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Joy Camp

Well, we did it. We created a place for women to go to explore the roots of joy in our lives and some different ways to reduce things that block our joy. It was magical. It was mystical. It was really, really beautiful.

Those of us who study joy know it's a practice to get there. Our lives can be hard and there are lots of things that can get in the way of our joy every single day. Joy is defined by Merriam Webster as a feeling of great happiness. As a mother who lost a child and has experienced great sorrow, the idea of great happiness or joy has been elusive for me at times. For quite a while I doubted the possibility of ever getting back to any degree of happiness, let alone joy.  But I did, and I am and I even wrote a book about it! I am committed to sharing what I know for sure (as Oprah would say) thus the book, the podcast and now Joy Camp.

We were a small and diverse group but all of us there for a single purpose; to rekindle a sense of joy in our lives. We began the three day adventure by sharing our stories of joy, of sadness and why we were there. There were journals given out for us to use when inspiration struck and also to record our appreciation level at random moments during the camp.

This is Julie. If you don't know her, you should.
Julie Reisler was our leader and facilitator and she did a beautiful job of weaving together practices that helped us recognize sources of joy. Our first assignment was to recollect a past joyful moment and really recall the sensations around that moment. What made it so special? Was there another person involved? Where were we? What were the sensory experiences that went along with this memory? So many memories came up for me - the births of my children, my wedding day, my first visit to the ocean as a child... How to choose? I finally just landed on one. Over the course of the camp I would find myself reflecting on that moment of joy and why it was meaningful. It was quite the exercise, albeit seemingly simple. Many insights came out of that first exercise. But there was so much more to come.

Appreciating moments was another suggestion from Julie and so we tried to find things to appreciate even in the moment. I wove this theme into our first yoga practice that next morning and it set the tone for the day. It's good to focus on appreciation for the little things, even the mundane. It builds muscle for joy. The food at Joy Camp was something to appreciate. Every morning we had a healthy, light breakfast with lots of fresh fruit, yogurt, Ezekiel bread with almond butter - yum! Lunches were also light but healthy and delicious. Food is joy let's just admit it!

We wrote our intentions on stones to ground them.
We all set an intention for ourselves around this idea of cultivating joy. Mine was to have a more open heart. Some of the others were peace, to have a closer relationship with God, vitality, imagination. It was fun to observe the choices each of us made. These qualities seemed to be already there in these awesome women. For example, the new friend who chose vitality as her intention had so much energy and zest for life it was downright contagious. She inspired me to take up some new hobbies, her life seemed so full and interesting. It was powerful to see these intentions play out through the process of exploring what brings us joy and I am certain they will continue to unfold for all of us.

We made vision boards on day two to further solidify our intentions and they turned out great. It was a fun activity and just being together and laughing and being creative was joyful. Every so often Julie would ask us to check our "joy meter" and give it a number from one to ten. Just so you know I was a five at the beginning of Joy Camp, a little jet lagged I was.

Here we are at Silver and Sage. The jewelry there is lovely.
We had some great meals in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona where Joy Camp was held and they were really joyful. We tried new things and my joy meter climbed higher. We also practiced meditation and really tuning into our bodies and our mind chatter. This is always helpful for me to clean out the cobwebs and reset my joy. On the evening of the second day we got to practice meditation and creativity and do some shopping. Now that's a recipe for joy! We made our own mala beads at Silver and Sage, a gorgeous store near Scottsdale. We had such a fun time together choosing the beads for our malas based upon our intentions and anything we wished to heal in our lives. It was such a nice evening. We chanted OM together 108 times as we worked our way around our malas.

There was lots more that happened at Joy Camp like meeting and hearing from Rick Wood, the medium who blew us away with some of his readings and the beautiful Heather Keller who shared her wisdom and energy work and how to tap into our  intuition that we are so blessed to have as women. We practiced Yoga Nidra under the stars and some of us (not naming names) were so relaxed we could barely get up to roll into bed!

All in all Joy Camp was a success and I think all of us left Arizona with our joy meters pretty dang high. Mine went up to a 12!

Heather shared that instead of saying Namaste (the divine in me honors the divine in you) at the end of the yoga classes she teaches, she likes to say "Nomistake".  I like that.  Joy Camp was no mistake. We were, all of us, meant to be there and I have faith that as time goes on we will continue to see more and more
joy unfold.



Julie Reisler said…
Beyond joyful to know you and to have created this retreat with you! Beautiful blog!!!! Love and joy, Julie✨

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