Where is your happy place?
Take a moment to see and feel yourself there. Shut your eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine the sights, sounds, and textures of that place.
For me, it is Long Cove Point on the coast of Maine.
I spent my childhood going up to Maine, to stay at my grandparents’ cottage. It is just up the road from the ocean and if I stand in the front yard and welcome a big breath of air into my lungs, I can taste a hint of the salty air.
With a short walk, I am at nature’s playground. A rocky coastline with endless opportunities to climb and explore. There is also just enough exposed beachline that I can feel my toes in the sand. Gazing out to the horizon there are small islands with skylines framed by tall evergreens. I can see it in my mind’s eye and I can hear the seagulls and lobster boats within the years of memory I have accumulated.
Then and Now.
A lot has changed since those summers when I ran wild and free with my brothers and cousins. I have my own family now, a demanding career, and a lot less flexibility to spend weeks on end at The Cottage. And now, the home belongs to my parents instead of my grandparents. But the beauty is: So much of my happy place remains the same.
Now, when I go to Maine with my family I reach back to simpler times when my biggest concern was if we would get to go buy more “Penny Candy” that day or instead go to Salt Pond to look for sea glass and shells. I enjoy tastes, like buttery lobsters and steamed clams, that remind me of the years I spent watching my Grandfather hunt for these clams in mud flats and haul in Lobster from his traps. Maine is my happy place; my place that combines nostalgia with hope, rest with adventure, and is marked by a deep sense of gratitude.
The sights and sounds are good but the people are what ultimately set it apart. Family that has loved me my entire lifetime, without qualifiers or conditions. An opportunity to reflect, share, laugh and remember.
The last time I left Maine I had tears in my eyes. It felt so good to be in a place that embraces the true-me. I wanted to stay in that place.
But that is not reality.
Work, responsibilities, school, family and friends beckon me back to Southwest Virginia. A place I also love and that is also marked by so much happiness! How do I reckon with the reality that there are parts of Maine I miss deeply when I’m away?
I have come to realize that I can find aspects of my happy place – no matter where I am.
What makes me so happy?
My happy place in Maine is about the perfect combination of nature, soul-level rest and focused time with the people I love. While Maine will always be the epitome of this perfect combination, I will seek and find it in places beyond the picturesque New England coast.
I am determined I will find those feelings of my happy place; no matter where I am. It may not feel as immersive and all-encompassing but if I take a little bit here and there, I’m certain I can grab hold of my happy place. And, don’t we all need more of that these days?
I felt it recently when I was celebrating my niece’s birthday. Since she could not have a traditional party this year, my brother and sister-in-law rented a party boat and we went out on the lake for a warm November afternoon. Being in nature, on the water, feeling the wind through my hair felt reminiscent of the coast. Hearing the four cousins laugh and watching them be silly kids made my heart full. And, uninterrupted time with my family was just what I needed. We laughed, took in nature’s beauty, teased each other, celebrated a special birthday girl and simply felt – happy.
It doesn’t take a boat to find your happy place.
Little Pockets of Happy
My mom and I have started walking together over lunch. We stroll along a nearby river and talk about everything – and nothing. No agenda, no expectations. Just me, being me. Just mom, being mom. Focused on each other, we process life as we know it. In that time together, I find rest and am renewed.
Commit to the reality that you can figure out what brings you a sense of renewal.
Is it time with family?
Is it gazing out at nature?
Do you feel it when you are cozy on your couch with those you love most?
Maybe a type of food contributes to nostalgic feelings? I recently made steamed clams and while eating them a smile stretched from ear to ear – I tasted Maine!
Smells are also amazing drivers of strong and beautiful memories! I have a lotion that my little girl says smells like Disney World, because I wore it on our last trip. Now, when I wear it she will smile, hug me, and comment, “you smell magical!” Ahhh, it makes my heart so full. Once you understand the characteristics that make your happy place magical, you will have the opportunity to replicate it wherever you are.
On a boat. Walking along a river. Sitting on your couch sipping coffee. Breathing in a joyful smell.
What do you think? (leave a comment!)