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A Note from Jo on Flourish

by Magnolia
Published on May 17, 2022

Illustration by Lida Ziruffo

Read Jo’s perspective on what it means to flourish and how, during this season, she is making changes to worry less and have more fun.

Have a Fun

It’s easy for me to take life too seriously sometimes. Fun doesn’t seem to run in my blood the way it does for others. But even I can sense when it’s time to cut loose. So I kicked this year off with all the hope of living it out loud.

Every December, I spend some time thinking about a word that I want to define the next year. Something I can hold tight to, that will help me navigate where and how I want to show up in my life. That sort of thing. As last year drew to a close, I found myself in that familiar place of contemplating big, meaningful words. The kind of words that catch your attention. That sound so beautiful when you roll them around in your mind—words I’ve chosen before, like savor, abundance, presence. Words too gorgeous to forget.

But this year, the deeper I thought, the louder I could hear my mom’s words—“have a fun!”—her signature sign-off whenever we talk on the phone. Simple words, but weighty in truth, and made even more beautiful by her Korean accent.

I asked my mom if she’d write it out for me in Korean, and now it’s the screen saver on my phone. Something to hold tight to, to keep close. My mom is such a playful person, always has been—and she knows I’m naturally wired to be more serious. But she raised me, and she knows there’s more to me than that. Parts of my personality that aren’t so easily shown. That’s why she reminds me, every time we’re on the phone—“Don’t forget, Jojo, have a fun!”

So, when I thought about 2022, about all that it could be, about what I wanted for myself and for our family, none of those big, meaningful words were satisfying what my soul was craving. Because it was way simpler than that.

Less worry, more fun. That’s all I was after.

I was in the middle of my Christmas shopping at the time, and I had just ordered each of our two daughters a pair of roller skates from this retro shop I’d found online. Without thinking about it too much, I logged back on and ordered a pair for myself—green with pink laces. Who knew if I’d ever use them, but I’d just resolved to have more fun, loosen up a bit, and a pair of retro roller skates seemed like a near-perfect reminder of that.

Turns out, I do use them—all the time.The girls and I skate around the farm, and I love watching the surprise on their faces when they see their mom spinning out in front of the house. We chase the sunset down our driveway, wind blowing our hair back. Completely alive. And every time, it’s reminding me, as much as I think it’s reminding them, that I am more than I sometimes remember. That they are too.

As our team planned this issue, and I thought about what flourishing looks like, I saw my girls and me on our skates. Wind blowing, eyes open, souls alive. And I love what it’s teaching me—that flourish doesn’t look just one way. That it’s not always wild growth or a bounty in bloom. But that, in its simplest form, flourish can feel like joy, like lightness. It can feel like coming alive again.

Deep, meaningful resolutions will always be a worthy pursuit, but I’m learning that sometimes it’s a moment of unexpected lightness that makes our souls sing.

Lately, my skates go wherever I go. Days when things feel heavy or hard, I lace them up and stroll around. I’ve worn them while filming the cooking show and around the office. Just like with my girls, I can see how it changes the faces in the room. Things lighten up a bit. People do too. There’s a new kind of energy in the air that no one expected.

That’s the other thing I’m learning about flourish—it’s a domino effect. When you see someone living out loud, all around the room, rules break. No one needs the permission, but they feel it—they can flourish too. You either jump in and follow someone’s lead, or you find your own corner where you thrive—whatever it is that reminds you that you are more than you sometimes remember. That the breath in your lungs is proof you’ve got more living to do. That the space you occupy on this Earth isn’t meant only for work and toil, but also for joy and lightness.

Worry less, skate more. That’s all I’m after. What about you—what do you want less of? More of? Whatever it may be, go ahead and live it out loud. And let’s not forget to have a fun while we're at it!

This story was adapted from the summer issue of Magnolia Journal.

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