Have you ever seen someone hit a jackpot in Las Vegas?
Nothing a person can do will absolutely ensure that riches will be granted to them. Money goes in, buttons get pushed, and the slot machine hits a big win. All it takes is a little hope and luck and then… JACKPOT!
It was time that I hit the happiness jackpot!
I’d love to find that no-fail guarantee for happiness. I’ve been happy lately because I’ve been choosing to be. I’ve let it ride and not waited for life to hit me. But I was tired. It was going to take a lot of the good stuff to fuel my searching. I had to put in the effort, strike up conversations, and hope that luck would show me the way to the happiness holy grail.
This vacation was going to be a girl’s trip: a chance for my mother, sister, and me to enjoy life together and celebrate our respective birthday milestones — 50, 21, and 30. Certainly I could squeeze in a little happiness searching while allowing the friendship within our mother-daughter dynamic to grow.
Maybe similar small groups of women could help my search.
Like a good blogger, I also saw the trip as an opportunity to look for happiness around me so I could report back to all of you faithful readers (i.e. my mom :)). I kept my eyes open for sisters, mothers, and daughters who were heading out on an adventure together in Las Vegas.
Detroit, Michigan. In the airport.
Vegas always seemed out of reach for a mother/daughter vacation partly because my mom doesn’t really like flying and getting everything worked out with cost & schedules… it just seemed like an overwhelming task to coordinate. But here I was sitting in the Detroit airport, one leg of our trip already down, smiles on all of our faces (a nervous smile for my mom). The moment hit me.
What would it take for me to win in Vegas? I’d take the odds any day on my answer: happiness. I truly wanted to find the secret on this trip. No disagreements, hangovers, or delayed flights obviously could make the list for what defines happiness on a vacation.
But seeing my sister’s face light up at the mention of marble tubs and a fountain view room at the Bellagio–that’s happiness. Watching my mom react at her first bite of a delicious waffle at breakfast–that’s happiness. These two brief moments could be examples of delighting in someone else’s happy moment. But I knew I was missing the key to the happiness jackpot.
Did your mom ever teach you, “don’t talk to strangers?” Yeah, my momma did, too, but I never was a good listener.
Picture two women in matching pink shirts. Hypothetically they might look like this:
These two fabulous ladies are from Michigan. Their Vegas trips all started when their mom got sick and their dad gave them the already-purchased tickets. They’ve been going ever since, which was about 20 years ago! Many hotels have gotten their business before, but this year they were staying at Rio.
When I asked the sisters what they did… play a little slots, hit the table games, or maybe the pool? They answered with all of the above. It didn’t matter to them, they guaranteed that no matter what they would be doing there would always be giggling. The sister on the left said, “That’s the way to be. Giggle!”
I say to you: go and giggle! Enjoy each other in every moment. Hit the happiness jackpot!
Somewhere over colorado? On the plane.
My mother, sister, and I buckled our seat belts for what could have been a very boring flight. It would have been truly uneventful had it not been for the three ladies seated across the aisle from us. Evidently these ladies were all sisters, and the eldest was celebrating her 70th birthday!
I still call shenanigans on the 70th birthday. But, we’ll go with it.
So the Blondin sisters wound up on a flight from Detroit to Las Vegas because of Lise’s 70th birthday. Five years ago they went to New York City, where they stayed at the Marriott (on Long Island), caught a show (“Chicago”), and claimed it to be their favorite trip yet.
These ladies said that their favorite thing about traveling together was all the laughing. They chat, gossip, and laugh. To them, that is most important. Lise is 70, Diane is 64, and Danielle is 53 (I got permission to share their ages!). All different ages, all one heart.
When asked what the birthday girl most wanted during the trip she replied, “I was born in 1944, so I want $44,000!” Might as well dream big, Lise… $44,000,000! The other sisters wanted to find Lise a cowboy or two for prime photo ops. Then they all laughed. Vegas was looking to take over the top spot in the favorite holiday list!
Laughing your way through Vegas sounds like the best way to hit the Happiness Jackpot.
Las Vegas, Nevada. At the pool.
I had been hunting for another group of ladies to talk awkwardly with about the whys and hows of their vacations together when my mom surprised me somewhat. She struck up a conversation with an 87-year-old woman who sat on the adjacent lounge chair! This beautiful face and soul came complete with a 1000-watt smile and a walker-on-wheels. She told my mom that she loved to talk and that quality helped her when she moved to the assisted living facility she resides at back in Michigan. The residents all dance, play poker, and eat together. She really loved the social aspect of that environment.
At this point in their conversation, I (somewhat) interrupted them to ask who she was traveling with. It turns out that this woman has been coming to Vegas with her daughter and granddaughter for the last 14 years except for when her husband (of 62 years, forgive me if I failed to get that number right) passed away.
We met her granddaughter, Lisa, and her daughter, Mary, who both tolerated the blazing sun more than Ann. This family of women used their Vegas trip as a way to do something every year, just them. They loved laughing together. They loved going to shows, too, with the Michael Jackson Cirque show on tap for that night.
Watching Ann talk about her life, her family, and her previous trips to “old Vegas,” you couldn’t NOT see the joy emanate from her face. This woman never stopped smiling for the 15 minutes of our lives that we shared. She laughed more times with pure enthusiasm than I had all of the previous week.
Clearly I still had some learning to do about happiness.
My sister did light up when she saw the marble tub and the upgraded fountain view! She became even brighter when the complimentary chocolate covered strawberries arrived. We laughed! My mother did enjoy her savory waffle, and the coffee was so good that we couldn’t stop raving about it. We laughed! We even saw a magic show with Mac King and I bought our picture from the event it was so funny. He drew a mustache on my mom and a pirate patch on my sister… maybe because I asked him to… but I will never forget the joy that emanated from me when I showed them my silly prank. We all laughed!
At first I felt kind of weird asking these strangers about their lives and the purposes of their vacation. My awkwardness dissipated when my mother got into the questioning act on her own while lounging by the pool; seeing her being truly interested in this other woman’s life made me feel good about writing this post… and asking these strangers for pictures. I realized that with each moment with these strangers we all laughed. I had to hold on to that feeling.
I already won in Vegas and we hadn’t even boarded that first plane yet. I hit the Happiness Jackpot because my family is amazing. In that moment, I realized what I had to do to keep hitting the jackpot. I needed to appreciate them. I needed to put their needs or wants ahead of mine. I needed to be their cheerleaders. I needed to laugh with them on a daily basis.
While being on this trip, I realized that some people do not have the opportunities for a good relationship with their family members, so I also realized that I needed to take advantage of every opportunity I had to cherish our vacation time together. I needed to preserve the laughter of the 84 free spins on that one Monopoly slot machine. I needed to remember how we giggled each time we got a free dessert because my sister just turned 21.
Laughter is the magic token for a guaranteed Happiness Jackpot!
And remember the Blondin sisters? Lise did get her cowboys for her 70th birthday and she was really happy.
Thank you to each person who allowed me a sneak peak into her life. I truly am grateful for you all letting me take pictures of you and include your words for publishing. Thanks for helping me hit the happiness jackpot, I’d be honored to share my winnings via smiles, hugs, or reply comments below. I would love to hear about your magic token to hitting the happiness jackpot with every spin of the wheel!