More Happy Hours, Please

I’m about to meet my cousin for happy hour, which is a happy [pun intended] coincidence, because that is the topic of this blog: HAPPY HOUR! (I have you hooked now, don’t I?)

Now, to be fair—I’m probably not talking about the same kind of happy hour you’re imagining. (Sorry.) But, keep reading and I think you’ll be happy you did! (Pun intended, again.)

. . .

I KEEP having this experience where I’m working out and getting into a really zen place (which is exactly why I work out!) and then all the sudden --*BAM*--I find myself thinking about something decidedly un-zen: Washington, D.C..

A little context for this mind wandering. I lived in DC for about a year while doing a fellowship, and that year was roughhh. I was in a long distance relationship with a controlling and manipulative partner, which meant I was always being pulled in (at least) two directions and being told I wasn’t good enough. (‘Not being good enough’ is one of my saboteurs, so I didn’t need anyone else reminding me of this on the reg —I heard/still hear it from myself often enough as it is!)

The job I’d moved for turned out to be a whole lot different than I’d imagined (not in a good way). I quit drinking, so I was learning to deal with that, and all the things that come along with sobriety, and I was broke. Plus, our house got bed bugs. To be fair, there were some extremely bright spots, too, but they shone against a very dark backdrop.

(At this point you are probably wondering what the hell this has to do with happy hour. Bear with me. I promise we’ll get there.)

One of the ways I dealt with the stressors of this sometimes suuuuper depressing existence was by going to the gym. I’d had a regular workout routine before, but this year in D.C. made me fall in love with group fitness classes, and in particular, Pilates. I had a membership at the YMCA and each night after work, I’d walk from the office to the gym. The hour I spent in the studio, freeing my mind from the worries of work, or the expectations of my boyfriend and any and all other pressures, obligations or tensions was amazing. It felt like the one place where I could completely let go and relax. In a life that was go-go-go, it was a luxury to have one hour for me.

So, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that now, despite living across the country, I still find myself, in moments where I’m feeling safe and unwound, to feel like I’m back in that studio at the Y on 14thand W. It shouldn’t, but it does. It took me awhile to make the connection. At first, when during an especially relaxing shavansana, I experienced flashbacks of the literal walk from my old office to my old gym, I was creeped out. Was this some sort of sign I was supposed to move back? Was I meant to live in D.C.? Certainly not, right?

It wasn’t until a month or so ago, actually—nearly three years after moving back, and just about as many years of experiencing these weird pangs of nostalgia—that I realized what I was really missing. It clicked when I was side planking. “Ahhhh,” I sighed to myself. “That was my happy hour! I’m going to my happy place—and I’m experiencing that same joy: feeling free, safe, sheltered.”

So that’s the happy hour I’m talking about—the one bit of time you carve out of your day (or maybe just every other day; or week) where you can find what allows you to feel happy, fulfilled, calm, whatever it is you need to feel.

For me, I have a hard time feeling completely calm and relaxed. My brain has a hard time shutting off and letting me unwind, even during relaxing activities like a hot bath or massage. It’s essential for me to find ways to trigger that feeling in my body and mind that allows them to let go and ease into our “happy hour.”

And what your happy hour is probably not mine. But I’m willing to bet you have something that sends signals to your body and brain that tells them they can turn off a little, relax a little and enjoy. So will you try it this week?

Maybe start by figuring out what was your Washington, D.C. YMCA Pilates class moment: a moment where you felt completely safe, free and happy? And then see if there’s something in your life that lets you evoke that feeling, to replicate it. Gardening? A long run? Getting lost in a good book or a great conversation? Painting, knitting or creating in some other way? Whatever it is, I invite you to try to see if you can find it and then schedule in your happy hour this week and prioritize it just as you would a “real” happy hour (at the bar, with drinks).

Let me know how it goes! If you’d like to explore more about the idea of how to create more hours of happy in your life, book a session now.