Once upon a time I thought I was going to a business mastermind and it ended up being a shamanic retreat.

And as it turns out, I discovered this overwhelming sense of joy that was trapped inside of me, waiting to be expressed.

Which is funny, since I’m so vocal about taking care of myself. Yet… all work and no play is how I’ve survived the grind for the last many decades. To be honest, had I known what was involved in the retreat I went to, I would have politely declined.

And I’m so glad that I went. I showed up with an open mind. I found my footing and my path. And some friends.

So many discoveries since then, so many frames of mind shattered because now I have a stronger connection to my reality. (Which in short is that I have power over my experience.) I’d love to go in deep about what all I’ve learned in the last several months, and perhaps I will. But for now let us say this:

JOY is self care.

You can eat all the leafy greens. You can have lovely boundaries. You can get all your steps in every day.

But you must also do the things that make you sigh, love-filled bubbles all over the place.

Self care is something I devour effortlessly. In my free time, I’m listening to books on nutrition or wellness just for fun. At home, I practice the art of decluttering (it’s a process). I eat this stuff up. And I speak about it to my friends.

But I had missed a piece. A big, important, fruitful piece. And that was the experience of joy. Mostly because life happens, you know? Things make me sad, and I forget to actively seek out the things that elicit my glee. And sometimes, I’ve even held back because it made me feel guilty to feel good when I’m supposed to be heartbroken.

As it turns out, though, joy and heartbreak aren’t mutually exclusive. I should have known this from my observations while I was diving deep into grief… and found that I was beautiful.

As it turns out, you’re allowed to both feel immense joy AND sorrow. You’re allowed to be disappointed and ecstatic at the same time. About different things. Or about the same things. Essentially, there is no binary system when it comes to emotions.

To give yourself permission to take care of yourself by feeling joy is… well, it’s surprising. There are a great many things one “ought” to do, and going long to receive a gift like this is well worth the effort you have to push with in order to get it.

Without “shoulding” all over you… I have to gently suggest this:

If you’re not also giving yourself this opportunity… this one big chance to also include happiness from the inside out… you’re not fully taking care of yourself.

I want for you to feel this healthy.


If you liked this post, please comment below with how you might allow yourself to feel joy. Also, consider liking my Facebook Page and subscribing to this blog so you receive updates when I publish the next blog post (top right corner of this blog).



  1. Lovely piece, Ash. One of my favorite ways to allow joy is to go for a long, thoughtful drive by myself.I love the feeling of being in control of my direction, in my own little enclosed space, covering a whole lotta’ miles in a hurry, watching the scenery change around me. (Getting my pilot’s license is on the “someday” list!)

    1. Rose,
      Driving might not be my joyful spot, but I can understand how you would feel that. I think my equivalent is spending time in my living room with my dogs, maybe listening to an audiobook and playing with yarn. Or else being in the mountains, where what I can hear is silence.

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