Deep within us exists a vast reservoir of pure joy which we have all on occasions probably had experience of, but which we’re generally disconnected from, so that it’s like we’re tuned to the wrong station when trying to listen to a specific program on the radio.
We long for a harmony of life, work, and relationships, but we all inevitably have to grapple with difficult issues of one kind or another and often feel fragmented because of the contradictory tensions and distractions in our lives. In times of difficulty when fear or despair seem to overwhelm us, or when we feel inadequate, this reservoir is exactly what we need to access, for it can help us through our troubles.
We need to remind ourselves that it is always available to us no matter what is happening. When we’re crippled by doubt and anxiety, we don’t always think of turning inward for help. Loving arms, gentle words and patient listening by family or friends, can help enormously when they are available, but all too often we find ourselves alone in our crisis. It’s then that the inspiring words of others can help point us in the right direction - to look within ourselves.
Many years ago, when I was consumed with pain and sadness, I began to keep a book of inspirational quotations. Every time I came across some uplifting words or something which resonated with how I was feeling, I jotted it down. I consequently found that whenever I felt low, just ten minutes or so of reading inspiring words helped me in my journey of understanding, and more able to bear what I was experiencing. I realized that through the process of healing, I was learning more about myself. I developed greater strength to weather future storms and I also began to feel a sense of expansion, connecting with a power greater than myself. As a result I experienced feelings of real joy.
My notebook eventually became A Dancing Star: Inspirations to Guide and Heal, which went on to become a bestseller and is available for purchase through this website. I’m touched when women (mostly, but not exclusively) tell me how helpful my book has been to them. Many have gone on to replace lost or worn-out copies, or to purchase copies as gifts for daughters or friends who are facing difficult times.
As women, we are sometimes more able to give support to others than we are to ourselves. But if we can find a way to care more deeply for ourselves, we can do an even better job in nurturing those who need our love and care. By dipping into the collective experience of others who have struggled to make sense of their lives, I have found that we can more easily discover our own inner wisdom and joy.
It is for this reason that I wrote The Woman’s Book of Joy: Listen to Your Heart, Live with Gratitude and Find Your Bliss. Inspiration helps motivate us and moves us on to a place of greater understanding. Once we consciously connect to this wellspring within us, the Source of life, joy bubbles up through us, for it flows naturally when we are able to transform our negative attitudes and behaviours, and enables us to bring more of what we love into life.
Being a woman today may be easier for many of us, at least in the Western world, than it once was. Educated, freed from the expectation of marriage and the burden of endless child-rearing, we can choose to be married or single, whether to have children, how to conceive them even, and combine with having careers or not. We can be independent and choose what we want to do with our lives in a way which was inconceivable for the majority of women in previous centuries. We can have successful careers and our own source of income, we can own our own homes, enjoy whatever hobbies we wish to take up, and travel much of the world freely. And yet, self-esteem, anxiety, and depression continue to be big issues for many women.
All too often we feel inadequate, not good enough, or guilty. We can sometimes be envious of others’ seemingly good fortune, comparing ourselves needlessly; we might feel that life is passing us by, or we may feel burdened and frustrated. At certain times in our lives we may feel trapped or stuck and know that we need to make some adjustment or changes in our lives, without being able to see the way forward and take the first steps. Sometimes our world just falls apart, and it can be hard to confront the underlying issues and rebuild our lives.
Relationships often cause us unhappiness - whether we are in a close and intimate one, or we lack and long for one, or indeed have had one that has come to a messy end. Relationships are never easy, and as women, we have a tendency to compromise too much, only to end up feeling resentful that we have been unable to do what we really want to do.
Work and career are an important part of many women’s lives, but still women are having to battle to get equal pay and status. Our potential still isn’t being fully realized and often we’re struggling to find balance, especially if trying to bring up children whilst pursuing a career, maintain good relationships, and having to cope with doing more than our fair share in the home. We never seem to have enough time for ourselves. As we age, other issues come to the fore – our own health and wellbeing, elderly parents and their needs, and intimations of our own mortality.
Too often we’re still living lives that are less fulfilling than they might be, and suffer as a consequence. In addition, the status-conscious consumer culture in which we live, with its endless marketing hype and air-brushed celebrity-driven nonsense, can make women feel inadequate. For young women in particular social media have brought new pressures too in terms of image and male expectations.
What I offer here comes from my own experience and what I’ve learned from others who have opened my eyes and inspired me. I hope to encourage women everywhere to feel that there is a way out of the despair they sometimes feel. We all have the capacity to heal ourselves. Using The Woman’s Book of Joy, by reading and reflecting on a section and adopting an affirmation and working with it, we can begin the process of healing.
Although we can’t always control what happens to us in life, we can choose to seek a different way of looking at things and however difficult the situation we find that things begin to change. Over time we come to realize just how precious this Source of joy is that we have deep within us. Accessing it, we can appreciate how strong we really are and can live more authentically, in touch with our true selves. We naturally become more loving because we feel more whole and are in tune with our purpose. We can be more confident about a future that is fulfilling and exciting, and find ourselves radiating joy to all those around us.
May your life be full of joy whatever the challenges you face!
A Dancing Star can be ordered direct online via this website