1. A capella.  God has given us these incredible things called voices.  These voices can make a multitude of different sounds.  Putting them together harmoniously is a feat that still impresses me every time I hear it.
  2. Smelling the coffee at grocery stores.  It’s one of those guilty pleasures that I always feel a little embarrassed doing, but how can I not?  I’ll look at the names and see one that catches my eye and I can’t help but wonder what it smells like.  Usually, it smells pretty darn good.  Completely worth the paranoia that I’ll get kicked out to the store.
  3. Taking hundreds of pictures of the most random assortment of objects for no reason other than the sheer enjoyment of it.  I don’t know if you realize this, but taking 80 pictures of chess pieces and then another 150 of ducks wouldn’t have been a very realistic thing to do even just 15 or 20 years ago.  You couldn’t do that kind of a thing when each picture used a bit of film that you could never get back.  Digital photography is a marvel that allows us to take as many pictures as we want because we can easily delete the ones we don’t want as if we were reverting the film back to its original blank status.
  4. America.  I don’t know if you realize this, but America is a really amazing place.  Sure, we like to whine about everything from our taxes to our government to our morals to any number of other things, but we still have this land of opportunity in which to live.  After traveling to Europe, my view of America has changed fairly dramatically.  Before I went, this country was a nice place, but it was riddled with problems, idiots, and (ironically enough) cynics.  In Europe, I found that many countries don’t at all like American politics and whatnot, but they tend to love America and its inhabitants.  My guide in Belgium told us that Belgium still looks up to America after the Battle of the Bulge, and they honor us in many humbling ways.  As we traveled through the serene Belgian countryside that once raged with war, our guide pointed out a row of trees.  These trees were planted by schoolchildren and each was named after a fallen American soldier after the war.  There were some younger trees which, our guide revealed, had been planted and named after the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting victims.  All of this, the Belgians did to honor the country which they had grown to admire.  And if you’ve ever been to an American military cemetery overseas, you’ll see just how beautiful they are and how well cared for.  In most situations, these cemeteries were given to America as a gift from the country in which the cemeteries lie, and that country is usually the one who takes care of the cemeteries so that they remain so beautiful.  After coming back, I’m really proud of this nation which I call my home, and I hope you are too.  God bless America!
  5. Bouncing up and down with curly hair.  Yes, I am a child.
  6. Trying really hard not to laugh when an inside joke comes up.  There are soooo many instances where I’m in a conversation or wherever and something happens that is an inside joke between my sister and me.  Those are the times when I can’t catch her eye or we’ll both break out in a fit of giggles.
  7. Unbridled joy.  I have a tendency to be kind of shy in social situations, but even just by myself.  I have this wealth of spazziness waiting to spill over, but I rarely let it happen because I feel like I’ll make a fool out of myself.  I’ve discovered that I very often do make a fool of myself, but it is so worth it.  Just letting myself be childishly happy is such a refreshing activity.
  8. Ice.  Iced water, iced tea, iced mocha, iced lemonade, iced… you get the point.  I often times have more ice in a glass than drink.  Sometimes I just fill a glass with ice and nothing else.  I don’t know why, but I am a fan of ice.  Probably because my father is a polar bear.
  9. Rereading a favorite book and seeing it in a completely new light.  Lisa Bergren, one of my absolute favorite authors, wrote a book series called the River of Time Series.  I’ve been rereading them, and they hold so much more meaning for me after this last school year.  I’ve fallen in love with them all over again.
  10. Watching kids’ creativity.  I’ve been helping with a drama camp and it has been so very intriguing to watch them build new ideas from their own minds.  Kids have so much creativity in them and it doesn’t take a whole lot to get it spewing forth.  With a bit of guidance, they can become little geniuses.
  11. Singing in the shower.  Don’t even try to deny it, you’ve belted your favorite song in the shower at some point in your life.  The acoustics in there are just so beautiful.  Unfortunately, we can’t hold concerts or anything in the shower.  That might cross a few lines.  But if you ever find a concert hall with the same acoustics as a shower, let me know.  I want to live there.
  12. Having afternoon tea.  I’m an American, which means I don’t usually indulge in that little respite in the afternoon.  I feel like we should make it a cultural norm in America because it’s so relaxing and refreshing.  It helps to break up the insanely fast pace that we seem determined to set for ourselves.
  13. Supporting underappreciated authors.  I dearly love to read.  I think I probably read as much as my cat sleeps.  That means that I occasionally stumble across an author that isn’t very well known but clearly deserves to be based on their writing skills.  I really love the feeling when I buy a bazillion of their books.  I get a whole new host of superb literature and my new hero gets a little bit more publicity from my fangirling.  Win-win!
  14. Traveling.  I’ve only been home for a few weeks, but I already ache to go on new adventures and explore more of the world.  God gave us an infinitely interesting earth, which means I doubt I’ll ever reach an end of interesting places to see.
  15. Nice surprises.  I love it when people catch me off guard and fill my heart with wonder at their generosity.  Some people have a generosity of spirit and others buy me food, but I love them all.
  16. Having friends who let me invite myself over.  There are times I just need to talk to someone, and I really love it when they let me do just that.
  17. Archaic speaking.  ‘Tis a dreadful shame that our rudimentary use of bland words and horrific grammar has caused us to lose the beauty of speech in such a way that one’s peers are thoroughly impressed by one’s conversation.  I dare say I could truly enjoy speaking with such finesse if ever I could master the skill.
  18. Those moments when you all of a sudden realize how amazing your life is.  One of my favorite authors, Lisa Bergren, wrote a ton in her River of Time series about how life means more when you know what it feels like to fight for it.  (Super good series by the way; I 300% recommend it.) I’ve noticed this so much lately.  I know what it is to lose loved ones and I know what it is to struggle for life to be colorful and vibrant.  Honestly, sometimes I sit and stare at the screen for a long time, racking my brain for one positive thing to post.  That’s what makes life even more precious and even more valuable.  We don’t know what God has in store for us, but we do know that he has given us life and he intends for us to live it.  There are some moments when I suddenly just realize the life I have and how much I can thrive in it, despite its hardships and imperfections, and I can hardly keep myself from bursting into a fit of joyful laughter.  We have an amazing God.
  19. Finally finishing a task that’s been dragging on.  I finished my Europe daily journal today.  I was supposed to write about events as they happened, but a month late is better than never, right?
  20. Late night reading.  I’m a morning person, but I love to lay in bed and unwind with a book before I fall asleep.  It’s cozy.
  21. Harry Potter.  Today, July 21st, 2014, is the seventh anniversary of the release of the final installment in J.K. Rowling’s world-changing series.  I am a member of the generation who grew up with Harry, but I unfortunately fought everyone who told me to read it until the summer before the release of the last movie.  Despite waiting so long, I still noticed and took part in the culture shift that resulted after Harry Potter began.  Even the people who haven’t read the books or seen the movies won’t go very far on the internet or in a fandom without encountering the Boy Who Lived.  Thank you Jo for giving us that wonderful story.
  22. Writing.  There’s something really magical about taking all of the nonsense in my head and slowly watching a story emerge from it.  I always feel like an artist, coaxing their vision out of a blank canvas.
  23. Looking at old yearbooks.  It’s always a bit of a laugh to see everyone I’ve known for years looking the way they did a long time ago.  There’s also so many memories and fun times in old yearbooks.
  24. When the kindness of humans surpasses expectation.  I just got braces on, despite my own qualms, but, regardless of my own feelings, here they are.  I had a few reservations about seeing people right away, because I knew I would get all of the standard dumb jokes and whatnot.  I was so pleasantly surprised when everyone, despite their teasing, was so gracious about it.  They allowed me a little bit of time before they set in with the teasing, but it has been all completely good-natured.  Thanks friends.
  25. Worshiping God with no sense of restriction or embarrassment.  When you don’t care what others will think and you just let yourself go where God calls you, praising him all the time, there is an incomparable sense of rightness and contentment that comes with it.  Our God can perform the greatest wonders, and it is a joy filled feeling when He uses us as His tools to accomplish those wonders in just the way He sees fit.
  26. Casually cosplaying and hoping your fellow fangirls will notice.  I enjoy a good solid cosplay now and then, but, unfortunately, that’s not exactly socially acceptable to wear around everyday.  However, I do manage to cosplay subtly so that only the people in the fandom will understand the little quirks of what I’m wearing.  For example: I’ve been stubbornly wearing gold eyeliner every single day because I must support the house Forelli at least until the last River of Time book comes out.  It’s fun.
  27. Family reunions.  I have a really fun family.  They can be pretty overwhelming to outsiders, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  They are animated story-tellers, perfect at sarcasm, and always willing to see my good side.  We play games like no other family, without a whole lot of care as to the type of game.  We will be equally unnecessarily competitive in a game of Blokus as a game of Ladder Golf or a game of Nerts.  Another thing I love is that, no matter how many things this family has endured, we are always still able to laugh.  That takes courage.
  28. Cheap makeup.  We’re talking the roulette game when you’re at a random store and see the bin of ridiculously cheap makeup.  Will it look good?  Will it stay on?  Is it worth the 75 cents I have to pay for it?  Yes.  There are the times when you try it out and realize that it really isn’t fit to wear into the real world.  No worries, just stick it in the bin of costume makeup that you use at Halloween and costume parties.  And then the times when you get it home and it actually works well are massive victories.  As in, I just payed a dollar for this eyeliner and it has stayed exactly where I put it on my eye all day long.  I shall never pay more than a dollar for eyeliner ever again.
  29. Going shopping with my sister.  I used to feel kind of bad for the employees that had to listen to my sister and I prattle on about organizing things in rainbow order and OH MY GOODNESS DID YOU EVEN SEE HOW CUTE THIS THING IS? and the like.  Now, I just consider it free entertainment for them.  After a while, even I have to laugh at us.  We’re sort of inadvertently our own traveling comedy show.
  30. Taxidermy paranoia.  My family has spent the last several days reunioning in a hunting cabin.  There are lots of things hanging from the walls that used to be gallivanting through the meadows.  Every time I look up, I am convinced that they are all looking at me, just watching and biding their time before they all strike.  Fortunately, none of them have tried to dismount from the wall yet, so I think I’m okay.
  31. Sitting in the cupboard under the stairs and singing happy birthday to Harry Potter.  I can’t honestly say I haven’t done this.  And I’m pretty much okay with that fact.

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