Dancing Amid the Stars

Before I write about a wonderful night I never wish to forget, I apologize for not blogging here. Quora, Medium and my book edit have kept me busy, along with other irons in the fire. I promise to post here twice a month going forward. Ready?

I had the perfect July 4th (a day early, but who’s keeping track?) evening with the person I love more than any other I’ve ever met. We perched on the chairs overlooking the creek that is a small trickle, devoured brats (think large hot dogs) and sipped minty mojitos from icy glasses. We laughed about life, watched as the sun swung herself over the edge of the trees and noticed hundreds of lightning bugs playing in the darkened woods.

We had a second round of my new favorite drink, and I idly watched as the thumbnail crescent moon made her own early descent. My husband had brought out a speaker, and as we listened to Ohioans enjoying the new law opening up the use of fireworks, we took turns choosing songs. We started singing through Ed Sheeran and Chris Stapleton, made our way to some duets, and then we had ourselves a dance party.

The sweltering heat dissipated as the coolness from the woods surrounding our home crept up the hill and found its way into our laps, so the night begged for dancing. As we tried to dance the way we did in the 80s, we laughed, showed off to no one other than some scared deer at most, and we acted like college kids at a bar.

Since we first met, officially, at a dance bar in college, our lives have included dancing at various points. We took ballroom, and we only remember the waltz now; we cranked Nirvana and jumped around the living room with our small daughters. James Taylor entered our world as our son was born, so he would swing to Sweet Baby James. The Foo Fighters, Eagles, and even EDM have compelled us to dance.

I think tonight will be tucked away carefully in my mind. The stars gleamed above and while at times so many different people were enjoying their fireworks, we laughed about it sounding like a night of shooting. It felt like the old Wild West or a Western film. The night full of booms and the skittering bangs of multiple small firecrackers set the stage for us to abandon our normally quiet selves and enjoy one another amid music.

Sipping the cooling mint and rum for a quick moment between singing and dancing took me back to when I first met this man. He’s remarkably lithe and nimble for a guy who lifts weights regularly and is 6′ 2″. I imagine I look like I’ve been struck over the head a few too many times as I jump, twirl, swing my arms wildly, and even use some tai chi movements to add to the laughter. Suffice to say we would never do this in public, but we don’t care overmuch what the raccoons, deer, foxes, turtles, owls and bullfrogs think about our sweet moves.

As the tree cuddled the slip of a moon and sent it to sleep, we would sit and sing to the night, hoping our neighbors didn’t mind. I did sing in another life, and at one time I almost left high school to head to NYC and try my luck in theater. Thankfully I made the decision to let my friend head there alone, or I wouldn’t have met my soul mate. The man who has my back and more. The only person on the planet who has seen me as I am at all times. Weird, funny, loving music, missing playing (tune that piano is perpetually on my to-do list) and dancing with a man who freaky dances when needed.

My mind flew out to the time when our whole family sat on the back porch drinking whiskey and singing to Foreigner. I had no idea my kids liked that music, but they adore the 80s and wish they had lived through it. Concerts were cheap, and all I had to do was skip physics class to leave with my friends and buy tickets to Genesis, Devo, the Cars, or Elvis (Costello).

Or the time in the car when my husband and I had just belted out, Hello, by Adele, only to have my son follow that by singing in a perfect falsetto, some song I never knew, but it was fast with words spilling out of his mouth at a rapid rate. His sisters, judging by their laughter, had no idea little brother could sing. Or at least cover a song by a woman that was so sky-high.

But tonight was for me and my guy, and we needed this. The sound of continual shootings (fireworks courtesy of teens everywhere), starlight, mojitos, and music. And laughter.

I hope you find yourself on a July evening full of fireflies, moonlight, and music someday with a person you love more than life. And that you dance.

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold…
– Deanna Eppers

If we only knew…

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Isn’t this candle wonderful? For us, I mean. Since we’re on a happiness journey, it’s fun to  find little treasures to grace our days. I decided to give this sweet candle away. There really is such a thing as too much of a good thing, which, in my case, means I am candled out. But the message is perfect. Be happy today. I think the “be” is particularly poignant, since someone close to me is hurting and I’m not feeling the “be” right now.

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Let me explain. Someone I love dearly was completely blindsided by the love of their life (thus far) telling them they were no longer loved or at least, not loved as much. I feel their pain. It’s hard to sit on the sidelines and watch someone you love swim through the deep end of murky, unknown waters. Rejection is never fun, but going through a tough time helps us learn more about ourselves. And we discover resilience. Eventually, moments of sunlight give way to days of sun washed happiness. We find our way.

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I’ve always wondered about (and envied) the people who find love the first time they dip their toes in the dating waters. They stay together, marry, and still stay together. They didn’t muck through the mud of rejection. Are they as happy as I am, since I loved a few people on my way to the guy I really fell for. And married. Has your heart been burned? Frozen on a frigid night? Have you thought happiness would never run through your veins again? That the laughter spilling from your soul was quenched? And you thought it would last forever?

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The person I gave this sweet candle to just wandered in from several months of realizing the one she thought she was settling down with, meant she was settling for a lot of bad. (I didn’t know until right before their break-up.) She can light that candle tonight and smile with true happiness again. It’s back, but it seemed as though night claimed her heart forever. Have you been there, ever?  I wonder if there isn’t something necessary about the process. About feeling sad, left out and alone. Finding our way through tough times just might lead us to a much better place; a place filled with a sense of happiness and contentment. And peace.

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Our souls are fragile. To be in love feels heady, warm and wonderful. To have loved over many, many years is bottled happiness. I would “be” happy today if it weren’t for one close to me being rocked to the core. Because I know what that feels like. Actually, add in a summer’s worth of girls on the side, and that’s what I faced. Long ago, when I wore the body of a college girl, tanned from a summer of sun, I eagerly returned to college to find a cheat where I once knew a kind, sweet boy. You too? Huh. And if not that, maybe you’ve felt the sting of rejection at the hands of friends. Maybe your family. Where is the happiness in those days? I’ll tell you.

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Time. It heals. The love of others sustained me, too. Roommates, determined to see my smile, made me laugh. In spite of the cold center in my heart. Frost had touched it, and I never thought it would feel warmth again. But it did. Oh please, know your breaking heart, for whatever reason is going to come out whole, will feel love, will thaw and seem light as the air on a warm and breezy May evening. I’ve been there myself, and I’ve walked that road with each of my children now too.

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Be happy today? Did you also receive a handful or a heartful of sadness today? Hang on through this ride, because you will find your way to blissed out, singing at the top of your lungs in the shower kind of day soon. You’ll weather the storm. Even if someone just told you they don’t love you…anymore. Or as much. Or that they found another love. Or someone told you how wrong you are, when you meant well. Are you wandering through waves of misunderstanding? Are you being shunned? Does it feel like that?

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I so want you to find your happiness today. Be happy. Tonight too. But if you only want to huddle under a blanket and eat Oreo’s until midnight, go ahead. I think chocolate is a part of a well-balanced diet. Because I know this…

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You will have days and nights where you will feel drunk with happiness. Love you enough to find kind hearts to surround you and make you laugh in spite of yourself. Take those runs. Walks. Do jazzercise like my 77 year old dad. Then find a small treat and bring it home. One red rose. A sweet tea (I had two today! with less sugar, yesss!). A dance party in the kitchen while listening to great music that you have to sing with. Even if your nose is stuffy from crying. Because you will find your way back to happy.

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I have to admit my heart still hurts tonight. Writing about finding happiness doesn’t mean I feel super happy every moment of the day. But this will pass. Happy days will be here again. By the time May runs into me, I hope to be taking pics of sun laced days where being happy isn’t something to aspire to. I’ll just fall into it, languidly. I hope you will too. We’ll look out for each other along the way. So try to be happy today. Be happy today. Find it. It’s out there, waiting for you. I promise.

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Until next time…