Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Happy Place

I grew up relatively happy.  Though I encountered your typical emotional bumps and bruises in my childhood, I had a strong, stable support system in place and never doubted that I was loved.  Also, I was given a default setting of happy/content.  Not something I can even remotely claim credit for.  I just got dealt decent cards. 

It wasn't until relatively recently that I truly came to understand that -- what a blessing it's been, and the sad rarity of it.  It's only once you've encountered the complete opposite that you are fully able to see and appreciate the happy.  Since then, I find myself searching out that sense of happy in others.  When I see friends who have that glow about them, or read joyful posts on Twitter or Facebook, I can't help but smile back. It's a good thing when others are in their happy place. And I want to encourage it and share in it, rather than be envious of it.

Which ties into one of my resolutions for this year: Focus on what you have instead of what you don't.  I surely do struggle with that.  But when I'm successful, the rightness of it is undeniable.  I was reminded of this several weekends ago during a trip to Lake of the Ozarks with friends.  Chris and Cari long ago semi-adopted Riley and I, and were gracious enough to invite us down to the Lake with them.  I know it sounds strange, but I've actually never been to the Lake before.  Not for fun, anyway.  I did attend a conference there years ago, but I don't think that really counts, as the entire event occurred within the confines of Tan-Tar-A, and there was no actual lake involvement. 

It was a beautiful weekend -- rained a bit on Friday evening, but other than that, sunny and warm, rather than ungodly hot.  And the Lake was quite surprisingly uncrowded.  I'd heard horror stories of the main channel being virtually impassible for smaller craft at times.  We encountered none of that.

We stayed in Friday night -- between the rain and the fact that the boat's bilge pump had apparently been left on and had run down the battery, that seemed the best option.  So, pizza it was.  The kids played and had their fun, as did the grown ups.  Chris, Cari and I enjoyed an evening out on the deck, drinking beer, chatting away, admiring the almost full moon.

Chris eventually waved the white flag and left the chatting to Cari and I, though not without a later grumpy admonishment or two to pipe down.  ("Get off my lawn!")  We girls hit the wall simultaneously, long about 2:45 and finally turned in.

The next morning, Chris set off to get the boat up and running and the rest of us had breakfast at the condo, then headed up to the pool to pass the time.  Later in the afternoon, we set out on the boat and enjoyed a tour of the Lake.  'Twas a gorgeous afternoon!

The kids got out on the donuts and had fun being bounced and jostled around.  Anyone who knows Riley and what a cautious child she's always been will appreciate my delight at her willingness to get right out there and give it a go!

Later, she just kicked back and enjoyed livin' the glam life:

That evening, we had dinner at The Pit Stop.  The food was good, and the view amazing:

After a nice evening ride back to the condo, we settled in for the night.  Cari and I stayed up and watched one of my all-time favorite movies: "Overboard."  Fitting, given our location.  Such a silly little movie, but still so sweet! ("Katerina!" "Arturo!")

Sunday morning, we got up and out on the water early, so we could enjoy breakfast at Paradise. Riley resumed glamour-mode, and the girls made a friend:

After we stuffed ourselves on good breakfasty food, we set back out for some fun on the water.  Another round of tubing -- this time with the two-seater.  I was a little apprehensive, but did get out for a ride with Riley.  She was actually my shield there -- I've little doubt had she not been riding alongside me, Chris would have shown me no mercy.  As it was, we hit one mega bump at the end that I was sure had cracked a tooth! But it was fun -- in that crazy, oh-my-gosh-what-have-I-gotten-myself-into sort of way.

Later, we dropped anchor and did some intense relaxing on the various rafts and such, complete with floatie beer cooler.  The kids had fun jumping off the boat onto the tube and doing battle with the kamikaze horseflies, while the grown ups drifted lazily.  At one point, Cari spoke of being in her "happy place," and I thought, "Yep -- this is one of those."  Sun, water, family, friends, fun -- all the day-to-day stresses momentarily forgotten.  It just doesn't get any better than that.  Well, not much, anyway.

Once we'd roasted sufficiently, we headed back to the condo to freshen up for dinner.  On the way, Riley had her Titanic moment:

Then we were off to Back Water Jack's, where we met up with more friends.  And some colorful ducks:

The boat ride home was at sunset.  And I, ever the wannabe photog, did my best to capture it and do it some justice:

As I took those last shots, this thought ran through my fat and happy brain:

Appreciate the moments of bliss life affords you - they help restore your soul.

Indeed, they do.  And I have been very fortunate of late to find myself, with the love and companionship of my family and friends, so often in a happy place.  Thank you.


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