Monday, June 15, 2009

Where Are Your Happy Places?

(My daughter Rachel & son in law Jared -- in one of their Happy Places, on a cruise ship!)

I admit it. I am a Whole Foods Store Groupie.

On stressful days, I imagine setting up a little tent on the aisle with all the essential oils and body lotions (the "spa aisle") and just live there in the middle of the big sunflowers, fresh fruit and pungent cheese samples, the scent of coffee and baked bread wafting overhead, good mood music playing in the background. The employees there, I have noticed, are either perpetually joyful or mildly high. Save for a shocking swig of Kombucha tea ("an acquired taste" I was told no less than three times), everything I've bought at Whole Foods really does taste better than your average grocery store. Of course, the items often come with a higher price. But I'd rather buy one perfect organic peach that tastes as peachy as the ripe fruit I used to pick off my Aunt Etta's tree in Texas, than three peaches that taste like weakly flavored styrofoam.

So Whole Foods has made it to the top of my go-to list of Happy Places alongside my porch swing (overlooking my summer flower gardens), quiet beaches, and quaint bookstores.

My eldest son, Zach, who is about to board a fishing boat in Alaska, once told me that the knots in his brain seem to relax and unwind the minute he gets out in the country near a river or lake, fishing pole in hand.

Second son, Zeke, begins to grin at the thought of a mountain to climb or trail to bike (in summer) or a jazzy coffee shop where he can savor a good cup of joe or an inspirational read (in winter).

Daughter Rachel loves a spot of sun and her cup of green tea, preferably overlooking an ocean or a row of cute "browsy" stores. A connector, she likes having her laptop or blackberry nearby to stay in touch with those she loves.

Gabe, my youngest, seems happiest listening to music, sipping a glass a wine while he whips up a gourmet meal, before sitting down with his sweetheart, friends or family for good conversation or a ballgame on TV.

I often encourage people to notice the environments where they come alive and regularly go there, if not in person, than at least in their imagination! If you love the beach but it is the middle of winter in Chicago, play your Beach Boy music, create a beach room with white guazy curtains and pictures of the ocean, keep a beach bag filled with beach reads and make yourself a pina colada smoothie. Bring a taste of seaside to downtown!

A friend, Julie, was here this weekend who told me she went through a debilitating disease and could not get out of bed. A sweet older gentlemen came to visit her, bringing watercolors and some kind advice. "I know you are an interior decorator," he said, "so you must miss mixing colors and creating. Even if you've never painted before, I think you will enjoy this." Sure enough, she loved it! "As I put brush to canvas," Julie said,"I could actually feel myself smiling, a part of me healing and coming alive again. I really think I began to heal at that moment, slowly but surely." Until she could get back to her Happy Place, decorating homes for others, she brought a bit of her Happy Place to her current situation by mixing colors and creating beauty and design on paper.

Where are your Happy Places?

People are like flowers. Some blossom better with more or less sun, more or less water, in different types of soil and parts of the country. All unique. My comfort-loving daughter just went camping with one of her outdoorsy, all energy all the time, brothers. Where Zeke blossomed in the great outdoors (despite rain and roughing it); Rachel wilted. She made a note to herself never, ever, to do tent camping in the rain again and accepted that her Happy Place would have to have access to a good dry bed and a nice hot shower. Room service wouldn't hurt either.

Where do you seem to open up and relax and "flower" into your best, happiest, most peaceful self? Make a mental note and use it to your happy advantage. Your brain on joy will thank you.


  1. Seriously, one of my happy places "arrived" when reading about your happy places. Mind's ride or exotic paradise, happy is as happy does. Thanks, Becky.