Here’s how my dream of making a card deck became a powerful life lesson.

When I look at the May You Know Joy card deck sitting on my desk today, it appears so simple and unassuming. But I laugh to myself, because I know the real truth!

Creating the May You Know Joy deck was a practical challenge and powerful lesson in listening to my heart. There were many rational reasons not to even try making a deck of cards, and there were plenty of obstacles that could have made it easy to abandon the project along the way.

But, for reasons I still don’t fully understand, I was driven to realize my vision for the cards. I wanted to create a practical tool that would make joy accessible to anyone, in any moment.

The seed of this idea had been planted much earlier. The words that would eventually form this deck were gathered, scratched out and re-written on a messy list in the back of my journal as I navigated through my recovery from alcoholism, my departure from corporate life, a marital separation, and, at the same time, my slow brewing of a joyful new life.

The Words

Over time, I edited the raw list down to 42 words. People sometimes ask: “Why 42?”  I did happen to be 42 at the time. My vision was nothing more sophisticated than that.

I sat down one summer afternoon to write the passages for the 100-page booklet that accompanies the cards. The writing seemed effortless. I just knew what I wanted to say and the words flowed out of me. I asked a good friend to read over it for any glaring errors. I didn’t want editing. She suggested a few grammatical corrections and that was it.

The deck was done. But while writing the deck didn’t take a long time, living the deck took much longer. It seemed that my whole lifetime of experience had been the research.

Printing the cards was the hard part. Technicalities have never been interesting to me. I just wanted to get it done efficiently and beautifully, but ridiculous prices and suppliers with rigid limitations caused me to consider cancelling the project many times.

Nonetheless, I persevered. The result is a beautiful, sensual and durable deck of cards, if I do say so myself. They are glossy and thick, slightly longer and wider than a deck of regular playing cards. Their size and finish gives them a special, important feeling when you hold them.

Alas, after printing was complete, I could not afford boxes in which to package the May You Know Joy cards. Seeking an alternative, I stumbled upon a source for raw linen bags, and bought a few. For my first batch of cards, I stamped the bags myself.

It was tedious work and I wasn’t sure it would be worth it. But now, I laugh when people express their love of the bags. It was not a strategic brand decision at all, but rather a twist of fate and relentless determination.

The Ribbon

At the same place where I found the bags, I also found the beautiful green ribbon with the white polka dots. Tying each deck feels like blessing it with intention.

I don’t know if hand tying each ribbon myself will be sustainable as demand grows. But I do know I will find a way to honour each deck that goes out into the world. This is my chance to reach out and touch people, and I want to make the most of the opportunity.

Listen to Your Heart

Since I launched the May You Know Joy cards, people have shared incredible stories about how specific cards have changed their lives. I receive heartfelt messages from the most diverse array of people.

My heart is profoundly touched each time. Hearing these stories has forced me to realize that the cards are much bigger than me. When I created them, I don’t think I fully realized the impact they could have in the world.

So many times during the creation process, my mind would say: “This is so stupid.” Or “Why are you doing this? Who wants to hear what you have to say? This is expensive. Let’s just shelve this.” (Usually this voice spoke with expletives!) 

And yet, there was also a whisper in my heart that told me to just keep going. Real life obstacles would present themselves. The small voice would tell me to just keep going. And I did.

The whisper also said: “Be creative. Share your experience. Share your gifts. Not everyone will like it or get it and that’s okay. Because for the ones who do, you’ve created something special.”

I would love to hear about how you navigate with your heart. What does your heart whisper to you?