We all get burnt out from time to time. You could grill enough grade-A steaks for the week on Sunday and be dying for just a peanut butter sandwich for supper by Friday. You can think you can handle one workload after another but eventually realize you miss not having the sensation of 100 pounds of pressure weighing on your chest.

No matter how decadent or attractive as something is, we occasionally need a break from it just to breathe a sigh of relief.

Years ago, I’d have a great time in making the rounds in Tupelo on off days, kicking back with friends on shop stools and in chairs at mechanic shops and stone companies when they caught their quick breaks.

In a rare day recently when I didn’t have to worry about whatever was coming next work-wise, the morning began in the exact same way.

Talking with a friend who manages a builder’s supply store, he told me about his six-year plan to relocate to Orlando. He and his family’s draw there is the same place attracting families from across the globe – Walt Disney World.

Back in the ‘80s when I last went and was too young to pay attention to its all of its details, it really was a magical place.

The rides…the characters…the lights. If I was to try it again, I know it would still be just as magical, but I’d be paying more attention to the food…the landscaping…the people watching.

Given I’m a simple person happy enough with what’s within a 150-mile radius, I may or may not ever make it back to Disney.

I do know, though, I’ll cross the swinging bridge over Bear Creek at Tishomingo State Park, gaze upon the Mississippi River from atop the Peabody, see the Vulcan overlooking downtown Birmingham, get caught up in the excitement of an Alabama game on The Strip in Tuscaloosa, walk through Starkville’s Cotton District before and after Mississippi State games, drive on top of Wilson Dam into Florence and see Tupelo countless more times in my life.

These are just a few of my happy places and no matter how many more experiences I’ll have there, it’s easier to find more excuses not to with age and weekend chores. I hope my friend sticks to his six-year plan, excuse-free, and finds a lifetime of happiness anchored by the Magic Kingdom.

The main thing standing between us and happiness is us.

I haven’t talked with Sheila Higgins about her level of happiness living in Aberdeen running Jugtown Café but could tell through pictures she posted on Facebook for a few weeks she found a new happiness while temporarily working in South Dakota.

She texted me last week to ask if I could write something about Jugtown closing and at the time I had no clue she decided to relocate to take a job cooking in South Dakota.

Like she wrote in the text message, she didn’t want Jugtown’s closure to end on a sad note, as much as we’ll miss the Don Tony and Jink’s Burger. For her, she’s found a happy place, and she’s going for it.

It didn’t take long for her to find a plan it takes so many of us a lifetime to devise.

For a few hours a couple of weeks ago, my happiness was found by just having a clear mind and enough time to kill to sit on a stool and have a quick conversation before letting the day go as it would with no particular plan. That’s the way so many of the days used to be.

It’s not as much the lives that chose us as it is the lives we choose to live.

You may go to Gulf Shores for an extended weekend and ask yourself, “Why don’t I just move here?” You may wake up still exhausted from the day before and ask yourself, “Why am I still doing this?”

It’s on us to live the lives we want, and just like the headline suggests the only thing stopping us is us.

Ray Van Dusen is the managing editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at ray.vandusen@journalinc.com.

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