1. The vibrance of spring.  It happens so suddenly that the world goes from a drab pile of browns to emerald peeking out from every crevice to the whole world being awash with color again.  The ground shakes off the winter and charges forward, ready to be alive and bustling again.
  2.  Looking at the dirt that comes off of something when you clean it.  Yes, it’s disgusting to look at a dust rag and see just how long it’s been since the last time you swiped over that particular surface, but there’s satisfaction in it as well.  It’s a visible, tangible measure of the work you’ve done and the progress you’ve made, even if it is only to one space.  And it feels pretty good to know that your habitat is just a little bit cleaner.
  3. Making time to sit down and do something you love.  Life is crazy, kids.  If you start thinking about all the things you have to do or that need to be done or that should happen but haven’t, you start to implode a little bit.  Speaking from personal experience.  And in the midst of all of that, it is so easy to let the things you love fall to the wayside “just until I finish this project” or “until I’m less stressed” or “when I have time to get to it, I’ll get to it.”  Take a breath, take some time, and just do whatever it is that you miss.  The things that can make you feel at ease, restore your energy, or remind you why the things you do are worthy of your time.
  4. Statement articles of clothing.  Today I wore a pale pink crop length short sleeve jacket with billowing sleeves covered in embroidery and matching fabric flowers.  It looks simultaneously like I stole it from my grandmother’s era and like it came out of a high scale fashion catalog or something.  In short, it’s a little eccentric.  But also, it is such a cool statement of how I want to portray myself: confident, classy, and the kind of person who manages to look completely at home in something a little out of the ordinary.
  5. The rumbling thunder that keeps a constant trill underneath the pitter patter of the rain.  When thunder comes in great clashing booms, it acts as the dynamic punctuation of the composition.  But in some symphonies, it rolls on for measures and measures underneath the melody.  It creates a cozy yet cavernous space for the droplets to pluck out a whispered address.
  6. Having a specific dynamic with specific people.  I have two friends who I tend to spend quite a bit of time with in a large group where we all get along and interact in a neat way.  But when I spend time specifically with these two friends, the three of us have this really interesting way of interacting that we all encourage in each other.  For starters, I am an extrovert (apparently, although that’s a relatively new thing for me) and the other two are both introverted.  They both have a similar form of dry, witty humor and when one of them gets going, they both start to play off each other and build an energetic, lighthearted, just a smidgen sassy atmosphere that is friendly and inviting.  However, they don’t usually go there if they don’t have an audience and an instigator.  Hello, that person is me.  I am incredibly reactive and I provide perfect fodder, and occasionally a genuine contribution of my own, to the mix.  There’s a perfect balance there that makes for a unique atmosphere and it’s fun to watch it build.
  7. Coming back to a beloved bible passage and getting something new out of it.  As you change as a person, you also learn to see the world in a new light.  That means the bible too.  And hey, it’s a living word, meant to be a resource in relationship with God.  So as you grow, and other people show you other perspectives, and you gain a better understanding of the world in general, you learn new things when you interact with that relationship.  God doesn’t change, but he lets you know new things and that is how relationships work: you get to know people.
  8. A color that is just right somehow.  Sometimes, you look at a flower, a piece of fabric, or even a little chunk of a label on your water bottle and it looks like the purest, most satisfying shade and depth of color that it could be.  That’s completely subjective of course, but that doesn’t make it any less cheering.
  9. Listening to the perfect soundtrack when you are working.  Soundtracks make work different, let me tell you.  Especially writing.  If you are listening to something soft and lilting, your writing will be more mellow and contemplative.  If your music is bubbly and bright, your writing will follow suit.  Need to work quickly and intensely?  Throw on an action soundtrack and watch your fingers fly across the keyboard with a determined focus.  Music is a magical little gateway to setting the stage for just the right words to emerge.
  10. When people let little quirks into their job.  At my university, campus security feeds and has conversations with the local squirrel population.  I’m 99% sure “socializing with the squirrels” is not in the job description, but it makes life a little more interesting for everyone anyway so why not?
  11. Remembering to look up at the sky.  There is no view of the world quite like looking away from it into the vastness beyond.  People are creatures of wonder, and looking up is a pretty good source.
  12. Getting to make food for people you love.  One of my professors has a sign in her office that says “Love people.  Make them tasty food.”  That sign seems like a pretty legitimate way to live life to me.
  13. Being stubborn enough to fight for the things that matter to you.  Friends!  Sometimes things are difficult!  Life throws every obstacle it can in your way.  You want to punch a wall because it just seems so unfair.  All you want is to achieve the thing you have been striving so long and hard for and it continues to elude you.  Let me tell you a secret: if you fight through long enough, teeth and ambitions bared, you may just reach the goal.  And it’s all the sweeter when you look back and see what it took to get there.
  14. Feeling like an adult around your parents.  I got to spend the weekend with the two stellar humans who gave me life and it was tons of fun.  As I hung out with them, I realized that, for the first time in my life, I felt like I was interacting with them as an adult.  They will always be my parents.  I will always look up to them and see them as people to be respected.  However, today I felt like I could enter their playing field a little.  I could have conversations with them like an adult and go on a walk with them like a group of grownups out for a stroll and it was such a beautiful new dynamic to have with them.  And they are people I want to be able to hang out with and take walks with because you know what?  They are pretty cool people.
  15. Looking at a person you love dearly and realizing just how important they are in your life.  You know, it doesn’t really take very long for a person to become a staple of admiration and friendship in your life.  Sometimes, the most important people can be the ones you have only known for a couple of years, but have experienced so very much of your life with you in that time.  And you have had the privilege of experiencing that part of their life alongside them.  You get to cry on their shoulder and have the honor of listening when they need to get something off their chest.  They build you up and you get to show them how amazing they are.  Those are really quality friendships.  Hold on to them.
  16. The value of comedy.  The more I have delved into theatre, the more I have begun to admire the sort of storytelling that digs really deep, asks the difficult questions, forces the audience and performers alike to think, react, engage with the piece.  In the process, I confess I have done a bit of snubbing toward poor old laughter.  I had the opportunity to perform a comedic scene tonight for my acting class, and boy did the audience laugh.  They ate up every moment of it.  And that was a reminder that, even in an art form that strives to always push the limits, there is immense value in giving the audience a chance to relax.  A place to throw off their cares and simply enjoy the characters and the situations that are putting stitches in their sides.  There is value in generating a comfortable sense of contented joy.
  17. The bubble that happens to a group of people sitting around a table enjoying the company of each other.  When people start to talk and interact in a group, the rest of the world blurs just enough to let the circle become the most important people in the world for just a little while.
  18. Holding a warm mug between your hands.  Letting the comfort seep through your palms, inhaling the steam as it rolls off the lip of the mug where your lips wait expectantly for the contents to cool down just enough to sip.  Everything pauses for a moment in that contented breath and the world doesn’t seem so scary as long as that mug stays in your hands.
  19. A mutual understanding that endings aren’t always permanent.  Today was the last day of the semester and that sad time of year where people part ways for months.  Which is a bummer.  But also, it presents a chance to begin again.  In a few months, we will all show up at school again, all of the scrapes and mess from the year before having time to heal a little and the desire to start fresh again.  That space of time between the ending and the beginning brightens the past and heightens the anticipation of the future.
  20. Snuggling with a cat when you are sad.  There’s a reason therapy pets exist.  Because sometimes animals exude so much empathy even if they haven’t the faintest clue what that means or what it does for people.  But softness and warmth and the willingness to cuddle make a nice little stew of comfort they dish out in heaps.
  21. The privilege of celebrating with others in their success.  Today was graduation day.  For most of the year, that event has been something I have vehemently denied the reality of because it means that a whole bunch of people I have come to love a whole bunch are leaving me to go off and live their lives.  On the one hand, that is sad for me because it means my friends won’t be around.  But on the other hand, now is when they get to start doing all of the cool things they are passionate about and more than capable of accomplishing.  They can go out and impact the rest of the world.  And yeah, all of that sounds like cheesy graduation talk.  And, to some extent it is, but also I am just so proud of my little nuggets who made it through school and get to embark elsewhere.  Because I know how amazing they are and it thrills me to know that they get to go be that incredible person to so many people who need it.
  22. The way that people can point out the good in humanity.  Sin is a thing and people can be less than kind to each other so there are days that the world seems to be full of only dark and hostile people who care nothing for the needs of others.  But we are also still created in God’s image and we are so capable of compassion.  I love when people cooperate, building on one another’s ideas and enthusiasm.  It is so cool when someone points out the way that humans empathize and are bolstered by the realization.  This world is full of people who care about other people, and that’s pretty neat.
  23. Feeling like the decor and mood of a room is finished.  As a kid, I loved building houses out of Legos or on the Sims, but I was constantly changing them, upgrading, adding more rooms to use more themes, changing shapes to accommodate my unwillingness to let the work be done.  There was no fun in being finished.  But as I have moved home from college for one of the last times, I finally feel like my bedroom is finished.  It feels lived in, which it spent years lacking, it has something of a color scheme, but most importantly it looks like an accurate representation of the culmination of the people I have been that have led me to the person I am.  It feels like a room that could only be my bedroom.  And with that, I am satisfied.
  24. Writing commentary in a book.  *Disclaimer: Please don’t do this to a book that isn’t yours, it leaves a little too much of your personality for the next person who reads it to really make it theirs, you feel?*  Every time you read a book, you identify with characters, places, phrases, what have you.  You connect with them.  And when that book is done, you find you have left traces of yourself in the pages.  Or perhaps you just find traces of the book on yourself.  Either way, that book becomes, in some tiny way, yours.  But if you can leave visible traces, words, highlights, underlines, even doodles, you leave a physical stamp of your presence on that book forever.
  25. Watching people come in out of the rain.  Some days, it rains.  You know, the kind that just drives down from the heavens, intent on soaking everything it can find to the core.  Spend more than a few seconds in that rain and you will be soggy, guaranteed.  As inconvenient as it may be, there is light in the way people act when they find solace from the downpour.  They run inside and lift their head, shaking the water from their hair and clothes.  No matter how haggard they may look, or how disgruntled they may be, there is a glint in their eye and a flush in their cheek that betrays the rush of adrenaline and wonder that floods in the rain.  Some part of them, no matter how small, is just a little bit enthralled by the intensity of it all.  And that energized wonder is just a little bit contagious.
  26. Driving around with nowhere to go.  Hop in a car, throw on some music, roll down the windows, and just drive.  Decide at each intersection to turn or keep going straight.  Drive with no urgency and all adventure.  The simplest places can become a novelty exploration.
  27. Home decor.  Humans like to have homes.  And part of making a home is spreading yourself out in it, in one way or another.  So it is pretty neat to get to decorate a space in a way that makes it more like you.  Because then you get to display your heart on the walls and live inside a space made just like you.
  28. Spending time with a new demographic.  I have been working with middle schoolers this summer and oh boy it is a whole different world than I am used to.  These guys are at a completely different stage of life and learning to interact with them takes some getting used to.  But as I settle in, I’m realizing that these kids have a really cool perspective on life.  I was that age once upon a time, but I process things differently now and even though I remember what it was like to experience, I didn’t have an outsider’s perspective on what it was like to witness.  They are smart, hilarious, and bursting to engage with people, to be challenged.  They are so eager to take a place of their own in the world and are learning how to maneuver that.  What it looks like to function as someone who is not really a child anymore but still on their way to adulthood.  And it is a blessing to get to walk through that with them.
  29. Folding clean laundry.  There is a satisfaction in disrupting entropy, and folding clothes does just that.  They smell fresh, feel soft, and are perfect for turning a heap into a well ordered pile stacked neatly in a drawer.  Entropy successfully disrupted.  For the time being.
  30. Sidewalk chalk.  The things you enjoyed as a child can be just as fun as a grown up if you don’t mind getting on the ground and getting your hands a little messy.  Because creativity isn’t always perfect and the ability to run a little wild with colors and shapes and no stakes makes it all the more fun.
  31. Genuinely sharing someone else’s excitement.  My sister gets to fly across an ocean in a few days to spend some time around the Mediterranean.  Not going to lie, I am a smidgen jealous of her, but mostly I am so excited for her to experience a new part of the world.  She is on the edge of her seat ready to go and explore and every time she talks about it she can’t help but grin.  And I have to grin too because I know she is going to have such an amazing experience and her excitement is completely contagious.