Life Lessons: Finding Joy in What We DoAug 05, 2014
"Life Lessons" is a series that asks individuals to share the most important lessons they've learned while pursuing their dreams. In this post, Andriana Spence of Hank & JoJo shares her experiences. When I was a little girl, I didn‚Äôt have any big ideals or dreams about what my future would look like. I didn‚Äôt picture a huge wedding, big house or a husband to take care of me. I‚Äôm not quite sure exactly what I pictured for myself back then, but it more had to do with joy and fulfillment than any of that. I remember seeing my mother go back to work after her divorce. Finding herself suddenly alone and without a solid skill, she put herself through school to become the very successful real estate broker that she is today. I saw my father and step-mother focus on creating happy memories. They made sure to take us on vacation every summer for one whole month, even in years when the mortgage was barely paid. To me, this was real life: working hard, striving to be really good at what you do and finding serious fulfillment in that. We should also take happiness and joy seriously, even if found in the simplest of ways. Without it, what is the purpose of the life we‚Äôre leading? Fast forward twenty years and here I am in my 30s, married and with two children, living in Brooklyn. I have to say I‚Äôm pretty happy. I married a man who can find joy in almost every action. Our children are being brought up the same way, for which I am grateful. Still, it takes effort to maintain a good perspective on life. After being laid off after the birth of our first daughter, I found myself at home taking care of her. I also found myself caring way too much about the dirt on the floor. Suddenly, I was a housewife and stay-at-home mother, two roles for which I wasn‚Äôt necessarily prepared. After about a year of trying to convince myself this is what I wanted, I realized I needed more for myself. Very slowly, but with intent, I started a children's clothing and accessory company, Hank & JoJo. We had our second daughter. While I was still at home taking care of my children, I spent hours upon hours each night also taking care of my business. The fulfillment was sinking in, but there was still something missing. I signed up for a half marathon on a whim, and having never run more than a mile, I unknowingly launched myself into the kind of soul searching thing that I think only happens once a lifetime. I ran that race in March 2011 and have literally not stopped running since. It gives me something. I feel fulfillment in so many different ways. My girls admire my commitment to running and are learning about mental and physical fitness from it, all good things. With this newfound joy, I also became more successful with my business and I am increasingly proud to keep it growing. There have been a lot of articles circulating about the roles of women at home and work. Many women love being home and thrive being there. Many are much more interested in a career. I feel very lucky that I‚Äôve seen a little bit of both, to be honest, and to have had the luxury of finding the path that was right for me. I know that is not an option for most. What I‚Äôve learned most from the people around me is that, regardless of your circumstances, finding the joy in whatever it is you are doing is the key to success and fulfillment. It‚Äôs crucial to constantly remind yourself, that what you are doing right now, tonight, tomorrow, is your life. If what you have to do is not so desirable, at least go out and find something else that you want to do. If eating ice cream for dinner on a Wednesday night with your kids brings joy to your life, do it. Do it! With a busy life of kids, work, activities and schedules, I still find myself sinking back into that haze of fast forward motion all too easily. So you know what I did? I built in a night every week that I can only say "yes" to my daughters, and they can only say "yes" to me. (We call it ‚ÄúYes Night‚Äù and they almost always choose ice cream!) It‚Äôs not perfect, we still fight, we still lose focus, but even by setting aside that night for us to think positively has been a fantastic weekly reminder of what is important in life: joy.