Interview by Hannah and Cailin Loesch
C. JoyBell C. began sharing her thoughts on her blog in 2009 and from then on her reach widened via book publishings, her mentoring of world-renowned figures, and most importantly the power of the word-of-mouth. She has today unwittingly become a leading female thought influencer with the followings of presidential candidates, global government aides, and United Nations representatives; individuals who have come to her “in their darkest hours.” But she considers the highlight of her career to be the time when she was compared to Batman! “There’s no greater honour than being called the Batman of our times.”
Though differences in time zones made it so the conversation took place at night for us and morning for her, somehow, when we spoke with C. JoyBell C., there was an uncanny feeling that we were exactly on the same wavelength. Perhaps it was because we were quite literally on the same page, just having resurrected our old Facebook page we hadn’t used regularly since grade school for the chat. The original plan was to email, but C. JoyBell C. had a better idea: let’s do it in real-time, she suggested. She wanted us to be able to feel the flow of the conversation. She wanted it to feel real. So that’s how we found ourselves on Messenger with one of our favorite writers on a Saturday night. Here’s where it went from there.
Hannah and Cailin Loesch: First of all, we’re so excited to have a chance to speak with you! It feels like we’ve known you forever, even though we just met.
C. JoyBell C: Thank you very much for your interest in having this interview with me. I am really happy to meet you both, Hannah and Cailin, and I’m excited to be having this interview with you!
Cailin: When we first started emailing with you, we talked about an assumption which many people seem to make about you just from reading your quotes, which is the notion that you are an old writer or philosopher, long dead. What strikes us is just how common this idea is…you say you hear it all the time! Why do you think this is?
C. JoyBell C: The easy answer is that when people read the things that I write, they simply can’t imagine someone who is alive today being responsible for writing these thoughts, for expressing these thoughts, for having these beliefs. The last thing they read that sounded like me, was probably back in history class while they were studying ancient literature, ancient philosophy, etc. But what really surprises me about this, is the fact that my pen name is obviously modern and feminine! Yet they still imagine me as a dead man!
Cailin: I remember learning in school that many women with pen names have that problem! I’ve heard that even J.K. Rowling, who everyone knows so well for the Harry Potter series, is often mistaken for being a man! Do you think it’s the use of the pen name, or your ideas themselves? Or maybe your writing style?
C. JoyBell C: With J.K. Rowling, I think that’s easy to mistake her as a man, since the pen name could be for a man or for a woman. I just cannot imagine a man calling himself “JoyBell” though. I think that my pen name is forthrightly feminine. For some reason, though, everybody who reads my words immediately overlooks that fact and just jumps to concluding that I must (have been) a man. In fact, some people go on reading my words for years, all along presuming that I was once a Greek man living on the island of Thessaloniki (or somewhere else in Greece), until they finally decide to do a Google search of me, then they discover my Instagram account! Hahahaha! What a big surprise! I am 1. alive, 2. a woman, 3. I take pictures of my makeup and my shoes.
So, I don’t think it’s the pen name’s fault. I definitely think it is the impact that my words have on people. They liken it to reading something from long ago. In a way, this saddens me. Humanity no longer believes in our own generation and in our own times. People don’t have hope for now, they think that anything that can save them is from the past, or created in the past.
Another point that saddens me, is the fact that people associate products of worth, with men. They associate products of intellect and of impact, with men. People forget that in the time of the ancient Greek men, they were in fact worshipping goddesses!
Cailin: There is something about your writing that is just so unlike anyone else we read…Your words almost feel timeless in a way that makes it hard to imagine they were written so recently. It feels like you must have lived a very long time ago, and for a very long time, at that, to have such a sophisticated style and be so full of wisdom. No one writes quite like you!
Hannah: The craziest thing is that we too read your words, completely awe-inspired, however totally unaware of the fact that you weren’t some old dead guy, for years! Now that we know you’re not a long-passed ancient philosopher man, I’m wondering how you would describe yourself to readers who still aren’t aware. Who is C. JoyBell C.?
C. JoyBell C: You know…over the years I have received many messages and emails from people, who have asked me, “Who are you?” And to all such emails and messages, I have replied, “I am me.”
There are quite a few sides to my person, but I think that the side which I treasure the most is my childlikeness. I never seem to outgrow being a child. And if the world would let me, I would be only that, all the time. I suppose this sounds contradictory, in the sense of something coming across as very ancient being also very childlike at the very same time.
But it is actually not contradictory. Because it is only in childlikeness that we are capable of bearing, carrying and birthing any wisdom, at all.
As a person, that is who I am. As an author…I would say that C. JoyBell C. is a grassroots author. All I do, when I write, is think about the people. I want to get messages across to people, and I write so that I can do exactly that. I write for the people, and that’s it. All my books, my aphorisms…they are messages for the people. Like messages in a bottle. I’m a grassroots author who unwittingly became a thought influencer.
When I first started sharing my writings publicly, I just used my birth name. But then I eventually discovered it was not wise for me to do that, because the nature of interest I received seemed to be otherworldly. People were not just interested. People couldn’t sleep at night! I thought, I need to protect my privacy for safety reasons. Not because I despise people or think there is something wrong with them, but just because I determined it to be the wise choice to make. The pen name “C. JoyBell C.” is actually very personal. “Joybell” is what my grandmother nicknamed me since the day of my birth when she first held me in her arms. So, it is my way of being who I really am (a very personal slice of me), even in the presence of a pen name. I wanted that to be my gift to the people.
Hannah: I absolutely love that. The personality in your writing has always been what stands out to me about it. Your unique way of speaking and the advice you give is so specific to you that I feel like I know the kind of person you are, even though I’ve never met you in person. And I trust you as someone whose words and advice mean something. So much so, actually, that over the years I’ve found myself in the midst of what seemed like life crises (this was high school, after all, every bump in the road seems like the end of the world) asking my sister “What do you think would C. JoyBell C. say?” And usually, she could come up with a guess. In a way, your words have given us clarity in certain situations and guided us through making decisions growing up.
C. JoyBell C: Can I ask you a question? Is that okay? Because I am also curious about both of you… who are Hannah and Cailin? I would love to get to know you, too.
Cailin: Oh gosh…I never thought to ask that question about myself. Leave it to you to get us thinking about things we never thought of before! The first thing that came to mind is this moment we had when we were visiting a friend in one of our old hometowns over New Years. We were standing in her kitchen talking to her for hours, going on about a million different things. And then all of a sudden our friend’s dad came in, stopped in his tracks, looked at us in disbelief, and said “I’ve never met anyone who can spend three hours talking nonstop!” And it just occurred to me that I didn’t even think of that, that I was so into our conversation and what we all were talking about that I didn’t even notice we had been going so long. I feel like I get so into things, all the time. There are a few people in our family who are the same way, so maybe we get it from them. And waking up every single day is exciting for me because I am always looking forward to what could possibly happen next. I feel like that’s who I am. And I’m always excited to get to spend my days with my friends and family around me. I feel like we both, Hannah and I, have some really amazing people in our lives. It makes even the hard days not only tolerable, but very much worth living.
Hannah: You mentioned who you are as a person, and as a writer. Cailin and I don’t have everything in common, despite the fact that we are identical twins, but we are alike in the sense that when we attach ourselves to something, we really attach ourselves to it. And when we are together as a duo, and this energy is combined, I think sometimes this tendency of ours may scare people a little bit! I’m also a storyteller. That’s why I love journalism so much. Nothing is more exciting to me than listening to someone else speak on something they’re passionate about, like you’re doing right now, and then be able to share it with others so that they can be as inspired by them as I am.
C. JoyBell C: Cailin, thank you for sharing that about yourself, with me. I’m thankful to get to know you, too. And also you, Hannah.
Hannah: You said that when you write, you think about the people. Are all of your quotes on life and love products of your own experience? Or do you write about situations and emotions that you haven’t experienced firsthand as well, possibly with experiences your readers have written to you about in mind?
C. JoyBell C: It is not actually a very easy question to answer. It is a little bit complicated. While I do consider myself to have experienced a wide variety of circumstances in life, at the same time, I still consider myself to be far more sheltered than the average person. However, the way that I experience circumstances really comes into play here in order to answer your question. When I experience things, anything, I experience them so deeply and so profoundly, that they become their own little natural habitats that I feel, study, dwell on, and really turn upside down and inside out. A very uneventful day to you, could very well be a very eventful day, to me. This is because I tap into the inner core of everything that happens. I believe in symbolism, in messages hidden in many things. So, while I do have a wide variety of experiences that many have not experienced, I also am far more sheltered than the majority of people. But the big difference is how I feel and really dwell in (and beyond into the deeper side of), the events that come my way.
I don’t write as one would write into a diary, and many of the presumptions that people have about why I wrote this or that, are really not true. What happens is that I experience something, let’s say that one event is the trunk of the tree, but the things that I write are the branches of that tree, the leaves, twigs and fruits and flowers of that tree.
Also, in all honesty, I often do feel like I am writing answers to people’s prayers. I feel like I can feel what other people are feeling/struggling with/praying for… and I write as responses!
Cailin: I always think, whenever I’m reading through your quotes, that you just seem to have an unbelievable knack for positivity. Even in speaking on some of the most difficult and complicated things, like change and moving on and and loss and pain, you are always able to create an air of optimism. Does this sunny outlook on life come as naturally to you as it seems? You make even the toughest moments in life seem beautiful.
C. JoyBell C: I am very glad to hear that my writings to you and that my person, to you, has been a ray of positivity, a ray of positive light. I remember very vividly a dream that I had a few years ago. I was in a cave, in a canoe, rowing through a very murky, muddy swamp. The cave was very small, very dark, and the swamp extremely thick and murky. I kept on reaching into the swamp to pull out beautiful red roses! I put the red roses into my hair, one-by-one. I decorated my head with the roses that I pulled out from the swamp!
I think that my dream answers your question. I don’t know if it’s called positivity. But I know that in dark caves and in swamps, I am looking for red roses, and I turn them into crowns.
I truthfully don’t feel that I have a sunny outlook on life, in general. But I think that I find roses in swamps within caves. It’s not that I’m seeing or looking at the sun. It’s more like in the darkness I find beauty.
Cailin: I think the most inspiring thing is that it’s not that you don’t address the truth and the complexity of these moments. The amazing thing is that you do and even still we are left feeling good about them!
C. JoyBell C: That is because, I do not believe that we find the best things in the light. I believe that within darkness is found the origins of light. Therefore, there is no shame in addressing the darkness and calling it by name. In the heart of it, is found the origin of light. The Seed of the Rose.
Cailin: I think that is such an uplifting way to look at it. It kind of reminds me of the idea that we all look for happy endings to every problem we find ourselves in, but we don’t always get them in black and white. I like to believe that sometimes it’s more about a lesson or an impact on our lives than a solution. What are your thoughts on this? Do you believe that everything we go through happens to us for a good reason?
C. JoyBell C: I once wrote, that the purpose for hope might not actually be the outcome of hope; rather, the purpose for hope might actually be the process of hope, itself. We often say that we are let down by hope, but WHAT IF the goal isn’t the outcome? What if the goal is feeling hope, itself? It is a thought I was contemplating on, years ago. I’m reminded of it again after thinking about your question…
I definitely don’t use the blanket statement, “everything that happens to us happens for a good reason.” I’m not saying that those who use that statement a lot in life have something wrong with them; however, I don’t use that statement, myself. I don’t use it, because, that would exclude the victims of countless, senseless crimes. How do you tell a mother of a baby that was raped and then murdered, “That happened for a good reason”? There is no good reason for that. And if there were a good reason for that, then that would mean that God is a monster. There are just too many things that happen to so many people in this world, that I just can’t bring myself to use that statement.
What I do believe is that we can make it (sometimes even force it) into having a good reason. We make the good reasons. I don’t think they are just always there. We can sometimes force the good reasons into existence. Other times, there are good reasons. But there are definitely those times when you have to force it.
There is a trending thought these days… that if we ignore all the bad in the world, it will just…POOF…go away. This trending thought goes so far to even advise everyone to turn their backs on victims of crimes, in order to make the crimes go away. I cannot believe how anyone can actually believe this. Perhaps people readily believe this trending thought, because it makes it easy. It makes things easy for them in their minds. It’s so very hard to deal with the reality that senseless crimes and acts of violence and terror happen in this world, so when people hear someone teaching them that ignoring the existence of all that will make it go away, they just readily accept it. Because it’s easier. I understand that, I do understand people.
Hannah: That’s very true. I have thought a lot about these kinds of awful, unthinkable things in the context of the quote “Everything happens for a reason”, too, and every time the reality of them shuts down all opportunity for complete truth in the phrase. I think you’re right, the most profound thing about hope is that its presence can mean as much to a person as the thing they are hoping for. It’s a journey, not a destination.
C. JoyBell C: Indeed.
Hannah: The kind of emotion that comes through in your written words seems like it can only be written when you are feeling that emotion in the moment. Do you carry a notebook or your phone around and write in fits of passion, when the emotions that come from the inner core of everything that happens are still present inside of you? Or are you able to sit down after the fact and recall what you were feeling in the past enough to write about it later?
C. JoyBell C: There are many aphorisms I have written in the gist of the emotion. But I would say that there are an equal amount of thoughts that I have shared, over the years, which have been written after the fact. I don’t find it difficult to write after the fact. This really makes me think…because some of the things that I write are from childhood, yet they are written as if in the present moment, very strongly. It’s not difficult for me to revisit events even far back into my past and write as if I am there. I don’t believe in time and space, you see. I believe that time and space are just names we have given to concepts that we have defined. Perhaps it is this belief that allows me to write like that.
Cailin: Whenever you talk about these things, you always seem to think with such clarity…what do you do when you find yourself in a situation and just don’t know the right way to handle it?
C. JoyBell C: When I find myself in a situation and I don’t understand how in the world I got there, where I must have gone wrong, where I might have made a wrong turn, etc., what I do is first I feel like I’m dying. Really, I feel like “Okay, today is the day I am going to die.” And I feel like that for a few days. When I’m in that spot, I pray. I pray in a way not to make things right or to “fix” things, but I pray in a way that a person would hold onto a lifesaver in an ocean. I pray to keep my head above the water, to not drown, to be saved!
Cailin: I think we have all felt like that at some point. After you pray, does the answer come to you?
C. JoyBell C: I continue to pray, every time I feel the sinking feeling. Every morning, every night, every hour! Wherever I am or whatever I am doing… just holding onto that lifesaver! The answer is usually the same: “Be still.” I think that when we are drowning, our natural instincts cause us to struggle and fight to survive. Like when a living thing drowns in water. It’s the same emotionally and mentally. As I pray, I feel the answer is to be still. Let the air flow through the lungs. One moment at a time.
Cailin: You once wrote, “Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.” It made me think about how about half the time, people will tell you to “feel your fears but do it anyway,” but the other half of the time they tell you to go with your gut and avoid what doesn’t feel right. They are two of the most popular pieces of advice, and yet they completely contradict each other! Which one do you live by?
C. JoyBell C: I admire the way that you are examining these thoughts. The two contradicting popular thoughts and also my own. It’s an admirable way of examining them all together.
I believe that fear is a part of human biology. It is there for a good reason and that reason is biological and scientific. But if you were to have only fear instincts with no brain to see what it is you are afraid of and why you are afraid of it, then you’d still just run the other way and fall over a cliff, anyway! So either way, you die!
I believe in mastering fear as if it is a living animal, living by your side. Its name is fear. Let’s say, it is a hybrid of a bird, fish, horse and butterfly. Or something of the sort. Whatever kind of hybrid you want this creature to look like. Now, imagine it there living by your side. Its intentions are good, but it’s such a shocking/odd/ugly creature, you can’t help fearing the creature, itself! You see, what I am telling you, is to not fear that creature. Listen to what it has to offer you. Why is it there? Believe in its good intentions! Don’t fear it, it’s there for a reason.
Don’t fear fear itself. But know it. Master it. Listen to it. As if you are knowing, listening to, and mastering, an animal that will live with you for all the days of your life. if you run from this animal, you will fall off the cliff on the other end because you are missing the point of why this animal is there. And if you treat this animal as if it is some kind of enemy that you must always go against, you will get yourself killed because this animal will bite you. So how do you tame and master and love a creature? The same is applied to fear.
Cailin: It’s like a new perspective on what people always say about fighting demons. You don’t see them as demons, you see them as these mythical creatures that live as your sidekicks! I definitely would rather listen to a bird-butterfly hybrid than a monster…I would be hanging on its every word! It makes the process of navigating fear seem like an adventure rather than a roadblock.
C. JoyBell C: Hahahaha! Yes. I think you can say that. I love how your mind understands what I am sharing with you! People look for angels, nobody wants a gargoyle. People fail to realize that gargoyles also have wings and can fly. I talk about this in-depth in my newest book, actually, It’s called “The Conversation of Dragons.” I talk about not being afraid of monsters. But I love your take on the matter, how you say, “you don’t see demons, you see them as these mythical creatures that live as your sidekicks”… that is truly an amazing way to look at this, and it’s even given me a new way of looking at it, myself! And it is very accurate, I might add! Thank you!
Cailin: Some of my favorite quotes of yours are about moving on and letting go. How do you know for sure that you’ve moved on from someone or something?
C. JoyBell C: I don’t think we ever really “move on”. I mean, the things and the people that happen to us, have an affect upon our souls and minds. Sometimes even bodies! But I think that we grow up and we learn how to see things in different, new lights. We are always growing up. Even the elderly are always growing up.
Hannah: One of my all-time favorite quotes is one of yours: “There is a magnificent, beautiful, wonderful painting in front of you! It is intricate, detailed, a painstaking labor of devotion and love! The colors are like no other, they swim and leap, they trickle and embellish! And yet you choose to fixate your eyes on the small fly which has landed on it! Why do you do such a thing?” I think about it all the time. Do you have a favorite quote that you’ve read from someone that has stayed with you in that way?
C. JoyBell C: Thank you, I am so glad to know the impact of this aphorism, on you. I’m so glad to be a part of your life through my words. I can’t begin to effectively explain how glad it makes me, when I discover that I am a part of the lives of young people, like yourselves, through my words. I have this tremendously warm spot in my heart that only beats for the younger generation. I’m really happy to be that, for you.
I am thinking about a quote that has stayed with me all my life… let me think for a while…hmmm…
I think it’s this one, by Jack Kerouac: “…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’”
Hannah: Oh my gosh, I love that quote too!
C. JoyBell C: Wonderful!
Cailin: And lastly, you write a lot about change, which is, and I know we’re not alone on this, probably the biggest thing on our minds as two people who just entered their twenties! Realizing how quickly your life is changing, and knowing how it will continue to change, can be just as terrifying as it is thrilling. What advice would you give to someone who is learning to go with the flow?
C. JoyBell C: I know that when you are entering your twenties, you just begin to realise that everything is going to start changing, then you begin to feel like you need to make up your mind how to feel about those inevitable changes; you get scared, thrilled, there is the great expanse of possibilities out there in front of you. There is a lot of opportunity to do good, to do bad… you begin to see that you really can affect the outcome of not just your own lives, but of society and the global state of mankind, really. This is all overwhelming. I think that the best advice that I can give to you, Hannah and Cailin, and to your friends and the other billions of young people who are at that very same stage in their lives, is really just to KNOW that you will continue to change all throughout your lives. Now is only the beginning. You don’t have to make all the right choices today, you don’t have to know all the directions to turn to, right now. There isn’t this one big chance and then it’s over. It’s not like that. They say strike when the iron is hot, but, I would say to understand that the iron is always hot. You don’t have to know everything now. You are at a brink of something big, but the vastness of that will continue. See further into the future. Use your vision, use your sight. DON’T live for the moment. Live for all the moments. Think about tomorrow. Don’t act like it will never come, because it will.
Hannah: It is overwhelming for sure. But as we talked about earlier, it’s about the journey, not the destination, right? Thank you so much for your advice. I will carry your words with me always!
Cailin: And thank you so very much for taking the time to speak with us. We are so grateful for not only all the words of wisdom and advice you’ve given us in this conversation, but over all our teenage years, when you weren’t even aware we existed! I know I speak for many people, from several generations, when I say that you are truly an inspiration for so many people who are all, at the very core, on the same journey of learning how to live life to the fullest. Thank you.
C. JoyBell C: Thank you, H and C! These kind words mean a lot to me, a heartfelt thank you and a big hug for each of you!
For more on author C. JoyBell C., visit her website www.cjoybellc.com.