Summertime and Stormy Weather

I knew something was awry. Something huge and I'd look around at other people and wonder what their key to happiness was.  I was specifically looking at other couples. Why were some couples happier than others? What made a good couple work?  I watched.  Kids? A house? A bigger house? A tattoo? Definitely NOT the tattoo, by the way.

But I think I was barking up the wrong tree the whole time.  This is what I think is the case...Happy couples are happy because the individuals are happy. I know, duh, right?

I know there are lots of other ingredients too- a dash of this and a smidge of that, plus some chemistry and ta da- a happy couple.  Way to oversimplify, I know.

At least that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.  It's a complicated question- what makes a happy couple and I think it's slippery, like a fish.

My happy quest was on. The pace is slower here.  The mother guilt is at an all time low. Money is never falling out of trees so, the low cost Happy Quest had begun. Bring it.

And this is what I learned...
And that, my friends, is a happiness killer.

I think somewhere along the line I forgot how to have fun.  I could blame it on a million different things; work, kids, laundry, my husband, ironing, the dog but the bottom line was it was my fault. I knew what happy was NOT. Bummer, huh? I think young mothers are especially prone to this condition.  And it IS a condition. It's right there in the DSM-5 under "Burnt Out".

Then I stumbled on happy. A little bit here, a little bit there.  Writing. That made me happy. I knew if I wrote a little and it wasn't complete garbage, I was happy. Hiking made me happy (when I wasn't dry heaving somewhere).   Scootering down a mountain screaming, "This is the best method of transportation EVER!", shot the happiness quotient way up.  A water balloon fight with the kids- that was pretty good, too.

Yesterday it was paddle boarding.  I have been dying to try this for at least four years. Peppered people with questions, fondled them in the shops, hinted at holidays. Begged at holidays.  Then I saw a posting for group lessons being offered at the lake. Cost was reasonable. Had an instructor.  I just had to show up.  And in typical fashion, I almost blew it.

Decided the house needed a tidy, couldn't find the right suit, couldn't find the car park, Caroline didn't feel well, I hadn't made them lunch- they will starve, and on and on. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to fun.

I got there and it was just two other women and myself. One who had  never done it, like myself, and the other fairly confident but content to paddle along with others for the company.

I was super worried I wouldn't be able to stand up- like water skiing. Then, what if I fell in? Could I get myself back on? Maybe. Maybe not.

I got out. Stood up and paddled away. Love.  I fell in. Got up. Paddled away again. Still love.

Started chatting with the other American who showed up. She has an unusual name. How'd she get her name? Does a name influence personality? Was she named for someone? How'd they get that name?  All fun, legitimate questions. My son Sam is named after a Sam I used to babysit for.  That Sam was named for a Sam whose name wasn't actually Sam but everyone called Sam. You follow that?

Then I said, "If  this isn't a perfect day, I don't know what is."  Then Ms. Unusual Name started to sing.  First, 'Stormy Weather'. On the lake while paddle boarding.  In a beautiful alto voice. And then, this song by Ella Fitzgerald, 'Summertime'.

Happy. So much fun...I'm catching on. A little bit of fun, goes a long way to happy.  You just gotta try. It's too easy to get bogged down in stuff that DOESN'T MATTER. Happy matters. If I stayed home to vacuum, I would have missed being sung to while paddle boarding on a lake in Switzerland.  For vacuuming?  Awww, HELL NO.

So get your fun on. Nothing to lose. You just have to show up.  

I  almost felt like cooking after that. Almost.


  1. Jen! What an amazing post! After reading this, I think I may just have to take you up on the paddle boarding offer. Unfortunately, though there will be pitch perfect singing from my side.

  2. There is nothing more wonderful than a day on a board. Paddle, surf, boogie, wind or kite. Just get out and have FUN. And Jen, you crack me up...your own worst enemy when it comes to having fun. Smiled at that! Go again and post some pics next time!!! From Chris Pruski

  3. "Happy couples are happy because the individuals are happy". - what wisdom, Jen! It took me a half a lifetime to figure that out. Now just hoping my husband will too. Honestly, it is so hard for some people to be happy. The thing is, I can make myself happy without others around me, though I do agree that fun goes a long way. But if you constantly need others to make you happy, then you're in trouble.

    By the way, paddleboarding is SO on my bucket list too (if I had a bucket list).


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