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Happy Birthday, Joy Center!!!

(This  letter was sent out with the most recent Joy Center mailing.)

I am so in love with this never-endingly beautiful life.  Esther Hicks

“I think that Joy Center loved the party,” I said.  I was sprawled out on the carpeted floor of the loft last Wednesday evening, and Amber, my poet/artist/book-binding young buddy was sprawled out as well.  She and her husband, Raja, had offered to help me clean up after this Five-Year Anniversary Party Day of mini-workshops and scrumptious food and evening performance.  It was ten-thirty now and the last of the participants had driven away moments earlier.  “I just want to lie here,” I added.  “I just want to soak it in.  And Joy Center does too.” I kept speaking as if Joy Center were a living breathing entity. I couldn’t help it.  I felt it to be true as I relaxed into the after-party spaciousness, and I wondered what made it so.

Six years ago in early September, Joy Center was a dream on paper and the beginning of a floor plan and a walk around the wooded property lines with Paul, the young builder who had climbed on board to bring this vision of mine into the world of matter.  And throughout that late autumn and snowy winter of pouring concrete and pounding nails, of lifting and stacking and bringing the hint of a dream into a wood and concrete reality, I felt expectant, as though I was about to give birth to something that had been in me for a very long time.  And although it was Paul and his merry band of young workers who put their hearts and their souls into the actual building of it, it was I who made the decisions, whose heart pounded sometimes with the fear of the unknown and the excitement that I was forging ahead with a project that was bringing  me hair-standing-on-end vitality.  And when it was complete, when the last of the shingles had been laid into place and the cupola tower had been added to the roofline and the kitchen cabinets painted glossy white, when the walls had been painted in rich and magical ocean and earth shades and the tile and wood floors had been scrubbed spotless clean and the magnificent silken banners hung into place, I stood in awe and admiration.  And I admit that I felt as though I was the mother of a brand-new baby, the proud parent of a gleaming shining vessel of potentiality.  And just as a mother pours her love into her baby, her expectation that all is possible for her  just-born child, I poured mine into Joy Center, poured the expansive feeling that this place that had been my dream to build could also be a place for others to nourish and grow their dreams as well.

So it’s true that in the beginning I did see Joy Center as my child, and, every once in a while, I’d pause as I stepped out of its front door after a yoga class or one of the events that we held that first autumn, and I’d plant my feet in the gravel driveway and I’d stare back at the cottage-like-home and I’d just breathe it in, the look of the building, the smell of the pines; I’d breathe it in deeply enough to make it seem real.  And even then, it didn’t seem like it was just my child.  It had been Paul’s dream, too, in his early twenties, to build a house, his first house.  And Sherri, an artist of food and silks, had never created anything quite like those banners before.  And my friend Alanna brought magic to the painting of the walls.  And there were the yoga students, the new ones who were discovering the practice of yoga at the same time that they were discovering this cottage in the woods, and the students who had practiced with me for years at my old studio in the basement of my husband’s dental office.  And the workshops – from the beginning, Joy Center was a container for creative play.  We danced our way through that first year, and we wrote and we painted and we meditated.  And the ideas for workshops and events grew and the people who became involved multiplied, and this entity that began as a sketch and a journal entry on paper became so much more than I could have envisioned.  There has been a wedding at Joy Center and a baptism.  There have been baby showers and birthday parties.  People have poured their hearts out; they’ve danced and they’ve sung and they’ve laughed and they’ve cried and they’ve dared to dream big.  And Joy Center’s walls hold the words of a multitude of poets and storytellers, and the songs of so many singers and the dreams of so many dreamers.

I think that’s it, that’s what I was feeling last Wednesday evening as I lay sprawled out on the carpeted floor of the loft.  I was feeling  a bounty of love for all all the people who have graced this place, for all the people who will grace this place.  And I was feeling a bounty of love for the place itself, a different kind of awe than I felt five years ago when it was a gleaming shimmering brand-new baby.  This place is alive.  It is alive and it has grown and it will continue to grow with all our energy, with the visions we hold, with the dreams that we dream.  And I am forever grateful.

Helen of Joy five years ago in front of a brand-new Joy Center!

Helen of Joy five years ago in front of a brand-new Joy Center!

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