Our Happy Place

My family and I just returned from a two-night stay at a mountain cabin in West Virginia. The place was perched on the edge of a wide, gurgling creek with no sign of civilization in view. A timeless stillness enveloped the space surrounding this small vacation home. Someone else’s vacation home, mind you.

“This Cabin is My Happy Place” hung on a rustic sign above the stove. ‘Yeah, it’s my happy place, too,’ I thought as I turned to look out the sliding glass doors next to the kitchen. (In truth, I also thought a few cranky, resentful things for a second but decided to let those go. And get back to the happy place I had just been soaking in.)

A Happy Place. What is it anyway? We have a need to define such a place, to proclaim it exists within physical walls, to give it an address. I am not giving anyone a hard time about this, though. It makes perfect sense.

I live my life as a muddled, clumsy attempt at inner peace, at creating the inner happiness for which we are told to search. I am a dutiful girl, and as such, try to follow the wisdom of people who seem to know way more than I about this stuff. So look inward, I do. Again and again.

And it’s certainly true that we manifest our own happiness and all that. Absolutely. But it’s also true and valid to say we need a physical space that cultivates that inner calm. The Zen we are all stumbling over each other to embody. I am plain tired of the stumbling and scrambling for it, honestly. Aren’t you? Inner peace shouldn’t be so hard.

Once you have been on any retreat or vacation, it’s pretty easy to pinpoint what a happy place is. It has characteristics, doesn’t it? Here are some:

  1. No bills to pay
  2. No mail to be collected
  3. No elaborate meals – leftovers and the local hippie diner work just fine
  4. No unnecessary noise
  5. Only essential toys, books, and games
  6. Limited, if any, use of social media and phones
  7. Only the most pressing of work issues to address

You might have some of your own to add, but these are the criteria that made our time beside Sleepy Creek restorative. All of these seem fairly easy to replicate at home, too. We can all put aside a few days and claim the space inside our own walls to be our Happy Place, for goodness sake. Not to mention, anyone with access to Pandora can replicate a gurgling creek noise. (Cha-ching.)

“Let’s declare certain days cabin days,” my husband said to me over a hard root beer and a lively two-person version of Apples to Apples. And upon hearing that, I melted down to my core, into the deepest and happiest of places imaginable. Excuse me while I linger there a bit.


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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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