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Nina’s secret to happiness

What is happiness?

I have been trying to find the answer for this simple, yet philosophical question for a long time. I watch pertinent TED talk presentations and listen to podcasts on the subject. I read research papers; I took the most popular online class at Yale University: The Science of Well-Being.

I even started a Laughing Club here in Bermuda that meets at noon each Saturday under the ’laughing tree’ in the Botanical Gardens. My wish is to create and share happy, wonderful moments because we all carry sadness, and sadness can be a heavy burden.

I had not seen my mom, Vera, for over a year-and-a-half. When I was leaving her last time at her apartment in San Francisco, I told her that I would come back in four months after my trip to Thailand. I was certain of my plans, and we confirmed the return date. This helped ease my reluctance to leave her.

After my wellness studies in Thailand my husband Bill and I went for a brief scuba diving trip to outer Indonesia. Upon our return to the capital in Bali to fly home we were locked down there instead, captives of the pandemic for five months.

With great difficulty, we finally made it back to Bermuda last August. Yet, I was still not able to travel safely to see my mom in San Francisco until I got my vaccination.

All these months, I prayed and hoped that I would see my mom alive.

She is 84 years old and has been alone for over a year at her small apartment in one of the worst-hit cities in America. Her friend and neighbour, a vibrant and eternally positive companion, died in January. She loved him dearly and the shock pushed her into dementia.

I felt so powerless! The pandemic was raging in San Francisco and the city was closed to out-of-state travel. If I even attempted to see her, I could possibly infect her!

My heart was broken into small, desperate pieces. I was devastated that I couldn’t help and support her in this most challenging time of her life. I couldn’t fly in and help her. I couldn’t bring her to her doctor.

I called every day and kept repeating, “One more month, just one more month, we can do it, we are strong! Please hold on, wait for me! We will be together!”

She always answered calmly, “Yes, my dear, I know one day we will see each other.” Her name translated from Russian means “faith” and my whole life she taught me to believe in a better and sunnier future.

I am writing this now in San Francisco. I am with my mom.

When I hugged her the first time it was as if I were a soldier coming back home after war. I was crying with relief and joy; she is alive and we are together.

On a warm, sunny day last week we went to one of my favourite parks, a lovely hidden gem in the heart of the city. We sat in the sunshine by a flowing wall of water and I held her hand. Spring was in the air, and the cherry blossoms in full and fragrant bloom.

A wave of happiness flooded me, and I thought with sudden clarity, “This is the happiness you were looking for. Here right now, in this moment!”

It was a peaceful afternoon in the near deserted city. We didn’t speak. We smiled, and I knew she was sharing the very same happiness.

We often think that major events in our lives will make us happy, but it’s all about brief and special moments; the first smile of your child, the contagious laugh of your father, your thoughtful mother who covers you with an extra blanket on a cold and starry night.

These jewels given to us in life reveal the beating heart of happiness. Hold these moments tightly! Never let them go!

Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at www.ninalondon.com

Nina London and her mother Vera recently reunited in San Francisco having spent more than a year without seeing each other in person (Photograph by Tatiana White)

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Published April 08, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated April 08, 2021 at 12:12 pm)

Nina’s secret to happiness

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