What is Your Happy Place?

Blair St. Pier- Alpena, MI

In a bathtub my entire being feels calm. I am relaxed and so intensely warm from head to toe; completely at peace. I love the sensation of dipping my ears below the water level. The deafening sound that begins and the way I experience it. I feel like I am escaping. I feel like I am being engulfed by a warm and loving energy. I want to fall asleep in the blanket of water and remain completely safe.

It’s the same feeling I have when I am standing at the edge of Lake Huron. When I ride my bike down to the beach in the early morning, or when I rumble out to the end of the public bridge… I gaze out at the waves, the light, the span of the horizon, and the depth of the blue. I watch the birds that are flying in the space above the water but below the clouds; I try to envision what kind of life that must be. I envy the geese and ducks floating carelessly on top of the waves, being lulled gently toward the shore. I usually take time to observe the sky and the way it reflects on the lake. I stare at the glimmer and feel the power of the water.

I do my best praying and my best meditating, right there.

Standing in the shower, I do my best thinking. I let the water beat against my neck and back……….feeling the warmth and listening to the rush. Time slips and I think over my day, prepare my thoughts and wash away my worries. The streams of water can carry my tears without notice and graciously hush my cries. I can be safe in the water. I can feel alone, and with God when I’m there.

Growing up, I without question had the best room in the house. It was spacious and quiet and I was so completely gifted by the view that I had from that upstairs window. Sitting up each morning, still draped in my covers, I would look past the branches of our gigantic grandfather oak, down at a gentle and serene inland lake. Our little lake even on stormiest of days never had waves that seemed threatening; just a bit darker and greyer in color.

With each passing month I would be privy to so much satisfaction.

In the spring, I would watch the ice thaw, from cracks, to chunks, to the wide open water. When it was finally warm enough to open window I would breathe in the fresh new air coming off the lake. I would listen to the sounds of rowing and hoisting. A lot of times, this was my little brother getting ready or coming in from catching some fish.

In the summer, I would hear laughing and splashing from the very first to the very last days of the season, echoing from a nearby dock. Some days I would even hear the flip of a fish jumping near the shore. In the morning, the light could be so bright that it would scatter glitter everywhere on the surface.

It looked magical. I would dream of mermaids living in it.

In the fall, there was always a day when I realized the autumn colors were all being reflected from one end of the lake to the other; each year although it was to be expected… it was completely breathtaking.

In the winter, the lake would freeze over, and I would stare out at the white open space and watch people ice skating, fishing, and riding their winterized motorcycles. I would hear the whining of the motors as they zipped around the track. On other days I would enjoy the quiet and the still………as flakes of snow gently landed over it.

Penned into her pregnancy journal, there is a page where my mom writes that she thinks someday, I will probably really love swimming…..because every time she takes a shower, all I do is kick and kick and kick.

What a brilliant and exciting observation to read; as she was so right. Swimming is a calling to my soul. I love to slip beneath the surface and open my eyes to the blur beneath. I love to feel the weight over my body as I glide with the current and listen as my heart beats loudly in my ears before I come up for air. Once I emerge, the cool refreshing sense beads over me, reminding me that I am alive. As I type this, my chest aches to go back or forward to obtain this moment.

I LOVE WATER. No matter how I am feeling, I can go to water. I’m guessing it sounds a little silly, probably a bit too poetic- but it is 100% the truth. I am completely drawn to water. I love to wash my hands and let them linger beneath the faucet. I love to be rained on. I love to see water, smell water, and be on or in water.

This is why I love North Eastern Michigan.

THIS IS WHY I LOVE ALPENA.

We are SURROUNDED by water.

We are surrounded by the grounding energy that I NEED;

That my MIND and SPIRIT pine for.

At one time, I lived in Central Michigan. I was attending college at the time… and I was happy. I loved the moderately sized campus, the friendly people and the culture in general. It was big enough to feel different than where I was from, but country enough to keep me comfortable. It was a great transition for me, as I am NOT a city girl.

However, one thing I longed for….was water.

For all of my life, driving to town meant driving down the lakeside. Driving home, meant going to bed looking at the moon over the water. I couldn’t do that in this place. I missed the coastline. I missed my inland lake.

I frequently took my puppy on walks in a nearby park that sat on a small river. This was the place I could seek and I did. Sometimes we would picnic there and a lot of times I studied there. But it just wasn’t enough.

Coming back home was a gift.

In my life, I’ve come across a number of people that tend to judge others on where they choose to live. Especially when others choose to live “back home.” In our country, there is a repeated message that success means “getting out.” Success means, “making your own way.” I agree this is one type of achievement, and I envy many people who have landed somewhere new. I love to travel, and I love many places that I’ve seen. I will always have a fire for seeing more. I have spent many hours entertaining the idea that if I wanted, I could wake up every morning to salty sea air and an entire year of steamy hot and sunny weather. In these moments, I’m usually angry about winter and I get excited and overly motivated to make this my path.

But then I imagine getting into my pretend car, and driving through my pretend town….and I don’t see my family. I don’t see my friends and I don’t see my home.

I am intensely grateful for something, and that I’ve been reminded by husband, that sets me apart from other people. Living in Alpena, I have most of my family, both of my very best friends, and most of my husband’s family all living right here. In one day, and about a 30 mile radius, I could visit them all if I wanted. Sometimes this even happens.

At a recent community event, we were all in attendance! As my daughters trick-or-treated up and down the village streets, they embraced their Papa and Nini, their Grandma and Grandpa, their Great Grandma, their Aunts and Uncles, their cousins and best friends. I joked with my besties and took pictures with their kiddos, and enjoyed a day with everyone I love.

That is simply amazing.

My heart feels full and I am grateful for these memories. These people aren’t strange to my daughters, they are familiar and safe. They are the faces of people they see all the time.

Although my beach-side hammock sometimes mentally wanders in and out, I don’t feel truly compelled to go there. I don’t feel motivated to get up and settle anywhere else, because here I have it all.

I have the beauty and energy from the water, which I need for a balanced soul; and I have the pillars of my life in the support and smiles from the people I love most.

Right here, is where I have my bit of earth and where I have my tribe.

I hope to be fortunate enough to continue traveling throughout my life and experience more of our delightful planet…visiting here or there, but I know I will always come back.

I will always come home.

During my final days, I will look out happily on a North East Michigan Lake. This I am quite certain. And I will feel peace and gratitude in my heart, knowing my greatest decision was to be right here. Being with the ones I love. I will have succeeded at life, and what that means for me. I will have no regrets, and my soul will fly free.

Free like the bird, free as the sun…

Over the lake I go…

Gratitude Challenge- Day 11: The Place You Live