Three years ago in early April 2015, I sent my first Daily Practice of Joy blog post out into the world, because I was determined (to paraphrase Mary Oliver's poem "The Journey") to save the only life I could save. . .my own.
I had spent decades listening to all the voices around me shouting their bad advice -- asking me to do what I had always done -- mend their little lives -- instead of listening to the calling of my true heart.
I had ignored my heart for far too long because I could not explain it to the world. I had come to believe that the language my heart spoke was untranslatable -- eventually even to my self.
Creating my daily practice of joy and sharing it in words and photographs eventually led me, as Oliver promised it would, to radically change everything -- including living intentionally homeless for the past 23 1/2 months, learning to trust the heart truth that had never stopped speaking through me.
Sure, three years ago "it was already late / enough, and a wild night, / and the road full of fallen /branches and stones. / But little by little, as [I] left their voices behind, / the stars began to burn / through the sheets of clouds, / and there was a new voice / which [I] slowly / recognized as [my] own, / that kept [me] company / as [I] strode deeper and deeper / into the world." (Mary Oliver, "The Journey")
Those deep strides into the world have brought many gifts -- not the least of which I received exactly two years ago in the form of an amazing 54th birthday present: A book contract to write about this journey back to my own heart. This year that book was birthed out into the world as The Way of Being Lost: A Road Trip to My Truest Self.
As I marked another birthday this past weekend -- I took time for some reflection on everything that has happened since I embarked on the way of being lost.
Now, 23 1/2 months into my journey of intentional homelessness, with no end in sight, I feel truer than I have ever felt, deeply and truly lost -- living in the faith, fear, and freedom of my "I don't know" . . . and inviting it to lead me on to whatever is around the next bend.
So it was no surprise that this past birthday weekend, the way of being lost led me to Detroit and the Motor City Nightmares horror convention -- where I was surrounded by horror fans, sharing memories of my father.
Since it was reconnecting with my father's legacy of joy with horror fans that helped me recognize that I had lost my joy, my heart, my heart tribes -- to come full circle reminds me that we are never really lost. We just keep returning to the places we find Love.
However, if I have to be honest, had you told me a few years that the perfect birthday weekend would be spent with zombies and scary clowns, I would have thought you were nuts! But our truest selves have a knack for surprising us. I may have been at Motor City NIghtmares, but I actually feel like I am finally waking up to the Love that has been trying to get my attention for years.
This Love I'm starting to live definitely doesn't look anything like I thought it would. In fact, like most spiritual paths, it is paved with paradox.
Here are a few of those paradoxes:
I live on the road with a two-year-old fluffy white dog as my partner -- and find home in deep friendships that teach me new meanings of joy and connection.
I give talks at horror conventions and also as an inspirational speaker. That's not a contradiction in terms. Horror fans inspire me to keep sharing the power of joy.
I love to perform weddings as an interspiritual/interfaith minister because I have finally come to peace with the unconventionality of my own ideas of love.
But here's the paradox that was most on my mind this past weekend: I talk about my daily practice of joy at every stop on my Back Roads Book Tour. . .and yet lately I haven't been able to write about it with any kind of ease or flow.
So during this birthday time for reflection, I resolved to hit a refresh button in many areas of my life -- beginning with this website.
You see, all these miles of driving, all these long stretches of time alone, have given me the time to think about what I need to be doing, and who I want to be doing it with.
What I want to do is to share what I am learning on this journey with all of you, my fellow joy journeyers, in a way that helps us all continue to learn how to listen to our truest selves and live our lives from our hearts out.
I have been laying the groundwork for that new sharing these past few months in really exciting ways -- with big plans for later this summer. But it took this birthday weekend spent with my heart tribe of horror fans to help me see that in all my planning, I'd missed a very significant first step.
I realized I needed to refresh this website by going back to its roots.
I began this blog because I needed to reach out and connect with other people like me who were determined to save the only lives they could -- their own.
Over these past three years, I have shared my various joy practices here in a variety of ways, but it has always been the honest truthtelling that has resonated most for all of us. So that's what I'm going back to. . .My weekly blog just honestly sharing where I'm at, in the hopes that my words and my experience will land where they need to for anyone else who needs them. So while this website still has access to everything that I've posted these past three years, the focus going forward will be one weekly blog. I've rebuilt this website to reflect that. I hope you enjoy it.
You see, I realized that's what I've been missing. Our weekly "conversations" about heart, joy, love, life, struggle, redemption, learning, living, being, becoming.
And that's what this weekend reminded me -- the joy of sharing and the sharing of joy -- however it comes about. . .
So, today, May 1, 2018, as I hit the refresh button on my daily practice of joy, I am turning, as I always do, to my father for inspiration.
May was my dad's birthday month -- and unlike me, my dad was a person who LOVED to celebrate his birthday. While I prefer to let the day go by with as little notice paid to me or my birthday as possible, he flew friends around the world to enjoy a good party with him.
So I thought I would use the merry month of May to reflect on and share some of the ways my father taught me about joy. Because if I've learned anything from horror fans, it is this. Love is a family affair.
What we learn in love, we pass on in love -- be it horror movies or road trips or making pancakes or beachcombing. So whatever we do, there is only one thing we need to remember . . . to show up in love and then share it.
This may be the most important thing I have learned on the way of being lost: Live what you love by sharing that love with others. There is nothing truer or more joy-filled or more important that any of us can do!
This month's birthday party for my dad will be shared with all of you.
Over the coming weeks, I'll be asking you all to share your own joy practices -- while I give out the birthday gifts!
So, if you want to participate and get presents, please be sure to sign up on this website to receive emails.
Also please keep checking our social media sites -- @imvictoriaprice & @masterofmenace.