Say Yes to Joy

An experiment formed through necessity brought me to my new ethos

Barbara Waxman
4 min readJan 5, 2018

I think we can all agree that 2017 was a roller coaster of a year. For me, this was especially true after losing my mother in June. I’m lucky: I’m an empty nester with work I can accomplish from virtually anywhere, and I have a husband who shares my values. So in May, 2017 when it became clear that my Mom wouldn’t get better this time, he was the one to suggest we move in with her.

And off we went, from the Bay Area to the Big Apple, to be with my mother in her final days. It was an honor to usher my mother out of this world she brought me into, with love and compassion. And it was also really, really draining, and sad, and challenging.

My mother and I celebrating my fiftieth birthday

People often asked me how we staved off boredom as they imagined us sitting around in the existential waiting room of her demise. Ha! Nothing was further from the truth. Our days flew by in a maelstrom of caring for her, being with her, running errands, calling doctors and hospice caregivers, arranging for visits from friends and family, and on and on.

I had no bandwidth for checking emails, keeping up with social media or the like. Life was lived in the old school way I grew up. I gave myself permission, given the situation, to take on and respond to things and people only if such an interaction was not draining. I knew that I had to set that boundary for myself in order to be fully there for my mother and create a safe haven for all of us.

I began to refer to this as my Just Say Yes to Joy campaign. Just saying yes to joy meant that I had to step away from things that may have felt important or difficult to set aside, but that I simply didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to accomplish at the time. (By the way, I still do laundry, pay bills and other things that must get done but you get the gist.) I stepped away from things that may have felt important or difficult to leave but that sapped my energy rather than expanded it.

I stepped away from things that may have felt important or difficult to leave but that sapped my energy rather than expanded it.

What’s the result? I’m sleeping better, getting more accomplished and therefore have more time to spend with people I care about. Rather than feeling that I’m behind when the day has just begun, I greet each morning with energy and anticipation. I’ve gotten myself back in the light of opportunity; new and exciting opportunities abound!

I’m thrilled to say the experiment that grew out of my own mourning has been uplifting and more powerful than I could have hoped for. It has forced me to consider each commitment and it has resulted in my feeling more and more in sync with my personal version of a life well lived. In fact, I’ve decided to continue using this Just Say Yes to Joy filter in my life, at home and work.

As we begin 2018, why not create your own Just Say Yes to Joy campaign? Ask yourself:

  • What would my day look like if I Just Said Yes to Joy?
  • Who do I want to spend time with and equally as important, what relationships would I have to relinquish (at home and work)?
  • How can I build on the successes I’ve had in 2017?

As I learn from 2017 and look towards the possibilities inherent in a new year I look forward to continuing or beginning work with you or someone you care about to set and attain goals and to build a strong and abiding sense of yourself: intellectually, physically, emotionally, spiritually and professionally.

Best wishes for a bright new year.

This is an excerpt from a monthly newsletter designed to share news you can use at home and work. I hope to offer tangible tips and insights and to inspire you to experience new levels of purpose, leadership, vitality and joy for yourself, your workplace, your family and community.

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Barbara Waxman

Resilient Leadership Coach, Middlescence Life Stage Expert, Gerontologist, Speaker, Author