Joy Rebel

There’s a childhood song that bounced around my head the other day:

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, down in my heart. (Where?) Down in my heart! (Where?) Down in my heart!”

It made me sit a minute and wrestle with the word that’s held so much meaning for me this year.

As I’ve shared before, my mother’s middle name, Joy, was passed down from her mother – my late grandmother, who has consumed my year with grief and a will to understand; unpacking dusty, old baggage of bittersweet memories and deciphering how everything relates to my life now. Though not fully accomplished, I’d say I’ve gained some traction.

Shortly after my birthday, I was treated to a delightful lunch at the Thistle Farms Café. Somewhere between ordering a chai latte and digging into the best chicken pot pie I’ve ever had, my friend slid a bag across the table that held a bright water-colored rainbow. Two words boldly stated at the bottom: JOY REBEL. I was visibly moved.

  1. Give me handmade and thoughtful any day over something expensive.
  2. There was that word… again.


Just as summer was on the cusp of fall, I was introduced to the concept of being a Joy Rebel:

Fill every room with hope. Even if hate seems louder as it shouts back, “Nope.”

Get out your crayons, cameras, pencils, and glue. Whatever you need to make the world less blue.

Let’s invite more love, more beauty, and less fear. We can because you exist. You are very much here.

So keep dreaming. Keep doing. One day we’ll see how much brighter things are when we REBEL JOYFULLY.
Brad Montague

And now in our transition to winter, the recurring message that rings in my head is count it all joy.

My husband and I received some unpleasant news recently. When you’re self-employed, it’s never fun to learn you’ve lost a major client, but budgets change and work ebbs and flows. You get used to it. Unless, it’s the one time you don’t.

Sometimes, circumstances jab at your ego and you take the loss personally.

I spent that entire day switching between work and prayer, exhaling questions and inhaling reassurance.

As I was getting ready for bed, I cried out for peace, mostly for sleep and the thought came again: count it all joy.

“Even in this? Really?” Yes, even now.


I have nothing against tattoos… on others. I am far too chicken to get one myself. I’ve played with the thought of carpe diem or go confidently and live the life on my wrists. I’ve even considered a simple semicolon to illustrate that my story isn’t over. But then I go to Google and realize that I’m not near as original as I think, so I never follow through.

To be fair, I was 30 years old before even piercing my ears because I always waffled back and forth on something so permanent. (Sidenote: earrings have since become my favorite accessory.)

At any rate, a bracelet I can do.

A few weeks ago, I uploaded my handwriting to a jewelry artist on Etsy so I would have a reminder in tough times. A reminder to look for lovely in all things, to count it all joy.


I created a painting once upon a time that graced the wall of my first condo. It simply said, “The only constant in this world is change.” Without a doubt, tough times will come again — just like the ebb and flow of work, right? I have faith that will come again, too.

In the meantime, I’ll just be over here counting it all.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Dad says:

    What a sweet reminder to us all.
    Love your outlook.


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