The words 'happy place' probably turn the title of this blog into an oxymoron, coming after the eight words and numbers that precede them. I don't think many of us are feeling particularly happy at the moment. Me - I'm anxious; nervous; and sitting on the edge of my chair (which is possibly more to do with the general decrepitude of the chair and its broken undercarriage than any agitation I'm feeling).
Why ... am I anxious - not why do I persist with a broken chair?
Well - partly the obvious, the p word ... pandemic; but also two other words beginning with p. Might I have to put on PPE (personal protective equipment) at work tomorrow? Personal and protective.
Personal - to me; to keep me safe.
Protective - is it?
I'll park that particular worry for now and deal with it tomorrow. There's nothing I can do about it today.
You see, this is why I need to focus on my happy place. Why I need to escape.
If I step back for a moment from the anxious little beetles running around inside my head. The beetles of 'must bake my husband a birthday cake' and 'the ironing mountain must be tackled before it actually touches the ceiling' and 'it might be a good time to sort the larder cupboard' and 'I could reduce my to-be-read pile.' Those brain beetles that career around in a frenzy, colliding with such frequency that their messages reach my conscious self in such a haphazard fashion that I start and stop many jobs without finishing any. If I step back from this internal noise, I can pause and write and, for a moment, focus. I encourage you to do the same.
Focus on your Happy Place.
We all have places where we feel that we can be ourselves. Where we relax. Where we are comfortable and confident in a way that perhaps is normally difficult for us. And where we are free to be who we truly are. I define this as happy. And the place that gifts us this constellation of calm is our happy place.
At this time of self isolation, our happy places might be remote from us. But we can recreate them at least in part - get out your photo album; surround yourself with pictures; and feast your eyes on the images. If you can recreate the smells then do - rosemary, proper syrupy olive oil and basil transport me back to Italy, if I shut my eyes; cinnamon takes me to a market in the Dordogne where we bought a simple pot of cannelle that I refill and reuse to this day; I can touch the cold surfaces of my collection of pebbles and stones and be back on a beach in Argyllshire. Immerse yourself in these sensory and imagined memories of your happy places. Make yourself stop for a few minutes and listen to your breathing slow, as you think yourself back into that place - paint the colours and sounds bright inside your head. Linger as long as you like.
You might be lucky and have a happy place at home. Home might be your happy place. Mine is usually one of my happy places; but without all my children at home, it is now only a happy-ish place.
But I am immensely lucky that I have a garden to escape into. And right now, this is my accessible happy place
I might take this broken old chair out there tomorrow.
PS. I know I don't really have beetles running around inside my head. But if I did ... wouldn't it be useful to have something to blame for not getting things done?