Happiness Is . . .

Happiness is discovering treasures you forgot you own. Before heading to Asheville last month, I downsized to a smaller wallet and only took what I would need for that trip. That meant leaving behind a wallet stuffed with receipts and store loyalty cards.

When I went to locate some work receipts yesterday, I discovered a treasure trove. Mixed in with that wad of receipts was a $1 winning lottery ticket, two tickets to Franklin Park Conservatory, a punchcard for my favorite place to get a cheese and veggie sandwich, and a $20 bill.

Best of all, there was a card for a man I encountered in a very unusual conversation at a tire shop earlier this year. THAT is a story for another time but trust me when I say the memory made my day.

While some of these things have monetary value, that card simply holds a memory of a lesson and a conversation. Yet it was more important to me than the money.

There’s no accounting for happiness!

A Year Ago

A year ago, Ohioans were enjoying their last days of normalcy before the Covid 19 pandemic sunk its claws into life as we knew it.

Our Governor was proactive, declaring a State of Emergency when there were still just a handful of Covid cases here. Businesses struggled. People were laid off and struggling. We began wearing masks, learned about social distancing and realized that many adults don’t know how to wash their hands.

Supply shortages became the norm. But you don’t need me to tell you about 2020 because you lived it too.

I had a ticket to a Lukas Nelson concert and was planning a trip to Cleveland to learn about early women aviators. I had a plane ticket and was studying a road trip route. Surely, it would all be over by summer, right?

Yet, I had an inkling of what was to come. NPR had reported pretty aggressively about the virus and the shutdown in China where people were not allowed to leave their homes.

I kept wondering how that worked. How do you earn a living? How do you get groceries and supplies? How do you not lose your mind being stuck at home and worried about a virus that could either make you not sick at all or kill you in a most vicious way?

I had begun gathering supplies – paper products, groceries, toiletries, household stuff – partly to replenish what I had used from my winter stash and partly because I could see the writing on the wall.

Gratitude has helped me this year.

Yes, I was disappointed that travel was mostly cancelled and adventures have been slim. Yet I am grateful for so many things – my employer sent me home to work, I live in the country where it’s possible to breathe fresh air and move around some, my introverted self is quite happy with the idea of social distancing, Scout keeps me laughing, work keeps me busy, books keep my brain engaged, and I have found ways to adventure around the region and be safe doing it.

Anytime dissatisfaction leeches into my attitude I try to draw on these reminders of how fortunate I am.

I live an exceptionally good life where I stay busy and happy most days. I’m not in any real hurry for things to go back to normal because there are many benefits to how I live today.

The vaccine restrictions in Ohio now include people fifty and over so we are getting close to my decade. New CDC guidelines signal that things are loosening up.

For now though, I continue to be grateful for the life I live and empathetic for those who are struggling. I’m also hopeful that I will hold onto some of the routines and habits that have enriched my life for the last year and that my next new normal brings more satisfaction, adventure and joy than the old.