How Do You Feed Your Joy?

Plus Two Recent Joy Sightings

How do you feed your joy? Do you ever think of joy needing fed?

I woke up with a jolt Monday morning thinking about the friendly green hummingbird that has been peeking in my parent’s living room window lately.  Two weeks ago my sister snapped a photo of the little hummer on the last of the hollyhocks. The “live” photo made a mini movie of the rare sighting.

My sunrise aha reminded me that the garden flowers have succumbed to the heat and we haven’t had rain for awhile — which means the hummingbirds don’t have the bounty of natural nectar that they did in June and July. The smoke from California wildfires is still filling the valley, too. I remember how last summer birds all over the West were succumbing to the dirty air. In a few weeks the hummingbirds will migrate away. They’re gonna need sustenance. 

“You have to feed your Joy,” was the message I heard in my head.  It was reverberating from a virtual InnerSections retreat I attended last week. The paradox in a poem by one of the facilitators, Greg Simmons (a leader I interviewed for The Courage Way), planted a wonder in me, “Loss as much as joy asks for a vow.” The reflection prompt we received felt profound: “In loss or joy, what is required of you today?”

Hummingbirds are known as a symbol for joy. They tell us to “Remember to hover in the moment, and to appreciate its sweetness. Drink deeply of the nectar of life.”

I felt the thirst of the hummingbird in my bones so deeply I drove to the wild bird store that morning and stocked up on supplies. I sanitized last years’ feeder but found it was beyond repair. I had already mixed up the sugar, so Dad drove back to the bird store to buy a new feeder while I took my mom for our Mother-Daughter Monday Mountain Drive. We sang aloud to John Denver the whole way. “Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.” It felt like we were stocking up on joy for the coming winter. 

A dragonfly (and an elephant) also let me photograph them on the same now-dried hollyhock stalk, and the now-replaced feeder. “Metaphortography” like this is another way I feed my own joy.

These days I want to be like a hummingbird, able to fly long distances, stop on a dime to hover in mid flight, stretch past anything bitter to reach the sweet tastes, and know where to find sustenance even in drought. 

What kind of courage do you need to feel and feed your joy this week? 

Two Recent Joy Sightings

Medical Voices in Unison

Dr. Mukta Panda leading the new UTHSC College of Medicine classes of 2024 and 2025 at their White Coat Ceremony in reciting the Oath to Self-Care and Well-Being. This new oath is meant to supplement the Hippocratic oath and also calls the system to task. A proud parent in the audience made a video that captures their voices speaking in unison. That is joy in medicine (not to mention a humble yet fierce commitment spoken aloud). Mukta’s book subtitle reiterates what it’s all about: Resilient Threads: Weaving Joy and Meaning into Well-Being.

A New Author Voice

I felt the joy of Christine Herbert’s debut book hitting #1 on the new releases on Amazon thanks to Kindle pre-orders. I was lucky to read Christine’s manuscript during COVID—the kind of book you stay up past midnight to finish. (I know and love Christine from when we worked together at the Center for Courage & Renewal for nearly six years.) I grinned when I saw her Twitter post:

I am so excited that GenZ Publishing gave her a book contract for The Color of the Elephant: Memoir of a Muzungu, about her time in Zambia working for the Peace Corp. I couldn’t put her manuscript down and loved how many times I laughed out loud at the courage it took for Christine to be so imperfectly and wonderfully human as a visitor to another country.

I love the book’s description:

At turns harrowing, playful, dewy-eyed and wise, the author’s heart and candor illuminate every chapter, whether she is the heroine of the tale or her own worst enemy. Even at her most petulant, the laugh-out-loud humor scuppers any “white savior” mentality and lays bare the undeniable humanity—and humility—of the storyteller. Through it all, an undeniable love for Zambia—its people, land and culture—shines through.

A must-read for the armchair adventurer.

Pre-order the Kindle version here. Pre-orders for the paperback coming soon. The book’s pub date is January 4, 2022.