Unzipping Your Inner Joy

Screen Shot 2012-01-31 at 5.14.40 PM.png

Have you ever felt like you had a gift you were meant to share with the world? Or that there was some part of you that was locked up inside?

Well, that was me. To the outside world, I was living The Life. I was the only female SVP/Creative Director at one of the top ad agencies in Los Angeles, creating award-winning commercials for some of the biggest brands in America. (Think Don Draper from Mad Men minus the cigarettes and booze.)

It was the kind of Execu-Woman life I dreamed about in my twenties. At forty, it looked a lot better than it felt.

One day, after a demoralizing client meeting in which I was essentially told me to “zip it up,” a little voice deep inside asked, ”What happened to all your dreams? Weren’t you going to write and paint things that touched people’s hearts?”

It was true. Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of using my creativity to make a difference in the world. And after 1,000 shots and five years of Infertility Hell, my heart longed to stay my home with my Miracle Baby. But each morning, my brain pushed me out the door. With a husband working on commission, I had to help feed my family, not my soul.

Eventually, my Heart won out (the hard way). I lost my job and found myself reinventing my career from the inside out.

Several years later, I’m still a work in progress. I don’t have as much money in the bank. But I do have the joy of unzipping my True Self into the world. These days, I’m a creative brand consultant and copywriter. And I’m creating my own brand of inspiration for women: Oh My Goddess.

I’m sharing my divine musings, schmoozings and perfectly imperfect paintings through books, greeting cards, videos, a creative speaker series, and the Oh My Goddess Bloggess. I’ve learned that since we have no control over what happens in the outside world, our true security comes from nourishing our inside world.

Here are some other things I’ve learned on my journey from “oy” to joy. I hope they inspire you on your journey:

Do less. Be more.
If you’re like me, your to-do list has its own to-do list. As women, we rarely give ourselves permission To Be. For me, that means lying on the grass and looking up at clouds. Or taking a walk among the flowers and trees. For you, it could be taking a bubble bath or going for a run. Doing yoga or just plain doing nothing. Give yourself the space to remember that Who You Are isn’t What You Do.

Pledge allegiance to your heart.
After years of being bullied by my brain, I’ve learned that I’m much happier when I listen more to my heart.  At first, the message might be a whisper in the wind. A symbol in a dream. Or just a feeling. But the more you listen, the more you’ll hear.

Sometimes, when the demands of life get too loud, just sit quietly with your hand on your heart. Take a few deep breaths and ask, “What do you need right now?” You’ll be surprised by how wise and clear that heart of yours can be.

The difference between “imperfect” and “I’m perfect” is just an apostrophe.
So, your heart says, “I’ve always wanted to ______________.” But your brain says, “you won’t be good enough.” That was me. I always envisioned myself as a painter, but I was afraid to start. Then, one day, I saw a flyer for an art class. And my heart leapt. This time, I listened.

One night a week, I gave myself permission to play. No judgment. No deadlines. No goals. Just the pure joy of dreaming on paper. As you can see from this painting here, my technique is far from sophisticated. But, people always say my paintings are very “Me.” And I finally get it. That’s not a bad thing.

Where, oh where, is your inner joy?
I found mine once a week playing with paints. Yours is probably hiding somewhere between “the should’s” and “have to’s” of your life. (Hopefully, you won’t have to lose a job to find it.) Maybe it’ll come from something you loved to do as a kid. Or that thing that makes your heart sing now.

I promise that when you find that deep, satisfying, soulful kind of joy inside of you, your outside world will never be the same.

Speaking of joy, nothing makes me happier than unzipping inspiration into the world. So, each month, we’ll be honoring a woman who’s changed her life or someone else’s on the Oh My Goddess Bloggess. Email me to to nominate your Goddess of Transformation.

About the Author

author image

For over 25 years, Wendi Knox created award-winning ad campaigns for brands like Honda and Acura. Then, she created Oh My Goddess, her own brand of inspiration. Now, this writer, painter and speaker is spreading her wings as Flight Instructor for The Dragonfly Movement, reminding us “it’s never too late to soar.” To be uplifted, fly over to DragonflyMovement.com.

Read more from Wendi Knox

Sign Up for the Shriver Weekly

More Posts from Architects of Change

  • Abbe Jacobson
  • Abigail-Brenner
  • Adam-Garone
  • Photo Cred: Carla Duharte Razura
  • Adrian-Crouch
  • Aida-Mollenkamp
  • Alex-Kinzler
  • _MG_6814 copy
  • Alex-Woodard
  • Alexander-Trivas
  • Alexis-Maybank-and-Alexandra-Wilson
  • Ali-Guthy
  • Ali Skylar
  • Alison-Armstrong
  • Alison-Brod
  • Levine_pink_jacket_medium copy