If you're like many, you probably need a regular dose of sunshine. It keeps your spirits high and your thoughts optimistic and happy.
But what happens when the sunshine is obscured behind clouds?
I well remember the days of growing up in New Jersey and facing more than my fair share of overcast weather. The same could be said of my college days in Boston. Winters would bring weeks of gray that cast a shadow over my vibrancy and sense of well-being.
It was a childhood dream for me to move to a brighter and kinder climate. For the past several decades, I've been fortunate to call the "sunshine state" of Florida my home. We enjoy far more sunshine than most of the country and serve as a go-to destination for many a weary and weather-starved traveler.
Recently, I was reminded of my first trip to England. Despite the many trips I'd taken overseas, England was never on my bucket list -- precisely because of the drizzly, dreary weather I'd associated with this rainy island nation.
My daughter and I, however, happily accepted an offer to visit a college friend who was living and working in London. It was a great opportunity for us to enjoy a free stay at his Kensington flat.
As our plane began its descent into London's Gatwick Airport, I encountered the familiar heaviness I'd dreaded as a child. It was a feeling that would creep into my body, my thoughts and my soul when too much grayness served as a backdrop to our northern New Jersey skies.
Only moments earlier, I was relishing the bright sunshine of an early morning sky. Like a shimmering light, the sun's beaming rays encapsulated our jet as if greeting us in pleasant welcome.
Now, this generally optimistic woman who felt buoyant, happy and free was suddenly wondering anew. Could I make the most of the coming stay when I was already feeling daunted by the London fog and damp?
Before the sparkling rays of sunshine turned to foreboding clouds of near black, an enlightening thought struck me: The Sun is Always Shining!
The sun might become temporarily obscured by dark clouds -- and, by analogy, life circumstances -- but I could remind myself that it is always present. My thoughts just needed to be mindful of what was above the clouds rather than below them.
I spent the rest of my stay in London concentrating not on the inconsistent weather, but on the many opportunities the city offered. History, culture, museums and so much more awaited us. Whether the sun appeared was no longer my focus: I knew that it was present whether I could see it shine or not.
Much of our life falls into similar patterns of thought. We can focus on what we fear, resist or dislike. We can alternately remind ourselves of the many pleasant things we are attracted to and enjoy. And that was how I spent my stay in London, drinking in much of what I'd read, heard and learned about but never previously experienced.
The next time I traveled to London was a decade later. This time, I there to visit our daughter who was living and working in the city -- and loving it.
Did I fret again about the gray days and overcast skies I'd fought off as a child? Hardly. I was too busy taking in the joys all around me. I'd changed my mind to reflect reality. The sun was always shining -- even in London -- and I captured the moment by having our daughter take the photo of me at the top of this post.
Wishing you the ever-present sunshine of happiness in life, too!