How I Was Around Joy Before I Was “aRoundJoy” – by Geri McNiece
If you read The Hula Hoop Solution you know I recently I purchased a travel hula hoop from an entrepreneur who I met virtually through instagram (aRoundJoy). I loved her story – that she started hooping when she was 47! That passion turned into her business. Her passion goes beyond selling hula hoops. She truly wants to share joy. With this in mind, here is Geri’s adventure for getting into the hooping business!
Now, Geri’s hula hoop adventure:
You may look at my business name and think it makes sense…of COURSE – a “ROUND” joy – the hoop is a round object that brings you joy! What you don’t see is the REST of the story…my history, my journey and truth. Let me explain how I was around joy before I was aRoundJoy…
But first, I want to clarify one thing: When I say my TRUTH, I don’t mean that what I teach about hooping isn’t true. There is absolutely no BETTER way to exercise, trim up, tone up and be super happy at the same time! The hula hoop brings so much joy into your life! I’m a walking testimony in that department, as are hundreds of clients I have helped over the last 10 years. I just simply mean that you’d never know the REAL backstory of the actual word “aRoundJoy” unless I break it down for you…so here goes…
I’m an Italian girl. I certainly was raised to love all the FUN things in life…music, dance, food, the arts, if you get what I mean. My momma & daddy raised me that way…100% Italian! They were ALL about joy! I have the personality & spirit of both my parents, that’s for sure! I was also the baby of the family and I had 2 older sisters who were about 10 years older than me. Dance lessons and baton twirling competitions took up lots of time during elementary school…and years of performing on stage in musicals made up the rest of my life up through college.
Now, if you’re starting to wonder about that 10 year spread between me & my sisters…YES, my parents were “older” when I was born. By the time I was in high school, they actually got mistaken for my grandparents. I was keenly aware that they were slowing down as I grew up. Unfortunately, my daddy passed away far too early, when he was just 68 and I was only 21. In fact, I was home from college that day and wasn’t even suppose to be. Then, my momma passed less than 3 years later, about 3 months before my wedding. She was just 63.
So, even though I lost both my parents before I was 25, I felt this overwhelming sense of JOY and gratitude…like a real sense of peace, like a gift had been left for me. I learned important lessons about faith, appreciating the gift of life and to be in the moment.
The other life-defining person
I am married to the love of my life, a man who came into my life LITERALLY from an angel I met along my path. Her name was Susan. We met in college, and our deep friendship had a rocky start. I couldn’t dream of back then that her effortless joy would impact me so much. She had an easy humor, was fun and filled with enthusiasm. We became close, all because she wanted to fix up her brother–who became my husband. At age 42, she was diagnosed with cancer and died within weeks. I thank her daily for how she helped me be the woman I am today. What person changed your life by adding unexpected joy?
SO, you can understand, can’t you? Just as God put me where I was suppose to be on the day my daddy died, he also put Susan in my life. Little did I know at the time that she’d be the connection to THE REST of my story…the one who opened the door to not only a JOB, but also to meeting the love of my life, her brother, who became my husband. THESE joys I simply call “God Winks.” I see them now SO clearly as major life-defining events.
The start of my big life shift
My career in banking spanned about 12 years collectively, with a break in the middle to be a stay-at-home-mom for about 8 years. I was not a mom, not even married when I started working as a bank teller…by the time I stopped working at the bank, I was a Personal Banking Officer, a working parent raising two challenging sons.
The last few years I worked outside the home, the joy I experienced at the office started to feel “fake.” I had always loved it – I had fun with customers and co-workers. But as I grew older, I was longing to spend more time with what (and who) really brought me joy – and where I was NEEDED again – at my home, with my family. At the bank I still enjoyed meeting people and helping them, I really did (I love customer service!). However, the day-to-day work, along with industry fraud and low interest rates, became soul crushing.
Family health impact
About that same time, my husband was changing careers due to numerous back surgeries. He went back to college full-time to finally get a degree. The degree meant he could leave the blue-collar physical work he’d known for almost 20 years, and get a job that was far less demanding on his back. He began to make enough income so that I ultimately WAS able to stop working. My family was back at the top of my list…and I felt the joy BIG.
My mother-in-law was having health issues at the time, so I was also able to help with her care, doctor trips, errands, etc. I knew the joy of being able to help her was EXACTLY designed my God. Again, I knew it was his plan. We had promised Susan, my beloved sister-in-law, that we WOULD care for mom. She wasn’t here to do it. I didn’t even get to do it with my own mom or dad. This was my purpose. I felt it deeply. It did bring me joy and a sense of peace about where I was in life during my 40’s…but then, I felt something else…
But what about me being able to take care of me?
I began to feel as if I was losing myself. Guilt set in. I’d ignore my feelings, but it was HARD. I wasn’t completely ME anymore. “Was this pure selfishness?” thoughts ran in my head. It was hard to not to let those thoughts enter my head.
I had grown up in dance, baton twirling and on stage. I loved to MOVE. With all the stuff I was doing to take care of family, I wasn’t doing anything for MYSELF that fed my authentic side. While I took advantage of a couple of opportunities to perform in musical theatre productions locally, which temporarily fed my artistic side, my body reminded me I wasn’t in my 20s anymore. It was hard to keep up with that kind of schedule and energy level.
As much as I loved it, and was honored to be cast in those shows, it just didn’t bring me the same joy that it once did. I missed being home while I was on stage. That made me feel so very confused. Who had I become? Where was my authentic self? WHERE was the JOY I had all those years ago?
I thought I knew what would make me happy. Yet it felt like I had lost touch with my authenticity for so long, that my entire “self” was just GONE. I was a caretaker now, not just a mom. I had someone else to care for other than even my own kids. Both my husband and I were caring for our kids, and his mom, at the same time. I didn’t have any time, room– or felt the right– to complain. THIS was God’s place for me…NOW. During my mid-40’s. I kept telling myself this was the plan. I kept talking to God about it; and my parents; and Susan.
My First Blog
As an outlet for all these feelings I had inside, in 2005, I started writing on a blog website. This was back when “blogging” was a NEW thing for online social networking. MySpace had barely started, certainly no Facebook or other big social media was happening yet, either. It seemed “all the kids” were doing blogs. I discovered a bunch of moms were also on there, not just to meet other moms, but to spy on our kids!
Eventually I settled on the blog name “aroundjoy.” It made sense to me as it was my youngest son’s Senior year of high school, and I tended to refer to his “joy” often. In those early years, much of the blog focused on raising our kids. I wanted to share the PARENTING joy that is SO very woven into every ounce of aRoundJoy. The name came from the full circle of parenting, being around joy – long before I ever had a hoop in my hand.
Discovering The Hula Hoop
The fact that I stumbled upon the hula hoop one day while watching Good Morning America was a BIG “God Wink!” I just saw the people hooping and was drawn to it. I needed some form of movement for exercise. Stress and low activity was making it hard for me to keep the weight off. Since I was gaining extra pounds when hooping dropped in my lap (via the TV), my interest was sparked! I’ll at least have something I can do at home to help me! What I didn’t expect, was EVERYTHING else it brought into my life.
Again, I feel as if it’s been all part of His divine plan. If I had discovered the hula hoop when I was 20, it wouldn’t fit into my world the same way it did at the age of 47. I had to go through all the hills and valleys on my path, to prepare me to receive ALL that the hoop has given me. To be able to work at home, while getting in touch with my true, authentic, creative self.
From passion to my business
My childhood and young adult experience with dance, baton twirling and the long-lasting participation with musical theater all came together when I hooped. I started the first indoor/outdoor concept hooping experience in Texas called the HoopShack.
I discovered how much I enjoy teaching women “of a certain age” the health and fun benefits of hooping, despite their fears of feeling too old. As the world turned more to online, so did I. I now teach women from all over how to hoop via video courses that come with their orders and in my private groups.
I have great joy in using my hula hoops. Meeting and helping other women enjoy movement through this ring of plastic give me deep satisfaction. This is a blessing I do not take lightly.
Perhaps the most chilling and inspiring thing is that the phrase “aroundjoy” just FIT my business, even though it originally had NOTHING to do with the hula hoop. The fact that I discovered something ROUND that brought me joy, and had that WORD in my back pocket, so-to-speak, from a few years before…well, you just don’t get much more DIVINE intervention than that!
I hope now you can understand how the hoop is a reminder of ALL this for me. It’s a deep connector to my authentic “little girl” who’s still inside. It reminds me of the dance that Susan and I shared, too. I’m blessed to have discovered hooping at a time when I needed to find myself and tap into my joy again…and I know God put me on earth to pass that same blessing on to other women in mid-life who also need it. The fact that we can EXERCISE daily at home, plus REDUCE stress (AND the inches on our bodies!) while smiling at the same time?? THAT’S just icing on the cake!
Does your joy run deep like this? Do you see where it came from, how you got to be where you are? Are you still searching? I’d love to hear your take on this.
My joy is around me each and every day. It has been for years. I will be forever…aRoundJoy.
Interested in hula hooping? Check out Geri’s Instagram @aRoundJoy where I first came across her business and uplifting personality, or her website https://aroundjoy.com/ where you can read her blogs, learn more about hooping and order custom hoops with training. Since she’s been in business over 10 years, her Facebook is filled with many interesting videos about joy, about her faith, as well as her passion – hooping! Please note: I do not receive any compensation for promoting Geri’s business or any related purchases. Since I have enjoyed my hoop so much, and her adventure into hooping, it’s my pleasure to share her story.