I am patting myself on the back a wee bit as I sit here on my screened porch in Northampton, Massachusetts at about 10 p.m. listening to the soft night sounds around me. My golden retriever, Joey, is a bit loopy on Benadryl to keep him from scratching a hot spot on his cheek, so he is conked out next to me. All is right with my world on this porch, on this night.
So, why the back patting? Well, glad you asked.

I love my life!

And, I want to excavate the adventure of getting here for all it’s worth (now that I have a slight breather from construction, getting settled in a bit, and snow removal!!).

I examine the process of figuring out that I wanted to move from Denver – to where? First I thought Provincetown, but after visiting there and looking at properties, if did not feel right to me. Back to the drawing board for about a month. I checked out the Hudson River Valley . . . good place for B & B in farmhouse settings, but again, it did not feel quite right. And then, decided to check out properties in Northampton, MA, the home of Smith College (one of the Seven Sisters) and numerous other well-regarded colleges. Would this be the right place for me?

The key determining factors were as follows:

  1. My adult kids (Cody and Marissa) live in NYC and Boston, respectively, and I sorely wanted to be in and out of their lives and them in mine more frequently than living in Denver allowed;
  2. I had this crazy idea of operating a bed & breakfast in a historic home; and
  3. I wanted to live in a smaller city with more possibilities for engagement in m community in a meaningful, up-close-and-personal way, but wanted an intelligent, quirky small town.

So, that was my process. I carefully analyzed what I thought would increase my happiness and it has worked fantastically! Thus, the back pat, but it is more than that.

In fact, our hearts, brains, and probably all our cells are invigorated by the very act of flying toward a dream, acting on an impulse (of course, with the requisite research), developing the aspects of one’s life that warm our souls in addition to perhaps paying our bills (thus far, I am working to support, maintain, and improve this 1868 grande dame, but one day I might just break even!!!). Sometimes a long-lost passion or fantasy can be added to the existing life (much easier than moving across the country!!), but sometimes one’s whole life needs modification. If we are willing to examine deeply, we might find that hidden dream that was shelved away long ago when life’s circumstances did not facilitate its coming to fruition. For example, when my kids were young, I would not have been in the emotional, psychological or financial space to have a Bed & Breakfast. But, now that they have moved out on their own, that whimsical idea fluttered into my consciousness again and the time seemed ripe to take the plunge!

I thought I would love the coming and going of interesting people. How true was that prediction. Many who have stayed with me at The Pomeroy Inn have had some relation to Smith or University of Massachusetts or another of the colleges around here. They have been fascinating to talk with as they enjoyed this way cool town (City?) and did whatever they came for – hiking, biking, dropping off or retrieving college kids . . .

Additionally, I have had several different mental health professionals come stay with me while doing training program/certification in Northampton. One LCSW, Israel, came from New Jersey and stayed with me for 9 days while getting his in-person hours/training for the sex therapy certification. Another guest, Lisa, came from Chicago and stayed 11 days for new hire training/orientation with a manufacturing analytics company headquartered here in Northampton. Both guests walked the several blocks to their training locations and oft’times came back home for a while, then returned downtown for dinner or music – my house is 3 blocks from downtown Northampton, full of eclectic shops, restaurants, music venues, etc. We enjoyed getting to know each other and I believe both will be returning guests in the future.

So, essentially the patting is for taking the risk to not only tune into my inner self’s needs, but to take the risk of failing. It would have been easy in many ways to remain in New Orleans (back in 2015) or in Denver (back in 2018). But some part of me kept asking myself if I had gotten the full formula – the complete gestalt – for the most satisfying life. And a bit of tweaking has done the trick.

For me, that inner quest to be my best self, and thus, become my happiest self, has changed throughout the various stages of my life. I expect it will continue to morph as it should. I am committed to continuing the pursuit of what works best for me and how I can work best for this world (wherever I am) which is an essential feedback loop for me.

Connections – frequent, funny, whimsical – with others in my community, my everyday life are important to me. What is important to you?

If you created a checklist of most important aspects for you to feel in sync with life and yourself, are most of them checked off in your current iteration of your life?

Maybe it’s not a bad idea to check that list periodically – I tend to do it around my birthday (yes it’s the 17th of this month). Can we be willing to edit our Life’s Checklist as our needs/desires change? Can we keep in tune with the balance of our lives as we rush through them? Do we want to slow down a bit (everyone says that, but can we, will we, make that change – perhaps little by little?

I have dedicated myself (kind of like a new year’s resolution, except I do it around my birthday most years) to reviewing the past few years that I feel I have flown through. I want to dig deeper into the important transitions that have gotten me to this point of wonder in my life.

Here’s to the journey, however and wherever it takes us!!



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Deborah M. Henson