1. Ideas.  I don’t care how many of my genius ideas never come to fruition because I don’t have a Hollywood budget life; that doesn’t make any of them less amazing.  At least I’m having fun thinking of them.
  2. Tranquility.  Today, my friend, my sister, and I went to a beautiful little lake nearby.  It was about nine in the morning so it was still cool and there was a light breeze that was enough to blow my hair playfully but not so much as to be a nuisance.  We sat under a giant tree which gave us plenty of shade and which was the perfect distance from the water.  There was about ten feet of grass between us and the sandy beach, and perhaps another ten feet of that before the water gently brushed up against it.  For about an hour, we simply sat and read books and looked out at the water.  No one was talking (except for the occasional gushing about the precious little ducklings that were on the shoreline nearby), there was no background music except for “nature’s symphony”, which sounds pretty cheesy, and it was so relaxing and refreshing.  Sometimes, it’s nice to stop go-go-going and simply be, in a place where everything around you is doing exactly the same thing.
  3. Laughing until you can’t breathe.  Even when you aren’t laughing about anything that’s actually funny.  Perhaps even more so then.
  4. A standard deck of 52 playing cards.  I come from a family who plays card games like it’s a religion.  Not quite, but we’re pretty serious about our cards.  When people play “solitaire” I have to ask them which type because I have a book that gives instructions for several hundred versions.  When my family plays Nerts, it is serious business.  As in, anyone who tries to interrupt the Nerts is instantly attacked.   I carry a deck around in my purse for emergencies.  No shame.
  5. God moments.  There are certain times when stuff happens and it’s 300% obvious that God orchestrated that moment and it feels extra special.  It sort of feels like God is making a special effort to put this little surprise bubble of happiness into my life.  It’s those little moments that keep me going because they remind me that God (and often other people as well) are there for me and supporting me and bolstering me even when I start to feel insignificant or bothersome or anything of the like.
  6. Old stuff that contains really amazing bits of history.  My friend found some Liberty magazines at our church garage sale, of all places, from 1938 to 1941.  They were all in really good shape too, like they were printed, read once, and then stored in a museum until just recently.  I don’t know who put such amazing treasures in a church garage  sale, but I’m certainly glad I got to see them.  There was an article in one that was Winston Churchill’s thoughts/predictions about the threat of German U-boats.  And this was in 1939.  There was another from 1938 in which Mrs. Roosevelt talked about “The Future of the Jews.”  In 1938!  It was so cool to see all of these random perspectives on WWII and the world from a time when it was all actually happening.  Call me a history geek, but I’m still sort of shocked that I got to read those.
  7. Sitting down and playing the piano for no reason and with no music.  It’s fun to just mess around on the keys for a while.
  8. Art Galleries.  My friend and I were wandering around to look at little shops and things the other day and we happened across an art/photography gallery.  I’ve always seen that building, but I never thought it might be interesting.  I was mistaken.  I’m not actually sure how long we were in there for, but we mostly sat and looked at wedding photos.  Which was really fun.  We didn’t even get past the first floor before we had to leave, but we fully intend to go back and spend hours on end there, or as much time as is necessary to gape at all of the things in that magnificent place.
  9. Lilo & Stitch.  I watched this movie again today (which I bought on VHS for 50 cents and I happen to think is the best 50-cent purchase I’ve ever made) and I was once again struck by the depth of emotions and problems dealt with by this animated movie.  I hadn’t watched it for quite a while, and it hit me that an enormous quantity of the material in that movie was completely applicable to my class and the year we’ve had.  At the end, Stitch says “This is my family… It’s little, and broken, but still good.  Yeah, still good.”  I think that kind of sums up my class.  We’re not huge, and we’re certainly not whole, but we’re still good.  Also, to end on a slightly lighter note, that movie is simply adorable on so many levels.
  10. Fabric.  If you’ve never gone into a fabric store and trailed your finger across the bolts as you walk down the isles, I would advise you to go try that.  I find it rather soothing.
  11. Old photos and the stories behind them.  Life isn’t a snapshot, but so many times, we can take a snapshot of life and shove a whole lot of backstory into it.  Looking through my old photo albums with my family naturally brings loads of storytelling and laughter with it.
  12. Cliches.  Some of them are annoying, but they are cliche for a reason.  They are actually really great phrases.
  13. Clever signature lines.  My personal favorite is “yours until the ocean wears rubber pants to keep its bottom dry,”  It’s just too cute.
  14. Watching the sun set from thousands of miles above the earth.  An excerpt from my journal about this experience: [This] is a pretty breathtaking experience.  We’re flying over part of Northern Canada, so the rosy glow of the horizon silhouettes the sickles of dark ocean where it is carved into darker land… Now that we’re away from land and the blush of the sun’s goodnight kiss is fading, great ripples of cotton clouds shine below us against the inky waves of the sea. (I was feeling pretty poetic, but it really was an inspiring experience.  One I’ll be hard pressed to forget.)
  15. Gatherings that create an intense blend of cultures.  We visited a marketplace in London today that was nestled in the shadow of the church that William Shakespeare once attended.  The market was a bustle of all different people as they worked their way through the endless tents full of foods from around the world.  Somehow, this little marketplace managed to effortlessly make the overwhelming cacophony into deep-rooted music.
  16. Really dynamic people.  We had a tour guide today who joined us for two different tours (one of London and the other about Jack the Ripper) who was so theatrical and interesting that I couldn’t help but love every minute of his tours.  Which fits pretty well, because his catchphrase (and one of my new favorite things to day) was “You love it.”  His personality was very polite and even a little bit shy, but he revealed the secrets of London with vigor and enthusiasm nonetheless.  He even took us out of our way a little bit to show us places where scenes of Harry Potter and Sherlock were filmed.
  17. Following in the footsteps of history.  I had the eye-opening experience today of approaching the beaches of Normandy via the exact same route as the troops of D-Day just over 70 years ago on June 6th, 1944.  It’s one thing to talk about the details of a great moment in history, and another experience entirely to stand where they stood.  Granted, I traveled a smooth channel on a love ferry, unlike the packed and roiling channel of D-Day.  However, looking out across the beaches, it was easy to imagine the water around me full of ships and men already battered from the agitated water.  There were no obstacles or machine guns set up on the beach, but parts of the artificial harbor created by the Allies were still visible above the water.  It was an unbelievably powerful experience that gave me even more respect for the soldiers of our nation and of the nations fighting alongside of us.
  18. Old churches.  We don’t really have those in America, but they are amazing works of art.  We must have seen at least a dozen cathedrals and churches in Gothic, baroque, and styles I can’t name, but each one took my breath away.  No matter how many different steeples I saw, I still craned my neck to get a better view of them, and no matter how many times I entered the beautiful arcing interiors, I still gasped at every one.  It was amazing to think that God has these intricate buildings that have been painstakingly built for him, but he also has congregations with equal (or more) devotion and praise for Him that are worshiping in secret so that they aren’t killed or tortured.  There was a choir merely practicing when I entered the Notre Dame cathedral of Paris whose voices sent shivers down my spine, but there are churches in Africa that aren’t worshiping at a meticulously sculpted building whose entire congregation (even the ones spilling out of the door sometimes) will sing at the top of their lungs with whatever quality voice they have to worship their God.
  19. Belgium.  I just really love Belgium.
  20. You-had-to-be-there jokes.  Certain jokes just aren’t funny unless you actually experienced the event discussed in the joke.  When you were there though, there’s a certain sort of intimacy with the other people who experienced it.  It’s like J.K. Rowling said in Harry Potter. There are certain things you can’t experience without becoming friends.
  21. Public transportation.  Getting on and off of trains is really stressful and causes all sorts of calamities as my organs tie themselves in knots.  However, once you get the hang of it, it’s actually kind of fun.  That or it drove me over the brink of insanity and now I think it’s fun.
  22. Reenacting movie scenes in the places where they were filmed.  As in, running (or rather, skipping) around Salsburg Austria belting out Do-Re-Mi.  Or pretending that the millenium bridge is being destroyed by Death Eaters while crossing it.  I don’t get that opportunity much living in the middle of We-don’t-film-movies-here-because-it-doesn’t-lend-itself-to-filmmaking-land.
  23. Naming the town in a game of Mafia.  After that last post, I’m rather inclined to go play Mafia and name the town We-don’t-film-movies-here-because-it-doesn’t-lend-itself-to-filmmaking-land.  Although that wouldn’t be the first ridiculous town I’ve had in a game of Mafia.  The town name can make for some very interesting themes.  Such as cereal.
  24. Coming home.  Traveling is a wonderful gift and it is amazing to go see places that are nowhere near home, but it is inevitably the best part of the trip to come home.  Back to the people and places that are so familiar to me and that I love so much.
  25. The World Cup.  I’m not usually a soccer (of football, depending on who you are) fan, but being in Europe at the start of the World Cup made me catch the spirit.  It is a really cool event, especially to watch the games with a large group of people.  The atmosphere is almost electric.  My tour director in Europe responded to the typical American argument that they don’t score enough with “You have it wrong.  You score too much in America and you don’t get excited enough about each point.  It isn’t as big of a celebration when someone gets a touchdown as when someone scores a gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal.” It was a good point, and it’s certainly made the games I’ve watched more interesting with that point of view.
  26. Listening to people tell stories about the past.  In Belgium, we went to Bastogne to see sights from the Battle of the Bulge.  Our guide there was an 84-year-old man named Henri who was a resident of Bastogne when the battle happened.  He was nine years old when the Americans liberated Bastogne the first time and hearing his experiences made our own experience that much more meaningful.
  27. Weddings.  God gave us a beautiful thing when he gave us marriage, and weddings are such a beautiful way to celebrate that.
  28. Gold eyeliner.  I am having waaaay too much fun with my new gold eyeliner, but it’s just so sparkly and pretty.  Someone should probably hide it from me.  But please don’t, because I really like it.
  29. Snarky newspaper articles.  I don’t read the newspaper very thoroughly most days, but occasionally something catches my eye.  The people that write newspapers must get bored reporting plain facts sometimes, because there are some articles that make me laugh simply due to the clever word choice of the writers.  So thank you to witty newspaper people everywhere.  You make my mornings interesting.
  30. Photoshoots.  It’s really fun for me to be on either side of the camera during a photoshoot.  Maybe I should find a time-turner so that I can be on both sides at once!

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