No matter where you reside, in the fast-paced world we live in today, finding solace can often be a challenge. When my partner Jeff and I decided to leave our big city pasts behind us (Dallas, Seattle, NYC, Boston, Austin) we moved here to The Natural State and we specifically decided Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
OK, so I could tangent here and gush about why we did that, how we chose Eureka and so much more about why we absolutely love this place but you're already on my blog which serves as home base for all my gushing, so ... happy reading! I hope that, as you read my posts, you, too, will fall in love with Eureka Springs.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog-posting . . .
Because I do my very best to live by my personal mantra - "you can't steal my happy," I've discovered that even when someone at work tries to, or a business or person in Eureka tries, or a neighbor or friend or family member tries, they rarely succeed. This is because I've discovered the power in choosing to be happy and joyful and I've taught myself (note: it takes work) that I can continue to be happy and joyful even in the most challenging situations and events that happen in my life.
Even in these idyllic settings in The Ozarks, especially in a bustling tourist town like ours, we encounter difficult people, experience fractured personal bonds and work through unique relationship challenges with others. Let's face it, people are people no matter where you go and every person has a story that's probably very different than your story.
Sure. City life had some stellar moments, don't get me wrong, but there really is truth in calling it, "the rat race." So, to escape the rat race, many seek refuge in the serenity of small towns, like our Eureka, for many different reasons, but, most commonly, to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Since moving here, just slowing down and simply embracing our small-town magic weaves a transformative spell in my life. I intentionally put my own attention on something else that inspires me, brings me joy, and makes me happy - and move my attention away from what's challenging or troubling me. (I even practiced this while residing in big cities, by the way. It works!)
Please allow me to explain further . . .
You're Here, Now Go Slow
Personally, I have found that living in a small town provides an opportunity to embrace "the small town slow down" (aka simplicity) because it reconnects us with the natural rhythms of life.
The beauty of slowing down and simply taking time to appreciate the small things that often go unnoticed in the rush of city living is so powerful. Here are some things for you to consider while here in Eureka Springs:
Explore Downtown on Foot and go joyspotting: Take a leisurely stroll through the historic downtown area. Our streets are lined with unique shops, art galleries, and boutiques and the shopkeepers fill their window displays with joyspotting fun. (Tip: check out my Joyspotting series to learn more about joyspotting.)
Visit Thorncrown Chapel: Located in the woods just outside of town, this stunning glass chapel offers a peaceful retreat and a chance to connect with nature.
Relax in a Spa: Eureka Springs is known for its spas and wellness centers. Treat yourself to a massage, facial, or soak in natural hot springs.
Take a Scenic Day-trip Drive: The Ozark Mountains surrounding Eureka Springs offer picturesque drives. Take a scenic route to enjoy the natural beauty.
Visit Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge: This non-profit organization provides a lifetime home for abandoned, abused, and neglected big cats. It's a unique and educational experience.
Attend a Live Music Event: Eureka Springs has a vibrant music scene. Check out local venues for live performances, especially if you're a fan of folk, bluegrass, or Americana music.
Visit the Blue Spring Heritage Center: This beautiful natural attraction features a picturesque blue spring, gardens, and walking trails.
Enjoy Outdoor Activities: Take advantage of the natural surroundings by hiking, fishing, boating or simply picnicking in one of the local parks or nature areas.
In our modern world, where the pace of life seems to be ever-accelerating, the idea of living in a small town holds a unique allure - and Eureka Springs tugs at many with her allure. She beckons with promises of simplicity, a return to natural rhythms, and the chance to rediscover the beauty in life's most ordinary moments . . . oh, and nature! Let's not forget Mother Nature. Arkansas has so many places where Mother is spreading her joy.
The profound lessons that living in a small town can offer, especially when it comes to navigating challenging relationships with others, are derived through patience, compassion, and a deeper understanding of ourselves as well as the diverse makeup of our community.
All walks of life live here, thrive here, fail here, love here, endure here, excel here, get by here and die here. But when you actually take time to focus on your own inner patience, compassion and you go deeper to gain a stronger understanding of yourself, you can better unlock the transformative power of healing, growth and serenity for you and for your relationships with friends, family, neighbors, visitors, locals, significant others and acquaintances.
Again, it takes work and the work never ends. We just teach ourselves year after year how to better navigate our own personal life journey.
Eureka Springs is not a flat-coaster.
I mean, who wants to ride a flat-coaster, right? The ups and downs of life here are real real. Whether it's the changing of the seasons (Autumn is my favorite) or the politics, or operational drama at a business or between businesses, the competitive feuds, weddings, divorces, or just the intense year-round programming that happens with all the different festivals, parades, events and theme weekends, the ups and downs here are not only real real, they bring life to ... LIFE!
If you just lived 'down' all the time, or 'up' all the time, you would eventually lose interest in the cadence of your life and make a choice to experience life in a different way, a different place and likely with different people. It's how humans work. If we don't like something, someplace, someone - we vote with our feet. We disengage. We walk away. We relocate. We move. We gravitate to those people and places that make us happy/happier/joyful.
Back in the big city (Dallas) I would visit our local Target department store once per month (sometimes two) until one day I had a really bad customer service experience. Since that experience, Target is lucky if they get my money once a year. Plus, I like to shop small anyway - it helps out our local shopkeepers and makes me happy, too.
As with any community, our bonds are strong, and relationships are often built on a foundation of trust, familiarity and treating others how we would want to be treated (The Golden Rule.) Connections and interactions of any kind can become a source of support, heartbreak, encouragement, anger, spiritual nourishment, stress, resentment, enrichment, despair and more.
"The choice to be happy and joyful, in however it all goes, is still your choice to make." - John-Michael (the man with the Italian-American temper.)
The journey is ongoing my friends, and no one has all the answers. Each new day brings new opportunities for growth and connection and each person embraces it or repels it away. Again, it's still your choice to make.
For me, it's come down to the difference between a transaction and an interaction. As I've mentioned on this blog before, I've spent a good number of years as an HR professional in luxury hotels in big cities training staff on the difference between them, since hospitality is such a people-centric business.
If I've spent many years, and lots of my hard-earned money, having interactions with well-trained, service-oriented people at a business that inspires me and treats me how I want to be treated, I would return again and again to that business, and spend more money (not just browse or window shop.)
If interactions become unfavorable with that same business over time, interactions then gradually transition into transactions (where I browse more, spend less) and then eventually, as I've done before, I just vote with my feet (as any smart consumer would) and I disengage.
Simon Sinek explains it much better than I in his TedTalk Start With Why - "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it."
I not only practice this in consumer situations, I exhibit this in personal, professional, friend and familial relationships as well. If our interactions transition to transactions, I'm likely going to disengage.
So, aside from joyspotting, which I do constantly in this lovely town, just slowing down and simply embracing our small-town magic weaves a transformative spell in my life.
No matter if I have a problem with a person on a weekend trip in Tulsa, a belligerent employee at my job in Springdale, a tiff with a family member in Boston, a difference of opinion with a friend in Dallas that doesn't get why we differ, I still have my Eureka! She always makes me happy, and she has become instrumental in my life to help me harness the power to make "my happy" unable to be stolen.
I believe that encountering difficult people/situations is not merely a test of our patience, but an opportunity for profound personal growth where we should endeavor to learn something every time.
Tap into your own inner strength, explore the ripple effect of your own personal healing and growth journey and get on the dang rollercoaster. We're all here in Eureka! We found it! Let's inspire, uplift and enjoy life together.
Just choose to be happy no matter what and choose to treat others how you would want to be treated no matter what. Then, watch what happens to your life.
FYI - Conflict is inevitable. Combat is optional.
Disclaimer: No egos, locals, visitors, friends, partners or Chihuahua's were harmed in the making of this post. No tears have been shed. No finger-pointing happened. No one was blamed. I am personally NOT at odds with anyone in my life. This is simply a hot topic that I felt needed to be brought into light in a town this size, this robust and this wonderful with some of the most beautiful people - just being people. Imperfect people.