Feb 1, 2024

Joy Schulz:A journey to true self

Joy Schulz says her story has not ended because finding one’s true self is a lifelong journey with many twists and turns. Schulz makes and sells jewelry like what she’s wearing here. You can view a variety of styles on Instagram @somethingsimplebyjoy.

A petite blonde with a tousled updo and striking ice-blue eyes, Gulf Breeze author and teacher Joy Schulz took time at a coffee shop to share her journey to self-discovery.

Such a personal endeavor is not for the faint of heart and often an ongoing revelation of extreme highs and lows, said the soft-spoken Schulz, 57, a wife and mother to three young adult sons.

“It’s about loving yourself, but it is much deeper than that,” Schulz said. “It’s about deep diving into dark places you don’t want to revisit.”

But, along the way, you reveal what you truly value, what motivates you and how to move toward your goals, said Schulz, who kept a journal for several years to get her started.

“I was mad at where I was in life,” she said, “I felt very alone in a crowd of people. I felt I wasn’t able to connect. So, I became a people pleaser and lost myself, becoming what other people wanted me to be.”

That focus wasn’t productive.

“I put a lot of people and organizations first, and my family got what was left of me. But not anymore.”

Many elements spurred the personal journey, such as addressing past mistakes, emotional and physical wounds, spiritual emptiness and asking herself difficult questions.

In a book, she bravely shared episodes of despair on two of her darkest days in 2017 — one when she had a near-death experience after a serious road bike accident, and the day she attempted suicide.

“I felt I had nothing, that I had nothing to give,” she recalled. “Then I heard God say, ‘You are everything. You are loved.’”

Schulz opened her heart in her book “Not Wasting a Save, A Journey to Finding Faith.” (WestBow Press; available on Amazon).

“The first sentence of three words, ‘Here it is,’ says it all for me,” Schulz said.

“I wrote these three words when I began to journal on my quest to find God in my life,” she said. “Sometimes we question God’s existence when things get hard, and we begin to doubt our level of faith. My goal was to find Him active in the victories, as well as in the defeats, while trying to understand the role He plays.

“Along the way, I began to discover and recognize the saves He extends to us all and the importance of using them for good.”

Self-discovery unfolds with immense introspection and exposing what inspires you and ends the fear of “creating the person you really want to be,” Schulz said.

Her three main priorities today: family, faith and love.

“My story is not over,” said Schulz, who works at living a meaningful and fulfilling life.

In addition to being a long-time realtor and a strong advocate for the homeless, Schulz is director of Youth & Family Ministries at Gulf Breeze Presbyterian Church, where she also teaches religious curriculum to elementary, middle and high school students.

And she devotedly handcrafts her “Something Simple by Joy” jewelry, which is sold at Blue Morning Gallery and Lee Tracy in downtown Pensacola, Innerlight Surf & Skate Shop and Magdalene’s in Gulf Breeze and Intracoastal Outfitters on Quietwater Boardwalk, Pensacola Beach.

Made with all-natural materials, some designs feature words of encouragement and inspiration, such as her “Free Spirit” cuff bracelets.

“Making my jewelry is my walk with God, spending time with Him,” Schulz said. “Doing this, plus listening to music, motivational and inspirational sermons, keeps me in step with my purpose, which is ever evolving.

“I am very driven and disciplined, and I always try to walk with purpose in whatever I do.”

What’s the most notable difference between the old Joy and new Joy?

“I don’t say ‘Yes’ to everything,” Schulz said. “Sometimes, you have to seek and turn the corner to find the beauty. I look at what is going to fit into my world and won’t disrupt the peace and love I have found.”

She understands you have to protect your own psyche.

“Your mind is very powerful,” Schulz added. “It’s what you feed it that helps you continue your journey to self and determines who you allow in your life.”