Melissa Joy

Apr 03

The Do’s & Don’ts of Living a Successful Life

My favorite guy, Karsten, and I have been talking a lot lately about what it means to live a successful life. How do we find fulfillment? What really matters to us? What “rules” we want to create and live by?

He came up with this amazing “Do’s” and “Don’ts” list below, and it was TOO good not to share:

1. Give your best creative time, each day, to getting the one most important thing done, given the goal that matters most to you.
2. Get started now.
3. Enjoy every second of it.
4. Walk in integrity and love.
5. Smile a lot.
6. Understand the power of tact and rapport.

1. Wait until you’re ready (you’ll never be).
2. Wait for permission.
3. Wait for instructions.
4. Wait for buy-in.
5. Think about how or innovate before acting. You’ll find ways to improve in the passing of days.
6. Entertain or contemplate negative thought and criticism.
7. Let people slow you down or tell you no. You’ll get these people everywhere.
8. Treat people in unkind or take advantage of friends.

So, you—the one reading this—yeah, you!…

Whatever it is you *really* want to do, GO DO IT. Don’t wait for permission. If you’ve got air coming in and out of your lungs, that’s permission enough. You were meant to do beautiful, spectacular, “impossible,” awe-inspiring things.

So, what are you waiting for?

Start now.

Mar 13

Why I Stopped Writing


After writing over 300 blog posts last year—every day for 11 straight months—I stopped suddenly in December.

I didn’t spend much time thinking about why. I just chalked it up to exhaustion and needing a “break.” But, when I think about the writers I admire—Seth Godin, Leo Babauta, Danielle LaPorte, Darren Rowse, Gina Trapani—I cannot seriously say writing a mere 300 blog posts “wore me out.” That would be a lie.

Writing is a very vulnerable thing. You cannot write with integrity and *not* put your own heart, your own story, on the line. 

Over the past 9 months, my personal story has written itself all too quickly—along with many painful, beautiful, and life-altering lessons.

I was afraid of exposing those lessons, having them accidentally seep through my writing, before my heart had time to process and make sense of it all.

But, something became clear to me recently: 
Writing is how I make sense of things. 

This is how it is for all of us with a hyper-passionate craft. What we do is an indelible part of who we are. It is our way of processing, understanding, communicating, and finding our place in the world. 

That’s what cooking is to a chef. What making music is to a singer. What creating code is to a computer engineer. What painting is for an artist. What building a company is for a serial entrepreneur. 

That’s what writing is for me. 

It’s the medium through which I come to process, understand, communicate, and find my place in the world. It’s how I make sense of it all. If I’m not writing, I’m not making much sense. 

So why did I stop so suddenly? 

I stopped because I was afraid. Afraid of what I might discover if I actually took time to fully process the last nine months’ worth of experiences, lessons, and relationships. Afraid of what people might think of me if my writing subtly hinted at heartbreak, and broken relationships, and losing myself, and learning to love myself, and falling in love with a great man.

Afraid of re-experiencing tsunamis of love, loss, pain, and resentment.

…Who knows what in talking about? 

How many of you have also stopped passionately pursuing your craft because you’re afraid of what it might force to the surface? How many of you have stopped because whatever else is going on in your life has led you to believe you’re not good enough? That there’s not enough time, money, energy, talent available to keep going?

It’s a lie. And it’s time to stop believing it. 

You must do whatever it is that keeps you processing, understanding, learning. You must never give up the thing(s) that give your life purpose and context. 

I have no idea what writing again look like for me, personally—it’ll be some mix of blogging, book writing, guest posting, and journaling. No crazy goal to blog every single day. All that matters right now is putting a pen to paper again.


If yore reading this and have given up on your own craft for whatever countless reasons that exist in the world, here’s my heartfelt encouragement:

Please pick up a pen, a camera, a computer, a microphone, a tennis racket, an apron…and start again. The world will not be the same if you don’t. YOU will not be the same if you don’t. 

Every day, just do something. Write one page. Take one photo. Play one game. Create one dish. Sing one song.

Take the thing you love the most, and do something about it. 
Every. Single. Day. 

My hope for you is the same for me: that in the rediscovery of the mediums we use to create and tell stories, we find meaning and purpose in our own and give others courage to do the same. 

Here’s to picking up, and starting again. 

What is Spirituality, Anyway?

Spirituality is one of those words we throw around a lot, but don’t really know the definition of. Seriously, even Wikipedia doesn’t know the definition:

Despite the vagueness of the term and how people often talk about it, spirituality kept coming up for me again and again in 2013. I spent the last four months of the year traveling across America to capture 100 of the best love stories in the country…and you know what? 

As I look back on the journey now, I realize I learned just as much about spirituality as I did about love. They go hand in hand. If spirituality is most closely defined as “a search for the sacred”—that which is set apart from the ordinary—then we cannot ignore how the definition extends to true love. True love is, in short, sacred. Spirituality, then, includes the search for and exploration of true love. 

One of the people who helped crystalize the connection was Jacob Max Winkler. Jacob is passionate about helping people understand spirituality and become more connected to what is sacred—universally, and in the context of one’s own unique life. 

I explained to Jacob how I was feeling and thinking about God, faith, and love. He listened, and asked me questions at exactly the right moments—questions no one has ever asked me before. One in particular stuck out:

"What drives your belief that love is something you have to earn?" 


The question smacked me like a ton of bricks. I’m not even sure I was consciously aware that I had the belief. Like just about everything else in life—a promotion, a salary, a toned body, to name a few—I assumed I had to earn love. That I had to do some set of things to be worthy of receiving love from others. 

Jacob continued, “Where did the belief come from? When did you first start believing you had to earn love from others?”

Young. Probably when my father left. 

I’ve never been a fan of the whole “blame your parents for your problems” mentality. I have an incredible mom, who did a crazy good job of raising me on her own. I look back on my upbringing now with immense awe and respect for her. 

But it is true: we’re shaped by our circumstance and relationships—or lack thereof. 

Jacob found the perfect balance: gently reminding me that the past does matter, but I determine how it matters. 

*Deep breath*

He’s right. The people we come to love (or hate) are etched into our bones permanently, whether we care to admit it or not. Their effect on our heads and hearts isn’t always obvious—sometimes, it’s quite subtle. But, it’s there. Every experience we have shapes us in some way, even if it’s as simple as a nudge to walk down a different street. 

The same is true of our circumstances. They all effect and shape who we become, but they don’t have to define it. 

Slowly, my eyes began to glass over as I realized what Jacob was pointing out: We have to deal with our past. We have to learn to let things go with grace, love, and kindness. We have to respect what shapes us, without allowing it to define our future, like we have no say in it.

Jacob soothed me in a guided meditation to end our call. 

Now, I should note, I am scared of meditation. I suck at sitting still and being quiet (a limiting belief, I’m sure, but it feels so true!). He made it effortless and calming, though. 

Somehow, in the space of 10 minutes, magic happened. I let tears fall. I let some things go. I allowed myself to see patterns I hadn’t noticed before—some beautiful, some destructive. 

As we ended our talk, I left feeling something I haven’t felt a lot lately: Calm. Fully Present. Connected. Relaxed. 

It was the first time in a while I felt like I was on a search for what was sacred…and found something meaningful—answers I could wrap my heart around—on the other side. 

In other words, I felt spiritually connected. Not like I was discovering my spirituality…more like I was remembering it. 

Thanks for helping me remember, Jacob

And, if anyone out there reading this is interested in exploring spirituality further, I could recommend him more highly. 

Check out his beautiful blog here:

With love, 


Dec 06

Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started. When you start, you’ll begin to understand who you are.

Dec 02

Nov 26

Love Advice from My Mom


My mom gives me the best advice ever. After listening to this Loveumentary podcast episode (, here’s what she said to me via email. Think it’s worth sharing.

The thing is to not second guess what the other person is thinking. And brutal truth, having no secrets is the key because it all comes out of the wash at the end of the day. Try to tell the other person how you truly feel. And if they don’t feel the same way, don’t look at it as rejection but a time saver.

I don’t know if its a human condition or stupidity that people wind up saying stuff that they wish had not, only to end up hurting the other person. If we stop and self-edit what we really want to convey to each other, there would be less game play, and hence, hurt feelings.

I guess its all part of each person’s growth and finding themselves while finding true love for another person.

Anyway, each podcast gives me hope for a good catch!  :-)

(PS: My awesome mom is single—so silver fox bachelors, holler.)

Nov 23

When people have advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past (or future).

When people have advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past (or future).

Nov 21

This is how it should feel when you fall in love.

This is how it should feel when you fall in love.

Nov 20

There is joy in hardship and heartbreak.

There is joy in hardship and heartbreak.

Nov 16

Nov 14

Love this.

Love this.




(via ohthisprettylittleworld)

Nov 12

Love your life. It’s not about the hand your dealt, but that you get to play the game.

Love your life. It’s not about the hand your dealt, but that you get to play the game.

Nov 11

Why you should stop looking for “The One”

You don’t go on a journey around the country to capture 100 great love stories and not think about what it means to find “The One.”

So many of us (women in particular) approach the next potential partner we meet and the first question we ask: “Is this The One?”

That’s a heavy question, isn’t it? It puts a ton of pressure on every interaction. We lose focus. We lose sight of the joy in meeting someone new, discovering who that person is, learning whether we dance well with him or her.

And unfortunately, that’s precisely the reason why we’re rarely able to accurately discern whether the people we get to meet could, in fact, be the one we really want to end up with.

"Is this person the one?"

That question hints at a lack of trust that the universe is unfolding exactly as it should. The truth is, the next person that comes into your life is going to be EXACTLY the one. Maybe it’ll be for a conversation; maybe it’ll be for a lifetime. 

The next person you meet will, in fact, be the one. And if there’s a person after that, he or she will be “The One,” too.

You aren’t responsible for predicting the next 50 years of your life whenever you go on a first date. That’s basically what you’re asking yourself to do by starting with the question, “Is this person the one for me?”

Your responsibility is simply to come to each One with an open heart, and an open mind. And let that person teach you what you need to know. So you can be a better woman or man. So you can be the best version of The One for the next One you meet. Because you’re someone else’s future “The One” too, you know.

And, if you’re lucky, you discover the lesson the world has been meaning to teach you all along:

That YOU are the person you’ve been waiting for. You are the limitless source of love. And whether you’re single or in a great relationship or in a relationship you’re questioning, that’s perfect for you. 

You are where you are because there’s a lesson (or twenty) that you must learn to evolve to the next best version of you, which brings you closer to your next One. 

So embrace where you are. Learn what you can. 

The next person who walks into your life will be exactly the right One for the next set of lessons you need to learn. 

And if they help you realize that you are, indeed, the One you’ve been waiting for—that there are a million reasons why you’re lovable and worthy…

I think that’s when you should hang on and not let go.

Be relentlessly yourself.