I knew the moment I stepped onto the grounds of the gardens that I had found somewhere special. Somewhere that made my heart sing. A place that felt like "home". A place of peace, love, and hope. I was 24 and had made my first trip back east to North Carolina. We were visiting the Biltmore mansion as part of a LDS Institute Choir tour. The massion itself, though beautiful and historic, gave me the creeps. But the gardens, oh the gardens. I swore I would never leave.
Several years later, on a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia to visit my sister, I felt those same feelings again. A hadn't felt them since that magical day in NC. While touring the gardens at the Governor's Palace, I plopped down on a bench and vowed to someday have a garden like this at my home. It was my happy place.
But then, I realized I had a small problem. I live in Utah. A desert. With very few trees compared to back east. Grass goes brown by late fall and the flowers only bloom part of the year. I couldn't have a garden like that, they didn't exist in Utah. Or so I thought.
Then one day, my husband took our young family to one of his favorite camping spots in Southern Utah. I have to admit, though I am in awe of the red rock, it doesn't really excite me much. But this place, with it's orchards, beautiful garden, and staggering cliffs, it brought back that feeling again. Capitol Reef. Where the deer come right up to you and almost eat out of your hand. Where you can enter multiple orchards and pick right from the tree, sit down on the fence and enjoy the fruit. Where you can get homemade ice cream for a buck and eat it next to the old farm house while the horses mingle around the old barn. For a country girl like me, this feels like home.
Early in the fall our family decided to take a camping/fishing trip to Fish Lake (another favorite spot for Jimmy's family). After spending the night fishing in the rain, sleeping in the cold, and catching NOTHING, I was done. And so were the kids. It had been an unusually challenging summer and my Spirit was struggling to find peace. While packing up to go home Jimmy made a joke about taking the extra hour trip to visit Capitol Reef and my heart skipped a beat. I was joking when I said yes.
As we drove past the familiar rock formations and got closer to the orchards, my heart began to finally feel peace. We didn't really have an agenda, just a few hours to spare and a couple bucks for ice cream. My kids didn't want to leave the orchard after we picked a bag full of apples, and neither did I.
So what's the lesson here? To go to Capitol Reef? While I think it's a great place that you should check out, the real lesson is, take the time to be in your happy place. Don't let life be so busy that you don't stop to allow your Spirit to feel "home". You know, our plan at the beginning of that trip was to get home early enough to clean out the car, eat dinner at home, and get to bed early. But as we pulled in near midnight, I didn't feel bad that our plans had changed. I felt that it was a little tender mercy from Heaven and I'm grateful we listened to the little voice that invited us to change our plans.
So where's your happy place? When is the last time you were there?
Can I share one more thought that a dear friend and interior decorator shared with me a few weeks ago. She was in my home helping me with some ideas to make it feel more peaceful and comfortable. She asked me where my happy place was. When I told her of the gardens she presented me with an idea. "If we can't get you to the gardens, let's bring the gardens to you." We talked of some of the different elements that I loved about the gardens and Capitol Reef and brainstormed ideas of how to incorporate that into my home. (I will post what we came up with once it's done). Then she invited me to visualize that as I went about tasks in my home, I imagine that I was in that happy place. You know something, it worked!
So I invite you to give it a try. Incorporate things that remind you of your happy place into your home, then spend some time imagining you are there. It changes everything!