Ever since I encouraged you to e-mail us at email@example.com and tell us about a movie, TV show, book, play, song, recipe, remembrance, person, dream or life’s experience that takes you to your Happy Place, I have received so many wonderful submissions that I have decided to turn this column into a regular series. It began with my initial personal post about how I've found my own Happy Place, continued with a post featuring the first submissions we've received, and was followed up most recently by my essay on returning to the movie theater after a five-year absence.
Today there is a palpable excitement emanating from the places of joy experienced by our contributors. In the video of the day I highlight Tara, because she shares her yoga breathing technique that takes her to her Happy Place, and says is guaranteed to help each of us find it as well! Myrin finds joy in movement, and during the Quarantine discovered a unique way to continue wearing his dancing shoes. Ruth Ann, Melissa, Isabella and Sue-Ellen found their groove at the movies, with Melissa finding particular joy as a director and Ruth Ann finding pride as a producer. Isabella even invited her family for a socially distant movie night. And Laura finds her groove while laying back in nature listening to music. She generously shares some of her playlist with us.
Enjoy the reflections featured below, and look out for our next edition of #HappyPlace where we highlight people who find joy in helping others. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your own Happy Place.—Chaz Ebert
Myrin New, IT Consultant, MyNew Technologies
My days are usually occupied with building web spaces and trouble-shooting coding solutions. So when I want to find my #HappyPlace, I do it through movement. Prior to the pandemic, both in Chicago and California I could dance with women friends on the beach or at public plazas. However, the Quarantine took us to a more isolated space because our health guidelines suggest that we minimize contacts with others. Being single, there was a mirror and me, so I created a mirror dance that imitates the art of dancing with someone. I figured whatever expressions emanated from the soul would surely show up in the mirror. Essentially, my joy is dancing and seeing it for myself illuminates that joy even more.
Ruth Ann Harnisch, President of The Harnisch Foundation and Producer
As I have been around for seven full decades, I am fortunate to have many Happy Places. The most appropriate one to share here is the time my husband Bill and I were at Ebertfest, among the Executive Producers of Kogonada’s debut feature "Columbus". We were honored to receive the “Golden Thumb” awards, which we keep in a prominent place so we can look at each other and smile every time, remembering the warm welcome, the marvelous Ebertfest team, the hospitality of the festival’s home town, the joy of helping to bring a beautiful movie to theaters and that gorgeous theater in particular. We will never forget the one-woman-extravaganza, the delightful Chaz, onstage and backstage, a true leader and role model for living. We give our own “Thumbs Up!” to our Golden Thumbs all the time. Instant Happy Place. Forever grateful.
Sue-Ellen Chitunya, Filmmaker and Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
Thank you for that beautiful read on Untamed Joy! I have several happy places, and below are some of them...
Laura Podlesny, Music Enthusiast
Here is a selfie of me in my Happy Place! With no live music this summer I’m listening to my favorite jams while chilling in the grass. Experiencing nature and music! I especially love listening to classic rock favorites like Led Zeppelin, Genesis, The Who and the Beatles, as well as other favorites like the Goo Goo Dolls and REM to Motown and smooth jazz. Very, very eclectic for sure. What a wonderful idea to have us stop to really concentrate on what brings us joy. Here’s to all of our Happy places!
Melissa Haizlip, Director of "Mr. Soul!"
Melissa Haizlip finds her Happy Place in being a first-time director of a documentary that has both historical and personal importance, "Mr. Soul!" This award-winning documentary about the groundbreaking public television show was hosted by her uncle, Ellis Haizlip. It is dedicated to spotlighting key figures in the Black Arts Movement. The virtual cinema release of the film is the focus of the above segment from Spectrum News 1 SoCal. Click on the video to watch morning co-Anchor Melvin Robert interview the director. For more information on how to view the film, click here.
Isabella Levi's Outdoor Theater, Retired Postal Worker
My name is Isabella Levi, and my Happy Place is with my children and grandchildren. I'm a retired letter carrier of 38 years, and it has been difficult to be quarantined and isolated, but I find refuge in my family. We try to observe the rules so that we can stay safe when we are visiting because we have several generations. So we found a way to enjoy a movie together while remaining socially distant. My daughter, Tamesha McCord, set everything up in our backyard on Chicago's northwest side. We rigged up an outdoor projector and screen so that we would be out in fresh air, and we were careful to wear masks. My daughter brought the screen and projector because that is what everyone is doing now: watching movies in their backyard.
The picture posted above is of us celebrating my oldest son's 50th birthday with a movie night in the back yard. We had movie food and really tried to duplicate the movie-going experience. We ate nachos with cheese sauce, tacos, as well as hot dogs, polish sausages and all the condiment to go with them. We had wine and punch, and asked everyone to bring their preferred movie snacks like candy and popcorn. We watched the films "Black Cop" and "Bad Boys for Life." Everyone had a great time. My son thoroughly enjoyed himself, and it really brought me to my Happy Place.
Tara Sheahan's Yoga Breathing Exercise
Tara Sheahan shares how she finds her Happy Place teaching Breathelab natural nose breathing to millions of people who want an instant way to find a burst of uplift. Her music is created by son Aidan ‘Sunfeather.’ He created this track for Erica Ford’s New York Peace Week, an event to end gun violence with love-in-action.
"We’re designed to breathe through our nose - it’s how we secrete ‘feel good’ hormones by activating the lower lobes of the lungs," says Tara. She learned the neurobiology of breathing when she was 42 years old and training for the Winter Olympics in cross country skiing. She then studied and taught meditation and breath work for 20 years. "I wanted a quick way to get the benefits of a more quiet mind and inner happiness. And believe it or not your Nose knows how to get you there," says Tara.
Tara gives us a tip if we want to continue. "You can find more Breathelab practices at newly launched www.Ameliorate-Your-Life.com, an extraordinary wellness program from the comfort of your own home!"