Sharon Randall column, 9-17-12: When does 'happily ever after' begin?

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Have you ever looked at your life and thought, "This is not how I imagined it would be"?

I found myself thinking that this weekend. Actually, I often find myself thinking that, but this time it was a revelation.

Saturday morning, I bent over a mat in my sister-in-law's living room and tried, I swear, not to snicker watching my husband and my brother-in-law force their bodies into a pose aptly called "downward dog."

Picture the Blues Brothers, minus overcoats, doing yoga.

For the record, I wasn't so good at it myself. I've done a little yoga in the past, but not in this millennium. Limbs once limber as saplings threatened to snap like rubber bands.

Lynne, God bless her. My sister-in-law is the best person in the world. Seriously. You might know some good people (I hope you do), but they don't have a prayer of being half as good as Lynne, especially when it comes to good intentions.

I do wonder on occasion exactly what she was thinking. But I never doubt that her heart is in the right place -- an odd place, maybe, but definitely good.

The yoga class was her idea, a surprise for when my husband and I stayed at her house over the weekend. She meant to tell us, but forgot until the yoga instructor rang the doorbell.

That's OK. I forget things, too. Like: Why exactly were we there? Wait, I remember. Birthdays.

A day earlier, on Friday, my husband and I met my daughter and her husband and their 1-year-old, Henry, at the San Francisco Zoo to celebrate Henry's birthday. We saw lions and tigers and gorillas and an ark load of other wonders. We even stared down the throat of a hippopotamus that opened its mouth like an airplane hangar to catch buckets of vegetables.

Henry's favorite thing? A rubber snake from the gift shop. My favorite thing? Henry, of course. And seeing his family -- those of us who could be there -- take such delight in him.

On Saturday, after yoga with the Blues Brothers, my husband and I drove to Sonoma to attend a birthday party for Charlotte, his granddaughter, who is one day older than Henry.

Charlotte wore a tutu. There were cupcakes and presents and a room knee deep with balloons. Her mom made the cupcakes. Her dad blew up the balloons.

Charlotte's favorite thing? A tent with a tunnel. My favorite thing? Charlotte, of course. And seeing her family -- those of us who could be there -- take such delight in her.

Sunday, we flew home to Las Vegas, tired, but happy, and unbelievably sore (a little yoga goes a long way).

Driving out of the airport, I started thinking about my life, how different it is from what I once thought it would be.

In my 20s, I got married, had three babies, bought a house near the ocean and thought: "This is it -- my 'happily ever after.' "

I didn't plan to be a widow. To start my life over. To open my arms and my eyes, my heart, mind and soul to a new way of thinking and loving and being.

But sometimes life has a different plan from the plans we make for ourselves.

The older I get, the less I know, but of this much I am sure: We are here to love while we can; let go when we must; and be willing to love again.

It might not be the life we planned. But it could be the life we were meant to live.

Who knows? Maybe, if we're lucky, we'll get little boys who like snakes and little girls who wear tutus and the world's best person for a sister-in-law.

I think happiness is where you find it. Don't look for it in the past. It isn't there. Don't wait for it in the future. It won't come.

It can only be found in this moment, what you make of it. "Happily ever after" starts now.

(Sharon Randall can be contacted at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson NV 89077, or at www.sharonrandall.com.)

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