Take me down to the Paradise City…

You know the song.  Love it or hate it, you know it.

I happen to love it too, but not for the hardened undertones or the screeching that only Axl Rose could pull off.  No.  I love it because even with all of the talk of drugs and death, there is still a message worth saving.  At the end of the day, we all want to go to the place that makes us happy.

This happy place is different for everyone.  It can be peaceful and quiet.  It can be filled with the noises of children and family.  It can be on a beach with your love.  It can even be in your own backyard.

For me, happy is being outside.  Fresh air and sunshine make me the happiest version of myself.  Harnessing that feeling at my own home would be the pinnacle of happiness…..

For 7 years, my husband and I have lived in a beautiful house that we have transformed into our home.  It is filled with color, memories, paw prints, and odors of our cooking conquests.  The INSIDE of our house is lovely.  The OUTSIDE was another story.

When we first moved in, the previous owners had done NOTHING with the yard.  1/3 acre of grass and weeds.  No trees, no bushes, no flowers, no color, nothing.  It’s easy to dream about what you want but when it comes time to put the shovel in the dirt, hesitations arise and you second guess your drawings.  Yes, drawings.  I like to SEE what I am going to create before actually doing it.  How do you know you’re creating the right masterpiece when all you have is a blank canvas?

We started small by planting a few burning bushes, some azaleas, a Dogwood….you know, the Virginia basics.  Not only is landscaping time consuming, it is also money consuming.  Our projects were limited by our budget and the number of nice weekend days.

Fire Pit

Last fall, my husband surprised me by building a fire pit.  Not just a store-bought fire pit on top of the grass.  A beautiful stone fire pit, big enough to grill on, centered just far enough away from our mini fruit grove, aka 2 pear trees and 1 peach tree.  This fire pit sparked the creativity to build something bigger.  An outdoor room.  A room without a roof.

For four weeks, we prepared the space with masonry tarp, created stone surrounds for our trees, dug out a larger footprint for the fire pit, and made countless trips to the local hardware store.  Hours of labor and hundreds of dollars were dedicated to making this dream a reality.



I want this space.  More importantly, I NEED this space.  Paradise City.

Why did I tell you all of this?

This winter was especially rough on my mental attitude.  Blame it on the harsh weather, the dreary days, the poor food choices, or the lack of motivation.  For some reason, winter took it’s toll on me this year.  I had been researching how to find mental balance and clearer direction.  I have been reading about meditation and it’s restorative properties, how changing your mindset can change EVERYTHING around you.  They say 10 minutes per day is enough to alter your perception and become more open-minded.  Really?!

Let me be the first to say, I’m a skeptic.  I prefer rational thought.  I like reason, logic, and things that just make sense.  I don’t want to interpret.  I’m too busy for that.  I want answers, not more questions.  Anyone else with me?

After reading the incontrovertible evidence behind meditating and creating clear head space, I was ready to accept that I might need a little help in clearing my head.  I might actually need down time to focus on nothing.  Ten minutes per day would free my mind.  Ten minutes per day would make a difference in my mood.  Ten minutes per day would create positive change in my life.  Alright, alright.  I’ll give it a shot.

I started with an app called Headspace which was highly recommended by a Les Mills Program Director.  In our instructor lives, what these people say is gold.  Seriously.  The trial was 10 days of practicing meditation with an open mind and a clear purpose.  To allow your mind to be free for 10 minutes to access more brainpower and energy for the rest of the day.

Guess what?


I felt clearer about my purpose.  I felt more balanced.  I felt happier.

Then it dawned on me.  Use the outdoor room as a peaceful space to breathe, to meditate, and to refocus.  Use the space to build happiness.  Use the space to create paradise.

When life gets busy and you are torn in multiple directions, it’s easy to forget about your own happiness in order to help others.  I know, I’m one of those people.  Sometimes we forget that our own happiness is VITAL to the happiness of those around us.  Just as you would never turn your nose up at something you want your child to taste, you can never expect the people around you to be happy if you have a sour attitude.

Forcing happiness won’t work.  Demanding peace and quiet won’t work either.

Do some searching.  Where are you happiest?  Is it at home? Out in nature? The local coffee shop?  Next time you go to this place, try to clear your head, breathe deeply, and just be in the moment.  TEN MINUTES.  Not only will you feel better, you might even feel like you’ve been transported to a place all your own.  A space where your thoughts amble about and your happiness shines.

Happiness for me is in Paradise City……

Oh, wont you please take me home!

Paradise City

1 Comment on Take me down to the Paradise City…

  1. This winter was brutal for me too. I’ve been wanting to rekindle my meditation practice,which I have sadly let disappear. I’ll definitely check out that app.

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