I love that word. The coaching clients I have who make their life decisions based on what will make them most joyful tend to meet with the greatest success in all areas of their journey. My mom's name is also Joy. And she has personified the definition of her name throughout her life, so it is extra-meaningful for me to talk about the concept. I think about joy in context of how she makes life more joyful for others, living her life in service to the people around her.
I could write a book full of examples that illustrate her wonderful ability to bring light and love to the world, but here are a few that fit into this little blog post.
*Our holidays often included people she and Dad had invited to the table, who we may not have known very well, but needed a meal or some laughter around their weary souls during a difficult time.
*There were four of us Gallagher kids, but throughout my childhood, there was usually another young person living with us whose parents were enduring some kind of hardship - someone who she helped to nourish - with food, a safe space and love - just as she did for her own children. Not to mention the countless friends who hung out at our house all the time after school and on the weekends, who she always welcomed wholeheartedly.
*She opened her heart to elderly relatives, one of whom, my Aunt Kay, lived with us for many years. Mom provided Aunt Kay with everything she needed to live the highest quality of life possible before she died.
*When we vacation at the beach, Mom often quietly struggles with migraines when sitting in the direct sunlight, but you would never know it - she focuses on the laughter of all of her kids and grandkids playing in the sand, listening to our stories and making us feel like we are the most important people in the world as we share them.
*Serving in a very public community role as the wife of a popular Episcopalian minister, she fields calls and welcomes visitors on his behalf from people who are in emotional distress, and then closely follows their stories, supporting them along the way and celebrating with them when happier times begin to take shape.
*She is unfailingly loyal, compassionate, thoughtful, generous, sensitive and kind - to her family, her friends, and all who she meets - every day of her life, no matter what might be going on in her own life. She is truly one of the most amazing people you could ever meet, and I am deeply grateful for her. She listens intently and loves unconditionally - an example of goodness every day.
Joy is the perfect name for her - and joy is a perfect focal point for coaching sessions - because, if we have joy and share it as freely as she does, we feel fully alive. And even when things are out of place or we are facing challenges, if we continue living our lives as she and my dad do, connecting deeply with humanity by focusing on how we can bring joy to the people around us, we will tap into resiliency we never knew we had and awaken ourselves to meaning and purpose, which will carry us to greater fulfillment on our journey.
So, as her Irish daughter, I want to share something very special to me with all of you: the recipe for Irish Soda Bread she has long used to bring joy to others. While the recipe itself may not have been her creation originally, she prepares as many breads as she possibly can every year in the days leading up to St. Patrick's Day, and then delivers them to friends, neighbors and family with her beautiful smile. I have cherished her Irish Soda Bread tradition since I was a young girl, just as I cherish her. The recipe is symbolic of the joy that she brings to others all year long - a total inspiration to all of us who know her.
Happy St. Patrick's Day, friends….it's never too early to start celebrating by sharing a little Joy and merriment with everyone around us!