POSITIVE OUTLOOK: THIS Way Happiness!
I have a confession to make . . .
I’M A PACK RAT!
I’m an organized keeper, but I KEEP!! Having just moved into a new apartment with my new husband, I was forced to purge A LOT and I didn’t like it, but I kept reminding myself that I was clearing out the old to make way for the new. My problem is I’m always afraid the old stuff will be new again….but that’s another story and this one’s about finding happiness.
The one area that was a non-negotiable keeper was my journal collection. We’re talking from the first grade bright pink Mickey Mouse autograph book with rainbow colored pages folded in alternating directions all the way to my recent collection of morning pages filled with ideas, rants and early morning babble. No WAY was I getting rid of them…it’s my history!
I have one particular journal that is more like an inspiration book filled with encouraging quotes, pictures that make me smile, poems, cards people had given me, articles I like….it’s my pack rat way of keeping and keeping it organized. It is literally wrapped in a bow like a present~a present of happiness reminders and encouragement for when I need it!
Now, it goes waaaaay back, and there’s still room for new entries. One that I love to revisit dates back to 1996. It’s an article my Grandma cut out of the Albuquerque Journal for me entitled “Which Way Happiness?” It’s all about one woman’s journey from a fast paced life in New York City to a quieter one in Montana and beyond; about listening to your heart and taking chances.
1996 was the year I had moved back home to my parents’ house in Albuquerque, New Mexico after spending two of the MOST miserable years of my life in Los Angeles. I had graduated with a degree in journalism and NO idea what I was going to do with my life. I had interned a summer at “Entertainment Tonight” and pretty much felt like an ugly, overweight, invisible, fish out of water the whole time I was in L.A.…so naturally I decided I should go back! This way happiness….right?
Very quickly after moving to LA, I landed a job at a prestigious talent agency where I soon discovered I did not belong, but to be sure I hated it, I stayed for a few months. Eventually, I left for a job at an entertainment public relations firm. I quickly rose through the ranks to become one of the publicists of a “small” franchise you may have heard of called Star Trek. You don’t need to be a Trekkie, to understand the massive scale of this franchise, and when I was working with the shows it was a MAJOR time of change….Star Trek: Next Generation was ending, ST: Deep Space Nine was struggling to find a strong following, ST: Voyager was the linchpin launching a new network and the first EVER female captain in space. For a publicist who loves her job, this is PR gold, but I wasn’t that publicist. I didn’t know why at the time, but I later realized it was because I wanted to be publicized instead of the publicist! I wanted to be the talent, but I was so consumed with being an “adult” and having a job and being on my own that I didn’t know I was burying my dream. While I was working 24/7 at a job I didn’t love, with no time for a social life other than work events, I was lonely and feeding that emptiness with horrible food, ignoring my gym membership, and before I realized it my size 5 pants from college became my size 9 jeans (if I was having a skinny day). Now, I’m only 4’11.5” so those two sizes show up on my frame! The more weight I gained, the more miserable I felt. (Believe me when I tell you I would share a picture with you, but miraculously I had no trouble purging those beauties.)
Cut to….a few months later realizing I was SO miserable but not knowing why, just knowing I had to leave NOW. Knowing that I had to leave before I started to make the kind of money you couldn’t leave, and understanding that I was so terribly unhappy it was unhealthy. So I quit my job, got rid of my apartment, moved back to New Mexico and in with my parents and had NO IDEA what I was going to do. Thankfully, a family friend had just had a baby and needed someone to manage her bridal shop while she was on maternity leave. Thankfully too, that friend didn’t care that I had never worked in a bridal shop, she just wanted to be home with her new little girl. Turns out, I was a great manager and had fun playing with pretty dresses…kind of like costumes. This way seemed closer to happiness.
Very quickly after moving home, things began to change. I spent time with family, I reconnected with friends, I joined a gym and actually used it, I started eating well, I was working reasonable hours in a job that wasn’t my passion, but was giving me time to take care of myself and heal. I was feeling better about myself, so when I bumped into my childhood dance teacher and she suggested I audition for an upcoming production of “Guys & Dolls” I got excited! I had danced my entire life, and missed it so I went for it and got it! Only in Albuquerque, New Mexico can an under 5’ dancer be a “leggy” showgirl, but I was a Hot Box Doll and I loved every feathery, sequined minute of it!
I realized that for years I had been stifling this big dream I had to perform. I made it worse by working in the industry I loved, but on the wrong side of it. I was literally torturing myself every day I worked as a publicist. Being in a show, expressing myself and doing what I LOVED, made me happy! THIS was the way to happiness for me.
A few months later, I landed the plum role of Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street and I was in heaven! I had never worked so hard, had so much fun, felt as fulfilled as I did during those months of rehearsal and shows. I knew that no matter what, performing would always be part of my life. I spent the next year doing regional theater, saving money, learning to waitress, taking care of myself and eventually moved to New York!
Now, I haven’t YET worked on Broadway or in a Martin Scorsese film, but I have toured internationally, danced with a local company, been in films you’ve never heard of and in webisodes you’ve never seen. I am 100% happier than that publicist person who fled LA.
I have learned that my way to happiness was within me all along; I just had to follow it! I had to embrace the idea that my dreams can take on many forms and bring me bits of happiness everyday! I perform every time I lead a fitness class (Oh yeah, that gym thing stuck and now I’m a size smaller than I was in college!), I create art with my jewelry designs, I surround myself with inspiring, creative people who remind me everyday that all dreams are possible, and I have chosen and allowed myself to be loved by the most loving, supportive, amazing partner a person could ever want. I am blessed and I remind myself of that fact every day. I do my best to remember how far I’ve come and be excited for all that is yet to arrive and when all else fails, I look through my ribbon wrapped book and remind myself, I KNOW the way to happiness.
Originally from New Mexico, Jolynn now calls New York home with her new husband, Robert. She is an actor, owner of Jolynn Baca jewelry designs, fitness professional, intenSati leader and creator of Fun Fitness for Mommies. Jolynn is committed to experiencing happiness every day.