1. Being in the sun.  There are all of the sciencey explanations for why being outside in the sun makes you happy, but let’s face it: it just does.  I don’t need to know that I’m soaking up vitamin D to be ready and willing to head out for a stroll or take a book out to my backyard and settle down.
  2. Homemade apple pie.  My mother is baking one right now and my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  It’s even better when it’s fresh out of the oven and it hasn’t quite lost its warmth.  A scoop of vanilla ice cream with it and I’m good to go.
  3. Melodramas.  I just experienced my forst one of those today and I highly recommend going to one (or a few) if you ever get the chance.  Audience interaction is just too much fun.
  4. Senior year.  School hasn’t even technically started yet, but I already can just tell this is going to be an amazing year.  There are so many ideas floating around in my class of what to do with this year, and some of them are actually coming to fruition already.  I’m so excited to see what else this year will bring.
  5. Band camp.  It’s sort of a well known stereotype that band camp is… interesting.  It’s so much fun.  There’s all of the grueling work in the blazing sun and whatnot, but there’s also tons of bonding.  My band director sent us off into sectionals this morning to “get to know one another.” Oh, and practice music.  Mostly, we just ran around having mythical adventures.  That’s how my section does icebreaker games.
  6. Listening to kids narrate their lives solely for your benefit.  Kids love to tell you every detail of their lives to make sure that you a) understand it and b) are impressed by it.  They end up saying the best things and then giving you this look to make sure that you are following their narration with rapt attention and complete interest.  It makes me smile.
  7. Blazers.  Any outfit becomes approximately 300% more professionally adorable with a smart blazer over it.  Maybe it’s the speechie in me, but blazers are an almost effortless way to look so intelligent and attractive and whatnot.  Love them.
  8. Getting a haircut that does not look at all like what you were envisioning but it looks even more amazing than what you were planning.  Usually, I am pretty conservative at the barber shop.  Just a trim to take off the bad ends and maybe a bit of feathering on the ends for texture please.  I decided that this time, I was going to get it just a little bit shorter.  Just  little bit though.  I’m forever wanting to do something different with my hair, but I’m scared that if I don’t like it, I’ll be stuck with it.  In the end, it ended up looking quite a bit shorter than I anticipated.  For about two seconds, I stared at my reflection and the only thought going through my head was “Wait, what?”, but then I realized, “Holy Cow, this looks really good.  I’m keeping my hair like this forever.  I need something to commemorate this monumental moment.”  I didn’t commemorate it, but I’m pretty happy with the new ‘do.
  9. Doing a million things with friends in the last few days before school starts.  You know the feeling.  There are only a few precious hours of freedom and relaxing left, and you suddenly realize that there are so many things you still want to do.  So you cram in as many social obligations as you can because you haven’t seen your friends much over the summer.  It’s funny that we do it right before we go back to school where we see them all every day.  Ah well ces’t la vie.  It’s still so much fun.
  10. BBC’s Sherlock.  I’ve been told for years that I need to watch this show.  I now understand why.  Within three episodes, I was bawling when my favorite character could have died.  Fangirl mode is engaged.
  11. School.  Yes, I just went there.  But really, school is an amazing place.  Having an education is a gem that many of us have forgotten to appreciate.  Even if you don’t love to learn (I do), you are learning at school, which gives you several distinct advantages. 1) You are smarter.  Solid fact right there. 2) You can have more intelligent and interesting conversations.  That might seem pointless, but trust me: your conversations can cover so many more topics when you have a basic knowledge of a broad range of subjects. 3) You can have more careers. 4) You get my point.
  12. Giving someone a spark of wonder.  Whether it’s showing kids how to do seemingly magic tricks, introducing a friend to a favorite song, pointing out easter-eggs in beloved stories, or sharing a new meal with a friend, that little spark of wonder is beautiful.  When their eyes light up and a special sort of uncontainable energy starts running rampant to the point where everyone in the room can feel it.  As if innocence and the sense of experiencing the world anew could be captured and made into electricity, passing like a shock from one person to the next.
  13. Watching the things you’ve worked really hard on come to fruition.  I’m always saying things like “we should totally…” and completely meaning it, but never actually doing it.  When I come up with a great idea and it actually happens, it’s a wonderful process.
  14. Laughing at myself.  I’m the kind of person who has a tendency to be really embarrassed about all of my clumsy slip-ups, but, once in a great while, I actually remember that it doesn’t actually matter and I have a ball amusing myself with my own comical mishaps.  It makes the whole thing rather lesss awkward as well.
  15. Weekends.  After an entire school-free summer, it’s easy to be lulled into the easy rhythm of laziness.  By the end of summer, a weekend doesn’t hold quite as special a place in life when you can schedule social events in the middle of a Tuesday.  However, that first weekend after school starts brings all of that appreciation back.  You’ve had just enough mental cobweb-dusting and syllabusing to drive you to the brink of a panic attack in longing for your days of freedom.  The weekend hits and you promptly fill it entirely with having fun and being lazy.  Then the sanity comes back, realizing you can get through the school year and suddenly life doesn’t seem so very claustrophobic.
  16. Being alive.  I went to see the movie adaption of Lois Lowry’s The Giver yesterday.  If you don’t know the premise, I highly encourage you to read the book; it is chocked full with things to think about.  Anyway, the movie handled the scenes of the memories so well that I just came home with this insane gratitude for being alive.  We can appreciate the way soft sand feels between our toes or the soul-plucking tones of a cello because God has given us this capacity to be really and truly alive.  Forgive my slight tangent here.  God tells us in his word that he longs for us to find our life in him.  That feeling that life is so amazing but there’s something… off about it, like there’s a little bit of a film over everything, like there’s something more to life, if only we could find it.  That’s us yearning for our Creator.  In the arms of Christ, we are perpetually and completely alive.
  17. Prawo Dzungli.  It’s a polish card game that has a tendency to involve many a wound.  I happen to be abysmal at said game.  I absolutely love it.
  18. Undeserved forgiveness.  I like to think of myself as generally a fairly nice person, but I know that’s not completely true.  Occasionally, some poor person, usually one of my friends, becomes the victim of my not-so-very-niceness.  I was downright evil on accident to my friend the other day and, looking back, I still can’t believe it was actually me who said all of those scathing things.  If someone would have told me even a fraction of what I hurled in my friend’s face, I would have been rolled up in a ball crying and watching chick flicks for a while.  Instead, this friend came back with an extremely respectful response, explaining his feelings about what I had said and asking me a few questions.  I am amazed that he was able to do that and not just completely hate me.  Thank you friend (you know who you are)!  I cannot thank you enough for being so unbelievably nice.  You deserve some chocolate or something.
  19. Good hugs.  There are some hugs that are mediocre, some that are downright awkward, and some that are absolutely perfect.  Those are the hugs that convey all sorts of meaning and sentiment.  They basically create a little pocket of joy on the earth.
  20. Solitude.  There’s something about being alone with my thoughts that’s really peaceful.
  21. Finding the right word.  There are an unfortunate number of occasions where I know there is a word to describe exactly what I want to describe, but I can’t because my mind refuses to relinquish such a word into my grasp.  But the times when I think of the perfect word are the times when my writing feels genuinely quality.
  22. Going from social event to social event with the same group of people.  It kind of ends up being like a Roman bath sometimes, going from super intense to really relaxed and content.  You start out going to a concert or something.  Then, you and the friends you came with go looking for somewhere to acquire some food.  Then maybe you go over to someone’s house and do nothing for a few hours.  By the end of it, you feel something like you do after a feast: full of joy and completely content – not to mention a little lethargic and ready for a nice long nap.
  23. Finally reading a book I’ve been waiting about a year and a half for.  I absolutely adore the River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren, and I encourage you 300% to go read those books as soon as you can get your hands on them.  The final installment in that series has had quite a few delays and setbacks, but it finally came out last night.  Naturally, I’ve already bought it and dug into it.  I don’t want to post spoilers, but I will tell you that I read the first sentence, jumped up, and ran around my house screaming with joy.  It was about my OTP.  I am so excited to finish this book.  I’m going to cry, but it’ll be completely worth it.
  24. Seeing long lost friends.  I have plenty of friends who live in the same city as I do, but I somehow never actually see.  It’s so good to sit down and just catch up with them after months of unintentional silence on both sides.  It usually has a tendency to take on the feeling of “just like old times”, but it’s looking forward to to future at the same time.  Embracing whatever changes may come our way with grace, but never forgetting the people who helped to shape us in the past.
  25. Finding out that you’re apparently sort of locally famous for something and you didn’t even know it.  I feel like I go mostly neutrally through throngs of people every day who know I exist but don’t know much past that about me.  Sure, I have my friends who know what I’m capable of, but when I suddenly hear people all around me telling others how I’m good with words, it gives me a little more admiration for these people who are willing to show me off as their champion or something, despite being only the most casual of acquaintances.
  26. The fact that my friend has serious plans to sew a giant squid that is eight feet long so that she can leave it in the passenger seat of her car.  Just let that soak in for a little bit.  I have crazy awesome friends.
  27. My sister’s entirely sensible solutions to everyday problems.  My computer has been acting up lately, giving me loads of frustration.  Of course, my sister thought of the only logical explanation to discipline it.  Now, the computer is wearing a purple sequins-y tube top thing that came out of the dress up box in my basement.  My sister dubbed it the “garment of shame” so that my computer will be embarrassed into submission.  There is never a dull moment in this house, I can tell you that.
  28. Pulling good-natured pranks.  A few of my friends and I decided to give another friend a rather unique birthday present, so we filled her car with balloons and hid a plastic foot near the gas pedal underneath it all.  It was quite a feat to accomplish without her knowing about it, but she really enjoyed the gesture.
  29. Fabric stores.  I really enjoy walking down the aisles with my hands stretched out and just brushing the fabric on both sides.  If there was a zombie apocalypse, I would either hide out in a bookstore or a fabric store.  No zombies would come looking for me there, and I would have access to all of the fabric I wanted.
  30. Husker football.  If you’ve never experienced the Nebraskan enthusiasm for football, you can’t possibly understand it.  I’m not really a football person myself, but the first football game of the season makes me happy anyway.  There’s the all-too-familiar sound of the game on the TV or radio in the next room; at least two thirds of the population is wearing husker gear, or at least something red; don’t even bother trying to go anywhere near Memorial Stadium for anything other than the game because its a madhouse down there.  To some people, it may seem excessive, but to a Nebraskan, it’s just life.
  31. Hymns.  I’ve grown up going to a traditional service at a Lutheran church and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.  Why? Because I love singing hymns.  The archaic language has a way, sometimes, of saying things so beautifully.  They find new and unique ways to praise God.  Also, they come with handy printed harmonizing parts, so they are especially fun to sing with people who have long learned how to harmonize and use the music to do that because the sounds blend together so well.  I do have a special spot in my heart for hymns too because they fed my love of words as a child.  My parents rarely got to actually sing the hymns when I was younger because I was constantly tugging on their sleeve to ask “What does this word mean?”  They would patiently explain it to me, and we would sing another stanza before I found another gap in my vocabulary.  Now, I know the meanings of the hymns and I sing them with joy.

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