What To Do When Your Happy Place Isn’t

I recently arrived in one of my nomad homes in my favorite city to date.  It’s our third date and we hadn’t seen each other for 9 months.  I had been counting down the days for this date for the last 4 of those months.  In my mind’s eye, I played the arrival for our last two dates over and over.

I’d catch myself with a goofy smile of anticipation as I crossed the state line, knowing it was the home stretch of my 20+ hour drive. I’d feel warmth from the sun through my windshield.  I’d marvel at the blueness of the sky.  I’d open my sunroof, turning up the radio to sing out of tune with greater gusto.   I’d pass through the beautifully landscaped trees lining both sides of Main Street appreciating their symmetry, just like the first time.  I’d take a deep breath to see if I could smell the salt in the air waft off the beach, up the bluff, between the houses and right in my window.  I’d catch myself exhale deeply, and let go of that tension in my shoulders, and that holding on that can silently creep up on us during busy stressful times.  I’m home, I’d think. I’m home.

Well, that’s not what happened.  I got as far as opening all the windows and belting out a favorite song with renewed giddy enthusiasm and then not so long after it hit me.  The stench of dead fish.  Not the lingering smell of a nicely prepared and enjoyed fish dinner.  No, this was more like when you suspect an animal has crawled under your house and died and you can’t quite get the smell out of your nose.   And it didn’t stop there.  I arrived to my little rental to find I had neighbors who smoke – chain smoke outside on a porch within a stone’s throw distance – from 6am until midnight – as it turns out.  It’s certainly their choice, it’s just their choice opts me in without my consent if I opened a door or window or wanted to sit on my porch.

This rapidly became the kind of date where you think into the future and wonder…  when we’re old and not as mobile, or healthy, and after we know each other’s stories will we have a strong enough foundation to find connection and enjoyment together?   In this case, without the beach, the porch, the internet (it’s another story), the bike path, and the general clean air serenity of being here (so all the bells and whistles) …..well, I’ve pretty much not thought of much else since arriving.

Discovering our happy place isn’t happy anymore is a predictably phase in the pattern of change.  While my circumstances aren’t the norm as I don’t have a regular “home” to go back to, change happens to us both from the inside out and from the outside in.  At times, how we feel and experience something familiar suddenly changes and at other times, we continue to roll along in our day to day and something unexpected forces us to adapt and change.  Some of these changes cause us to scramble for a new plan.  Other times we have time to be practiced in self-reflection, the language of noticing, to discover the clues to what’s next.

As someone who often working with others around these types of issues, here are some of my go to reminders.  Perhaps they time well for you right now as they are certaintly important for me right now.

  • Impulsivity is rarely objective and wise.  While a quick decision might put us out of our immediate discomfort, knee jerk decisions are rarely paired with thorough abstract and complex thinking. When our stress response is engaged, our cognitive abilities are often absent.  Give yourself time for a well informed decision and not just a rash one. Not to say that good decisions can’t be made under pressure and right away, however we need to know when we are running away from our discomfort versus have clarity around it.


  • Thinking happens on many levels, not just through what you can bang out on a list. It’s common for us to let our head make the decision while our heart is jumping up and down on the sideline waving its hand trying to offer an opinion. Make time to listen to what you mind has to say as well as your heart.  When you sit mindfully, dropping out of your mind into your body, consider your options and see what feedback your body gives you.  Do you expand, do you contract, is there quiet, and ease, is there worry and fear?  Allow the wisdom of the whole of you be part of your decision.


  • Kick the critics to the curb. No one has to live this life but you.  No one knows how you feel, how you think, how you see, how you thrive.  While others may be able to guess these things, when it comes down to it, they are projecting how you think or feel through their filter of how they know you.  This comes down to you.  If everyone was in support of whatever you decide, and there were not critics, just supporters, what is the answer you already know for what you want to do?


  • Don’t be a Weeble. In the 1970s, a popular toy was  a Weeble.  Their tag line was “weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”.  Weebles were egg shaped toy people (or punching bags) that could be knocked off balance and return to standing.  When in the midst of a big decision or much change, we want to have resilience like a Weeble and yet also want to understand out tipping points.  Getting clear on our priorities, our wants, our needs, our risk tolerance, our readiness, our resources, our aspiration, our pet peeves, and our capacity are all part and parcel of allowing that tipping point from “I don’t know what to do now” and “I’m going to go in this direction”, even if it leaves us charting the course as we walk it.   At some point, trust what you know and allow a tipping point.


  • This goo shall pass. I’ve always disliked that platitude, this too shall pass.  While typing to a friend just how much I dislike being told that, I accidentally typed – this goo shall pass – and it stuck.   How we feel in any moment is just that…a fleeting experience of the moment.  Like the weather, our feelings continually change.  The more that we can notice how we might feel in the present moment or the story we are telling our self to make sense of things, the better.  Allowing time to be our friend and realizing that what we think about our circumstances and how we feel about our circumstances are influenced by a myriad of variables that seem both connected and disconnected. Things like who we are confiding in, how well we slept the previous night, our hunger level, stress level, safety…all of it plays a part in allowing the goo to pass.


So with these reminders to you and for me, what happens now on my date with this particular city?  Well, …… I’ll keep you posted as I listen to more than my brain and revisit my tipping points.

While I’m doing that…what’s happening in your life that could benefit from these reminders?

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