Maui Photographer

I remember the first time I heard that word… I was so confused.

When my friend, Rachel, brought it up in a conversation about friends having babies, I was totally lost… A baby what?? She sensed my confusion and quickly explained what a “Babymoon” is. To be completely honest, I found the idea a bit pretentious… Babymoon: Your last solo vacation without kids as husband and wife.

I remember thinking: (a) I’m going to travel with my kids, so who needs one last “hurrah?” and (b) I hope I marry someone that wants to continue to date me and travel with me — with or without our kids. What’s the point?!?

Cut to four years later… I married the man of my dreams, and we are pregnant with our first baby. The first thing we did… was plan our babymoon. In fact, we started planning our babymoon on our honeymoon, and we weren’t even expecting yet.

While the word is silly, and let’s face it… a bit pretentious, I totally get it. It’s not about being selfish. It’s not about “alone” time. It’s not about lavish or extravagant trips. It’s not about one last “hurrah.” It’s about disconnecting from reality for a moment, so that you and your spouse can reconnect and communicate about the changes, expectations and preparations for your upcoming bundle of joy.

We recently returned from our babymoon, and I now understand the “word” and concept more than ever. My husband will look for any reason to plan a vacation so it’s safe to say he too embraced the word and the R&R.

We went to Maui on our “babymoon,” and it was breathtaking and perfect. It reminded me how lucky I am to be married to Devin and how blessed we are to be able to start a family!

Every time I look at the photos from the trip I am filled with instant happiness. I have a full heart, not just because I spent a week in Hawaii, but because it was a celebration of what’s to come… The blessing of starting our own family.


Here is to our Babymoon, our baby and the celebration of life!


Some highlights from the trip:

The amazing Andaz Resort!

The food was incredible EVERYWHERE we went (and so were the non-alcoholic drinks)

Our Hawaii trip included many “firsts”… from surfing lessons to a traditional Hawaiian luau

As I get older… it seems like things get harder…

Maui Photographer

Remember when you were a kid and the toughest decision you would face all month was who you would sit by at lunch or what movie you and your friends would chose to see over the weekend or what prom dress you “had to have?” I remember “Adults” telling me my early years were the best years of my life and that “being an adult was hard.” However, being the “know-it-all” that I was/am, I never believed those people. I just fixed my eyes on how one day when I was an adult, I would be able to eat as much cereal as I wanted whenever I wanted, and that I would be able to stay up as late as I wanted during week days.

Now that I am an “adult,” the truth is… eating cereal causes me to instantly gain weight and feel bad about myself and staying up late just one night causes me to be tired for an entire week. I think it’s safe to say I wish I could go back to the days of worrying about prom dates, homework and arguing with my sisters…

Being an adult can be a bit overwhelming… In fact, my capacity to worry is at an all time high.

I’m a fan of taking ownership. One of my pet peeves is when people blame others for their problems or don’t take ownership for their mistakes or short-comings, so even though I’m pregnant and everyone keeps telling me I’m feeling “emotional” because of my hormones, I’d like to take ownership of my feelings and believe that pregnancy hasn’t messed with my brain and emotions too much. However, I will admit everything seems to be hitting me so hard lately. Everything seems to make me worry; getting on a plane, leaving Nemo (world’s greatest dog) as I go on yet another work trip, leaving Devin (world’s greatest husband) as I set up shop on the east coast to avoid cross country travel at 29 weeks pregnant… I worry about being far from my parents, far from my sisters, far from my nephews. I worry about ordering the wrong thing on the menu, or saying something to one of my students or friends that could hurt their feelings or upset them… I worry that I’m not talking to my unborn son enough or focusing on preparing for his arrival. I worry about the swelling of my ankles, sleeping too much or sleeping too little, what car seat to buy, what laundry detergent is safest… it’s all so overwhelming… where did the worry come from?


Today is particularly a hard day for me. I’ve been traveling since the day I found out I was pregnant. Shortly before that we got married, moved across the country and changed everything we knew about our day to day lives. The truth is, I’m tired… I’m tired of being away from my husband and my family who, coincidentally, are on separate coasts of our country. I’m tired of worrying. I’m tired of the unknown, and I’m tired of my lack of strength right now…

If my sisters or friends called me with these worries or woes, I would tell them to pray about everything and to try and change their thought. I would say “acknowledge how you are feeling, but remind yourself what the truth is…” I.E. yes, I’m tired and I miss my husband, but I love my job, my circumstances are only temporary and I’ll be home before I know it… I would remind my friends and sisters that ultimately we are out of control, and therefore, it’s best to enjoy every moment you have. It all seems so logical and obvious that this is the way we should live our lives, but right now I can’t wrap my brain around those thoughts… so instead I called my mom and complained a bit… prayed a bit… cried a bit… stayed in bed a little longer than I should have… yelled at my husband over the phone at 7am his time… and ate an entire box of cereal. You know, all very logical and responsible things to do. Then I wrote this post hoping that it will provide a little release… a little ease… and a little sanity.

My sister Jennifer…




Today is my sister Jennifer’s wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary to her and my amazing brother-in-law, Mike!

She has been married for 16 years!!!

It seems like just yesterday I sang at her wedding in my slate grey, cowl neck bridesmaid dress with pearl chocker, matching elbow length gloves and French twist up-do… (it was the 90’s so it worked). In any case, she looked radiant that day in her form fitting, white, beaded, high neck, open back mermaid gown and big billowing wedding veil… absolutely stunning!


My oldest sister, Jennifer, is a force to reckoned with. She was the first born, and therefore, she had it tougher than me (the youngest) and Jenine (the middle). Her curfew was at 10pm, verses Jenine’s 11pm curfew and my… well “what curfew.” She had to get straight A’s.  She had to be active, respectful and succefful.  She had to be someone her younger sisters could look up to.  She had to do everything first and set the example and pave the road for Jenine and I.  She had four years with my parents all to herself. My mom tells me stories of how much time the first born gets… how much attention to detail. Not that my parents didn’t love Jenine and I as much as they loved Jen or pay as much attention to us…it’s just she was thier “first” and that meant she was an only child for four years. They were delicate with her. They spent every day teaching her and learning from her, and they groomed herfor great things… and boy did she deliver.


There was never a day that I was not proud of my big sister, Jen. Almost
ten years older than me, she was more of a second mother than a sister. In
fact, I can’t recall a single fight we had growing up, but I can recall her
doing my set of chores so I didn’t cry, giving up the bigger better piece
of ice cream cake, slipping me twenty dollar bills every chance she had,
sticking up for me during family fights, letting me be a part of any pool
party she had out back, and smiling at everything I did or “attempted” to
do. She was a wonderful big sister and set quite the example for me and Jenine.

Jennifer was born on September 28th. My mom’s first born came into this
beautiful world on September 28th. When the doctor told me that my first
baby was due on September 28th, the first person I thought of was my big
sister Jennifer. Joy filled my heart as I thought about my sister and her
tenacity, love, determination, perfectionism, morals, values and not to
mention, the gorgeous life she created. She has an amazing husband and is
raising two perfect boys.


I pray that my first born will follow in the footsteps of my
mothers first born. Here is to the countdown to September 28th. Here is to
my sister Jennifer, the first born. Here is to the first born. May God
bless him with Jennifer’s drive, intelligence, determination and

my new york…

The pulse of the city often makes people tense.

The number of people that can surround you at any given moment can make people claustrophobic.

The never ending noises and honking of yellow chariots often gives people a headache.

But in my New York… I long for and love all of those things…

It was a blessed visit in the Big Apple. I picked up right where I left off… visiting with friends, taking in a Broadway show, auditioning, a class or two at Juilliard, teaching my students, amazing brunches, lunches, and dinners… and the best part of all… telling my friends in person that I was pregnant!

dear new york… i love you… and thank you for loving me back…


I can never resist a meal at The Smith, so when Rachel suggested a breakfast there as soon as my plane landed… I happily agreed.


Reunited with my amazing students at Broadway Workshop. I am constantly inspired by them and their fearlessness!


As Meg celebrates her new downton apartment… we celebrate with brunch at Chez Sardine.

Don’t skimp… order one of everything on the brunch menu… especially the Strawberry salad, Chocalate Banana Bread, Egg Sandwich and Fedora Burger.

Juilliard Drama Division Alumni event

There is something so magical, mysteries and inspiring about being back in that building and in the drama wing. I’ll forever be grateful to everyone at Juilliard!


My old stand by… and no, I’m not talking about my roommate of 8 years, Matt, or one of my dearest friends, Michelle… I’m talking about Blockheads… burrito heaven…

Nothing like starting your day off right… my favorite…  a NYC bagal with cream cheese and cumber!


Finally getting to meet the little man… my sweet friend Lauren’s sweet baby boy, Jesse Feldman… aka my sons future best friend.


Watching my friend Sutton Foster do what she does best… BROADWAY! Go see her in Violet!

Dinner with the bestie… she always knows how to pick a resteraunt… ABC Cocina!


new chapter…

i have not met you… yet i love you.

i do not know your name… yet i know you are a miracle.

you have not yet opened your eyes or developed all of your senses… yet i know you will be strong and courageous.

i haven’t even held you… yet i promise i will never let you go.

BABY 5-21-14_1

dear son,

thank you for being our biggest blessing..

thank you for teaching us about faith…

and thank you for making our life, love, and family fuller, bigger, and better!


Why do we fear people, places, things?

As children we are fearless… In fact, I grew up with a girl (my best childhood friend) that would go on the most daring roller coasters, dive off the highest diving board, ride her bike as fast as she could and attack a fast pitch like no other. I emulated her fearlessness. It inspired me to jump out of trees, hold my breath as long as I could underwater, work out harder, run faster, see scary movies, run for student council and class officer and even follow my dreams from coast to coast without thinking about the more practical and easier ways of life.

The older I get the more I am astonished at how fearless I once was…  auditioning for things I had no business auditioning for, pounding the pavement of NYC at 17 years old without a shadow of doubt in my ability and/or talent, belting out a tune as loud as I could for anyone that would listen not caring if I was on pitch, or telling people how I felt without concern for the outcome… When did that fierceness and fearlessness dissipate?

It’s not until you lose something or someone that you are introduced to pain. Ultimately, isn’t that where fear comes from? Loss equals pain and pain equals fear. No one walks around seeking pain (and if you do… that is a whole other blog post and problem)… but for the most part we try and avoid pain, i.e. we fear pain… therefore we as humans have fears.

As a child I played sports… every sport… I can remember attacking ground balls as my father cracked the softball with the metal bat.  I would run up as fast as I could on that ball hoping to make him proud and to be the best fielder I could be.  It never occurred to me how hard he was hitting the ball, how fast it was coming at me or that the ball could very easily skip up and hit me in the chin or the nose… but sure enough, if that ball skips up and hits you one time… it can mark you forever (both figuratively and literally).  Get hit in the face with that ball one time and it changes the fierceness you once had… or at least it did with me.

It only gets tougher as you get older… replace that ball with bad news, the loss of a loved one, heartbreak, loss of job, or a crushed dream…  When one has so many of those experiences it is possible she can start fearing too many things… and then you end up enduring life as opposed to enjoying it.

That’s where I am today… not allowing myself to enjoy my life and my blessings because I’m so worried or fearful I could lose them.

Having pain or dealing with trials and tribulations from the past has almost paralyzed my ability to live in the moment. Some might even describe this as shutting down emotionally or disconnecting from people, life or love.

I am smart enough to know there is no guarantee in life. I am smart enough to know that no one can predict future pain, success, happiness or loss… and therefore I am smart enough to “understand” we shouldn’t go through life worrying about things that haven’t happened yet.  But sometimes it’s hard to connect my brain’s rational thoughts to my heart. It’s almost as if I’m wired to think irrationally first… It’s almost as if I’m wired to worry about (or fear) the unknown before realizing I haven’t even been “hit in the face with the ball” yet.

So I guess today is about attacking that ground ball… it’s about not caring if I get hit with it since I ultimately can’t control the bumps in the road, or, as it were, the bumps on the infield…
it’s about “child like” faith
it’s about fierceness
it’s about not just enduring life, but actually enjoying life
Today is about not accepting the way I am wired… but actually changing it… today I acknowledge that I can feel fear, but  I can’t let fear conquer me.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirt of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind. 

there is no place like home…


When you “go, go, go” as much as I do, you often forget to stop and smell the roses… Sometimes life throws you an unexpected challenge that gives you no choice but to slow down (whether roses are involved or not).

Unforeseen circumstances have forced Devin and I to slow down. However, in this time we have found blessing upon blessing and the praises ended up outweighing the pain.

There is comfort in family, there is comfort in home… but most of all there is comfort in prayer.

Thankful for every moment of this week…

Famiy Fun…


Easter Fun…

Blessed in everyway.

i’m sorry

Nicole Renard Photography

Why are these two little words so hard to say?


If someone you care about tells you that you hurt his or her feelings, shouldn’t you apologize without hesitation? After all, those are THIER feelings, and while you may not think what you did was “wrong” or “so bad,” you still can’t argue what someone else “feels.”

I learned this concept from my dear friend Michelle. She is one tough cookie, but if she hurts someone’s feelings, she takes ownership even if she doesn’t necessarily agree with the rationale. I’ll never forget the first time I told her something she did upset me. She listened to my concern, and then without hesitation, she sincerely said, “Those are your feelings, and while it wasn’t my intention to ‘hurt’ you, I will most certainly apologize. I’m so sorry…” I remember being so impressed that she didn’t get on the defensive and argue my feelings or try and defend her actions.  She simply said, “I’m sorry.”


By humbly apologizing, it allows for the relationship to move past the anger and/or pain and move on to an open-minded conversation so that you can ultimately get to the root of the actual problem and move forward.

We all know if you don’t have good roots, your tree is bound to wither away and die.


Michele’s ability to care enough about others to apologize obviously rubbed off on me because my husband always commends me on my ability to apologize. Once I grasped the importance of an apology, I noticed many of my professional and personal relationships where in a much healthier place. I will admit it’s not always easy. The Italian hot head in me wants to put people in their place and stick up for my side, my view and my reasoning (and sometimes I do). However, like the saying goes… you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.


It seems like such an easy concept to grasp, right? I mean what’s the first thing we learn in kindergarten (besides ‘caring is sharing’)? “Treat others the way you wish to be treated!” Yet, I’m always so amazed at how hard it is for people to actually say the words, “I’m sorry.”


“I’m raising the white flag,” “You are correct,” “That wasn’t my intention,” or “I’m sorry you feel that way.” are not apologizes. They are examples of one’s ego getting in the way of an honest sincere apology and merely brushes off the other’s concern instead of addressing it.


I’ve lost two good friends over their lack of ability to apologize.

It’s hard to move on or move forward in a realtionship when people don’t attempt to show you they care about your feelings more than they care about themselves. I think there is nothing worse than a person that cares more about his or her own pride than someone else’s heart. I often wonder how people that hurt people can continue on with their days as if nothing has happened. I’m the type of person that will replay every thought, every word, every eyebrow raise and conversation I had if I feel as if I’ve wronged someone. Call it conscience. Call it guilt. Call it what ever you want, but at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do on Earth is cause pain, sadness, insecurity or anger. If I did/do, it certainly is not my intent. Therefore, I’ll happily own up and apologize, so my loved ones can see they are heard, cared for and loved.


It’s funny how your actions can inspire greatness in others. Michelle inspired me to take ownership and embrace the words, “I’m sorry.” My ability to apologize then inspired my husband to grasp the same concept, and so on. I only hope that this post or someone’s ability to show you grace will inspire you to see that apologizing doesn’t make you weak. In fact, it’s easier to walk away. It’s easier to fight. It’s easier to “wave the white flag.” It’s easier to be prideful and not take ownership. It takes a strong person to apologize. If it were easy to say, “I’m sorry,” there probably wouldn’t be this much pain and suffering in the world.

“Strangers think I’m quiet… My friends think I’m outgoing… My best friends know that I’m completely insane!” – Author Unknown

Duty calls and I’m getting ready to go on the road for several weeks for a gig… this unfortunately means I’m leaving my dear sweet friend Lyndsy Fonseca (in her newly purchased gorgeous LA home) all by herself… well not all by herself she has Romi.


While in LA for business, Nemo (my dog) and I have been rooming with Lyndsy and Romi (her dog) for the last two months. And during this time she has had the pleasure of being my “test audience” for everything I write and I’m grateful for her insight, generosity, friendship, love and support… but I’m even more grateful for her closet… I wear stuff out of it every day… Her desire to walk my dog… I’ve been sleeping in while she walks Nemo and Romi… and her motherly nature… she feeds me and does my laundry.
So the friendship is fine… but the hospitality is stellar.

All kidding aside… Lyndsy is one of the most selfless people I have ever met… I’m blessed to have her in my life and I’m grateful for her and to her everyday!

Since Lyndsy so patiently listened to all my blog ideas and posts I figured I’d do a post dedicated to her…

For those of you who don’t know my animal loving actress friend Lyndsy you should… Um… hello “Kick Ass 1”, “Kick Ass 2”, “Hot Tub Time Machine”, “Nikita”, “Desperate Housewives”, “How I Met Your Mother” and lets go old school for a second… “Young And The Restless”…

side note: i’m just scratching this surface of what this blue eyed bombshell has done in the film and tv world.

Lets hear what my friend thinks of my blog and posts thus far:

JOY: Have your read my blog?

LYNDS: Yes. 120 times…
JOY: Wow… overachiever! What post did you respond to most?

LYNDS:  “Years of questions and years of answers” really spoke to me.

I feel like I’ve had a year of huge transitions and change with lots of questions… for instance is it time to change my hair… I’ve gone shorter… now do I want to add more blond highlights?
JOY:  I’d stay away from too many highlights… a nice “sun kissed” look is what I recommend… in all seriousness… thats obviously my favorite post as it was the reason I decided to start the blog… Why is it your favorite post (thus far… b/c I’m sure once this interview post is public it will be your favorite).

LYNDS: I did 4 seasons of a television show for the last four years (Nikita on the CW), where I lived in Canada and was away from my family and friends. During this time, I feel like I really “grew up” learning true independence as well as responsibility. While in Canada my job was all consuming and I learned more about myself and my work ethic, in addition to that while working on the show, I ended a six year relationship (that was very heartbreaking). So I guess you can say it was a time of growth both professionally and personally.
Once the show finished, I moved back to LA, thinking I’d have a little “down time” but was thrust into a “new” life here in LA… trying to remember how to live the hustle and bustle of this crazy town… Not to mention I am on the hunt for a new job while trying to keep my sanity and prove myself all over again.

And if that isn’t enough to keep one busy… I went and fell in love… (can’t complain much about that… it’s been a great part of my life).

JOY: Wow… you make my life look easy. Congrats on the show and it’s success and congrats on all that personal growth… from an outsiders prospective you are so on the right track and seem insanely focused… now back to me and my blog :)
It’s wedding season.  In case you missed it… I did a little post on wedding showers (in honor of my friend Rachel getting engaged) and I highlighted my wedding on the “our wedding” page of this blog… but back to the story… I’m now slightly obsessed with weddings… are you? What do you remember most about my wedding?

LYNDS: (1) I remember you were glowing and couldn’t stop smiling. (2) The free food. (3) Your 10 and 11 yr old nephews dancing like Justin Timberlake and (4) I really loved the open bar.

JOY: I just asked for one thing… but thanks for being thorough… Are you one of those girls who has her wedding all planned out?

LYNDS: Yes. I want Romi as my flower girl dropping rose peddles as she walks down the aisle… NO! I haven’t figured anything out yet.

JOY:  Don’t worry, now that I’ve planned a wedding… When it’s your time to walk down the aisle I got your back and will plan the whole thing… I’ll even rent out my nephews for entertainment…

Lynds: I hope they give me a family discount.

JOY: We can work something out…
You have been comparing my writing to “Sex In The City”… without the sex… thanks, I guess… Which SITC gal are you?

Lynds: None of them! The characters slightly bug me… But somehow those women have the power to make me watch 10 episodes in a row, even when I say “just this one…”
If I had to pick one… I guess I’m the most like Carrie; constantly trying to navigate thru life and learn from each relationship. All while being totally annoying and making sure I’m wearing really great shoes.

JOY: Those ladies do suck you in… they are like Pringles… “once you pop… you can’t stop”

Lynds: Or in my case “Thin Mints”!

JOY: And in MY case “Samoas”… Girl Scouts are dangerous!

JOY: Okay rapid fire…

  • favorite quote: “fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth” – Pema Chödrön
  • favorite movie: I hate this question. “In America” comes immediately to mind. Also, “UP”
  • dream vacation: a trip that’s paid for.
  • dream job: being a mom.
  • favorite thing about your dog: her incredibly LARGE personality.
  • favorite thing about my dog: his distinguishing salt and pepper beard like Clooney.
  • favorite thing about me (answer it… it’s my blog): your unconditional love for your family and friends. Your sense of humor. And your incredible  boobs. That’s 3 things, deal with it.
  • favorite thing about yourself (answer it… it’s my blog): I have great knees.
  • If Romi could talk what would she say right now? I wish you weren’t a vegetarian.

JOY: fyi I’ve totally slipped her some meat this month… so I think what she would really say is “Please don’t let Aunt Joy go”

JOY: Whats the best advice anyone has ever given you?

LYNDS: ”Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’ that’s when we learn the most.”

dear husband… happy birthday!

Today and everyday I celebrate you!

When I tell you… I love you, it is not out of habit. I say it to remind you that you are the best thing that has ever happened to me.

When I tell you… thank you, it is not out of habit. I say it because I am amazed that you never give up on me or my dreams and that you are selfless when it comes family and future.


When I tell you… you are an amazing Uncle, it is not out of habit. It is because I see the impact you have on those boys and their future.

When I tell you… you are my best friend, it is not out of habit. It is because I value your input, your outlook, your knowledge and your love.

When I tell you… you inspire me, it is not out of habit. It’s because your work ethic and your self discipline are qualities I pray our future children will have.

When I tell you happy birthday… it’s because this is the happiest day. It is the day I get to celebrate your accomplishments, your faith, your love, your motivation and your desire to make others happy.

Most importantly, I get to celebrate you and the day that God made me the luckiest girl in the world.

I love you, Devin!

Happy Birthday! (I am also grateful you will always be older than me.)



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