Flinging Ourselves Into Fresh Starts ft. Joy Sullivan - Jen Hatmaker

Flinging Ourselves Into Fresh Starts ft. Joy Sullivan

“I don’t think it matters where you go, but to be able to give yourself an opportunity to really reinvent, that’s the good stuff.”

Episode 01

Our new series of Embracing Change is a deep examination of all the different ways change shows up in our lives and all the ways we can respond to it. As Jen says in this interview, our guest today went through a “chosen change.” Hers was a transformation that felt inevitable after all the small, incremental posture changes made her ready for the leap to follow — a leap toward more sanity, more love, and more joy. 

Joy Sullivan is a poet and community builder. Her new book “Instructions for Traveling West” is “for anyone flinging themselves into fresh starts.” She received a Masters in poetry from Miami University and has served as the poet-in-residence for the Wexner Center for the Arts. She joins the podcast today sharing her story of walking into the unknown. Through her unique viewpoint as a poet, she unlocks potent ways for us to trust our intuition and stay curious about what is scaring us.

Jen and Joy touch on:

  • The importance of embracing loneliness and stillness as opportunities for self-discovery and hearing one’s true inner voice and callings.
  • stories from Joy’s life that served as lessons for her to love herself more deeply
  • Reclaiming selfhood by rupturing constrictive cultural and religious narratives, especially around womanhood and female identity

For anyone feeling the tug to upend the inertia of their life and lean into evolution, this conversation is an inspiring guide for following one’s deepest callings into new horizons.

Episode Transcript

Hey everybody, Jen Hatmaker here, host of the For the Love podcast. Welcome to the show. Oh, man. Today’s interview. I told her it was amazing from beginning to end. Right when I thought, “Oh my gosh, she has given so much goodness in this interview,” she pulled a story out at the very end and I was like, “What?” Anyway, let me back up. We’re in a series called For the Love of Embracing Change. So we’re going to deep dive here into both the joy and the grief of change. That is change sometimes that we choose and sometimes it’s change that chooses us. Either way, here we are. One minute we’re high-kicking with joy as this hope of change washes over us when we’re choosing it. Even inside that paradigm, wiping our eyes like, “Oh, this brought an unexpected grief that I wasn’t ready for.” 

 Also during this series [we’re] going to be asking the gurus, “What are the mechanics of change? How do we set ourselves up for the best experience inside of it?” One way or another. However it comes to us, change is sure. We’re all going to experience it. It could be a healthcare diagnosis. It could be somebody that leaves our life. Whatever it is, we want to know that we can handle it when it comes, and begin creating this sort of posture toward change. That means we are both more able to choose it when it should be chosen and also more able to handle it when it chooses us. I mean, Lord knows I have had changes in my life in the last four years. More changes than I would have ever signed up for and more than I would have known I could handle. If you would tell me on the front edge, that these are all the things that you are going to experience, discover, know, and have to create, it would have been too much information for me. However, looking back on it now, I can see this posture toward resiliency and risk and hope and recreation that makes it all possible. 

Okay, you guys, let’s get to it. Today we’re going to talk to such a talent. She chose change in every way. Like I told her, it was a yard sale. Everything went for sale, every category and she moved into the life that she knew it was time to step into. She knew that change for her was mandatory — for her sanity, for her happiness, for her joy. She made every choice along the way to get there. She writes about the whole thing — the joy in the mess that comes with pursuing a fresh start in the middle of life. 

You guys, today we have Joy Sullivan. She’s a poet. She’s a community builder. She’s an author. Joy has a master’s in poetry, so she’s no chump, from Miami University. She served as the poet in residence for the Wexner Center for the Arts. She leads international writing retreats, and she’s guest lectured in classrooms from Stanford to Florida International. She is legit. Joy is also the founder of Sustenance, which is a community designed to help writers both revitalize and nourish their craft. By the way, listeners, if you want inspiration on the creative life, Joy writes a Substack newsletter called “Necessary Salt.” Her new book is called Instructions for Traveling West. It is brilliant, I’m going to tell her, and you’ll hear in a minute, how I stumbled upon it; bootleg essentially, before it even came out. It releases on April 9th. I can’t say enough good things about it.

This was the last year that I discovered Joy, and I have since followed every single word she writes. Her work has meant so much to me because this is the kind of poetry I love most. As you know, I have a developing and meandering relationship with poetry that I’ve been nurturing for the last 4 or 5 years, and this is my favorite iteration of it.  I don’t think you’re ready for this whole conversation. I don’t know what you’re about to get out of this conversation. Let me just say it like this. For anybody who is experiencing change, who wants to experience change, who has any fear or experience around leaving and leaping, this is your conversation. I’m so excited for you to listen to it. By the way, if you would like to watch this conversation, we always video record every episode of the show. So you can go to my YouTube channel and you can watch this conversation if you’d like to, and see the beautiful Joy with her clear blue eyes. Otherwise, I’m so delighted to be in your little air pods, please enjoy this fascinating, deep, and encouraging discussion with the wonderful Joy Sullivan.





(A Community of Poets and Writers founded by Joy Sullivan)

Necessary Salt
(Joy Sullivan’s Substack Blog)

Instructions For Traveling West by Joy Sullivan
(A book of poems coming April 9, 2024)



The For the Love Podcast is a production of Four Eyes Media,
presented by Audacy.

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