Ever since I posted that blog last week, I have been rethinking it. I woke up in the middle of the night, last night, thinking, "You dummy, do you really have happy PLACES or are you simply in happy SPACES?"
Let me explain my thinking (Dave just said, "Oh no, That's a scary space." I am glaring at him, now).
In all of the places I said were my happy places, I realized they were simply that----places. When am I most happy? When I am with people I love and adore and when I have the chance to experience the beauty of nature. But, in all honesty, the beauty of nature can occur in my own backyard, thrilling to the sight of the hummingbirds enjoy the feeder I just filled up with nectar (total sidebar: has anyone read that you don't need to put colored, sugared water in there? they will drink it anyway? Who knew? Apparently, hummingbirds don't have as discriminating taste as I envisioned.).
I have a few other happy spaces I wanted to share with you, and I really, really, really (do you hear my passion?) want to read about yours.
1. My number one happy space is spending time with Dave. After almost 26 years of marriage ("to the same person!" Dave always adds), we still enjoy some of the same things. Sometimes, it is binge watching a Netflix show (we're watching MadMen (okay) and just finished Harlan Coben's "Safe" (yes!!)); sometimes it is driving for long distances and listening to books on tape, making fun of the different voices the narrator makes for each character (the last few have been Stephen King's "The Outsider", "Something in the Water" by Catherine Steadman, and now "Then She Was Gone" by Lisa Jewell); sometimes it is being outside, playing golf (again, as most of you well know, playing golf with Dave is like a toddler playing tennis with Sarina Williams)---something about golf courses is so beautiful to me, and I'm not just saying that because I got a birdie last week on a Par 4 hole last week in Ruidoso (well, maybe a little); other times, it is worshiping in church at the Episcopal church we have recently started attending. Holding hands with Dave during Debra's sermons, taking communion together and then talking about what we got out of the service is so comforting and peaceful to me.
2. One of my other favorite happy spaces is with my dearest friends. I have too many experiences to count, but the life-changing "thing" called college gave me the two best friends God could have ever chosen for me. Kelly and Robin were the two people I called (after Dave, of course) right after being diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago. Robin made me laugh so hard, my sides hurt. Kelly prayed with me, and they both immediately made plans to come stay with me after my first surgery so Dave could get back to work. After almost 34 years of friendship, some years we went without seeing each other. In the past few years, we have made a point of seeing each other at least once or twice a year. We make the time because the time together is precious. As for other Trinity friends, I was so blessed to get to go to Africa (now another happy PLACE) with one of our "suitemates", Cid, whose sense of humor fits mine like hand in glove. She, Rama, Lisa, Julie, and many more of us will all be gathering at Trinity University in San Antonio in October to annoy everyone in our presence by reminiscing good times spent in college.
Denise and Christie were my best friends in high school, and they also made a point to come visit me before my surgery three years ago. Christie and I have memories lasting back to 8th grade, when we would use entire notebooks to write notes to each other in and pass back and forth between class. She has always been so very interested in what is going on in the lives of all her friends, and I am grateful for that. If you have a touchstone person in your life, you'll know what I mean when I say that Denise is that person for me. She and I have shared the deaths of our moms, shared deep, deep conversations about faith, and now share a timeshare community at which I expect we will be able to share happy spaces in our happy place of Cabo for years to come. But I'll be honest. What I love the most about Denise is the sound of her laughter. If I ever took a comedy routine on the road (Dave just said I'm not funny enough---I'm definitely not taking him), Denise would be in the center of the first row. The sound of her laugh is one my happiest of spaces. I would never trade it for the world.
Michelle Vaughn, Megan Sanders, Kelly Edelman and so many other friends are ones who also make me laugh just thinking about times spent with them. I feel for people who don't have people in their lives who send them into fits of laughter. I crave that and I have it---with so many people---I count myself blessed.
3. Memories of Edge Elementary School---While I have worked in many schools across the U.S., some of my best memories and friendships were formed in that space of being the counselor and principal at that beautiful school in Niceville, FL. When I think about Edge as a space, not just a place, it's because we had a community of fellowship that is rare to find in schools. From Cindy Dooley, who met and greeted everyone at the front office with a smile; to Kelly Edelman and Theresa Pate, who lifted everyone up with a smile and a prayer; to the teachers, who were the best of the best I have ever seen (and I see a lot of teachers in my current role all over the world) but who also made my day by sharing funny tales of what their kids had said that day or by gathering for a happy hour to ensure we didn't take ourselves too darn seriously; to all the support staff, parents, and students (many of whom I am still friends with on Facebook after all these years --- and who even care about my dogs' lives!)----there simply will never be another place like Edge in all the world. That truly makes it a space, not a place and I love every one of you with whom I was blessed to work and learn and grow alongside. I promise I still use you as examples for my courses I teach at Walden and Grand Canyon University on what it's like to be an administrator at a school whose community cares.
Places? Spaces? I can think of so very many more. One of my most recent spaces that was near and dear to me was last week, when we were still in Ruidoso, and I got a chance to hike up Sierra Blanca (straight up Sierra Blanca, whose peak is almost 12,000 feet) with my dear friend Jodi (who God saw fit to put in my life at the exact same condos 2 years ago and we found some pretty amazing common ground almost immediately), her son and my son, Kirby :)
The hike was 2 miles straight up the mountain and took us two hours, but the feeling of accomplishment was a space in which I felt such peace and serenity. Not to mention, Kirby loved spending time with his mom. I do admit I felt I could be a tiny bit indulgent after that hike and eat ice cream for dinner.
What are your spaces and places that make you happy?
Please share them (don't make me beg again) and know that I am grateful to each one of you who reads these posts.
I have to admit that I have many happy places. These are places in which I feel serenity and peace, and I find myself smiling just being there.
Some of those include: meetings with ladies who share the same desire to achieve serenity as I do (these can be in Tucson, AZ; Franklin, NC; Niceville, FL, etc); Kauai, HI; a cabin in the mountains (in Colorado, North Carolina, Ruidoso, NM, etc.).
Dave and I are spending a family vacation for two weeks in Ruidoso, New Mexico with the dogs. Every day, we take the dogs on a hike----some of those hikes include a concluding jump in the lake (for the dogs, not for us); others take us far into the forests full of pine needle-laden ground, birds calling to each other that echo throughout the canyon, and beautiful wild flowers.
Yesterday, Dave and I took all three dogs (including L.N., who is 12 1/2 years old, and we sometimes call "Grandma") over to Cloudcroft, NM. Cloudcroft is a beautifully quaint small town in southern New Mexico at almost 9,000 feet. While Tucson is currently experiencing around 106 degree temperatures, Cloudcroft was 63 degrees when we got there at 10:00 in the morning, ready for our almost 3 mile hike on a trail we used to hike 20 years ago when we lived in Alamogordo. Then, too, we would go up to Cloudcroft to escape the Alamogordo high desert heat. Yesterday did not disappoint. The scents, sounds and sights almost brought tears to my eyes. Two minutes into the hike, we removed the leashes from our Labs, who absolutely loved sniffing mountain scents that are so incredibly different from our desert wonderland. At one point, we stopped at a viewpoint, at which we could actually see the White Sands National Monument about 36 miles away. Breathtaking! I couldn't quit smiling, and I must have said, "It is so beautiful here" 10 different times.
Today, we went up to Sierra Blanca, which, in the winter, is the home to Ski Apache, the most southern ski resort in the United States. In the summer, it is home to some of the most beautiful hiking around. We began our hike at 9,600 feet and hiked about 3 miles. Yes, the altitude affects our breathing, but what I could not get enough of were the breathtaking views of glorious meadows filled with colorful wildflowers (some as tall as we were) and, as we climbed higher and higher, the views as we looked down at least 3,000 feet to Ruidoso, NM. Once again, I couldn't keep from smiling, especially as I watched our two youngest Labs running freely through meadows that, in winter, are ski runs. It simply bears stating that these are the ski runs that Dave and I skied 26 years ago. We even got engaged in 1992 here. So, no small wonder I feel like this area is another one of my happy places.
What about you?
I have a firm belief that each one of us needs a happy place. I pray you have one. If not, I pray you find one soon!