by Anne Clendening
“Sometimes your Joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your Joy.” ~Thích Nhất Hạnh
Why does this quote remind me of Joy? (Besides the fact that I took the liberty of capitalizing the word ‘Joy.’) If you know her, if you’ve taken her class or if you’ve seen her around , then you know she’s one of the most authentically kind-hearted, sweet natured chicks on campus. She’s the love child of hippie parents, the country music-loving girl next door and the popular, pretty girl you can’t hate because it’s so much more fun being her bestie.
But there’s more. She’s gutsy. She’s grounded. She’s a thinker. She’s brainy. She writes. She’s quick to laugh. There’s something about her and what she has to offer in her class, whether it be the physical practice of yoga on the mat, the philosophy of it or the science behind it. It’ss real, there’s no snake charmer in sight, and I’m pretty sure she not selling anything… Joy lives it, she loves it and it makes her happy to teach it so her students might find what she has found on this journey we’re all on together.
Joy and I sat in the lobby at Black Dog on a Tuesday afternoon, and I asked her questions about her life.
I was born in Maryland, and grew up in Seattle. My mom and dad were hippies, and they converted an old yellow school bus into a house. They had taken off to have an adventure, but they got pregnant with me along the way and I ended up being born in Maryland.
Understanding what alcoholism really is means recognizing it’s not simply a matter of willpower, but rather a mental, physical and spiritual malady. It is not a matter of good and bad or morals and no morals, as some people still believe.
The physical component is that it is an allergy to alcohol. Not everybody experiences this, so it can be very confusing for those that don’t. The mental component, in part, is that you really don’t know it’s an allergy. You look around, and see other people drinking with impunity. They have a glass of wine, and there seems to be no abnormal reaction. This isn’t so with the alcoholic. There is an abnormal reaction. The allergy kicks in and it manifests as a craving. And mentally, with your will, you try and try to control this. But you can’t, because even though you tell yourself that you’ll only have that one glass of wine, your body is having a reaction beyond your mental control, and again, one that not everyone experiences.
Some people are allergic to strawberries. They can’t mind power their way into not having the reaction of say, hives. But with hives you see it. A craving is internal, and you don’t see it. So you just wonder what’s happening. You try harder, try to drink “better.” It’s a hopeless cycle until you surrender, which is opposite of human nature, right? When there is a problem don’t we usually try harder before we let go?
The spiritual part is the same for all of us, alcoholic or not. The human condition means we will struggle at times and feel insecure, not good enough and separate. Eventually though, the alcoholic, just like many people, might seek out a drink to soothe those feelings. But the alcoholic is allergic to it, so it’s potentially deadly, although he or she doesn’t know it yet.
And the cycle begins, sadly for many a huge price is paid, and much damage, pain and loss is experienced before admitting defeat. Recognizing the truth about myself and coming to understand the reality of alcoholism was a huge gift, and one that I never take for granted. I used to be ashamed that I’m an alcoholic. Now I’m grateful. And if I’m honest about it, I end up getting to show up, and help others along the way. It’s a great life.
It’s funny, because as I told some of my students, this is the year I’m ready to share my voice and really step into who I am. Writer Brene Brown talks a lot about vulnerability in her work. She wrote, “Daring Greatly” and “The Gifts of Imperfection.” She researches shame; we all have it. If I think something is fundamentally wrong with me, I’m going to do everything I can to hide it from you. According to her, that place of vulnerability is a ground where we create a lot of disconnection with people, a lot of anxiety and a lot of fear. Or it can also be a place where we really develop connection and love, because if I can let you see me, then I can move through that shame. So this year, the journey is all about being authentic, and being who I am.
Joy is the most spirited soul I have ever met. She is full of kindness, energy, empathy and wisdom and is constantly willing to share these qualities with anyone who is willing to receive them. ~Joy’s husband, Eric Stone
Joy is one of the smartest people i know. She is a wonderful listener, organized, funny and generous. Whenever we are planning our block party Joy is on top of it all the way. ~Jenny Brill
I was at the desk one day and in walked this woman who proceeded to tell me she wanted to do our teacher training. It was the very first teacher training we did at Black Dog and we were nervous—would anyone sign up?! When I asked Joy how long she had been practicing yoga, she said she had not been practicing, but her plan was to quit her job and become a yoga teacher.
That’s how I met Joy Stone. When she left I called Steve an Shirley (original owners of Black Dog) and we had a good laugh about that. But I’m not laughing anymore. Joy did exactly what she said she was going to do, and more. She is now one of our most popular teachers. She’s gone on to devote her life to studying to become the best yoga teacher she could be, and is now almost done with her degree in Positive Psychology. I’ve loved seeing Joy go for it and get it. And she is an incredible teacher. ~Rose Gresch
Thank you Joy! Visit her web site at joystoneyoga.com. Joy’s Black Dog teaching schedule:
Wednesday, 6:15-7:25 Basics/Beginners
Thursday, 10:35-12:05, Intermediate Blend
Saturday, 12:30-1:45, Basics