1. Mountain views.  Holy moly you guys, God made some pretty neat stuff.  There’s a reason almost all of written history uses mountains to describe awe.  They are looming royalty, proudly refusing to wilt, budge, or otherwise disrupt their sky gazing.  They are a testament to the power of the one who created them, who also thought to give fingerprints to human.  God of the immense and the minute, he is powerful in an overwhelming way, but one that never overlooks a single detail.
  2. When you learn things in succession that are relevant to each other.  It’s almost like a conspiracy theory cork board strung up in your mind.  One concept links to another then another in a different class and that links to something practical that happened in your life the other day and suddenly there is this whole web of red yarn and push pin synapses and things start to make sense in a deeper way than just that you learned them.  Now you learned them but they matter outside of their isolated class or snippet of information.
  3. Completely useless trivia.  On the flip side, it is also fun to know things that don’t really have any relevance outside of knowing them just for the sake of knowing them.  But those facts tend to be some of the most fun ones in my estimation.
  4. The way wonder sparkles in the eyes.  Have you ever watched a kid watch the fourth of July?  The airborne sparks reflect across their eyes, but that isn’t the only thing that lights them up.  It’s a sense of wonder that still jumps just a little at the loud booms, but can’t close their eyes for fear they’d miss a moment of the blossoming lights in the sky.  And it’s so easy to see because there’s a little piece of grown-ups that feels it too.
  5. Wearing an apron when you cook.  It doesn’t actually make you a professional, but at least it makes you feel like one.  And it gives you a little more license to get messy, to dig in, to enjoy the work.  Plus they just kinda look snazzy.
  6. Drinking hot drinks in the middle of summer.  Okay, yeah it sounds miserable when the humidity is 96 percent and the temp is an even higher number at it’s peak to ingest heat to your inside too, but it’s not all bad.  Coziness is still cozy, even in the dead of summer, and it’s something you don’t think about because you don’t experience it often when you are constantly dripping with sweat or trying to keep the sun from turning you into a lobster.  It still feels pretty nice to sip a cup of comfort in a tank top and shorts with a fan churning at you.
  7. Having ridiculous, all out, no dignity dance parties.  The kind that leave you breathless in minutes, but they are fantastic while they last.  Flailing and flouncing without a care in the world what anyone else thinks about it.  Even better if you have someone beside you going just as stir-crazy as you are.
  8. Stripes.  My favorite patterns tend to be florals, but I love a good stripe.  Something about them is just cheerful.  I have no scientific evidence to back me up, but I still think they are pretty neat.
  9. When someone plays with your hair and you drift to sleep.  There are all sorts of ways to feel relaxed and comfortable, but there is something so soothing about the rhythm of someone running their fingers through your hair over and over.  Your scalp relaxes and it closes your eyes in the process and before you know it, you’re in that fuzzy space between asleep and alert where the whole world glows dimly and voices are just lullabies and the continued motion in your hair lulls you to sleep.
  10. Collaborating on a project where everyone is passionate and focused on the outcome.  There isn’t much appeal to forced collaboration where nobody is completely invested, but it is such a blessing to work alongside people who have the heart for what they’re doing.  They are always at their best and it encourages you to be there too and you push each other for the sake of creating something together.  Looking back at the progress, it is evident where certain participants wove bright ideas or frustrated determination into their own heart of the project but it doesn’t stand apart from the finished product, rather it supports it.  Holds it up.  What a joy to spend time in the presence of people who care so deeply and work so hard to achieve something brilliant.
  11. Laughing to the point where you cannot stop.  Something was funny enough to get you cackling and hours later you still giggle a little when you think about it.  Your sides hurt and you can’t catch your breath, but you don’t really want it to end either.  Slowly, it subsides but the glow doesn’t quite live your stomach or your lips because laughter really is a miracle worker sometimes.
  12. Winking across the room at a friend.  There is something about winking that implies you are letting someone in on a joke.  It shows them they are valued and included without being condescending.  Plus, it’s playful and sometimes a little bit strange, which only makes it more fun if you ask me.
  13. Reading in bed.  What better way to end the day than a forage into a story.  Curled up in your bed, snug and secure, venturing into the world of a character with a whole different set of circumstances.  Sometimes, it’s a quick journey before you but the book aside, roll over, and drift into dreams.  Other nights, your eyes ache and you are so exhausted you don’t know if you’ll be able to lift your hand enough to turn the next page but you are so sucked into the story that there’s no quitting now.  Either way, the feel of snapping a book shut, clicking off the light, and closing your eyes is a great way to fall asleep.
  14. Caterpillars.  Those little kiddos get to eat all day, sleep in a snug little house, and end up with wings.  I’d say that sounds like a pretty charmed life.
  15. Finally getting out of the car for good at the end of a long drive.  Road trips are fun, but after a few hours it gets pretty grueling to sit in a small metal room as it rockets across the countryside.  You start to feel antsy, cooped up, tired of the lethargy.  So when you arrive at your destination, pop the door open, and place your feet on the ground, it’s nice to know there was a destination at the end of it and this is where you finally get to do something again.
  16. Going on walks.  I don’t know why this practice isn’t more common than it is.  It’s fun to take a stroll, have a nice conversation, get a little air into your lungs.  A way to take a break and reset for the rest of the day.
  17. Folksy music.  I have no tradition of folk music in my everyday life, but something about that music makes me feel like I’m sitting at a campfire in the middle of the open prairie.  Stars flickering above and fireflies a little closer to home.  The breeze tossing a few sparks into the air to join them.  And it all feels like home with a little bit of adventure, for some reason that I cannot explain.
  18. This summer’s superhero movies.  I have now seen both Wonder Woman and Spiderman: Homecoming and I have to say they warm my heart.  It may not be true for all recent superhero films, but these are a crop that want to see the good in people.  These movies paint heroes who want nothing more than to help, to be better versions of themselves and see the best in people.  These are people who see the world as a place for potential despite its brokenness.  I admire them for it.
  19. Getting to implement the fact that I’m a huge nerd into my daily life.  A good chunk of the kids I work with are reading or have read the Harry Potter series, which means that they were totally cool with me sorting them into Hogwarts houses and giving them points throughout the week this week.  We made a version of quidditch for them to play, we updated the points standings as often as possible, they took it far more seriously than I was expecting.  It was a whole lot of fun to connect with them through a story that we all love.
  20. Puppies.  A whole bunch of my friends are acquiring young dogglings and it makes my heart happy.  I haven’t ever owned a dog, but I still love the sheer childhood of those beautiful little pups.  They have a brand of enthusiasm for life that you can’t find anywhere else but it’s pretty contagious.
  21. Coming in out of the rain.  There is a certain sweetness in rain, a grace.  Especially as the summer drags on and turns into day after day of grueling heat and the sun drilling into every inch it can touch.  It can also be a little bit of a nuisance though, when you are soaking wet and cold and there’s really no way around it.  However, those times when you feel a little like a soggy puppy, it’s the best feeling in the world to towel off, put on some dry clothes, and curl up with a blanket.  The juxtaposition of the two situations makes the latter feel even cozier than it usually is, safer.  It’s one of the most tangible definitions of the word comfort.
  22. Commentating everyday life.  “It’s a risky move Stan, but it looks like she’s going to add lemon juice to the muffin mix.  What will that do to the consistency?  We’ll have to see if it was a brave reach or a bungled slip.”  “He’s on fine form folding the towels today, Sharon.  I mean beautiful.  Take a look at the grace in those creases.  Simply magnificent.”  “It seems three year old Duncan, our youngest contestant, is raring to go in his time trials with his new Fast Shoes.  We’ll see how he fares with new shoes to guide him.  These really could make all the difference.”
  23. Hammocks.  One of the great ways to enjoy the outdoors is to lay suspended in its support.  Nothing to move you except the breeze, a view of the heavens above you, and a snug cocoon in which to wile away the day.
  24. Comfort food.  I don’t particularly like mediocre mac n’ cheese.  You know, the stuff that comes in a box with mysterious powdery cheese and comes out so bright it almost looks radioactive?  Yeah, it’s kinda strange.  But man, one bite of that piping hot off the oven and I feel like a part of me has been regifted a slice of childhood and I can’t help but enjoy the glow of the tiny noodles and their orange coating.
  25. Having a flower garden.  Plants can be so stinking pretty sometimes.  And, honestly, I don’t know what benefit roses, lilies, peonies, hydrangeas, etc. give to the eco system other than simply showing off God’s beauty.  (They very well might have another purpose, I’m no botanist myself.)  But if that is all they are there for, than I’d say they have a pretty important job and I’m grateful for them.
  26. The physical feeling you get in your chest when you are passionate about something.  I firmly believe there are things which we can love and admire more than we are capable of adequately expressing and that is when our chests start to ache.  Like our hearts want to beat bigger, our voices want to articulate clearer, our very beings yearn to say more.  And I also believe that is the way that God loves us.  Not just in isolated moments or for unsustainable periods of time, but unconditionally and eternally.
  27. Light in nature.  Fireflies, sunrises, the way water glows ever so slightly, all the little things that glow.  There’s a magic in watching things light up around you, even in the little glimmers.
  28. Misspelled words.  I don’t know of a better way to describe what a writer I am than that one of the funniest things to me is when people (myself included) misspell words and I get to pronounce them wrong out loud.  I’m a bit of a child, a bit of a nerd, and a whole lot of a strange sense of humor, but laughing is fun, so I’d say it’s all worth it.
  29. When animals curl up to get comfy.  It’s endearing to watch them do their version of tucking themselves in for bed.  Feeling comfortable and safe is important for all of us, I guess.
  30. The triumph of recognizing an actor in a film and figuring out where you recognize them from without having to look it up.  It’s on the tip of your tongue and you know you know it, but it’s infuriating when you just can’t figure out where you know that person from.  But when it clicks, it’s a victory and also a relief, which are two things that go pretty well together.
  31. Laying on the floor.  There are some times all you want to do is stop, rest, catch your breath.  And you need to do those things.  Sometimes, it’s good to do so from a different perspective.  Life looks a little different looking up at it, and sometimes staring at the details on the ceiling or feeling the way you can flatten your whole body against the ground make everything weighing down on you seem a little smaller.