Mama, Sometimes You’ve Just Got to Create Your Own Joy

Create your own joy.

Here’s the real deal. Yes, our situation—in many ways—“sucked.”

It sucked having our daughter nearly two whole months early because of unexpected medical complications that put both her and my own life in danger.

It sucked being on magnesium sulfate, and it sucked being catheterized in the vagina. (Yup, that happened.)

It sucked living at the NICU for months, feeling helpless as I worked by her bedside as she slept, just to distract my mind.

It sucked even more when she got mysteriously sick and required an immediate emergency transfer to a bigger, better NICU…an hour and half away from our house.

It sucked commuting every single day to see her instead of snuggling her by the Christmas tree whenever for as long as we want (and it sucked having her first Halloween, Thanksgiving, AND Christmas in the hospital).

It sucked having to watch her from a camera in the moments when we couldn’t be physically with her during the day.

BUT. There’s a WHOLE LOTTA LIFE to live, and a whole lotta life that can feel pretty darn sucky at times. Every coin has a head AND a tail. Some things in life are obviously joyful. Like being personally serenaded by Justin Timberlake or winning a prize in Bingo (hollah!). Other things in life might not be just joyful—finding the joy in the moment can be like finding a $20 bill in a pocket when you’re up to your elbows in dirty clothes on laundry day.


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Joy comes from perspective. While there was so much “suck” in the situation, there was still JOY to be found and celebrated in the peanut that is Olivia Grace, who just so happens to be the best thing on planet Earth. (Even though we had NO idea when she would pull through and be discharged from the hospital). Sure, to someone who refuses to choose joy and/or can’t create her own, being joyful in our current situation might seem absurd—downright delusional. But at the end of that day, I feel sorry for folks like that. Because when you can’t create your own joy, your life lacks a whole ’nother level of happiness that no one is responsible for but yourself. Girlfriend, it’s time to stop b*tching about your own life if you’re not actively working to change it. Of course, some things like mental illness or a lack of privilege pose legitimate roadblocks on the journey towards a joy-filled best self. This isn’t to ignore that—it’s to simply hold yourself responsible for as much as you reasonably and realistically can, in creating joy within the context of your own everyday life.

We all have “those days.”

Those days where you just feel like you’re being pulled in seven different directions too many, and you’re on the brink of either doing something awesome or falling hard.

Those days where you can’t decide whether you’re really, really excited and on top of it or really, really scared and three steps behind the pack.

Those days when you just wish you had a personal assistant that could keep track of life for you and pass you Fudge Shoppe cookies and force you to hit the gym afterwards and then take over for the night while you kick back with some champagne.

Here’s the thing: those days will come.

The days of feeling insecure, stretched too thin, uncertain, and scared don’t add up to a bad life or a bad person or a bad business or a bad anything.

They’re just those days.

In the end, there’s one key to make it through those days: create your own joy. Don’t just take it from me—take it from good ol’ Albus Dumbledore. “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.”

Create your own joy.


This is an excerpt from Caffeinate Your Soul: 52 Monday Mantras, available May 5, 2020.

All 52 readings in Caffeinate Your Soul are anchored in mantras— truisms to be savored and unpacked, such as: It Gets Better; The Grass is Green Where You Water It; and Why the Hell Not?

An ideal way to kick off the new workweek routine, a virtual book club conversation starter, or a sitdown-and-finish-it-all Sunday afternoon read, the book offers real-world wisdom in bite-sized portions.

Erica Ligenza Gwynn
Erica Ligenza Gwynn is a one-woman blend of millennial chic, big heart, and savvy inspiration. As the founder of hit lifestyle blog Coming Up Roses, the Philadelphia-based business owner, mom, and wife covers every angle of modern young womanhood, from fashion and beauty to relationships and entrepreneurship. Determined to share what she’s learned, Erica also created BossPitch, an accessible online course that guides aspiring bloggers and social media influencers through finding and maintaining the right brand partnerships. Erica also dives into tactical tips to help others not just survive but thrive in life during her weekly THRIVE PODCAST. A motivational, hilarious, candid voice that hundreds of thousands of followers trust daily, she pushes women to see their true worth, take action, and savor their lives. Erica’s first book, CAFFEINATE YOUR SOUL: 52 Monday Mantras, is out May 5, 2020.

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