The Annual Birthday Blog

It’s my birthday! So you must grovel at my feet today…

Just kidding.

But yes. It is my birthday. Again. Comes around once a year. You’d think I would be more prepared at some point. But I never am. It always sneaks up on me.

It’s been a good year.

Looking back at the years behind me, I am so incredibly grateful for where I am now. There are so many things I have learned. This year has been an incredible growing experience for me, and I am so excited to see where life takes me in the future.

In my *29* years, I have learned so much. I am so thankful that I have been afforded opportunities to overcome more than most people. I feel strong and confident and excited about the chapters of my life that are opening up right now.

Now, for the SERIOUS readers… It’s gonna be a long one. This year has been incredible. I’d like to recap all that has happened, but there simply isn’t enough time or words. It has been a year of growth, loss, contemplation, changes, and many good things.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned this year is to choose myself. 

My entire life has been spent attempting to please people, paying attention to what they thought of me, caring about how I came across to them. But in order to find freedom, the fear of other people’s opinions must be eliminated. Other people are not walking in my shoes. They are not living my life. And that means I need to be LIVING my life, not worrying about pleasing other people and satisfying their expectations. There is so much freedom in this one lesson. And honestly, if it was the only thing I learned this year, it would be SO worth it.

But it isn’t the only thing I have learned.

I have learned that I may not be as smart as I thought. I got my first “F” in a class, I learned about the importance of mentors and systems, and I discovered that it is okay to not know everything. And I am so grateful to have learned that lesson. I feel like it opened my eyes to the wonder of the world again. Having the ability to imagine, to dream, to drink in the beauty of life, to laugh, to stand in awe…. It’s amazing to go back to that state of childlike wonder. And now, I am learning that everything is new. Every. Single. Day. And it is glorious.

I have learned that I am able to create my world. I choose my thoughts, my words, thereby choosing to direct my emotions and actions. My life is a product of my perceptions. Peace is internal. There is beauty in stillness. Love is a choice. Becoming is far more important than doing. And I am absolutely LOVING the process of becoming.

I have learned that changing your heart is one of the best side effects of changing your mind. That conquering fear is the only way to achieve my dreams. That “perfect love casts out fear, and when we focus on loving, we forget to be afraid. Fear holds us back from our potential. Love says “be who you are, for you are lovely.” We are never guaranteed tomorrow. So conquer fear and start living.

I have learned that creativity can be a way of life. I wrote several books this year, finished MY first book, started selling paintings and showing my work. But I also realized that we were made for creating. God said that he made us in His image. We are meant to bring life and beauty to this world, and I am glad that I get to take part in that.

I have learned that brain health is as important, or more important than body health. My brain controls and maintains every single aspect of my life, and if I don’t take care of it, it will wear out too quickly. Becoming a brain warrior has not only changed my life, but the lives of so many others.

I have learned that sometimes you have to let go. Whether it is bad habits, toxic relationships, or hurts from the past, it is crucial to health and happiness to learn how to let it all go. “The grace of a tree is that it has no hands” and when we learn to live as if we have no hands, we can truly enjoy the present moment and revel in the glory of creation.

I have learned to spend time alone. 10 minutes or 10 days or 10 weeks. Read alone. Eat alone. Go to movies alone. Have coffee alone. Loving myself has allowed me to love the people in my life so much more fully. And by the way, alone does not equate lonely.

I have learned to ask questions again. I remember being extremely inquisitive as a child, and as a teen and young adult, I wanted to know simply EVERYTHING. Somewhere along the way, I lost that. I became afraid to know, afraid I wouldn’t like the answers, afraid I was being annoying with this constant thirst for knowledge.  I was petrified of asking something stupid. But questions are good. They are great! And I am so excited to be in this realm again.

I have learned that a broken heart is a fresh start. When someone breaks your heart, it feels as though your world is ending. However, acknowledging that you were never meant to be together, that you were destined for different paths and that you have changed for the better because that person was in your life? That is an incredible feeling. Not everyone stays forever, so be thankful for them while they are there. All relationships have an expiration date, whether due to death or disagreements. Learn to appreciate people while you have them, and know that a broken heart is truly a fresh start.

I have learned to forgive. People will hurt you. People will make mistakes. People can be mean and harsh. But to forgive is a freedom that is beautiful. Forgiveness cleanses you and allows you to breathe again. No matter how terrible their choices, holding onto that only binds you to them. Let them go and you discover an entirely new world of love.

I have learned to judge less. I’d like to say I have learned not to judge, but that would be a lie. However, I am learning to recognize that everyone is in a different place. I don’t know what they are going through. I don’t know what past triggers might have culminated in the behavior I am seeing at that instant. I don’t know their heart or intentions. And I would much rather refrain from judging a hurt soul than find myself pouring salt into open wounds.

 I have learned that living my dream life is achievable and important. Doing what I love is the primary way to be true to myself. I will never go back to a miserable job that I despise for the sake of a little more money. There are so many other options in this big, beautiful world, and creating opportunities with the options that make us happy, that is really living.

I have learned to laugh more. At everything. I have learned that laughing at myself cures my insecurities. Laughter can truly bring a new outlook on life and I am determined to laugh more in the next year than I have in my entire adult life. Laughing with the people I love creates memories that we will get to love the rest of our lives.

There are so many more lessons that I have learned this year, but primarily;

I have learned that life is good. Always!









About Shannon Joy

I am a single mama with two incredible munchkins. I confuse most people and the deeper you delve into the rabbit hole, the more lost you will become. I play a lot, work a lot, learn a lot, volunteer a lot and tend to do a lot... I love my life. The past few years have been an incredible journey, full of ups and downs. Thankfully, I have made the choice to see challenges as opportunities and it makes me so much stronger than I ever thought possible. I love to write and paint and feel that being creative is my God-given talent. I am so excited to share my life and experiences with you. Although I am a diamond in the rough, I known that I am being chiseled and hewn by experiences and grace and perseverance. I love comments and feedback, so please send a little love when you can. I will always try to respond personally and in a timely fashion.
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