Embracing "Joy" in 2019 and a look back on 2018

In the mirror-like quality of snow and ice, with the pure crystal quiet of winter, immersed in the wisdom that comes from more time for self-reflection through the dark nights, before the year-end festivities when new vision and light are born, I looked back on 2018. 

Every new-year’s day, I like to come up with a word that holds the energy and space I wish to create for myself during the year (See below my word for 2019!) 

My word for 2018 was “Emerge.” 

In the year of “Emerging,” I turned 30. I released Little World. I completed a national solo tour for the first time in 4 years. And, I made the leap to become 100% self-employed as a full-time musician. Wow! 

It has been a year of birthing creative intentions that have long been held in my heart and mind, a year of learning to have unshakable faith in my vision and what I feel called toward and a year in which I have worked harder than I ever knew was possible. 

As I look back on it all, I want to say a deep, heart felt “Thank You.” 

Thank you first and foremost to the songs themselves, without whom I would be without purpose. Though they come through me, they are also my teachers, my guides, my lifeline. 

Thank you to everyone who worked with me on the “Little World” album release and tour, 

especially all of you who supported “Little World” on Kickstarter, and everyone who lent their professional magic and personal touch to make the album itself and the “#RaiseUpYourEyes for our ‘Little World’” tour a success! 

Click here to watch this special “Thank You” video I made just for you! 

(Watch for special tour memories via photo and video too!) 

Most of all, Thank YOU, my community! You make it possible for me to get to do this! Without you, the songs would have no place to land and I would probably become a very lonely, grouchy, resigned sort of person. 

Through all of the emerging of this past year, I have been blown away by the outpouring of support I feel from all of you. I am grateful for the deepening of our connection and I feel blessed to have been able to get to know so many new people on a personal level. 

Whether you have been a witness, a listener or you have housed me, feed me or monetarily contributed, you are appreciated and you are loved! 

And now… ever onward into …. 2019!! 

My word for this new year of 2019 is…. 

Joy 

“When it is warm with tenderness and affection towards others, our open heart can give us the most pure and profound happiness that exists and enable us to radiate that happiness to others.” ~Dzigar Kongtrul, “Training in Tenderness” 

Returning from a week of retreat with my teacher, my mind feels clear and sharp and the most insignificant things are capable of bringing tears to my eyes. My puppy pokes her cold nose into my hand, hot cups of tea with a friend, classical music and an exquisite painting, snow on my eye lashes. In all the personal busyness, political destruction and worldly disaster of the past year, I’m not sure if I remembered to pause frequently enough to let my heart fill with the beauty of the everyday. 

So this year, I am opening into… Joy. 

Joy has been a word I have struggled with. Though I am lucky to have had a very joyful life, it is the word itself that brings up a strange aversion for me. There have been tinges of “who am I to experience joy with all the suffering in the world” as if somehow, in and of itself, feeling joy was a denial of the suffering of others. 

The intangible quality of joy sometimes brings up fear. I’m cautious, not wanting to get caught up in trying to grasp this illusive substance. It is impermanent. Rather than cherish this, the threat of heartbreak when joy vanishes, keeps me thinking it is better and braver to look at suffering, or stay ever occupied. 

Suffering, is always easier to see. Joy a bit more difficult to understand, more peripheral. It takes some intentional cultivation to feel joy fully and know how to create more of it, which can be as simple as dropping into our hearts and slowing down. 

Joy and suffering, though juxtaposed, come from the same thread. When my heart is open, they both feel like sharp blasts of fire or salty sea. But where suffering can cause us to shut down and shrink, joy has the potential to make our vision vast and thus can support the healing of suffering by helping us to open our hearts towards others. 

I enjoy the challenge of staying open in the face of suffering. I appreciate being deeply touched by another’s pain. When I am engaging with suffering, whether personal or universal, my heart becomes so full, the emotion penetrates any potential shut down. 

But what I know crave in my life, after spending six years making an album about bearing witness to suffering, is permission to truly experience the pure quality of joy itself. To acknowledge its existence in my life with my whole body. To allow the pleasure of a beautiful sunset, a warm fire after a long winter ski, a bird taking flight, vibrate my whole being, take my breath away, invoke immense gratitude to be alive. In allowing myself to experience these moments, I hope that I can become more available, more connected, more engaged. 

So, in 2019, I am embracing joy. Joy as an energy that can transform my own life and the world with its sheer brilliance. Joy as a possibility for human begins to come closer together, learning to focus less on our own agendas and competitive mindsets, and instead celebrate the accomplishments of others and help each other to succeed. 

I wish you, in 2019 all the joy in the world. May all your dreams and desires be fulfilled! 

I challenge you, no matter what hardships are in your life, to go out and find joy in the small things as well as in the large. Joy will change us. Joy will bread more joy. Joy, will save the world. 

So let’s do this… 2019!! 

Here’s to another year together, in our “Little World.” 

With love and gratitude, 

Emma

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