Sitting on my deck, I see that the redwoods are starting to sway gently when just moments before, they were still, the morning sun is shining warmly in the cloudless sky, with my ears I hear the sound of the wind – the thing that my brain tells me is causing the trees to sway and for a brief moment, I close my eyes and simply breathe . . . imagining how it must feel to the trees. Like a lover’s tender caress, the gentlest of breezes, moving into the branches, kissing the needles warmed by the sun. The message; one of love and connection – that same soft breeze caressing my cheek, the same rays of the sun warming my skin – the tree and I together, just for the moment enjoying the same experience.
When we're ready to bring happiness into our lives, what I've learned is that we really need to ask: "How can I make my foundation one of joy so that happy events will be more attracted to me." This awareness came to me unexpectedly when I experienced a period in my life where I was terribly unhappy. For several years following my divorce, I was desperate to find my “soul mate,” thinking that would bring me happiness. When he didn’t mysteriously materialize, I found myself getting drawn into relationships with men who – though for the most part were very nice – were not the right fit for me. In those in-between boyfriend times, I was always on the go – not in a good way but in a desperate, I don’t want to be alone with myself kind of way. I would cry and whine and hold “pity me” parties always asking the question, "Why can't I find anyone for me?" Invariably I would then recite a list (to myself and anyone else who would listen) of the girlfriends, neighbors and even the stranger at the checkout counter, who had partners, spouses, or boyfriends. It didn't matter if they were happy or not, the fact that they had a warm body next to them and I didn't was my primary focus. I would go to the movies or to restaurants alone and fall into depression upon seeing lovers conspiring over a tabletop or walking hand in hand into the theater. I felt like I belonged on the Island of Misfit Toys. It was only years later that it occurred to me, “If I couldn’t bear to spend time with myself – why would anyone else, in their right mind, want to?" Yes, “right mind” is the operative word and I have a couple of personal case studies to prove that point. Periodically I would find that "special someone" and allow myself to be deluded into believing that he was my future.
About this same time, I was driving from Florida to Illinois for a family reunion and stopped for the night in Nashville, Tennessee. Something about it just felt like home.
After the reunion, on the return trip to Florida, I stopped again for the night and began to consider the idea of making a move to Nashville. The drive gave me time to explore the "what ifs" and "why nots." An empty-nester, I was running a small internet-based business, my contact with community and friends was extremely limited and according to my son, I was spending entirely too much time listening exclusively to NPR. "You need more music in your life, Mom," he said, reminding me of happier times when the kids were young and we would sing along together to our favorite songs. We all agreed that Nashville would be an appropriate place to find the music though none of us were convinced that country was the genre I was seeking.
Incentivized by the desire to put some distance between me and an on-again, off-again roller-coaster relationship, I rented an executive apartment just fifteen minutes south of the city center. Before you label me a complete nut, in my defense, I did opt for a trial period, spending thirty days there, as a way to try it out, and only made a permanent move two months later, though I knew within days of being there that I'd somehow found my way home.
I can’t exactly say what was different. I do believe that geography doesn’t make the difference between happiness and unhappiness. I believe happiness is something that’s inside each of us. But, the move gave me the freedom -- the space and the place -- to reconnect with my true self. In Florida, I had been so desperate to find a husband that I was like a chameleon, changing anything and everything about myself to fit in his life. During my trial month in Tennessee, I didn’t date. I spent all of my time alone. I spent time doing things that I wanted to do. I rediscovered myself and surprise of all surprises, I kind of liked me!
And then it happened. Shortly after making my move permanent, I met and became friends with the most wonderful group of friends, with the capacity to be a community. Though I hadn't found my soul mate, it didn't seem to matter any longer, I'd found a belonging back to myself and a connection with friends and neighbors. And, as my son had so wisely recommended, I renewed my connection with music and an amazing group of singers and songwriters. For the first time in a very long time, I felt the warming rays of inner peace and true happiness.
There are so many ways to connect in our world and each of them is incredibly powerful. Connections occur naturally when we take time to get present and be mindful. They happen when we practice Gratitude. Connections can come in the form of friendships, shared experiences with strangers, spending time caring for or playing with pets, or finding ways to be present in Nature. Finding ways to connect with our self, that true voice within, can be one of the most powerful connections available. Most of the time the only requirement is that we stay present in the moment and act from that still, small place within.
What is the thing that you are missing in your life? What would life look like if you stopped chasing it and began connecting? What are some ways you can begin to connect today with Family, with Friends, with co-workers, with Community, with Nature, with God, with Yourself?
Listen to my Affirmation on Connections here.
Peace and Love,