Organized Rambling: Happy Places

Organized Rambling

Do you have Happy Places? I’m sure you do. Whether in a creative mindset, out in nature, dining at your favorite restaurant, or just being “here” with your person, we all have “places” that make us happy in specific ways.

Being the sentimental and nostalgic romantic I am, I have several Happy Places. For this less serious post, I’d like to share them with you to encourage you to consider what places make you most happy too.

Happy Place: Frances Park in Lansing, Michigan

Frances Park

Located on Moores River Drive in Lansing, Frances Park was a staple of my childhood years. A city park featuring a rose garden, a woodland trail, and a scenic overlook of the Grand River checked all the boxes for the girl who adored The Secret Garden, fairy tales, and anything connected to Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (roses), even though, as time went on, it became evident that I’m more of a Belle (#books) than an Aurora. 

One of the dreamiest features of the park is a vine-laden pergola, where wedding ceremonies upon wedding ceremonies have taken place over the years.

McLean & Eakin Booksellers

So, I love books, hence being more like Belle. I enjoy finding good books at libraries, resale shops, and online, but my favorite book-related place is McLean & Eakin Booksellers in downtown Petoskey. And it’s not only because I can find fantastic books at this establishment; it’s also because the atmosphere is homey, the window displays are thoughtful, and every staff member is friendly and pleased to help. I don’t think I’ve ever left without a book in hand, and more often than not, I walk out with more than I intended to take home. But, as a friend and I like to remind ourselves–our addictions could be far worse than books.

I also just love being surrounded by my books. Full shelves and floor stacks make my heart feel happy and content.

North Perk Coffee

Another happy haunt of mine is North Perk Coffee on Howard Street in Petoskey. So many good memories and conversations have taken place in booths and at high-tops amidst the comforting aroma of coffee and bustle of cheerful baristas. Unfortunately, I don’t make it in as often as I would like or as regularly as I used to, but I hope to change that soon–I need more warm and toasty bevvies in my life!

I recommend trying their inventive and flavorful seasonal concoctions. I do from time to time, but I’m also a sucker for consistency, and the Petoskey Fog and classic North Perk latte are my go-to choices.

The Lyric Theatre

I have seen so many films at Harbor Springs’ Lyric Theatre–it’s simply the best place to relax and soak up cinema. Beyond a doubt, this is the cleanest movie theater I’ve ever been to (their bathroom soap is divine, and all stalls have their doors intact), and they pop the tastiest popcorn, in which they liberally dress with real butter. The Lyric makes me feel cozy like I’m curled up in a blanket on the couch. Years ago, I was bold enough to admit via Tweet that this was my Happy Place, and the Lyric retweeted me–major fan-girl moment.
My last viewing was the second Downton Abbey movie (far better than the first, IMHO), and I hope to see Where the Crawdads Sing next because I read the book and would love to compare the page-to-screen adaptation.

Posing with the pig statue at Uncle Frank's Apple Town

Autumnal Settings

This one is a tad open-ended, but any crisp and cozy fall setting brings immense happiness to my little spooky spirit. Soup and warm bread while the wind blows on a gray day; sipping tea or cider while turning pages of your current can’t-put-it-down read; crunching leaves under your boots while walking down the sidewalk; selecting a pumpkin and eating donuts in the farm parking field; watching classic horror movies in the dark; napping to the sound of fall showers or burning caramel and bourbon candles while I knit. I feel like I just described a wily white witch or a quirky spinster who loves scarves like Mrs. Whatsit from A Wrinkle in Time, but I guess the boot fits. 

Every October, I get a pumpkin from Uncle Frank’s Apple Town, and during each visit, I stop by to see my favorite pig statue. I would’ve absconded with him ages ago if I wasn’t a mostly upstanding citizen. But alas, I found his smashed remains on-site last year. RIP, mon cochon.

Surrounded by Art

There’s also something about being surrounded by art that enlivens and invigorates me. I’m a simple artist with a modicum of talent, but being in the presence of others’ creations is a phenomenal experience. And after ten years of trying, I finally made it to The MSU Broad Art Museum in East Lansing last month. It isn’t easy to describe what art does to my spirit. Art permeates all aspects of life and society, in one way or another, and I love that artistic creativity possesses such power. During this time of unfolding history, where there is much anger and derision, losing myself within an exhibit and someone else’s perspective is one of the most awe-inspiring respites. 

Other art experiences worth losing yourself in: Detroit Institute of Arts, Crooked Tree Arts Center, The Modern of Fort Worth, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Louvre, and ArtPrize.

Shay-Bae, aka, Lil Ham

Now, as I said at the beginning, a Happy Place doesn’t have to be an actual physical location, but rather a “place” or “here” with someone or something. One of the best Happy Places is being wrapped up in a tight embrace with someone who loves you, and currently, my niece gives the best squeezers. Nothing warms the cockles of your heart quicker than a hug given without condition or expectation or receiving an unexpected hug from behind. 

I recently read that a person needs a minimum of four hugs each day, and I blow that quota out of the water when I’m with my niece.

Leia Kathleen

Unconditional love can be hard to find, but if you have a pet, look no further. Our pets want to be with us, and being wanted, even by a creature that cannot speak, brings happiness to any place you find yourself. Leia is almost six years old, and she is the derpiest, most shlumpy couch potato I’ve ever met. She lets you cry on her, snuggle her, put your cold feet under her warm body, eats my scraps, and her unrestrained excitement when she hears “walk” or “leash” could make the worst scrooge smile. 

I do, however, wish she could talk–I think we’d have weird lady conversations about pillows, steaky meat, and how stray cats are pretty rude.

Writing creates a Happy Place wherever I'm at.

The Writing Zone

Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer may have found exuberant happiness in the blue of the Danger Zone, but I find unbridled joy when seated, unbuckled, mind you, in front of my laptop or a notebook. When I get into the groove of writing a swath of dialogue or detailed description for my novel, hit a stride on an assignment, or dally over a blog post, deciding how to express that day’s particular brand of wit, that is pure happiness in the form of a challenge and purpose. So even though reading and writing are not everyone’s cup of tea, I’m grateful for those who find some happiness and enjoyment in what I write.

So, for me, places, people, settings, and experiences all fall under the heading of Happy Place. I think it’s good for us all to know what places bring us happiness–even if we can’t always be in that place, at least we know it exists and brings a bit more light to our hearts and memories.

Coming up next:

Monday, August 22: Gigs on gigs on gigs


3 responses to “Organized Rambling: Happy Places”

  1. Loved this! Frances Park looks gorgeous. And I always wondered what the significance of that pig statue was, haha.

    I definitely need more happy places. GT Commons is, unsurprisingly, my current numero uno happy place. But I can’t really think of any others.

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