This is the day that I leave Myrtle Beach, after for the first time ever, actually being on vacation during the Christmas holiday. I wanted to do something different for me and my family this year—felt that we could all use a getaway and a change from the norm. For me, although I enjoy Christmas Day and keep close in mind all the wonders of what it represents, I still really miss my dad and struggle internally to not have those pitfall moments that dampen my spirit and everyone else’s. You see, Christmas hasn’t been quite the same since 2012…
Reflecting on the days spent here this December, I remember thinking of how being at the beach in December has always been therapeutic for me. Years ago, pre-divorce, our team of three started coming before the holidays to enjoy shopping at stores and malls that weren’t crowded, unlike the ones at home. It was certainly not peak season. Who wants to be at the beach in the winter?? Well, it was perfect for us! This tradition continued for years and at some point, we invited my family to join us. As the years passed, sometimes just a few joined us and a couple of times, it was ‘Jed and all his kin.’ Lol. Wow….a lot of good memories here at ole Myrtle Beach.
Continuing in reflection mode, I remember arriving in the city last Thursday, smiling and getting all giddy about being here. I instantaneously said to myself, “This is my happy place!” I’m remembering repeating that a few times to my daughter when she arrived. I’m also remembering repeating it quite a bit to my sister and mother after they arrived a day later. My sentiment about ‘my happy place’ was affirmed with them, as my sister made several comments about how nice people seemed to be here. Everybody we met, with the exception of the young lady who I mumbled a few choice words to in parking lot rage (lol) and a timeshare rep, were so warm-hearted, kind and like us, seemed to be enjoying the holiday season. In some way, they appeared to be in their ‘happy place’ too. It was an awesome feeling to be around people in good spirits, although I’m sure that many had sordid lives and were smiling despite life’s happenings. For me, the December visit to Myrtle Beach has always been very therapeutic, as I’ve made the trip solo for a few years now. It has been like getting away to spend time with a friend–one who listens; one who doesn’t judge; one who holds your heart; one whose presence brings about peace and serenity; one who spends time with God with you in a variety of ways, all of which are conducive to healing, self-reflection, peace, love and spiritual growth. It’s a place where I always leave better than I came. It has all the trimmings and wrappings of Happy!
Thinking and meditating a little on what all of this really means, I had a few questions— Is happy really relative to a place? Does it relate to where you physically are? Is happy a destination where we all aspire to arrive? Do we create fairytale figments of our imagination of what it(happy) really is? My mind races to a book that I purchased a few years back, but haven’t read (gotta work on that procrastinating spirit…smh), entitled, “Back to Happy: A Journey of Hope, Healing and Waking Up.” Wow, once you leave, how quickly can you get back there? Do we exit by choice or are we forced out of Happy by situations?? Hmmm…..How did we get there in the first place? How do we stay there? Letting it all marinate, I know that it begins with loving and being in relationship with God and loving yourself enough to be in relationship with Him. I know that proclaimed happy places don’t truly lend to sustained happiness if the aforementioned isn’t true. Our happy place is within us—in our heart; in our mind; in our spiritual wellbeing. Being physically present in these places that we deem as our ‘happy place’ should escalate that feeling, not define it. Happiness is defined by who we are and our choice to be so, not where we are.
Being fully aware that we all have our valley moments or even those that take us on a momentary roller-coaster steep dip, finding a place of refuge is certainly therapeutic, no doubt! However, it seems to me that taking a quick dose of remembering whose we are, brings on a sense of knowing that happy still exists, maybe stifled for a minute, but it’s still there. That could mean that a resurgence is needed in which prayer, Godly counsel, a good laugh or for me, sometimes it’s a gospel tune that serves as a defibrillator. Whatever it takes, the resuscitation is worth it!
A couple of hours later, traveling down Highway 140, listening to Wow Gospel, Kirk Franklin’s tune, “I Smile”, sort of connected the dots of the array of thoughts that I’m having on this Wednesday morning. The words, “See, I just don’t want you to be happy, ‘cause you gotta have something happening. I want you to have joy, ‘cause can’t nobody take that away from you…”, summed it up in a way that only God divinely orchestrates to give me clarity. For me, it meant that I needed to recognize that my Joy meter carries more weight than my Happy meter. It also meant that the next time He sees fit to bless me with another trip to my so-called winter ‘happy place’ in Myrtle Beach, I might start out in need of a refill on happy, but rest assured, my joy tank will be full! As my daughter shared with me a while back—you know how children reverse roles, advising their parents once they get grown?—something along the lines of: “Mama, You can let someone steal your happy, but don’t let them steal your peace.” Well, I’m not letting them steal my joy either. As I type, I may not have a lot of other things, but joy….??? I got it in my soul! We should be Happy to have it!
Peace and Blessings, Lisa B