Is this real? I woke up this morning with a smile on my face and a good morning text on my phone. I fed the animals, watered the plants, took care of the horses, mended some fencing, and laughed at the dogs. Made coffee, sat on the porch and checked email. And I’m still smiling. Is this real life? Do people actually get to live like this?

Suddenly everything seems a little bit brighter. My days are filled with family and friends and people I love. My nights are filled with laughter and good times and dreams. My weekends are always epic to the point that I’m running out of words to describe just how amazing they are because each one is better than the last and things just keep getting better. Is this real?

It sure feels unbelievable to me. I’ve never had this. I’ve never smiled this much. And I’m hard pressed to remember a time when I was ever this truly genuinely happy. No, not everything’s peaches and roses. Work is still ramping up slower than I’d like, but it’s heading in the right direction and suddenly I feel like I can take it in stride. No, the weight on my shoulders hasn’t gotten any lighter – if anything it’s possibly gotten a little bit heavier – but that’s okay. I can take that in stride too, today.

Alone time is productive and positive these days. Getting lost in the woods isn’t about disappearing for a while, it’s about finding myself and, yeah, smiling some more. I rode this weekend for the first time since August and like any time I’ve had a break from riding for whatever reason, I’m reminded how much I missed it. I’ll ride again this weekend on my other horse, maybe wander the state park for a few hours before the last football game of the season – one where my kid finally gets to play and I’m so happy for him. Then I’ll go see a dear friend and celebrate his brother and laugh like time doesn’t matter. Maybe I’ll be on the back of that bike with this unbelievable man for another incredible 65-and-sunny Sunday that will keep me smiling for days. I’ll spend time with these amazing kids, make more memories, and appreciate the time we have together before life changes again. Life always changes. But damn, I hope how much I’m smiling never does.

I’ve got some hard days ahead that feel a little bit less daunting, if still knowing that they are going to be absolutely devastating to get through. Thing is, I know I’ll get through it, and for a change, I won’t be alone. The holidays seem a little less heavy on the horizon, and while I know there will be days I’ll need to be alone to make it through – the past few years have not been easy – I also know that there are even more good days to look forward to just ahead.

Do people really get to live like this? What did they do to deserve it? If you know, can you please tell me because I’ve never had a life like this and more than anything I’ve ever known, this is something I don’t want to lose. I know that much. So if you know how to keep this, what people do to deserve this, please let me know so I can keep doing it for the rest of my life. And just keep smiling.