Somewhere, sometime, a long time ago, I heard a dharma talk about taking a plane in bad weather. You takeoff, and fly up and up, through dreary fog, dark black clouds. dripping rain, and then...brilliant azure blue sky. The talk drew an analogy from happiness to that blue sky - it’s always there, you might not be feeling it, but it’s there. I loved that teaching so much, I took one of my photos from a gorgeous day at the beach and blew it up to poster size. Really big! It hangs in my office as a constant reminder that happiness is always there for me.
COVID has sharpened my focus of what brings me happiness. For instance, I realized that baking, while fun, ultimately only brought me fleeting creative happiness, while delivering another unwanted form of staying power, in the form of pounds. Reflecting back, I can see that COVID has helped me to focus on what brings joy. Over the last nine months, I feel like I pay more attention to the blue sky than the clouds. Here are some of my happy places
While I’ve always enjoyed hiking, I discovered that I really LOVE tramping around out in the woods. Observing seasonal changes as the woods go from sticks and mud, to flowers and dragonflies, to moss and ferns and then to icey rocks and snow. I can go from a bad mood to uplifted as soon as I turn onto the trail and head into the woods. I get gobsmacked entering a gorgeous ravine, just a short walk from my home. Who knew?
I’m a nester from the word GO. I weirdly enjoy cleaning and tidying. I have a special happy place that involves a paintbrush and Pinterest and my imagination. I love reimagining a room. How can I use the space to make it more functional, or fun, or just more me? I can while away hours just looking over and adding to my many boards on Pinterest. As I progress through the stages of a project, I love to just sit and be - with the color and the light and the new feeling. I like to just be in the new space, smiling around at the walls.
My family is a blue sky for me. I’m lucky I know. For the most part, we are a funny patchwork bunch of step relations that generally takes pleasure in each other's company. There’s a lot of laughter, but also respect. There are also moments of snarkiness and barbs. But I find that these don’t sting like they once did. It is what it is, and I’m happy to claim it. This year, we have a new grandchild, which has drawn me closer to my step daughter. Our whole family is joyfully reuniting and reacquainting ourselves with my husband's oldest son who’s here for an extended visit, along with his own young sons and wife. I always say that you’re only as happy as your unhappiest child, and fingers crossed, it’s been a pretty good year all things considered. That’s really saying something, for 2020. Feeling beyond the clouds and accepting where I am has helped make that possible for me.
Amy and I were reflecting on the twists and turns our lives have taken over the years. In her youth, she was a happiness hunter - always making choices in the interest of her own happiness. It’s why she changed her major 5 times, and why she moved from SanFrancisco, to Atlanta, to NYC. Amy consistently advises clients to really look at leaving jobs that don’t bring them happiness and she herself has left many jobs to focus on the right one that brings joy AND income. Once she was married and had a child, she had to develop a wider focus for happiness. Now divorced and a peri-emptynester, she’s shifting that focus again back to what makes her happiest. In that pursuit, she’s planning to move to Amsterdam next year, fulfilling a years long dream.
Happiness is just one more facet of our brilliant, beautiful, perfectly imperfect, unique selves. One more expression of our humanity.
What makes you happy, really?