The Real “Happy” of Happy Hour

Since February is the month of love, I’d like to share with you a little activity my husband and I have been doing once a week to keep our relationship close and connected for the nearly two decades of our marriage. Oh I know what you may be thinking but it’s something else—it’s meeting for happy hour.

Photo by Cher Knebel
Photo by Cher Knebel

It seems like such a simple thing but until we didn’t get to do it for an entire year, I didn’t realize the power in our little weekly ritual. That was a few years ago when we were living in Arizona and he got a new job in CA and I stayed back with our kids to sell the house and let them finish the school year.

For a lot of people, when they think “happy hour”, they think cocktails and bars but for us, meeting for happy hour (typically on a Thursday) means a break from the outside world when all that matters is the two of us sharing our week and letting someone wait on us for a change. When it’s a good week, we are toasting each other and giving thanks for our extra blessings and when it’s a bad week, we are there to console one another and just listen. We always tried to carve out the time once a week or on a weekend no matter what was going on with work, what mood we were in or how old our kids were. When they were still young, we’d bring them along with us but to more family-friendly establishments.

During the lean years when money was tight due to various reasons, we’d forgo our typical shared appetizer and have soft drinks instead of real drinks. Even now with both of us working full-time, we still just have one drink each and it’s not always a spirit. Or for those who are on special eating plans, you can always order a small house salad like I do while my husband orders a happy hour appetizer that he enjoys.

Studies have consistently shown that relationships need face-to-face connecting to keep them strong and healthy. For those whose spouses travel or are in the military, getting together for some real shared time is even more sacred when they are back home. For  more ideas on how two-career couples stay happy, check out this blog post in the Harvard Business Review here.  Or for a little glimpse at a time when my husband and I weren’t so comfy cozy at our local pub but instead were dealing with conflict, read my earlier post here.

If you’re like me and  meet up with your partner or a friend at happy hour or like to connect another way each week, please share in the comments below and let me know how that activity is keeping your relationship strong.

Even when busy, finding time to connect is a must

Finding time to enjoy others in person is just as important as other weekly tasks so keep it fairly high on your priority list.

If you a busy mom like me, it is amazing the things we accomplish in a typical week. Carpools, sports, school performances, meal planning, cleaning—you know the drill. While we are so focused on finding time to do the things that scream at us each week, it’s easy to not plan for soul-enriching activities that we should do too but aren’t in your face saying Me, Me, Me.

Photo from Empowering Network
Photo from Empowering Network

I’m talking about spending time in person with people. Let’s take last week for example. It was crazy busy week for me but there were several events (more than usual) planned to connect with others.

On Tuesday, there were two networking meetings scheduled in one day. It was hectic that morning because I was on a training call and running late to the lunch meeting. As I ran (ok, trotted quickly) from my car to inside of the restaurant and down to the room in the back, my rushed and out of control feeling completely dissolved as I sat down among other female business owners having lunch and started connecting with them.

After the meeting, a few ladies came up to me and said encouraging words about my upcoming workshop and I was able learn more about the attendees’ different businesses on a personal level. That meeting and another event in the evening was just what I needed to give me the energy and creativity to work on my business tasks the rest of the week.

Schedule time for your kids to connect

030The rest of the week  included a happy hour drink with my hubby, a movie date with girlfriends and walking around beautiful Laguna Beach on Saturday with my girls. My sister and niece drove up from San Diego and I loved spending time with her and my girls with their cousin.

Friday night, my younger daughter had friends over after school and later went on a group outing and my older daughter had a few friends for a sleepover.

Whew—that is a whole lotta connecting going on in one week! Was it hectic and things a little less managed (at times way less managed) because of these events–sure it was. So it would have been so easy for me to say no to having my daughter’s friends over or to participate in what I did that week but I am so glad I did. After each meeting, I walked away feeling filled up and joyful. With the right people, we get energy we never knew we had and if we stay in the present moment, it gives us a break from the everyday mundane stuff we have to do each week!

Ink in Fun Annual Events–in Memory of Sue

Losing a cherished girlfriend to cancer is never easy but thanks to a close group of her friends who invited me to gather with them each year on the anniversary of our friend Sue Dailey’s passing, it lessens the pain a bit and turns that difficult anniversary date into an evening of celebration and wonderful memory sharing!

DSC05980Thanks to our event coordinator Seema, we meet at our friend’s favorite local restaurant and we laugh, cry and share all of the many reasons we felt so lucky to have had her in our lives. Seema with help from friend Sara, created beautiful friendship bracelets to give out at our dinner this year. She featured her bracelets on one of her recent posts from her fun blog Confessions of a Creative Junkie. Our group, pictured above, consists of friends who met Sue at different points in her life –from early to mid career to when she started having children later in life– we are all connected by our love for Sue.

In fact, our friend Sue was all about carving time out of our busy schedules to spend time with those we love and to always, always bring a camera to capture those special moments.

Our friend Sue had a vacation condo in Palm Desert and those who were close to her got to spend relaxing times there on occasion getting away from everyday stresses and family responsibilities to just hang around together and talk about everything! It was always relaxed and casual and the emphasis was on just being together…really together with no interruptions!

In the photo pictured below is our beloved friend Sue, pretty in pink,  Deb and myself enjoying our last trip to her condo together. After a fun stop at the outlet stores, Sue shared with us one of her favorite restaurants in the area –it is a weekend Deb and I will never forget! Sue was the gold standard when it came to friendship and unconditional love!                                     Sue Dailey

Annual events we plan with friends and family is a great way to make sure we have time automatically scheduled on the calendar so it doesn’t get gobbled up by other events that get in the way. We always tried to plan a Palm Desert getaway the first weekend in June the years we could swing it. Others like my extended family  in the Bay Area,  plan an annual camping trip to Lake Tahoe around the beginning of August and everyone adjusts their schedules around it.

Do you have an annual gathering or getaway you plan to stay connected to friends, family and other loved ones? If so, what is it and what is the best part of the event that you look forward to each year?