Take a Step Back and Focus on Your Joy

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Be gentle with yourself, find time for the things you love and focus on your joy. You might just surprise yourself.

focusing on my joy with pottery

By Tianna Spears

“I’ve decided to give myself permission to focus on my joy.”

I stared at the December 2020 issue of Vogue, the image of Beyoncé in a hot pink outfit, hair parted in the middle. I thought about her quote for weeks; the strength and power in these words above. The art of giving herself permission to refocus, address her needs and place emphasis on herself. On only herself.

How many of us ask for permission from others but never grant it to ourselves?

My mind normally races first thing in the morning. There is my to-do list: The dog must be fed and walked, laundry folded, pending emails are in need of response, and a dishwasher to empty. I wonder, how often do I take a moment and visualize the radical, sustainable, healing and creative way I want to live my life?

How often do I focus on my joy?

I started slowing my mornings down. I made a mental note of one thing I was excited about each day that was not tied to work, family and friends – just to me. Turns out, there were several things I was excited about: watching the Audre Lorde documentary, “Audre Lorde – The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992,” exploring the new walking trail I discovered in my south Durham neighborhood, and rereading “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin.

Moving at this gentler pace is … different. When I pour my coffee in the morning, I ask myself what I’m doing, how the coffee smells, and I pause to feel the warmth of the mug in my hands. I take a deep breath, light my favorite candle and lean back in my chair before I start my day.

I find it easy to get stuck, as a writer, from a lack of creativity or writer’s block. I spend all of my time now at home with my Lab mix instead of laughing with friends on our favorite corner sofa at Cocoa Cinnamon on Geer Street. Lack of new experiences and face-to-face conversation made my writing feel stagnate.

I am discovering ways to move my body, exercise my mind and make sure that I take a break from blue light in this new normal. Being a writer is a part of me, but not me in entirety. It’s something I do; it’s not who I am. But I wonder – what is work and what is play? What happens when the two collide?

I desperately craved something else to do with my hands, to stretch myself in a way that I had not experienced before – anything that did not involve a computer screen. One evening, I saw someone tweet: “Seth Rogan’s growth in pottery is making me emotional.” Below the sentiment were side-by-side photos of Seth’s pottery in 2019 vs. 2020. It turns out that Seth joined a pottery class to make ashtrays and now showcases his multicolored vases.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I was so inspired by Seth Rogan’s pottery that I signed up for a pottery class at the Durham Arts Council. I bought a pottery kit and a multi-pocketed sky-blue apron. I love pockets!

It is liberating to be excited about something new. So often we are taught that what we do should have a dollar sign attached to make it valuable or worthy, and that passions and hobbies must become businesses. Our work does not have to define our being, nor does it have to be a passion. We are free to characterize work for ourselves. We must remember that we are allowed to expand. We must give ourselves grace while doing so.

I will focus on my joy in a sky-blue pottery apron on weekday afternoons. What new adventure awaits you?

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