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  • Joy

Unraveled Awakening

Updated: Dec 26, 2022

Solo Female Traveler, Road Trip, Self Discovery, We can do hard things
Road Trip Car Selfie

In the spring of 2021, after enduring a series of painful and unfortunate events, I found myself journaling. A lot. My head was full of words, and I was convinced it might explode. If there is an exploding brain syndrome, I thought I had it. So, I began writing. Writing in the notes on my phone. Scribbling on paper. Telling Siri to write something for me as I was driving in the car. Before long, I realized that these writings could be useful in another way. They could help others who are also going through difficult circumstances. Maybe I could somehow send the message, "you are not alone." I certainly felt alone at the time, and I know how terribly painful it is to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and feel utterly helpless and alone. I decided blogging would simultaneously serve as an outlet of expression while helping others.

Cat on a road trip, solo traveler, solo female travel
Road Tripping with Travelin' Charlie

I came up with a name for a blog that accurately captured how I felt about myself, and my life, yet it was also a play on words that could mean many things if you read between the lines. I created the website and my blogging journey began. At the time, it was focused on mid-life and mental health because I really felt I had hit that dreaded stage in midlife where it seems like your life is falling apart, you are falling apart, and you do everything in your power to try to put it back together. You feel desperate, alone, helpless, and hopeless. Sounds like depression, eh? As someone who has battled depression and anxiety brought about by traumatic events, it was a never-ending journey for me, but one that I embraced and advocated for. In fact, I am actually a therapist and have worked in the mental health field in some form or fashion for nearly 30 years. My life's mission has always been to try to help someone else on their healing journey, and I often would do so even when my own life was unraveling or had unraveled.

SUV RV, Nissan Rogue, Road Trip, Solo Travel
First time SUV RVing

Although self-improvement, self-love, self-care, self-compassion, and self-empowerment have been my mental health tenets of faith, that doesn't mean bad things won't happen. And bad things indeed continued to happen. They showed their ugly face, time and time again, and I would have to go through dark and painful periods and draw upon my faith, spirituality, my inner strength, and my few close friends and family, to push on through. But at nearly 50 years old, that was getting harder and harder to do, and trustworthy friends were harder to come by. So in April 2021, Joy Unraveled began. "Joy Unraveled--where mental health and mid-life collide," and "Unraveling is simply discovering what you are made of," were my tag lines.

SUV RV, Road Trip, Solo Travel, Solo Female Travel, Nissan Rogue
Too much stuff, but I downsized along the way

I rocked on with this blogging persona for about 3 months, immersing myself in the blogging community and trying to learn the tricks of the trade and everything that it was about. Then I felt myself dreading the activity. Dreading reading others' posts. Dreading opening up social media because my social media feeds became inundated with all things related to, can you take a guess? Mental health. Mental health this, mental health that. Inspirational quotes about relationships or mental health. Talks about depression, anxiety, trauma, narcissists, attachment styles, self-care, and self-love. It was the ONLY thing in my feed anymore, and I could tell it was not helping me at all. What I thought was stigmatized in our society was suddenly flooding every aspect of my life. I already work in the field and spend about 7-8 hours a day on a job helping others with their mental health while trying to take care of my own mental health, so to open up social media and it be lit on fire with mental health awareness, which is NOT a bad thing and definitely needed in our society, was overkill for me. The very thing that I was doing to help myself and others was actually becoming counterproductive. I had to do something. I had to figure out how to cleanse my social media feeds, and I knew I had to go about it a different way if I was going to help myself or others.

Marquette Mi, Presque Isle, Lake Superior, Road Trip, Solo Travel
Beautiful Lake Superior, Marquette, Mi

I asked myself the question, "what actually brings me JOY? Where and when do I feel alive?" Even though I do thrive off of helping others and advocating for mental health and self-care, something was missing. It was like I wasn't clocking out from work. I noticed a pattern: I would hide posts about mental health, but I would read posts about traveling. I would hide posts about self-care, but I would read posts about someone going somewhere and doing something fun. I would hide posts about relationship advice, but I would read posts about women who were going places and doing things alone. And then it clicked. "Joy, you are going about this all wrong. What do you tell your clients? You tell them to go find the healthy dopamine that gives them pleasure. You teach them about mental health and self-care, yes, but ultimately it is about finding pleasure again. You can read books, listen to podcasts, and read inspirational quotes, but if you are not doing anything to activate the pleasure center in your brain, none of that matters. In fact, you might be doing yourself a disservice by consuming so much information about mental health, that you began to think this is the way it will always be," and I said, "no. NO!"

Instead, I said, "I'm going to hit the road."

Road Trip, Solo Female Traveler, Solo Traveler, Lake Supeior
Lake Superior, Upper Michigan Peninsula,

I am going to do something I have always fantasized about doing but have never done. I am going to stop feeling sorry for myself about not having been able to travel as much or being bitter that the pandemic had shut international travel down, and I am going to figure out a way to find JOY and life again. And at that point, I decided to transition from Joy Unraveled to Adventure Unraveled, and I researched, planned, prepared, and packed up for a 5-week road trip from Alabama to Michigan then to Maine, and back down again. In that process, I reconnected with a brother I had not seen in 30 years and met some friends in person that I had only known online.

Then another chapter of unfortunate events began when I ended my most beautiful and amazing trip. After 5 weeks on the road and one day before leaving to go back home, I received a text from my lawn guys that water was flowing from underneath my front door. I returned home to a flooded house, and I have been battling renovation woes since then. Blogging came to a screeching halt and so did travel and well, the whole renovation experience has been soul-draining.

As springtime rolled around, I dusted myself off and whispered, "you've got this. You can do this. Find your JOY again. Find YOU again. Don't let this situation take away from where you were or who you are."

Solo camping, solo female camping, new to camping, Mirror Lake State Park, Wisconsin, Wisconsin State Parks
Newbie Solo Camper, not too shabby, Mirror Lake State Park, Wisconsin

So here I am, Adventure Unraveled, and unraveled it did but unraveling is simply revealing who you are and what you are made of. There is no better way to discover yourself, who you are, and discover JOY than to find adventure. I hope this blog inspires you to do just that. Activate the pleasure center. It doesn't have to be travel. Adventure is how you define finding LIFE. So go find it.

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