In July of 2018, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was the worst day of my life and the years since then have been pretty traumatic and heartbreaking, yet here I stand today. A few months later in December of 2018, I went on a journey for joy. The journey was not only to find joy in my heart but it was to also bring joy to anyone and everyone I could.
I realized through my journey with cancer that not everyone is on your side and not everyone is out to help you and support you. Even people you consider your friends don’t necessarily cheer you on every chance that they get. People judge you and look for you to fail even at a time when your life is in question.
Ultimately, I just internalized that and tried to give those people grace. I decided that I wasn’t going to let those people steal the little bit of joy and happiness I had left. To combat the lack of joy and happiness I was seeing in the world, in December, my family and I tackled the tough task of spreading joy for someone else every single day of the month.
I enlisted the help of my husband and my sons to complete a variety of amazing activities. My boys, who are now 11 and 8, actually would say to me everyday, “Mommy what are we doing for Joy today? Who are we going to help out today?”
It was a pretty amazing time and it was even more awesome that it was during the holidays when there are a lot of people who are in need.
I launched my plan the last week of November and started posting about it on social media and invited our friends and family to follow along with us using the hashtag #createJoy. Our first day we were actually in Dallas and we created Joy for my mother, who is an amazing lady, and is always giving to others. We took her to the Dallas Holiday Parade, which she’d never attended in her 60 years of life, and had a great time with her and the kids. While we were downtown, we went around and filled up all of the meters for cars so that their time hadn’t expired! The kids were super excited.
Lots of ideas!
Some of our other activities:
- I donated to Kiva, which is a site that helps small businesses
- The kids left a basket out for the UPS and mailman to get drinks and snacks.
- We over tipped at a restaurant one day.
- One day I took my teacher friend a Sonic drink during my conference time. I’m a teacher too, so I know how important it was for her to have that Sonic drink.
- At my campus, several of my students and I helped make signs for our custodial staff and I brought them homemade cookies.
- My oldest really loved the time that we went to the nearby shelter and took donations and offered our help to clean up at the kennels.
- The boys really got a kick out of putting coins in the little game machines at the grocery store. We filled them up with quarters for the next customer to come along.
Be the joy
At the end of the month on the 27th, I had another reconstructive surgery, so my husband took that day! Friends volunteered to take the last few days of the month since I was recovering.
Not only did we get to do things for others but our family and friends joined in!
It was really an uplifting time and very important to show my kids this journey for joy. No matter what life gives you there’s always an opportunity for you to show other people grace. You can provide them joy even when they can’t do it for themselves. There are so many things in life to be happy about!
After cancer, I feel like the sky’s the limit. There’s nothing that can stop me or take my joy. There aren’t any obstacles to anything that I want to accomplish in my life. If we could help someone just a little bit, I know that we did some good in the world.
In 2019, we decided to do the month of November for our journey for joy. The boys and I really enjoy doing for others and each year is an adventure to try something new! In 2020, we are going to do December again! The boys are already planning all the fun things we will get to do. I hope our joy will spark others to do the same!