Choose Joy for the Journey

 I just completed the final steps, of the last leg, of an amazing journey—one that brought me from an idea in my mind to a book in my hand. Writing this memoir, Triumph! A Battle Plan for Joy, has been the most challenging voluntary project of my life. But I need to hastily add that the rewards have been greater than the challenges. Reliving my story of unexplainable triumph over such harsh events reaffirmed my conviction that we can choose joy in any environment.

One of the most valued rewards I received along this journey was of a therapeutic nature. Recalling those abusive and demeaning experiences helped me evict every trace of any lingering revenge, remorse or regrets, while underscoring the marvelous truth that it took my total experience, the good—the bad, and the embarrassing—to mold me into the person of joyful gratitude I am today.

The book took about four years to complete—more than four years if I count the original beginning. As shared in some of my other writings, I did not set out to write this book. Initially I began writing about miracles. I developed the outlines and began sharing stories, detailing various unexplainable events. In the meantime, Ideas and sometimes full scenes for A Battle Plan for Joy” kept disrupting my thought process, and at times haunting my dreams. So I put “Miracles” on the shelf and surrendered to “Triumph! A Battle Plan for Joy.”

I am grateful for the opportunities this project afforded me to practice and benefit from some of my own advice. For years I have told my son and other young people not to worry about how long it takes them to get a degree or reach some other goal. My words to them: “It doesn’t matter how slow the pace or how short the steps, as long as you know you are moving in the right direction, just kept moving. You will eventually get there. So relax and enjoy the journey.” In other words, when you choose joy over frustration—your journey will be sweeter.

At times it seemed almost everybody I saw asked: “Have you finished that book yet?” or “When are you going to finish that book?” I also received frequent text messages inquiring about the status of my book, especially after the projected publication date had passed. Some of the tones made it seem they were asking: “Are you sure you are going to finish that book?”

I kept focused on my goal, followed my plan, celebrated the smallest victory and relished every little milestone. I celebrated submitting the final chapter to the editor, completing the final revision, distributing the manuscript for designated people to critique, meetings to receive feedback, evaluating the feedback, assigning ISBN numbers, registering the books (paperback and kindle e-book) in Bowker’s Books in Print, sitting for my photo shoot, etc. Yes, despite the naysayers, I decided to keep my “eyes on the prize” and enjoy the journey.

The day I received the electronic proof was a day of special celebration. Just to see the book professionally designed and formatted to size filled my heart with gratitude. A few days later when I held the physical proof in my hands, joy intermingled with gratitude permeated my being. Ah, but there was more to come. Three weeks later I received the finished product, the author’s copy. At that point I had no need to choose joy, because joy chose me.

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