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I was in Michigan with my family not too long ago, and my husband Ryan and I took a lot of long walks with the baby around the neighborhood. Several times we sneaked up the impressive driveway to the Inglis House, a beautiful English country style manor that’s now owned by the University of Michigan. I love the Inglis House because it’s straight out of a Jane Austin book, and the extensive grounds are breathtaking. The house is unoccupied, so we just walked around outside with the baby, excitedly pointing out deer and raccoons and rabbits. I peeked in a window and decided it would be the perfect place to hold secret society meetings or seances.

One day we walked up to the back garden, a sprawling lawn next to a lovely pavilion with a pristine rectangular lawn and a beautiful fountain. Ryan told me he’d actually played on the grounds of the Inglis House a few times as a kid, and that he’d noticed there was a house that backed up to this garden, but he couldn’t figure out which house it was when he left the grounds, because the streets were all winding and convoluted. It had always been a mystery to him, especially since the house had an outdoor pool and that was rare in Michigan. I sneaked over and peeked through the fence, and saw the rear exterior of an absolutely gorgeous home. A bunch of people were in the beautiful open kitchen/dining area, talking, laughing, and drinking wine. Children were playing. It immediately captured my imagination, and I decided then and there that we’d solve this mystery that Ryan had wondered about since he was a little boy. We left the Inglis house and walked around, but sure enough, none of the houses we saw from the front matched the back of the one we’d seen from the garden. It was getting dark, but we resolved to explore some more the next day.

It was funny to have a morning where the biggest item on our agenda was to find a mystery home, and we both loved it. We left the baby with his grandparents and set off. We trekked back to the Inglis House to get our bearings, and walked next to the fence along the perimeter. On the other side of the fence, we spied an unpaved road and a Frank Lloyd Wright house in the vicinity of the mystery home. We then left the Inglis House and started heading in the direction we thought was right, again ruling out all the fronts of the houses that were obviously NOT our mystery house. We walked up one road, then down another, then up a curving road. We were about to give up…this was surely way too far out…when Ryan saw the Frank Lloyd Wright house. We still didn’t see the mystery home, but we did see a very fancy gate. We peered through the slats and spied a familiar out building. This was the driveway of the mystery home! We seriously debated going further, but it was obviously a private drive, and we’re not into trespassing. Nevertheless, we were both thrilled to finally know the actually whereabouts of the place. 

This whole experience was a mini-adventure, setting out to discover something, to solve a little mystery. I realized that we rarely make time for these types of things, because we’re too busy working, taking care of our household, and managing our hectic lives. But it was good for us. We’ve decided to continue looking for new opportunities to use our imagination and creativity and to have fun, because that’s something our spirits adore. In fact, we just planned a trip to Hawaii, a magical place we both love but haven’t been to in a while. We both have family there, too…we just never made it a priority to go.

There are a lot of things in the world that all of us get caught up with; sensible, boring activities like taking care of bills and making doctor’s appointments. But if too much of our life experience is about these things, it leaves little room for our spirits to soar. If all we do is maintain the status quo, even if it’s one we don’t love, we end up getting stuck in a rut, and living life can become more of a task than a joy. We can’t ignore our grownup responsibilities, but we can try and create a balance that allows room for fun and excitement.

What would you love to do that captures your imagination and sparks your true spirit? If it feels good, if it makes you genuinely happy, then try and do more of it. When you’re in the mode of doing what you love, without constantly checking your phone for new messages or worrying about what’s next on the agenda, you activate that child-like energy you had when you were young, when your spirit was fresh and new to this world and filled with excitement about all of the new things to do, see, discover and create. Following the simple things that spark your joy and imagination creates space for your spirit to thrive. And when your spirit’s in charge, you will find new avenues of possibilities that your responsible, grownup self may have never have imagined.