If you know anything about me, you will know that I am a woman of faith. I am sharing a powerful verse of scripture that suddenly interrupted my morning thoughts yesterday. "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." (Isaiah 26:3) I grew up in a conservative home and we memorized this verse with all the thee's and thou's. I spared you those. LOL! Anyway, it was more like this verse interrupted my morning frustrations and feelings of inadequacy. It is good that this happened because I really need to adjust my thinking.
Here's my problem, and I seem to struggle against falling into this pit more often than I should...some days I love social media, and how you can feel drawn to people...connected and intertwined. But... some days it is an absolute liar! I personally hate when people like a page only to un-follow in a few weeks or days. Why do people do that??? Rhetorical questions here!! I mean, seriously, it can make one feel so many things that aren't even real. The problem with social media, at least for me, is that all too often, when the results aren’t what we’d hoped for, that feelings of inadequacy often intrude our positive thinking. It can really bum me out. And when you boil it all down, it's just plain dumb! WHO CARES!! I wrote a post about this a while back. You can read that one here. (link here)
When life gets the better of me, my thoughts often bend to the negative. I've lived a life that is perhaps quite different than some. I know this. With my husband's mental illness, I learned to do without. I couldn't keep up and because mental illness is so often misunderstood, we often lost friendships before they even began. In spite of that, I work hard at staying positive and I have to work harder at that some days. Too much sadness and loss from the past and not long ago I recognized I struggled greatly with being positive. It's easy to play the videos of past events and admit there was a lot of negative crap that happened to us...and then you end up going down the road of poor me, etc. And I don't want to be that person.
I want to be a great support and inspiration to my family, friends and followers. A huge portion of my life centers on mental health awareness and advocacy. It’s the mission I cannot, nor wish to, ignore! I want my life to count for something...more than being a great wife and Mom, or jeweler. I really want to show people that they can have a relatively normal life in spite of mental illness. I want to inspire them to never give up. I want them to follow their dreams no matter what stands in the way. We are proof that dreams can come true. It might mean that your dreams may take a little more work than most, but it can still happen.
Because of our past history, with all it's losses, here we are in our 50's, and some days I feel we are still getting started. I mean, our company is 9 years old. We are still growing and looking for ways to get ahead. It is challenging to stay inspired, especially when I see how often our work has been copied. That is another conversation and I promise I won't digress.
Some days I feel like we are playing catch up. It has never been easy to see how some folks got ahead while you were absorbing yet another loss. We have never owned a home and there are days that I just plain feel like the odd man out. That is hard on the mind and soul. It's tough to fight against the gnawing thoughts that while everyone else is building skyscrapers, you are only collecting rubble. That has probably been my greatest challenge. I have to look at myself through a very special set of lenses. Comparison is an ugly game. So I try not to go there...but if I am honest, I will admit that this is why I am even writing today. I have fallen down and I am getting back up, scraping the mud off and walking tall. Here's a link to some pics of the place we call home today. It is such a lovely home...wish it was ours...maybe one day! In the meantime, we live our lives here and it's been such a place of retreat for us. (link here)
So if you are hearing my heart, you will hear I am NOT whining! Not today! :) In spite of everything, we have a very good life. We can work for ourselves, which is one of our smartest moves. You can read more about why we made that choice in our story. In truth, we just know that the picture of our lives has and will always look a little different than others. I am ok (on most days) with that but I often need to hit my reset button and tighten up my belt; reign in the negative thoughts and put on a smile. Really, I do!
I have always wanted to inspire people. But in return, I do confess, I’m looking for support to flow back to me. That means comments are necessary and a verbal response helps me, the writer, to know someone is listening and being helped. But it is even deeper than that. It's deep connection that I crave. It is the fact that often the good people go unnoticed, unrecognized, unappreciated. We don't make it on the popular list and for some unknown reason, we stay located on life's back burner. I don't have an answer for that. I admit it frustrates me. I like recognition...just being completely honest here. Who doesn't? It is gratifying to know people get who you are, what you're doing and why. Everyone looks for this kind of validation.
We have a great following of fans, especially on Facebook, and some of those have translated into beautiful friendships. That amazes me! It's humbling and uplifting. We have friends who come to our art shows. They travel several hours distance to show us their love and support! Never before has this happened. I can't even begin to put words to this. That is the element that was missing so often in our lives. Friends fell off like flies. We didn't have enough money to be popular. We lived on the wrong side of the tracks. We couldn't always afford to eat out and have a social life. We missed out on fun and festivities and were often pushed aside as leftovers by not only friends, but family. So today, as I sit here writing, I am thanking God for the friends gained along the road less traveled.
I'm counting blessings and refocusing my mind. I'm taking a step back and trying to remind myself that this popularity thing never seems to be my thing! I do my own thing and I speak my mind always. I don’t follow the trends or whims of the crowd. I often stand against the grain and this doesn’t make one popular. But I’m not necessarily seeking popularity. I’m seeking to be myself as God made me to be. I must do my own thing because I can’t imagine my life any other way.
I’ve always dreamed of living a creative life. When I was plunked behind a desk, working at a golf club, all I could do was dream of doing my own thing. I battled feeling trapped and lost in a world where I could blend in but never really fit in. In my own creative world, I am my own competition. I drive myself onward and motivate myself to create the next beautiful thing. I am responsible for where my dreams go and the direction my life will take.
Of course, I believe that God is ultimately responsible for my life. I’m a firm believer in faith, trusting not in my own strength, but in the strong arms of my creator and Savior. I can’t make things happen but he can direct and steer the course of man and cause paths to cross and create divine appointments. I’ve had this happen. More than once, God worked to divinely interrupt my life, not with a chance meeting due to fate, but because He orchestrated the timeline and connections. You can read how this happened in our ReThrive website story. (link here)
As I think through where I am going and who I want to be, I’m preaching to myself. Stay strong Joyce! Be true to your own heart. Don’t get caught up in seeking fame. Seek God first. Seek to love your children and husband. Seek to honor God with your work and creativity. Seek to love and inspire your friends. These things are worth chasing. Don't seek the attention of the masses for it will only disappoint. All else is an empty waste of the minds energy!