Well-being Wednesday: joie de vivre.
When cleaning out the basement a few weeks back, pre-winter solstice, I came across a bin of my childhood and young adult paraphernalia: graduation cards, yearbooks, a few notebooks, as well as family pictures. Amongst the photos, one stood out in particular – me approximately 3-4 years old, in a bathing suit, smiling and posed in what appears a mid-dance snapshot.
I was so drawn by it, I pulled this picture out of the stack and stuck it on my altar, for inspiration and remembrance. There is something about that child’s embodiment – joy, freedom, lack of burden, living in the moment, and that something had a name: joie de vivre.
Joie de vivre is a French phrase, meaning an exuberant, unfettered, zesty love for life. In my most attuned moments, I know that state of being well. It has fueled my days and given me purpose (ie love of life is life’s purpose) and insatiable curiosity about life. Even in the throes of grief or anger or some other struggle, that essence is my companion and orientation. Indeed, this lust for life is an antagonist to death – it is a savoring that means I maximized my love for the moment, even when the next moment is not a given.
I have written about my desire to hone my joy and laughter in previous writing1,2. In those writings, I failed to realize that there was this more expansive, all-inclusive term that moves saccharin or superficial joy: joie de vivre. Now that I know it, I want to breath it in and tuck it inside my being.
A loved one asked me if I set a New Year’s resolution. No, especially during the haze of the collective covid exhaustion, I am not sure I can handle specific goals and markers. Instead, I think the synchronous excavation of this photo timed itself for a New Year’s way of being. Joie de vivre. Especially during these challenging times (ie 2020 on repeat with covid and systemic oppressions), that essence can be an anchor or root so we are not carried away by despair. Love of life is robust enough to allow us to be pulled by challenges but not unmoored.
Any maybe forget word of the year. This will be the phrase of my lifetime.
Questions for the reader:
- Do you set New Year’s resolutions and, if so, how do those serve or motivate you?
- If you picked a word of the year that aligned with you and your needs or wants, what would it be?
- Have you unearthed childhood photos of yourself recently? What qualities of that former self do you miss and wish to exhume or even heal?
Thanks for reading my work, community. I wish you an aligned and restorative 2022.
Written by Dr. Allison Mitch (she/her/they/them) is a PT (DPT), CHEK Practitioner/personal trainer, Sexuality counselor and educator, RYT 500, Reiki Master, shamanic practitioner, Ordained Minister (Universal Life Church), New Moon circle facilitator. Recentering joy and pleasure via Ignite Well-Being, PLLC , https://linktr.ee/ignitewellbeing
The above writing and photo are copyright protected, please cite accordingly. The picture is me, as described above, on my altar.
Please note: I am slower and quieter on social media recently. Partly because of covid fatigue, and partly because of health and family things needing my attention. But also because social media kind of sucks. Joie de vivre – I am following what brings me aliveness, not what feels deadening. If you would like to engage with me, feel free to email me directly or comment on my writing over my webpages.
For more offerings that support your well-being, please see: http://ignitewell-being.com/upcoming_events For more information on my offerings or to work with me directly, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please consider supporting me and my work via Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/ignitewellbeing