Where’s Your Happiness Hiding?

By Sulana Stone

It’s no accident that certain stories rivet our attention. Listening to these tales with perked “inner ears” alerts us to possibilities we’ve never considered before. Reading these stories with keen “inner sight” awakens us to previously unseen guidance or support. The story I’m sharing with you touched the core of my being and propelled me towards my dream. This true tale is about Kathy, whose quest for her dream took a sudden and unexpected U-turn.

I met Kathy at a personal growth workshop. Kathy Swan is a single mom with two charming teenage girls. When her daughters dropped by the gathering to say hello, I sensed the deep love and harmony flowing between the girls and their mother. Little did they know that their rapport would soon be put to the test.

The Swan family lived in Chicago. Yet, for many years, Kathy fantasized about having a house in the country. A rural setting, my friend believed, would provide the security she craved her entire life. Finally her dream came true. Kathy was given a secluded, wooded piece of property in the rolling hills of Kentucky. After putting a mobile home on the land, the threesome moved in lock, stock and barrel.

The Dream Goes South

The remote beauty and quiet of the emerald green hills won Kathy’s heart. And for the first time in her life, she felt safe and comfortable. She had only one problem. Her daughters were miserable! The teenagers dearly missed their close friends and exciting urban bustle. The Swan’s were in turmoil. Overnight, Kathy’s dream of security turned into a nightmare of conflict.

Steve Martin Saves the Day!

After three weeks of homesteading, the frazzled family drove to the nearest town to see a movie. “Cheaper by the Dozen,” starring Steve Martin, was showing on the local faded silver screen. This motion picture turned out to be an uncanny reflection of the real-life struggle the Swans were going through in their new home. In the flick, the father of 12 children pursues his dream of coaching college football. In her life, Kathy was pursuing her dream of feeling safe. To reach his objective, the father relocates his clan from the country to the big city. To secure her goal, my friend relocated her family from the big city to the country. The kids in the screenplay don’t want to move. Kathy’s kids didn’t want to move. The celluloid dad isn’t going to let anyone get in the way of what he thinks will make him happy. Our down-home mom wasn’t going to let anyone get in the way of what she thought would give her joy—until she saw the film!

I still get goose bumps as I recall Kathy sharing her moment of insight with me. “The father reaches his professional coaching goals,” Kathy relates, “but at the price of becoming more distant from his children. In one scene, Steve Martin realizes that having his dream is meaningless without having the closeness of his children in his life.” At the moment in the film when the dad decides to bridge the gap with his children, Kathy decides to bridge the gap with her brood. The way Kathy chooses to create harmony between herself and her kids instantaneously transforms her family. In a split second, Kathy elects to move back to Chicago. Upon leaving the movie, the family goes home and packs up their belongings. Two days later, the reunified family makes their way back to The Windy City.

The U-turn to Happiness

In Kathy’s own words, “Deep down inside, I knew we HAD to return to Chicago.  The decision seemed crazy at the time. I didn’t know what we’d do when we arrived back in the city. We didn’t have any place to live. And I didn’t have a clue what I’d do for a job. All I knew was that we were going back—even if it meant we’d be sleeping in the car.”

Throughout the drive back to the city, Kathy found herself remembering a church she attended many years before. “I felt so embarrassed and vulnerable about asking them for assistance,” she candidly reveals, “because I hadn’t been a member of this congregation for such a long time. But I really needed help.” As it turned out, the minister knew someone who was looking for a caretaker for a “country estate” in the Chicago area.  The position involved taking care of the trees, shrubs, gardens and lawns on the expansive property. A spacious home on the grounds came with the deal. Kathy laughingly shares, “I always wanted to do landscaping. I’m thrilled being outdoors and really enjoy getting my hands dirty in fresh soil.” And, as fate would have it, the mother of two discovered that the estate is located in her kids’ old school district. Her daughters can attend the same school they left a month earlier and be with their cherished friends!

Getting the Message

As my friend tells her story, the hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention. I see how the universe is supplying the core essence of Kathy’s dream, if not the exact form she envisioned. The cosmos is not limited by the narrow way Kathy thought her dream needed to happen. When Kathy choose the essential qualities of what she really wants in life—love and harmony—she got them. And the safety she longed came through circumstances she never could have imagined. The Big Picture Show compassionately orchestrated Kathy’s life to provide the security and happiness she always desired.

“Let Go of the Form!”

A potent message ripples through my body: “Sulana, let go of the framework you think will make you safe and happy. Be open to the universe giving you security and joy in a form or context you don’t expect. Go after the core essence of your dream, the qualities you’re really looking for.” My spine tingles with the power of my realization.

Kathy’s story makes it clear to me that I’ve been blocking myself from my dream by believing it had to show up in a specific way. My friend’s journey reminds me of the many times that I surrendered my rigid picture of how my dream should look—then watched the real essence of my dream manifest.

The message of her story finally sinks in: “The support will be there as long as you go for the spirit—and not the form—of what you really want. Relax your grip on the way you think things have to show up and watch your dreams come true.”