Linda Joy is on a mission. A mission fueled by the lessons learned and the wisdom and insights gained on her transformational twenty two year journey from single welfare mom to heart-centered visionary and inspirational catalyst. As publisher of Aspire Magazine – the premiere inspirational magazine for women and host of the Inspired Living Secrets teleseries, Ms. Joy’s passion permeates all of her inspirational multi-media brands – each dedicated to supporting and empowering women with a Universal message of hope, love and self-empowerment. She’s a passionate believer that there are no failures in life — only lessons to be learned and shared. Learn more at www.Linda-Joy.com
We all experience life challenges that looking back we can see were the catalyst for living a deeper, more authentic life. What has been your greatest personal challenge that you’ve overcome that served as your pivot point to transformation?
I would have to say that my greatest personal challenge has been learning to love and accept myself for who I am and to fully embrace all the experiences in my life as ‘seeds to growth.’ The past twenty-plus years have taken me on an amazing journey of self-discovery. I’ve moved through a rainbow variety of life experiences, some of which have filled me with intense joy and gratitude, and others which have sucked me into the deepest depths of self-doubt, pain, and despair. Like many on the path of self-actualization, I have fallen—and yet, somehow, each time I have found that core of inner strength which helped me to struggle to my feet, brush myself off, and move on. In hindsight, I can see that what I previously perceived as my biggest screw-ups have in fact been my truest and best lessons.
On the first leg of my journey, during which I went from high school dropout and runaway to single twenty-two year old welfare mom—oh, and let’s not forget financial misfit—I subconsciously labeled myself a failure. My mom dubbed me “the Queen of Self-Sabotage.” When friends and family would ask me when I was going to do something with my life, I was prepared with a long list of reasons (which I now see were just excuses) why I didn’t and couldn’t and wouldn’t have a chance at a life like that. I had spent so long viewing my life through a lens of shame and self-degradation that by the time I turned twenty-six I had already labeled myself a failure, and turned my back on the dream of a better life.
Not a great way to view life especially when at that time you are a single mom of a beautiful six year old little girl. At that time I just couldn’t seem to release the shackles of shame, self-degradation and pain that kept me from moving forward in a positive direction.
Until a spring day in 1991…
Describe the transformational moment or wake-up call when you realized that life change was necessary? For many, it’s a spiritual awakening, an emotional downfall, or a life-altering experience that shakes us awake.
My awakening happened while sitting in my car one spring day in 1991 as I wrote about in the introduction of A Juicy, Joyful Life. I was close to giving up on life – on living. I was going through one of the most painful, enraging, and transformative periods of my life. Long-buried childhood traumas were resurfacing, haunting me like restless ghosts. I felt like I was splitting open, ripped apart by the intensity of my emotions. I was terrified that I would never know who I was meant to be, because I was always going to be trapped in this vicious cycle of pain and anger, pain and anger. I was a single mom with a beautiful six-year-old daughter, and this pain was preventing me from being completely present for her. Not only was I failing myself, now; I was failing her. The torment was unbearable.
That day I raged at the ‘powers that be’. Twenty-nine years of anguish and shame came pouring out of me as I shook my fists at the Heavens. At the end I was completely spent – emotionally and spiritually drained. It was as if a huge reservoir of pain had been drained out of my heart, leaving an empty, gaping hole in its place. What happened next transformed the trajectory of my life and healed my heart.
Everything became very still. The breeze stopped. I could no longer hear the sound of lawnmowers in the distance, or the rustle of leaves overhead. I could feel my heart beating, and the way my breath hitched in my chest, but I was somehow beyond those things, as well. I basked in a deep, encompassing peace, a perfect stillness like I’d never experienced before.
And then, I heard it: the stern but also gentle and loving whisper which would transform my life, heal my heart, and allow me to begin to dance with my authentic self for the first time.
The voice said, “The experiences of your childhood do not erase the core of who you are. You have been here all along, but you have chosen not to see yourself. Instead, you’ve focused on the pain. You hold the power to become, at any time, whatever you desire to be. You can choose to live in the past, with all your pain and anger, or you can choose to be the bright, beautiful person at the core of who you are, right now. So, what will you choose?”
Epiphany! Suddenly, my heart was filled with pure hope—a feeling I hadn‘t experienced in a long, long time. The wisdom I heard that day seemed so simple, so straightforward, and my heart resonated with truth of it. I think the voice only reminded me of what I’d known, deep down, all along. I had a choice about my life, my feelings, and the ache in my heart.
So what did I want for myself? Who would I choose to be, if I was no longer a victimized child, a woman in pain?
My journey to discovering the answers to those questions began that day and continues to this very day!
After experiencing your personal wake-up call what were the most powerful steps you took to change your life?
That pivotal moment became the catalyst for me to take back my life and launch my quest to reclaim my authentic self. From that day forth, I spent every spare moment reading inspirational books from leading spiritual visionaries like Norman Vincent Peale, Florence Scovel Shinn, Napoleon Hill, and I dedicated myself to living from the inside out, using my mind and heart to continually transform my life.
As the years unfolded, I added to my transformational toolkit, soaking up the wisdom of teachers like Marianne Williamson, Debbie Ford, and Cheryl Richardson, to name a few. I dedicated myself to healing the cracked lens through which I viewed my life, so that I could create a better future for myself and my six-year old daughter.
The written word became and continues to be both my solace and my impetus for change. The wisdom contained within the books I chose seemed to come to me just when I needed it most. Whether it was a word, a sentence, or a paragraph, each message that leaped off the pages at me was exactly what I needed to hear at that time, and gave me the fuel to move forward.
In many media interviews over the years I’ve been asked how I have continuously stepped through my fears and out of my comfort zone to transform my personal, professional, and spiritual life. I can’t offer any direct advice; I can only share my truth and what’s worked for me. To move forward, I had to accept that change and transformation in our lives have the power to grip us in paralyzing fear—but only if we focus on the fear. When I shifted my focus away from the fear, I discovered that no matter how difficult the road ahead might look, the thought of not living authentically and following my soul’s purpose was far more frightening than the thought of moving forward.
Please share a Positive Mental Shift tip that woman can implement today to support them on their journey of transformation and empowerment.
If I have to choose just one Positive Mental Shift Tip to share with your audience I would have to choose one that has truly empowered me on my journey…
Consistently take baby-steps each day toward the vision you hold for your life. Whether it’s as simple as reading a passage from an inspiring book, joining an online community such as this one for support and wisdom or taking an online workshop – each step you take toward your vision empowers and inspires you to take the next one. You won’t always see the full staircase but you will always see the next step – take it!
I’d like to leave you with a personal message…
“The world is filled with amazing, visionary women who have walked the path ahead of you and are now shining their light to illuminate the path for you just as someone did for them. You are not alone – there is a global community of heart-centered women cheering for you and holding a place for you so that one day you will illuminate the path for another. ”
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