Monday, June 2, 2008

Everybody Needs Somebody

The past 6 months have been extremely difficult for me, probably some of the most difficult times I have ever had. I've had a full hysterectomy, double mastectomy and then, three days after completion of my recovery, I lost one of the most cherished people in my life, my mother. My mom’s unconditional love taught me to be honest with my emotions.

During the week of her funeral, I realized something about myself. Many people grieve privately. They appear very tough and appear to those around them, to be in complete control and unaffected. These people put on a public persona and handle tough times themselves, while I am more open with my sadness. As my husband says, I wear my emotions on my sleeve.

I have always been one to talk about and share my honest emotions. I believe my sister sees this as being weak or complaining. That is not at all what I am doing. I prefer to verbalize my emotions. This allows me to be real and be able to heal. I feel like it is easier to deal with hard times when I am letting those around me understand and support me. I have certain friends that I can be “real” with and share how I am feeling. They in turn know what they can expect from me. Friends are meant to support each other and I am so fortune to have a huge network of support.

It is okay to have weak moments. This does not mean you are a weak person. It is important for people to realize if they actually turn to those that love and support them in the tough times (because there will be tough times) then they will weather their crisis’ and stay stronger in the end. Having support from friends can often make it easier for you to learn from the tough times or maybe find good in the bad.

Our friends are gifts that are there to help us carry our crosses. Lean on those around you. Don’t try to weather your storms alone. To do so may break you down in the end. It is all too often that people break because they are busy trying to appear tough and unaffected. They think this will make them stronger when in the end it may actually do just the opposite. People often want to look like all is okay when maybe, if they let their friends know how they are really feeling, it would make their friends love and respect them even more.

Friends love to help friends so don’t try to weather your storms alone. Think about the words to the Keith Urban song, “Everybody” where he sings, “Everybody needs somebody sometimes."

Judy Goetz, VP Choose Joy, Inc

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Directions to Joy

Last month, I took my kids to Atlantic Beach for a little rest and relaxation. I hadn’t been to Atlantic Beach before, so, not knowing the way, I got onto my computer and pulled up Mapquest. I entered our hotel’s address and within seconds, my screen displayed the turn-by-turn directions, as well as a map, for our drive. Mapquest noted that our drive time would take approximately 3 hours. But since we had the entire day to get to the beach, I thought it might be fun to spend some of the day seeing interesting sites along the way. I wasn’t sure what those sites might be, but I was hoping Mapquest could locate some for me. And sure enough, there on the screen was a selection labeled “routing options”. I was hoping for an “interesting sites along the way” option. But when I clicked on the link, the only options presented were “shortest time” and “shortest distance.”

Shortest distance and shortest time. Those were my options. Did I want to get there fast or did I want to get there by the shortest path? I wanted neither. I wanted to get there, but I wanted to have a bit of fun along the way. The mapping tool assumed that I wanted to get to my destination the same way as everyone else – fast or short. But I didn’t want to get there fast or short. I didn’t want to get there like everyone else. I wanted to get there the way I wanted to get there.

How much of our life is like the mapping tool? While we know that we want the destination of our life to be happiness, how many of us realize that there are options as to how we get to our destination – options that are as individualized as we are. How we get to the destination of happiness is different for all of us. And it is because of this individualized route that many of us never fine true happiness, or as I prefer to call it, a joyful life. Instead, we live a life driving down the same roads as everyone else, assuming that we are on the road to joy.

We mistakenly assume that what brings on a joyful life is the same for everyone. We assume that those things are money and fame. But does having a lot of money or being famous guarantee happiness? Just take a look at some of the richest, most famous people in the world. They marry and divorce. They do drugs. They have affairs. How happy do you think those supposedly happy people are?

My mother was sure that if she won the lottery, she would be the happiest person in the world. After spending her adult life living with my alcoholic father, my mother had a lot of “issues” – issues with her self-confidence, issues with her weight, issues with teaching me and my brother and sister how to feel good about ourselves. But she was sure that if she could only win the lottery, all of her “issues” would disappear. Of course they wouldn’t have; if she had managed to win the lottery, she would have simply been a very rich woman with a lot of issues.

Joy is not having a lot of money or fame and it’s not about doing the same things as other people. Joy is the feeling that can only come from within you. Joy is the knowledge that your life is good, without having a lot of money or fame and without doing the same things as other people. Joy is deciding what is important to you and then acting on the things that are important. Joy is the choice to say, do and think in a way that supports what is important to you. Joy is driving on the road you want to drive on regardless of what road everyone else is driving on. Joy is beautiful. Joy is a choice. Joy is your choice. Choose joy!

Sonya May
President, Choose Joy, Inc

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My Mom - My Hero

Today I sit down to write my first blog for Choose Joy and I am overwhelmed with the possibilities of choices I have on what subject to actually blog about first. I have many things I want to write about but I think the first thing I want to do is tell you a little about myself. Maybe this will gain a little insight on just who I am and how I have come to be where I am today.

I was born and raised in Topeka, KS. I am the youngest of five. My parents were both hardworking individuals who provided well for our family. My father was a violent alcoholic and my mother an absolute saint. What she endured from my father’s drinking is beyond my comprehension. I never understood how she could love him but she did more than that - she managed to teach the five of her children to love him as well!!

My mother is a rock without knowing it. She is the glue that held us together. She would be up late at night (sometimes all night) being belittled, badgered and even swung at, then she would get ready and leave the house by 6:30am to go to the hospital where she was a nurse - a very good nurse too. I don’t know how she did it, being up all night, protecting her children and then going to work with a smile on her face and caring for very sick people…people that were dying of cancer. How is it that she didn't hate my father for the abuse that he put her, and our family, through while perfectly innocent people lay suffering and dying.

My mother honored and loved my father. She took her vows of “in good times and bad” to heart. And all the while that I was growing up I thought she was crazy. I didn’t understand why she took it, how she could take it. Why didn’t she leave him? Why couldn’t we all get away from him? I was, at times, very angry with her that she didn’t leave him and give us a better life. What could any of us possibly gain by being victims of this man’s drunken binges where he would swear profusely at us, calling us names that you wouldn’t believe?

It was not until I was older that I even began to find the good in my mother’s loyalty to my father. Because of what she endured all those years, my mother is now my biggest role model, my greatest teacher, and my hero. I now know today that had my mother not stuck it out, I would not be the person I am today. I am so much stronger because of what I went through as a child and what I watched my mother go through. She taught me to love unconditionally. She is the reason that I can find the good in the bad. She is the reason that I know I can do anything. And she is the reason that I know that love does endure and is worth it!!

So on this week before Mother’s Day I just want to say to my role model, my confidant but most importantly my MOM….Thank you, for inspiring me to live with JOY…Regardless!!!!!!

Judy Goetz
VP of

Friday, March 21, 2008

Basketball and Life- It's All the Same Game!

March is one of my favorite times of the year – the trees are blooming, the air is warming and the balls are bouncing – the basketballs that is! March is NCAA tournament time! I’m from Indiana and if there’s one thing we Hoosiers love, it’s basketball! We’re taught to love it from any early age, just like we’re taught to read and write. I’ll never forget that night in 1987 when the IU Hoosiers won the final game. I was a senior at a smaller university in Southern Indiana and a friend and I were passionately cheering the team on to victory as the last snow of the year bucketed down outside. When the final buzzer rang, declaring the Hoosiers, the champions, my friend and I wanted nothing more than to run out to our car and drive straight to Bloomington to join in the celebration. But we both remembered what our mothers would say as we looked out at the six inches-and-growing snowfall outside and decided to stay put. We celebrated right where we were – all night long. We loved basketball. We loved our Hoosiers. And we were happy!!

I moved away from Indiana over twenty years ago, but Hoosier Hysteria is still part of who I am. And when March approaches, I anxiously look forward to watching a plethora of great ballgames. I love the squeak of the shoes on the hardwood. I love the hurried talk of the announcer as the ball goes inside. I love the long roar of the crowd when a three pointer is hit. But what I really love is watching a well-coached team work together like one brain with five pair of shoes. Each one of the five players know their role. Each one of the players know what to do and where to go when a play is called and they know what to do when the defense responds in certain ways – set a pick, kick outside for the three, pass into the paint, alley-oop over the middle. To me, watching a good basketball team is a watching a thing of beauty.

As a sat down today to watch the first round of the tournament, I realized for the first time how much a basketball game is like life, more particularly, the life of my family. I have a great family – a supportive, loving husband and three kids who are not only incredible people now, but who I know will grow into incredible adults. And then there’s me – wife and mother – roles I take very seriously and work harder at than any “paying” job I’ve ever had.

Just like a basketball team is on a mission to win a game – my family is on a mission to win also. But our goal isn’t to win a game, it’s to win at life. Now, of course my family isn’t out to “beat” anyone else. To us, winning at life means enjoying life, making the most of it, living it and loving it to the greatest of our abilities. We go about “playing” our “game” in many ways similar to the way a basketball team goes about playing their game – we work hard to understand our teammates’ strengths and weaknesses. We’re there to pick our “player” up when they fall. We delight in our successes together and cry together when we suffer a loss. We work together as a team, accepting that the game is not just about us, but about our team. We know we can’t always take every shot, but need to pass the ball off sometimes – we know that we can’t always have our own way or do, and have, everything we want, but that we have to make sacrifices for the success of the team – our family.

And just as a basketball team has an opponent who tries to keep it from its goal of winning the game, I feel like my family has opponents who try to keep us from winning at ours’ – the media tries to tell my children what they should be doing or wearing. Classmates try to tell them that it isn’t cool to be so close to their family. People without the same morals as us try to sway us from doing what we know is right.

Every day is a new game and every day we face new opponents. But our team is strong – we huddle up and remind each other about how we play our game and what our ultimate goal is. We don’t hold grudges or get angry when one of our players misses a shot – that is, get’s a little off track. We’re there to pick that player up, give him some encouragement, and tell him to get back out there and give it another try. We are a team. We are strong. We know what our goal is! We will win. We will be victorious! We will do the dance of celebration together! We are family!!!!!

And one more thing … GO UNC!!!

Sonya May, President, Choose JOy, Inc

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Chocolate - The 5th Food Group

I love chocolate. It’s as simple as that. I love it pretty much any way it comes – in cakes, in cookies, in milk, in brownies, out of my children’s Halloween candy bags after they’ve gone to bed at night. To me, chocolate is pretty much the best thing ever created. If I could, I’d eat chocolate for every meal of the day as well as morning and afternoon snacks. And, of course, I’d eat it for dessert! But I don’t. Why don’t I? Why don’t I eat chocolate instead of anything else? I certainly like it more than anything else. And I feel happier when I’m eating chocolate that when I’m eating anything else. So why don’t I eat exclusively chocolate and nothing else?

Of course we all know that answer to that one – actually there are many reasons that I don’t eat exclusively chocolate even though I would like to:
· We all know about the food pyramid and last time I looked, chocolate wasn’t on it. There’s fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and so on and so on. But no chocolate.
· If I ate only chocolate, I’d probably balloon up in size until I was bigger than the state of Montana.
· My health would suffer. As much as I would like to ignore the facts, I definitely remember learning in junior high about the need for vitamins and minerals in order to promote healthy living.
· What would I do about feeding my kids? While I’m sure that they would love to eat chocolate right along side of me, I wouldn’t dare think of feeding only chocolate to them. I’m their mother and I’m supposed to be looking out for them.

Basically, I don’t eat only chocolate because the fact is, it’s not good for me. Agghh! I hate that fact! But yet that’s the plain and simple truth. Everyday, I make a choice to eat the foods that I know are healthy so that I can live a healthy life. That’s not to say that I don’t throw a bit of chocolate in their every now and then, but my diet is mostly dictated by our good friend, the food pyramid. Every day I make a choice about what I eat based on the type of life I want to life. I want to live a healthy life so I eat healthy foods.

The daily choices I make aren’t reserved exclusively for the type of food I eat, though. I make a multitude of choices every day that have to do with a lot more than just food. I make choices in how I speak to my children. I make choices about what kind of friend I am. I make choices about either holding a grudge or forgiving. I make a choice whether or not I kiss my husband when he leaves for work in the morning. Choices are before me every second of everyday. I make a choice about whether to buy the name brand purse. I make a choice about whether to watch TV or play a game with my kids. I make a choice about returning the five dollar bill someone dropped or slipping it into my pocket.

When I know that I want to live a healthy life, I make the choice to eat primarily healthy foods. When I know that I want to be a patient loving mother, I make the choice to speak to my children in a patient, loving way. When I know that I want to be an honest person, I speak and do the honest thing, even when no one is watching. The choices we make must support the life we want to live, for it is the choices we make that give us the life we live. Now granted, we can’t always make the perfect choices all of the time. We lose our temper and speak to our kids in a harsh tone. We want to be a little frivolous and splurge on the expensive dress. We’re grouchy with our husband, so we don’t kiss him when he heads out the door. I want to indulge in my biggest weakness so I eat some chocolate.

The beautiful thing about choices is that there is always another one waiting to be made. When I indulge in chocolate, I make the choice to not get frustrated with myself and condemn my life to one of being unhealthy. I know that the next thing I eat will be a healthy choice. After all, I say that I want to live a healthy life, so after an unhealthy choice, I need to make a healthy choice. Perhaps in addition to eating a healthy choice, I’ll increase my exercise.

Let’s say that I was grouchy with my husband and didn’t kiss him as he headed out the door. The next second holds a new choice for me. I can call him and apologize for being grouchy and kiss him twice when he returns home. Every second is an opportunity to make a new choice. And the choices you make should reflect the life you want to live. Make the choices to give you the life you want to live. As for me, I’m off to eat a bit of chocolate followed by a nice long walk!

Sonya May
President, Choose Joy, Inc

Friday, January 11, 2008


... so begins the refrain of the David Bowie song, "Changes." There are some other great lyrics in that song, but it occurred to me that at the beginning of a new year this simple one word phrase is especially popular. Changes.

When New Years Day hits everyone is motivated to, well, makes changes in their lives. Or at least make resolutions to make changes in their lives. (By the way, I'm not sure most people know what resolution means, but that could be an entirely different blog topic.... ;^) And you know the usual ones that we've all made and/or heard year-after-year: get in shape, spend more time with family, get a better job or receive a promotion, etc.

There are several things I observe year-over-year, without fail:
  • The resolutions most people make are high-level / grandiose things. Great dreams to be sure!!! But these tend to be either easy to achieve (if you cheat in your measurement) or nearly impossible to completely achieve...

  • A person often make the same resolution year-after-year and never completes/achieves it. If it is THAT important, why not? After all, it's a resolution, something you are determined to do.

  • Typically folks do nothing more than state and briefly think about their resolutions while celebrating with friends and raising a glass of champagne. Real contemplating doesn't go into deciding what resolutions to make and, once made, are quickly forgotten.

  • People seem to make resolutions that they think others expect them to make. While indeed there are some things we all probably want to achieve, there are certainly things that are unique and deeply important to us each individually.
Well let's talk about another Ch-ch-ch-ch word: Choose.

It is obvious that YOU choose the resolutions you make. You also have the power to make all the choices to accomplish those resolutions that are truly important in your life! And which ones ARE important? Which are those that are inline with your goals and desires, not what everyone else is doing? Those that bring joy in your life, those that impact areas that you passionately care about?

If you can readily answer those questions with some degree of detail, I'll contend you are probably accomplishing most of what you've resolved to do (and are also a rarity ;^)! Most people, myself too sometimes, aren't quite so productive with their resolutions.

When we make resolutions we need to actively and positively think about what brings us feelings of satisfaction, success and joy. These should be written down, and not be an incredibly long list (which can often seem insurmountable). A half-a-dozen items that are core to who you are, what you want to achieve in life, and how you foresee changing to accomplish meaningful things this year.

Now, what are the choices you need to make throughout the year to fulfill your personal plans? Jot down specific decisions and actions that you will choose to do this year to enable your resolutions to be realized. Let me use those three examples of not-so-great resolutions from the beginning of this blog article (maybe they really are what you are most concerned about and achieving them will provide joy in your life), and propose what might be a better...
  • Get in shape: Health is important to living a long life and being in shape allows me to better accomplish other things I care about. I am going to join a health club before February 1st. I'm going to talk to knowledgeable people there and learn how I can effectively achieve better health through exercise and nutrition. I will change habits as necessary (no more ice cream right before going to bed) and make time to do this (exercise 3 times a week) because it is important to me and those who love me.

  • Spend more time with family: Time with family is the thing that brings me the most joy in life. Yet often I realize it takes a back seat to work, volunteer activities, etc. I will make specific plans, perhaps going so far as to schedule it in my planner, to be home for dinner. I will not check my email from my phone when I'm at the Circus with my kids. ;^) I won't use vacation days to do projects around the house. My kids will be out of the house one day and my friends may move away, so I will enjoy and maximize the time I have with them.

  • Get a better job: I like what I do, am good at it, enjoy the people with whom I work, and provide good financial support for my family. However, it greatly reduces the time I have at home (due to both long hours and travel), and also, aside from providing income, does not lead me down the road to accomplishing those things that are most important to me in life. I will look for other positions in my current company that might provide experiences that are more in line with my desired direction. I will contact outside people who know me well, letting them know what I am really interested in doing and asking them to keep me in mind if they hear anything. I will identify and pursue education that may be required to enable me to get another position I seek.
I think you get the idea. You see that if someone really considered and acomplished those three resolutions what an awesome achievement it would be!

So, what resolutions did you make this year? (And remember, it's never too late to make them and/or change them...) Are the choices you are making ones that will lead you to achieving what you set out to do so you can thrive this year? When New Years Eve comes next year envision yourself celebrating an incredible year of accomplishment and moving on to even better things!

Here's to joyful ch-ch-changes in ALL aspects of our lives in 2008!

Bill May
ChooseJoy, Inc.