July was full with Universal occurrences, strange occurrences, and things I honestly can’t explain. If you had informed me that my bird had gone missing and that one of The Breakfast Club’s cast members would email me, I would have yelled, YOU ARE SHITTING ME.
I bought this book from Amazon in the middle of July:
I originally bought it for Anna to take to college as a farewell gift. She’d been talking about manifestation all summer, and I thought it would be a nice little treat for her apartment during such a difficult time. But once I paged through it, I realized she probably wouldn’t read it.
She’d be busy with a heavy course load, moving into her first off-campus apartment, and socializing with friends, of course.
She also took three online classes during the summer, bless her heart, so I knew my child, who wasn’t a big reader to begin with, wouldn’t be doing much recreational reading once she got back to school. So I took the book and decided to do the Universal homework for both of us.
On a sunny July Sunday, I sat on the couch and read a few chapters as my white parakeet sang in the cage next to me. I underlined words like SOUL FAMILY and dog-eared pages that I knew I’d need later: sadness, fear, pain, and so on…
I started a minimalistic challenge outlined on the The Minimalists Instagram page, a lifestyle I’ve adopted and enjoy, by getting rid of or donating the exact number of items each day for the number of days.
I had no idea how I was going to get rid of 31 items by July 31st. I imagined I’d keep things like papers, the garage, or even the shed for those big days.
A friend said something very interesting to me while I was talking about this project on Instagram. “Removing clutter makes space for something new—not necessarily anything material, but rather growth or transformation in some aspect of life,” she said.
As I began to clear the clutter out of our bedrooms, closets, basement, and cabinets, my mind, which had been fogged by migraine medications as well as a lack of estrogen due to my impending menopause, became crystal clear with words.
In July, I felt inspired to start writing my first book.
The less I had on the surface of my world, the more I had underneath, if that makes sense.
Then, on July 23, our beloved parakeet flew out of our house and out of our lives. To say I was defeated would be an understatement. I couldn’t understand why the Universe would do this to me after I had listened to it so carefully?
My daughters couldn’t understand why I was unraveling at the seams over a parakeet, and I couldn’t understand either, to be honest. I mean, I love my pets, but I wasn’t this saddened by the death of Lucy, our 14-year-old goldfish.
Despite our loss, I continued with the Minimalist challenge, getting rid of or giving the appropriate number of items each day, then traveling to the thrift store each Sunday to give away the items I had accumulated by the end of the week.
I’d told Mike that I didn’t know how I’d find 31 items to give away on the 31st, and he’d joked about how I’d find 29? Where would I start looking for 30? I never focused on the numbers, preferring to concentrate on 31 items on the 31st.
Amid all of this, Ani, one of my Facebook friends, messaged me the day after Joy went missing, asking me a series of questions that would lead to a message the next morning:
She was referring to a Cameo she had arranged with Anthony Michael Hall, in which he was speaking to me.
Me listening to the Cameo…
Ani had asked that someone video me watching it because she wanted to see my reaction, but the fact that Ani added, “I wish someone had recorded me watching it,” was really special to me.
When you have women in your life that are just as enthusiastic about things that aren’t even for them?
That is the most beautiful thing ever.
Such a JOY-ful moment.
Later that day, I told my mother, “I believe Joy had something to do with this.” Because, you see, Ani had no idea Joy had gone missing when she scheduled the Cameo.
My Universe was brimming with Ani and Joy and all of you guys and connectedness on this day. I felt completely enveloped in the best way imaginable.
I shared this video on my personal Instagram account, and later that day, a friend commented on the hat I was wearing. My Chasing Joy hat. I bought it (also in July) by “accident” while shopping for a birthday present for a neighbor. I liked it but didn’t associate it with my precious bird child. I only loved the saying.
I was wearing my hat on neighborhood walks, searching for my bird, literally Chasing my Joy.
I emailed Anthony Michael Hall (should I use all three names?) a few days later, as he suggested in the Cameo, and he responded promptly. He was gracious, and he intends to read my screenplay and provide feedback. Even if it doesn’t go any further, I told Ani, this whole experience has been so much fun and given me so much life. This year has been so difficult to bear that just this week has provided me with the fuel I require to get through the remainder of 2020.
I told Mike a few days after Joy went missing that I thought the 31 items were all of Joy’s possessions. I believe she was aware that she needed to leave, and I believe the Universe was as well. I believe it was fate, that she was only meant to be in our lives for a short period of time.
He said she couldn’t possibly have 31 items, but I told him I wasn’t ready to count them yet. That if she wasn’t home by Friday the 31st, I’d have to donate everything she owned. If she comes back, we’ll just get her new items.
But I needed that closure.
A week after Joy went missing, Anna was watching High School Musical in her bedroom. She was in her jammies, eating a snack, and looked exactly ten years old. She was leaving for college for her junior year a few days later, in the midst of a pandemic, and the thought of that made me cry. The type of cry that initially sounds like a scream.
“I know I shouldn’t say this to you,” I sobbed to my oldest daughter, “but I don’t want you to leave; I wish you could stay forever.”
I wanted her to be a little girl again, to keep her in her little girl’s room, to snuggle and watch Disney Channel with her, and to keep her safe from everything bad that could happen.
Then it dawned on me why I was having such a difficult time getting over Joy’s departure. Spreading one’s wings right now is terrifying. Perhaps that’s why it was so difficult to get over when Joy spread hers.
Too many parallels, I guess.
I chose to donate Joy’s possessions the next day. I counted them and found 31 of them. To be sure, I counted them five times.
Joy was making way. Spreading her wings for extra joy in our universe.