I am a HUGE American Idol fan. I haven't always been a huge fan, but I love Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson, and the way the show flows with them. I adore seeing all this young (amazing) talent come in, literally, off the streets. But most of all, I am drawn to the JOY of true artists. When performers go before the judges or go up on stage or join their groups to practice their musical numbers, it is sometimes easy to select the future 'idols'. Whether or not they will win the competition is irrelevant to me, because many incredible performers began on AI but didn't win. Early on, you can see the frontrunners shining through. The hard part for the judges is getting rid of the kids who are really quite talented, sometimes even MORE talented than some of the others, but they haven't quite 'arrived'. Here's how you know a performer has arrived into his or her talent: JOY. It's plain and simple. These performers come ALIVE when they sing. They physically transform before your eyes into vessels for their craft. It's like a glimpse of heaven. (Like Steven Pressfield says in THE WAR OF ART "All creative endeavor is holy.") They are full of JOY because their entire being is doing what it was put here to do, and it is breathtaking to see.
This JOY crosses many lines in life. My husband, believe it or not, is a completely JOY-filled dentist. Ask any of his patients. He LOVES his work. He is a true artist and falls in love with everyone's smile. He does cases all the time that truly change lives. Is it because he is technically excellent? Partly, but also because it brings him true JOY. He sees that smile and the role it plays in the life of the whole person. He believes with all his heart that your smile is key to all areas of life.
Athletes call this JOY the sweet spot. Athletes in their 'sweet spot' break records, win championships, and inspire mediocre teammates to great achievements. JOY is transformative. What Carolina fan can ever forget the joy on Michael Jordan's face as he dunked against Duke (with his tongue playfully out)? How about the joy of the female soccer players who first won the Olympic event? It's a beautiful thing.
When I was at Chautauqua, I had the honor of first seeing the amazing illustrator, Floyd Cooper, work. It moved me to tears. Even now, as I think about it, I am so affected by the opportunity to view his JOY, his genius, his gift. It was truly a spiritual experience, a glimpse of heaven.
I have been writing seriously, meaning every single day with goals and self-imposed deadlines, full time for four years. I was writing part-time for five years before that. This week, my brother said to me, "You could have been a doctor." Holy Cow, he's right. And with my kids approaching college and private school tuition rising, perhaps I should have gone that route. But here's what I HAVE accomplished in those years. I've gone from writing to being a writer. I've gone from daily self-discipline to JOY. Truly. I often laugh aloud as I type or write a scene. I giggle at my characters and even think of them as my children sometimes. I create every day, and it is joyous. Has it paid off for me financially? Uh, no. Has it paid off for me in book sales? Uh, definitely not. But I know for certain that I am doing what I am here to do because of the JOY. That's God's reward, IMHO, for finding your path and working it. I am in a place of joy in my creative endeavor, and that is holy and precious. I work from a place of total transformation, my heart and hands almost seem to take on a life of their own as long as I give them the time and space. I am birthing lots of good characters, stories, and worlds in this JOY. A few of them have gone out into the world to seek a home, many more wait for their time. But they have been given breath and life, and as they were borne of JOY, I cannot ever believe that this whole writing experiment of mine will come to nothing. Like Debby Boone said, "It can't be wrong, when it feels so right." (No, I CAN'T believe I just quoted YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE ha ha ha. My fourth grade self is thrilled beyond measure.)
So here's the thing, my dear readers. Wherever you are, whatever you do, do it from a place of JOY. In this JOY, I have gone from being 'someone who writes' to being a 'writer'. My husband has transcended beyond the normal realms of dentistry. Athletes everywhere inspire their fans and spread their JOY. And American Idol hopefuls will fall in proportion to whether or not they have found the JOY in their musical gifts.
May their JOY inspire you, stir your heart, and make you grateful for that glimpse of heaven. And when you find your own JOY, be sure to share it with the world. That's what you are here for.
My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.