The pursuit of a happy place

Published 10:58 am Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Do you have one certain place you can go to calm you, to feel joy, just to know you are on the right path? I do, and that is where I am as I write this column.

Here at my home at Brookdale Littleton Assisted Living, we have a patio area that has comfortable places to sit. The trees are plenty, and large and leafy, and this time of year, are alive with all species of birds. There is something so sweet and close to nature in their song. That alone would make me love the place.

I know sometimes it is not possible to go to your most precious place. Don’t let this stop you. Find a comfortable spot, close your eyes, and in your heart and mind, go to your place. If you do this often, this fantasy travel, you will still be able to feel the same joy, the same calm, the same sense of being where you should be.

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But, of course, to have this place in reality is a gift I wish for everyone.

I am one of the blessed people. I have my patio right outside the gallery in our building. We have planted an herb and vegetable garden by turning a real day bed that was found in someone’s barn into our garden. I once wrote a column about our flower and vegetable bed.

Where is your most special place? Years ago, Gene and I lived on the island of Key Biscayne, right on the beach. After working long hours in our bakery and health food store, Gene relaxed the best by sitting on the patio with a newspaper and a glass of wine.

I went straight outside to walk barefoot on the silver soft sand. There would be beautiful shells of all sizes and shapes and I always came home happy with pockets full of shells. No matter how hard life felt on any given day, that time given over to the sand, the sound of the incoming and outgoing tide, always assured me the tide will always go in and out and my life would feel safe.

As I squished the silken sand through my toes, I can’t tell you the inner peace I felt. I was a part of my very own special place and nobody could take it away from me.

One of my children, Phoebe, found her special place right here in Colorado. She, with her husband Steve and three children, live in the mountains. They have horses, dogs, cats and lots of wildlife. The moment she moved in the mountains and started riding her horse through the forest, she knew she had found her forever special place.

My dad’s special place was a boat with a fishing rod in his hand. Simple as that was, it’s all it took to give him joyous peace.

And speaking of finding your special place, my son Clarke, when he moved to Colorado, discovered his true identity after living in different states and filling many important jobs. His special place is atop his horse, beside his wife Becca, and fulfilling his hearts dreams.

So now I am 85 years old and living a life I never imagined. I always believed I would walk the beach forever, and then we moved to Winchester and bought the most precious house with a seven-horse stall barn, a slave house and many graves. Just living there filled me with everything good. It seems like just the experience of living on Flanagan Station Road on my wondrous land and all our animals, those entire years of my life were my special place. When we had to leave there to be with family in Colorado to help me with Gene’s cancer, I thought my heart would break.

But now, for the past three and half years, I have lived in my little apartment in an assisted living facility. I still have my two cats, but very little else from my past life. I have just memories.

That is why I so desperately needed to find my most special place to go to every day. So I did, and I am forever thankful for the joy, the calm and the peace it gives me. I sincerely hope each of you have such a place in your life.

If not, please start looking for it, it could change your life.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.