happened was rough. Of course I assured them that everything would be ok. They were lovingly sweet to me as I tried to explain.
It just so happened that I had a new meditation class starting that night. I had a few hours to pull myself together so I could be fully present for my students. I was a bit worried about my my ability to show up and teach, but it turned out that teaching was the perfect thing for me to do. I got right into the flow of the class and poured myself into it, setting aside the shock of the day. It felt so good to be sharing something I loved with people who wanted to learn with me. Quite a contrast to being walked out of the building with my little box of belongings.
The following days were mired in solving immediate problems; figuring out insurance, finances, and paperwork. I did all the things I figured I was supposed to do when you lose your job including panic, worry, and update my resume.
But deep down I wondered if losing my job might be a gift. Even though I was not quite ready to see it that way, the truth was, this was something I’d been dreaming of for a very long time.
What I wanted most was time off. Not adequate time off - extravagant time off. I’d been suffering in a career that felt like a grind for 20-plus years. I’d been saying for at least 10 of those years how I was sick and tired of being chained to my computer all day and how I much I wanted freedom to do something I really loved.
July 12, 2018 I got what I wanted. And it was scary as hell.
Do you have the same idea I did - that when you get what you want you’ll feel amazingly great? Clouds part, angels sing, unicorns leap over rainbows? It should feel like unwrapping that highly anticipated yet totally improbable Christmas present, right? Yep. If we’re talking Atari or Air Jordans. But when it comes to being tossed something your soul wants, you might feel like ducking.
Isn’t it strange?
This past year I have had the kind of days I imagine only the luckiest people enjoy. Most days begin by waking up when my body tells me to without an alarm clock. Then easing into my morning meditation and luxuriating in it as long as feels necessary. Stroll into the kitchen, make the coffee, notice the color of the morning sky, and listen to the birds. A peaceful alertness, a hum on my lips.
Until the panic kicks in. “Holy shit I don’t have a job!”
Or well-meaning friends and family call. “Holy shit you don’t have a job!”
And then I spend the rest of the day flipping the coin of my predicament. One side is bliss. The other side is terror.
On one of my more terror-filled days, I was taking a walk and a question began to pester me.
Where is my joy?
I felt like I hadn’t smiled in days. I didn’t feel anything but anxiety in my body which is why I was walking so much; moving brought some relief and injected my mind with fresh positivity. The question was relevant at the moment but also in a larger life-purpose sense.
Where is my joy?
Now that I had the time and freedom to create my life the way I wanted it, I was either giddy and unfocused or paralyzed with fear. I started using the question, “where is my joy,” to guide my mind and choices. I sure needed something to help me - facing a future of nothing but possibilities was daunting!
So I felt my way through it. I started doing things for the joy of it. I picked up books that spoke to me and deepened my study of spirituality; reading books by authors like Richard Rohr, Adyashanti, Joel Goldsmith, Thomas Moore, and others. I opened myself up to new relationships that felt good and let go of the ones that didn’t. I gave myself permission to have unbridled fun. I learned how to slow down and savor simple things, like eating beautiful food. I invested in myself; getting coaching, taking workshops, going on retreats and gaining new skills. I baked more, laughed more, played more, rested more.
Choosing to do something for the sake of joy may seem like a radical thing to do, especially when you’re faced with a high degree of uncertainty. But what I’ve learned is that it’s smart. Joy can be trusted because joy lives at the soul level.
That doesn’t mean I don’t feel wobbly sometimes. I do! Trusting joy takes practice. Practice means doing it even when it’s scary and your mind talks you out of it, which still happens to me often.
My wise soul knows a thing or two about who I am and what I need. She’s not willing to let me settle for less, cave into fear, or retreat into the safety of the known. She shows up every day right on time showing me who I am and what I’m capable of.
Believe me, I’ve not made it easy. I’ve been wrestling with my soul for an entire year and she’s not letting me win.
And for that I am grateful because what she’s allowing is for me to become a better me. This past year has shown me that a joyful me is what I’m called to be. It’s who I naturally am but had forgotten about. Year after year of ignoring my joy left my soul no choice but to force me to dig deep, rediscover my joy and trust in living the reality of my deepest desires.
Through this struggle I received the ultimate gift. It wasn’t another well-paying job that I didn’t love, or a bailout, or anything else the world can measure. The gift was the answer to the question, "Where is my joy?”
Joy is right here. I am Joy.
Stepping out from that truth is what I’m doing now.
I’ve suspected for a while now that my life-purpose is to guide and be a messenger. My name, Angela, means messenger! Now I’m so happy and grateful to be doing what I love the most - guiding people on the same journey I’ve taken.
I’ve added more variety to the meditation classes I teach because I know from experience how life-changing meditation is. I love helping people connect to their present-moment awareness and experience what it’s like to feel their own inner peace and joy no matter what’s going on around them.
I’ve become a life coach because coaching has saved my butt so many times I can’t even tell you! I absolutely love guiding people who want to get fear out of the driver’s seat and actually start living the life they dream about.
And I’ve started Joy@Work because having seen way too many unhappy, stressed out people at work (I was one of them) and unhealthy workplace cultures, I believe we can end suffering at work by bringing mindfulness training into businesses.
Am I surprised that this is where I am one year later? Heck yes. Surprised and crazy grateful for the doors that closed.
This is my life after all, and I want to ENJOY it. Every. Single. Day.
And that’s what the world needs - more people turned on by their life. More people bringing their higher selves to their life, work and relationships. More people willing to use their talents and gifts for a higher purpose. More people paying attention to the call of their soul.
This isn’t for the faint of heart. I’ve been scared a lot. But what I’ve come to know is that the call of our soul can be trusted, and for me, Joy is totally worth it.
Thanks for reading all the way to the end (or beginning!) of my story and I’d love to hear how you would answer the question, “Where is my joy?”
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