Years ago, throughout my simple desk jobs, I sat in a standard slate gray cubicle with drab, slightly fuzzy walls. Cornered against my desktop PC, I would stare at the screen and type up instructions or edit proposals or organize spreadsheet data. In a few lucky jobs, I might have been assigned a cubicle with a window nearby, granting me moments of respite from the dreary surroundings of Cubeland.

At the best, I shared a large, four-desk megacube with three fun teammates, one of whom purchased a hideous and terrifying rubber tarantula, which would show up without warning in my desk drawer or coat sleeve. Though our team often had terribly long days/nights trying to finish projects, we also enjoyed each other’s company and shared plenty of laughs. At the worst, I was three floors below ground level, which I didn’t even know was possible, and in that sub-sub-basement, we hadn’t even the slightest hope of glimpsing the rays of sunshine that shone gleefully down the aisleways of the upstairs tenants.

No matter the office, I dreaded these walls. Devoid of color, music, soul, these walls offered me zero inspiration. But in my last job, before I left office life to raise children, I finally had a revelation.

Instead of decorating those stark walls with a handful of personally meaningful photos or a Cutest Puppies of the Year calendar, I could create a visual paradise around me!

I had been gifted a box of calendar pages featuring tropical getaways paired with lovely quotations about life and love. From this stack of 365 gorgeous views, I chose dozens of the very best ones and pinned them across the gray fuzz that had quite nearly sucked my soul dry.

What a beautiful view I had now! I could arrive at my cube and be greeted joyfully by the best of the best – Fiji, Jamaica, Tahiti, St. Lucia, Aruba… Clear turquoise waters, dangling palm leaves, shimmering shorelines, radiant sunsets.

Of course, what I hadn’t figured, now being surrounded by all this paradise, was how it might impact my work ethic. I would stare at an image, instantly lost in a dream of relaxation and bliss…

I close my eyes, and I’m lying in a hammock in the shade of a palm tree, the soft boom and quick rush of ocean waves crashing against the sand, mere yards away. My arm dangles leisurely over the side of the netting, some delicious tropical drink prepared to perfectly quench my thirst and tantalize my tastebuds. I hear seagulls crying out, echoing their excitement back and forth and back again. The air is warm, and an occasional breeze blows stray hairs across my face and sends the smell of sand and saltwater into the happiest part of my brain.

I open my eyes to catch a glimpse of the blue water and… Rats. I’m staring at a computer screen.

It’s the end of January. In Ohio. (Could you tell?)

And maybe it is because I’m living in landlocked Ohio, but the daydreams that whisk me away are nearly always set in a blissful tropical paradise. Where do your daydreams take you?

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