Joy started visiting me when I allowed myself to welcome Anticipation. This new friend reminded me that Fear and Isolation had camped out on my doorstep for far too long. Some other new friends, Gratitude and Hope, tagged along as well. So I decided to host an unusual and much-needed celebration.

I wanted my most recent companions named Fear, Isolation, and Loneliness to come together with Hope, Joy, and a few others, to discuss how we could move forward and celebrate our new existence.

I sent out fancy invitations because a face-to-face would never do and waited for all to respond. Fear answered first — through social media, of course, as this is his favorite way to communicate and has the most massive following. He offered to bring more of his anxious associates. I told him I would run out of space in my small abode, but said that he could bring a “plus one.” He told me that he would bring his newest acquaintance, Sadness.

Next, I heard from Isolation, and she said that she could attend but only briefly; it is in her nature to remain by herself. She would be most uncomfortable if she stayed too long. I understood and told her that she could bring a plus one also. She told me she would bring her close colleague, named Loneliness, and I shared that I was well acquainted with her and could not figure out why I had not invited her in the first place.

Joy contacted me next through the mail. She stated that she was extremely excited to attend and was insistent that her best friend Hope accompany her. Of course. I had missed Hope and longed for her company once again.

Anticipation was the last to reserve his spot. He was not sure he would be well received.

It was a grand celebration. Everyone came with their agendas and plus-ones. At first, it was very awkward because Fear and Sadness dominated the event, as is their usual way. They cozied up to Isolation and Sadness, and I was beginning to think that I had made a big mistake in inviting them. Joy, Hope, and Anticipation were off by themselves, looking more like wallflowers. I knew I had to change something quickly to save the party, so I asked Hope to sing us a song. She gratefully accepted, and the sweetest sounds came from her tiny frame.

As she continued to chant, she became more vibrant and alive. She appeared to grow markedly larger right before our eyes. Even Fear and Sadness came over to watch this amazing feat. They became confused and anxious, realizing that they were not the life of the party anymore. They became uncomfortable knowing they had nothing to offer anyone, as Hope and Joy were doing. Then Anticipation handed out song sheets. Fearing for their popularity, Fear, Sadness, Isolation and Loneliness quickly exited the party as Joy and Hope took center stage.

Anticipation started spreading rumors that our new friends, Change and Gratitude, were coming to our shindig within the hour. Hope began to sing even louder. United in purpose once again, we all began to hum the melodic new ballad of change, right along with Hope, watching in amazement as she continued to grow.

Later, my houseguests shared with my new friend, Gratitude, of their recent anguish and silver linings. They realized that much is required to move forward to a better place. We needed that time to be with our families and alone amid a significant change. We learned that we must never give up on Hope and always keep Anticipation in our circle of friends to create a better future.

My spirits began to lift as I embraced my new ally, Anticipation. I could now experience a transformation of thought about my new normal. Fear and Isolation told me that they would not attend any more of my parties as they were boring and far too happy. She said that she and her closest friends would never come to one of my gatherings again.

One day soon, I would be able to actually hug my best friends, Joy, and Hope. I was moved to hear the song from Hope throughout the coming days. I kept all my new friends very close and we started our new journey together.

Roman Betty Schaaf is a volunteer, a writer, a sojourner and a self-described wellness addict. Betty Schaaf’s email is

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