After the changes and turmoil of 2020, I think all of us are in search of a little more JOY. I tapped into an unexpected well of JOY last Spring. I was nearing the completion of my 17th year as an online school administrator. As the founder of two successful online schools, I never imagined the prolific change that one year could make in my career. Not only had the scope and context of my career shifted, but my family dynamics also dramatically changed. In August 2020, my niece and nephew joined our family unexpectedly. Overnight, my workload as a mother and educator had more than doubled. The Pandemic had called me into serious reflection. I was surviving, not thriving, and I needed to make some significant adjustments. So, I followed my fire!
I had studied Neurodiversity intensely since 2011, when I first began to recognize symptoms in my then two-year-old. For nearly a decade, I had wholly devoted myself to unlocking the secrets within my son’s Neurodivergent mind. As an educator and school administrator, I was well-versed in how schools manage Neurodiversity. As a seasoned mother, I understood the journey of a parent with a neurodiverse child. As a woman with ADHD, I had experienced first-hand the shame and stigma associated with Neurodiversity. I realized that a profound opportunity existed in the center of my struggle; a way forward full of joy. So, I boldly stepped up to the plate creating Theara to light the way to wellness for the Neurodiverse. I left a well-established career bringing all my best to the table to equip the Neurodiverse Collective for well-living. Joy is the sustaining fire of wellness; its heat, fuel, and oxygen. At Theara, we Journey forward together in Organized optimism, never failing to Yield for the sake of wellness.
I have never been more fired up than when engulfed in a conversation about the Neurodiverse journey. The word heat can describe someone’s intensity, passion, or beauty; life’s journey for the Neurodiverse certainly encompasses all of those attributes. The journey forward is exciting; we are trailblazers, igniting vision and encouragement in others. Sometimes everyday obstacles mask the joy in the journey. However, every little step forward matters, like tiny hot embers perpetuating the fire. Significant gains along the road thrust us on, like rising flames, and losses can attempt to flood out your fiery passion. However, the steady, consistent progress made with every tiny step creates that bed of hot coals keeping the internal fire alive. Like a warm fire in the winter, the heat from the journey feeds the soul.
Organizing your life for optimism is equivalent to supercharging your tank, and it doesn’t cost a thing. In fact, it can be as simple as inviting more bright colors into your life. The Harvard Business Review, recently highlighted the work of John Voigt, President of Genesis Medical Center- Davenport. He significantly improved the performance and morale of his staff with an organized effort to increase optimism. He implemented two activities to promote optimism. His organization selected orange as a symbol for positive change and then sprinkled orange everywhere. Executives were also required to open meetings with praise and recognition. Genesis Medical Center-Davenport had been in the midst of crisis before the implementation of organized optimism. The implementation of these low-cost, high-impact strategies dramatically shifted employee performance and morale. An infusion of optimism can fuel you for the long-haul.
Yielding for wellness is central to sustained joy. When we are not well, we are not happy. Self-care has been one of the most challenging aspects of my Neurodiverse journey. I have superhero expectations of myself. I think much of my superhero mentality is directly related to my ADHD; nonetheless, my struggle with self-care is real! Wellness is the oxygen to your fire. The self-care technique I have found most readily at my disposal is deep breathing. Everyone and anyone can find time for a few deep breaths: five seconds inhaling, five seconds holding, and five seconds exhaling. Just a few moments of practice daily has incredible results. There is no fire when there is no oxygen; without wellness, long-term joy is hard to find.
Theara’s acronym for J.O.Y. (Journey forward with Organized optimism, always Yeilding for wellness) can be applied to nearly every aspect of life. When J.O.Y. is applied, happiness is almost always the natural result, and happiness is contagious. When you invite joy into life’s journey by utilizing the principles of the J.O.Y. acronym, the journey grows full of promise and possibility. You have to be the light to expand the light. Find your J.O.Y. and watch it grow!