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Pockets of happiness have become lifelines

Pockets of happiness have become lifelines

For a week I’ve been thinking about what to write in this week’s column, and very little clarity came until today. Traditionally, I love writing about anything. A new business in town, my son’s homemade Halloween costume, a great book I’m reading, the crispness of orchard apples, an upcoming trip.

I’m typically a very chipper, talkative, adventurous person, but since my mother passed away, I feel I’ve been stripped down to my vulnerable core. It seems every thought and emotion I have is magnified ten-fold. If you’ve experienced significant grief, you know what I mean. 

Before I move on, I want to thank you for reading my columns over the past month even though the prevalent themes have been sad and depressing. I’m trying my hardest to find some light in my world, and I occasionally see a brief shimmer here and there but before I know it … poof! It’s gone. 

Brainstorming helps me hone in on what’s making me feel happy or sad or angry or alone. This morning I sat down with a pen and a piece of paper and wrote down the first five things I could think of that’ve brought a smile or happy thought to my life over the past week. It was actually a really good exercise. I recommend it if you’re feeling melancholy. 

After reflecting upon my list, I decided to share it in today’s column, so here goes.

My dad grew up riding horses but stopped when he met my mom because she wasn’t the most agile person. She went rollerskating one time as a child and broke her arm. She never played sports and felt most comfortable in the audience cheering my sister and me on as we twirled batons, danced, and ran track. 

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Recently, my dad mentioned riding horses again. He feels like it may be therapeutic for us. I couldn’t agree more. His birthday and mine are both in October, so mid-month, we’re heading to Biltmore for an afternoon of horseback riding. I can already feel the tranquility.  

Last Thursday, I went to The Lumineers concert in Nashville. I went with one of my closest friends and her husband. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always comfortable as the proverbial third wheel. It doesn’t bother me one iota. All three of us are huge fans of this band, so there was a mutual appreciation and respect among us. The experience was incredible.

Everyone has their “go-to band” in times of need. The Lumineers are mine. As we listened to them all the way to Tennessee and at the concert, I felt emotional in so many ways, good and bad. Lately, I’ve been falling asleep to their music. The band originated when Josh Fraites, the brother of one band member and best friend of the other, died of a drug overdose at 19. They’re beyond talented, but more importantly, I can feel the understanding of grief in the lyrics and in their voices. 

Before we left for Nashville, I got a knock on the front door by a Fed-Ex man. He left a huge, heavy box. At that very moment, my sister sent me a text that said something like, “You’ve got a box at the door. It’s from me. Love you so much.” I lugged the box in and cut the top open to find a case of really good wine. It made me smile because while she and I are fans of good wine, I rarely justify spending the money to buy bottles to keep at home. She knows this about me but also knows I may need a glass these days. I found my wine rack in the basement so I could finally stock it. 

This past weekend I felt like take-out food but didn’t want to drive all the way into town, so we decided to try out DA Asian Kitchen in the Food Lion shopping center in Clyde. I thought they only offered Chinese cuisine, but it’s actually an Asian fusion restaurant. I can’t tell you how excited this made me. I don’t enjoy Chinese food all that much, but I love Thai and sushi, so I was thrilled to find out they carried these culinary favorites of mine. My Pad Thai was absolutely delicious. The boys ordered fried rice, hibachi steak, and miso soup, all also delicious. When I was waiting on our food, I watched a gentlemen make sushi. It looked very fresh. I’m planning to try that next. 

There are some children who are born with their bottle half full. They come out of the womb with a positivity to be admired. My 4-year-old is one of them. While my older son can be stoic, intellectual, and analytical, my little one wants everyone to smile and be happy. For such a tiny person, he’s extraordinarily skilled at finding the good in everything. My friend      has a little girl who’s basically his female clone. Yesterday we took the two of them for ice cream at The Strand. The entire time they giggled and flirted in a coy, adorable preschool-type fashion. It’s impossible to be sad around the two of them. If only I could carry them around in my purse. 

In happy times, we look forward to big events like a trip to Disney or a girls spa weekend or buying Christmas gifts. But I’ve found when life’s beating me down, I don’t even have the capacity to think about the big things. It’s the small fragments and moments, the seemingly inconsequential experiences that make an impact. 

I’m not sure what that means, but I feel there’s a big life lesson in there somewhere.

(Susanna Barbee is a writer who lives in Haywood County. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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