So, my mom used to embarrass me.

A lot.

Mary Wilmer was a beautiful woman, charismatic and charming. She had a humble yet humorous energy about her that included talking pretty much to anybody within a mile of her airspace. Her smile was that big!

Going shopping with her was, at least when I was a teenager, torture.

We would walk into the department store and it didn’t matter who or what the FIRST person she saw was doing, she would march right up to them and ask, “Excuse me, but which floor is the lingerie on?”

department store

Yep. That’s right. It didn’t matter if this particular person worked at the store or not. She would just ask.

Well…I’m afraid (although secretly I’m very excited) I am just like my mother. I will pretty much give the googly eye to anyone who is willing to make eye contact and then if they are so inclined, I will hone in on a conversation that, if I’m lucky, leads to that BAM moment when a brief but powerful connection is made.

It kinda hit me yesterday when my fifteen year old daughter and I were out. A four year old girl was marching through the grocery store, with red cowboy boots on, and we all know my fascination with Red Boots. (If you don’t please check out I practically chased her through the aisles, wanted to chat with her and her mom, and query her about those darn red boots.

Helen in that tone all mothers know well said, “Moooooom. You are scaring the poor child. Stop, PLEASE!”

All of this to say that this August, I’ve decided to go on a journey where I can put my “joy-in-connecting” skillsets to real-life use…I’m calling it “The Joy Ride: In Pursuit of Happiness.”

fluffy dice

I’ve been toying, as many of you know, over the last couple of years, with what we…heck I…can do to bring balance back to our nation’s political leadership. For me this is a very intriguing question and leads me to believe that our system is basically all outta whack.

After spending nearly a year in DC I’ve observed that the people in elected office mostly live on the left side of their brains. We seem to be missing the right-brained people who ask the deeper questions, like “Why?” “What for?” and “How come?”

The innovators, question-askers, creative-types, artists, social entrepreneurs…they just don’t sign up for the political game. They don’t WANT to sign up. These people don’t enjoy competition, agendas and strategizing how to BEAT someone. They aren’t opposed to these concepts, (because we need both the right and the left brain to make a whole and sustainable system) but they are not attracted to games that are ruled by these concepts. These concepts are simply not in alignment with how they see or live their lives.

Nope! These folks find joy in: uniting, exploring the solution that lies several layers beneath the presenting problem, connection, systems change thinking, connecting dots and exploring the determinants of human nature.

So…in August, I thought it might be interesting to set off on a journey that explores “the pursuit of happiness” (as so eloquently outlined by our Founding Fathers) but come at it from the social entrepreneur, innovator, creative-type, right brain and see if we couldn’t get below the surface “what makes us happy” to the deeper “what makes us happy.”

Not too long ago, I thought I would put this question to its first test. I was getting dressed, after an awesome workout, at or local Y when I just felt so inclined, to for no reason other than I loved the fact that she was putting the coolest wig on her head that you can possibly imagine, ask the awesome 60-something year old woman getting ready for work next to me, “So, what makes you happy?”

She paused for a moment, hands atop her head moving bobby pins here and there.

“Church.” She stated with conviction.

“That’s cool.” I said.

We continued in silence for a minute or two. I thought we were at a dead-end. Clearly my enthusiasm for the question didn’t intrigue her in the least. I’m putting on what little makeup I wear and she is continuing to mess with her wig.

“And cookouts.”


She smiled at me. I smiled back.

“Cookouts? What do you mean by cookouts.”

Well, that was all I needed to ask. Lucy (that isn’t her real name, but it is the name her family calls her. Her real name never suited her and so everybody just started callin’ her Lucy) simply began.

“Cookouts are when we all get together. I’ve got a big family. We all get together. Eat. Drink. Spend time together. Usually on Sundays after church. You know you gotta pray hard and play hard.” She continued for several minutes. All about her kids, her husband for 40-some years, her grandkids, her job, her church, her best cookout foods. She was totally delightful.

There was a slight pause. She glanced at me in the mirror. I glanced back.

“And of course,” she said almost nonchalantly. “I can still drop it like it’s hot.”

I laughed, as in OUT LOUD.

She chuckled. “My grandkids thinks it’s hilarious and are always asking me, ‘Grandmama, Drop it like it’s hot. Drop it like it’s hot.'”

To be clear, up to this point, I wasn’t sure what she meant by “drop it like it’s hot.” There are a number of references to that expression and there was, of course, that one song by Snoop Dog.

So I asked her, because if her grandkids asked her I knew it had to be G-rated, to “drop it like It’s hot.”

Well, what happened next was truly a miracle. Lucy, (I have now learned is 62 years old) broke into some of the most amazing dance moves I’ve ever seen. I mean…AMAZING. And then it came…what I would assume is the “Drop it Like It’s Hot” move that would, if I attempted it, keep me on the injured list for weeks.

She dropped down to the floor…knees bent WAY past (and I mean WAY past) 90 degrees, to where her derriere was only millimeters from the floor and then popped back up.

I think I said something like “Whoa…I would hurt myself if I did that.”

She did it a couple more times, dusted off her hands and then said with the most beautiful mischievous grin on her face, “See? I can still drop it like it’s hot.”

We bantered back and forth. She finished up before I did. We both looked forward to seeing the other again.

In pursuit of happiness…I definitely found mine that morning at the Y and I’m pretty darn sure Lucy found hers too.

happiness road