The Joy That Filled My Heart


The Joy That Filled My Heart

This week’s inspiration comes from my precious Madison, my 26-year-old daughter with autism. She did it! She filled my heart on that skimpy holiday, Valentine’s Day, lifting my spirits. Just like Mark Nepo so eloquently reminded me last week:

The heart is very much like a miraculous balloon. Its lightness comes from staying full.

So true! I visited her in her day program for their Valentine’s Day pizza party.

She’s come so far!

Last year at this time, she was in the hospital. During the previous two years, we journeyed through epic failsclosed doorsobstacles, and a specialized in-patient program where her behaviors were studied, medications adjusted, and a different way of directing Madison was devised and later implemented in her new residential and day programs.

Now, she is flourishing.

She waited patiently for her pizza, even taking time to strike a pose. She was calm, responsive to conversational questions, and amazingly eager to get back to the party with her new friends–this mother’s dream.

My heart was filled with joy!

Joy. That word has been flying around a lot lately. As you know, in my tidying up frenzy this year, there have been a lot of conversations in my household about what sparks joy. I can tell you, sharing a slice of pizza at this Valentine’s Day celebration sparked incredible joy for me.

But joy is not the same thing as happiness, I’m discovering. Joy is an inside job, based on what we feel and our internal experience, author Iyanla Vanzant suggests in her book, Until Today. Happiness is based on the way we think and our responses to external events.

Joy comes through you. Happiness comes to you. We should pursue joy, she contends.


If you seek joy within you will be happy no matter what is going on around you.

Wow. No wonder sparking joy is such a successful way to tidy-up! More importantly, pursuing joy requires nurturing our inner life, an effort that will strengthen us, much like Nepo suggests:

You must meet the outer world with your inner world or existence will crush you…Meeting the days with our [filled] hearts prevents collapse.

Got it!

So thank you, Madison, for bringing me joy, filling my heart, and strengthening me last week when I really needed it. Life with autism is one bumpy road, that’s for sure. So grateful we could celebrate your fabulous progress together.

How about you? What filled your heart with joy last week? Did it strengthen you? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.

My best – always,

Becky  (Nana B)

P.S. Honored to be asked to present a Resilience Workshop on March 12, 2019 for the Maryland Behavioral Heath Administration’s annual conference. Would appreciate your thoughts and prayers as I prepare!

P.P.S. My vet reminded me that I AM someone’s number one! Tripp’s! Thanks, Dr. G. #LoveMyPuggle