It’s been five months since I was last on the road with The Happiness Walk — a project I love being part of — so I was naturally eager to fly to Baton Rouge today to once again join lead walker Paula Francis. I had managed to carve out two weeks walking time, just barely enough to cover 150 miles to the Texas border. Since I’ve never been in either state, I look forward to richly experiencing Louisiana and seeing at least a sliver of Texas. That’s geekily exciting. Plus, a third brand new happiness walker — my friend and neighbor Marilyn — is traveling with me, which guarantees even more good times.
Yesterday while I packed, my mind was primarily focused on Louisiana’s weather. The 10-day forecast shows swings from 36 degrees some mornings to the high 70s one or two afternoons. That’s quite a range when you’re walking, and carrying everything in a backpack*. Deciding what clothes to take occupied a lot of my grey matter.
Still, going somewhere means leaving someplace else behind. In this case, I am leaving home, temporarily stepping away from my husband, choir, yoga class, snow shoeing — and, a perfectly good batch of plump brussel sprouts. The sprouts gave me a moment’s distraction when I realized they would go bad in my absence. My husband’s hate of brussel sprouts is legendary among his siblings; he certainly won’t eat them. But … I had no time to eat them yesterday, and I had a plane to catch today.
Or so I thought.
Apparently there was this little snowstorm over the weekend? A little blizzard that shut down Broadway? Not a drop fell in Vermont. Nonetheless, when Marilyn and I arrived at the Burlington airport we were informed in no uncertain terms that we were not flying anywhere today. Of course, I wasn’t totally surprised. Marilyn was even less surprised than me. We had gotten an email two days before letting us know that part of our itinerary — the part involving Newark — had been canceled. Still, I was hopeful. I guess I overlooked the fact that Burlington is a very small airport, with limited options to begin with.
And no options today.
Here’s where the happiness training kicks in.
In the stating-the-obvious-department, I’ll note that it is easy to be happy when everything is flowing smoothly. The rewards of a regular happiness practice to cultivate one’s inner resources show up in life’s bumpier moments. Today, for example. I was naturally a little disappointed, but I was also grateful. The woman behind the counter made it clear just how lucky Marilyn and I are to be able to fly out tomorrow. So, yay for that.
Gratitude is so powerful, and also a strategy that most anyone reading this blog is probably quite familiar with already. There is usually so so much to be grateful for, from the macro (I mean, holy cow, what a great trip we get to go on tomorrow!) to even more macro (we both have such lovely husbands, one of whom delivered us to the airport and one who brought us home). And I had a lovely cup of English Fog tea while we waited — an opportunity for savoring and gratitude.
Then there’s perspective, which you could also term mindfulness. This storm caused massive inconvenience and disruption to millions of folks up and down the East Coast. We weren’t exactly singled out. Again, you could put this in a much bigger perspective — as in, talk about first world problems. A trip delayed by one day? Not even worth sighing over.
And then there’s reframing, or benefit finding. I remembered that Paula had not felt well yesterday, so could see a possible silver lining here: waiting for us to arrive, Paula can take a full day to recuperate if she needs to.
Not only that, I could eat the brussel sprouts! I kid you not, when we were settled in the car heading home, I happily told Marilyn and Larry all about the brussel sprouts waiting in my fridge. I didn’t actually do a great job of cooking them, but I savored my lunch nonetheless.
And, I get to go to yoga tonight!
Life is good, even if now I might not get to Texas. And, if I’m not on that plane tomorrow, I might have to dig a little deeper. But for now, I can go do downward dog with a smile on my face.
- Hopefully, we won’t have to carry our packs while we walk. Part of the Walk’s magic is all the helpers we meet, including those who transport our stuff.