From the Landscape of Memory Series, © Eloise Mayo, @EloisePaints

Every once in a while, I get hung up on a word or phrase and wonder at its meaning. Recently, I was mulling over the meaning of “Live Your Joy.”

The back story: I was given a deck of oracle cards called Angel Prayers by Kyle Gray. I love these cards. The artwork has a modern, superhero feel, they are colorful and eye-catching, and their messages are simple and to the point. I decided to start using them nightly, mostly to break them in. Since the deck is new, the cards are stiff and still stick together in all their glossiness. Shuffling them a few times every night will eventually give them a worn-in feeling, more pliable, easier to shuffle and handle.

Oracle cards are just another form of divination—a “physical” manifestation of communicating with one’s self, higher self, spirit guides, angels, God—however one needs to view his or her prayerful communications. Each night for the past couple of weeks I have shuffled the deck and meditatively asked to select one that conveyed a message to help me be more in alignment with my greatest and highest good.

In eight days, out of 44 cards, I pulled “Speak Your Truth” three times and “Live Your Joy” two times. What are the chances of pulling the same card more than once in a short period of time? If these aren’t messages for me to take to heart, then what are?

“Speak Your Truth” obviously needs my attention. I pulled that card three times after all. But that takes a certain level of courage on which I’m still working. It’s one thing to write about an interesting place we’ve visited and share pictures I’ve taken. It’s another to lay bare to the masses my views on prayer, consciousness evolution, or other topics that may invite others’ unsolicited expertise or opinions. I guess, though, if one publishes anything on the internet or in print, he or she is inviting all types of comments.

So, I’ll start with the other provocative card, “Live Your Joy.” It seems simple enough, especially if you know what gives you joy. But what exactly is “joy?” That’s where I get hung up. We use it often as a sentiment, especially around Christmas and New Year’s. For me, when I think of joy, I think of happiness, giddiness—an emotion. In fact, Merriam-Webster defines it as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.”

But in the context of “Live Your Joy,” it goes beyond emotion and flirts with purpose. In Angel Prayers Oracle Cards, Kyle Gray defines joy as “anything that makes you feel blessed, filled with energy and alive.” So, what fills me with energy and makes me feel blessed? On a daily basis, that is a moveable mark.

I can list things I do regularly that provide me contentment: morning coffee while watching news; catching up on social media to keep me connected to those I love; playing Words with Friends with my mom; touching base with my daughters. Other things give me a sense of satisfaction, such as completing something without interruption, whether it be a book, a movie, writing, or a work project.

Raven w/Nest, © Eloise Mayo, @EloisePaints

I have friends who definitely live their joy. My friend, Eloise, found hers in her 40s while taking an art class at a community college. She went from obtaining a Bachelor’s in English in her 20s, to getting an Associate’s in Studio Arts in her 40s (when she actually returned to school to update her graphic design skills), to becoming a full-fledged artist-extraordinaire. Her paintings have been exhibited in juried shows; she has won awards; she has been commissioned to do a couple of paintings; and she teaches art classes and workshops. She wakes every day with her creative juices flowing, and those of us who follow her on Instagram (@EloisePaints) or Facebook get to see regular postings of her latest work. Sometimes she posts “experiments” as she tries various painting techniques, but, to this untrained eye, they radiate her innate talent and pleasure in its pursuit. The best part, for me, is knowing that she is doing something that gives her immense joy. (The featured image at the beginning of this post is from her Landscape of Memory Series. Raven w/Nest represents another facet of Eloise’s talent.)

© Shawn Ramsey

Another friend, Shawn, has married her love of nature with her love of photography. She doesn’t claim to be a professional photographer, but she is captivated by and captures the beauty of nature that surrounds us all. My favorite story is of her watching—for over an hour, mind you—a snake sneak up on a turtle on a rock by a creek. Who does that? Someone whose joy is being immersed in the present moment when she is outside with two-legged, four-legged, and no-legged creatures. Her joy radiates through every picture she takes.

For me, “joy” is not that creative or esoteric. Nor is it as mundane as completing a project or playing a computer game. If I think about Gray’s definition—”anything that makes you feel blessed, filled with energy and alive”—it would be along the lines of helping people. But even this isn’t as cut and dried as it sounds. I have volunteered with various charitable and fundraising activities, as most of us have. For me, those times easily give me a feeling of increased energy, aliveness and feeling blessed. Something more sustaining, however, would be ideal and would involve helping someone solve a problem—learning something new, researching and locating useful information, considering different options.

I get a certain thrill in helping others discover something they didn’t know or revealing something they do know but might not have considered its applications. When I look back at the various jobs I’ve had, that one trait rises to the top for all of them. The day-to-day minutia of transcribing Dictaphone tapes (back in the 80s), managing daily office operations, wrestling with bookkeeping and accounting issues, book and magazine page layout, article editing, ad design, website updating, or scheduling chimney/gas fireplace appointments, give way to the ”joy” I felt—a purposefulness—when I helped someone find a practitioner, suggested a book for his or her spiritual quest, informed homeowners of their options based on a fireplace issue they were trying to solve, or researched a problem someone was having. This is why my most favorite job ever was working at the campus library while in college. I worked in a special section called the Curriculum Resource Center [I recently visited CRC at Bowling Green State University after 35 years! One of my then co-workers, Sara Bushong, is now the Dean of the Library, and I enjoyed seeing her and talking with her again], which was specifically for those pursuing a degree in Education. It housed books and materials to help them with lesson plans and tutoring. It was fun to pull resources together to help them with their coursework or with their students who had special learning needs. I also loved publishing Innerchange years ago, although I reached a point of severe burnout with it. Innerchange provided a source of information for those exploring metaphysics, spirituality, and natural health. I’ve had other jobs that were satisfying, but these two stand out.

“Living your joy is so important. It is truly your only purpose here.” ~ Kyle Gray

As we travel the country full time, living in our Airstream, I feel blessed. I’m beginning to feel revived and alive. I’m hesitant to say I’m living my joy, though, because I attach those emotional states of happiness and giddiness to it. I miss my dishwasher and my home office. I miss my family and friends. We are still discovering our best travel pace. And regular activities have taken on a new process of their own—making the bed, taking a shower, doing the laundry, cooking with limited counter space, eating at the table that serves as my desk. I am content, though, and each day brings its own satisfaction. Joy, for me, will continue to be a moveable mark, as it is for most of us. Striving to feel blessed, full of energy and alive every day (or most days) is my new purpose. According to Gray, “It is truly your only purpose here.”