January

  1. Taking a deep breath and starting again.  Tabula rasa.  A blank slate.  The moment, the day, the week, month, year, everything from here on out is a new start.  A fresh opportunity to take life as it comes and make the most of every single precious moment.
  2. Brushing your teeth.  The fresh feeling as you run your tongue over your teeth and the cool minty fresh that stays on your breath.  Something about the crispness of it all is rather enjoyable for the senses.
  3. Getting my dad’s references.  My father has this habit of referencing all sorts of pop culture from the seventies and eighties and then being indignant when they all go over my head.  And yet, he has never felt the need to educate me on any of these references.  Today we went to see the new Star Wars movie together and afterward we discussed various aspects of it and whatnot and for the first time I actually understood all of the stuff he was talking about and I couldn’t stop grinning.
  4. Being educated by a preschooler.  Apparently, driving halfway across the state of Nebraska to get to school is perfectly normal because there is only one corn field here and it is in North Platte.  Wisdom from the mouth of a five year old.
  5. When everything is covered in a thick layer of fog.  Suddenly, the world could be magical with almost no persuasion.  Mystery abounds and possibilities lie in droves in the unseen.  Nothing has definition and the intrigue is hauntingly beautiful.
  6. Clapping after a movie.  As a performer myself, I know the value of applause.  Performances feed off of their audiences and hearing the audience clap is just adding fuel to the momentum of the performance.  But I don’t usually think about that when I am sitting in a theatre staring at a screen.  It doesn’t seem like a necessary thing to clap, but the show that I just witnessed took just as much work and deserves just as much of a bravo.  I love when the audience around me claps because it gives a great sense of the curtain falling and sending a message of gratitude to those who make it possible to have such a show at all.
  7. Having Jesus time with my family.  Even if that means we are sitting separately and each interacting with God at our own pace, we are still in the presence of the same Lord, worshiping him together.
  8. Playing the piano.  There is something about pushing buttons that make noise that appeals to the inner child and something about the nuance and sophistication that appeals to the inner adult.  Everybody is happy!
  9. Finally bothering to change your decor.  As much as I love to decorate, I have a tendency to do so and then leave that set up for years without any alteration save maybe an addition here or there.  After a while, I find that not much of that decoration really fits me anymore.  It is refreshing and exhilarating to finally take down the old clutter and leave room for a fresh start.
  10. Hanging out with a little different crowd.  You have your crew, the people you do everything with, the people you know backwards and forwards.  But then there are the acquaintances and friends that you know but accidentally grow apart from or were never close with.  Every once in a while, there is something really special about getting together with that second group and just having fun.  Sure, it may not be as much of a bonding night as with your close friends, but it can be a blessing to get to know people none the less.
  11. Hearing the accents of people speaking English when it is not their first language.  Your first language forever affects the way you speak, which is a wonderful happenstance.  It is so neat to hear the inflections of someone’s native language when they speak in mine.  The throaty sounds of French or the deep, rich vowels of native Africans.  Thin and precise Vietnamese, rolling Norwegian dialect.  They are all unique and beautiful, intricate layers in a symphony of humanity.
  12. Being Artsy-Fartsy.  Whether or not you are actually any good at art, you feel like a master as you form a vision and begin to attempt to construct it in tangible form.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but either way you walk away from it feeling creative and willing to dig in and explore.
  13. Pampering yourself a little bit on occasion.  You deserve to be nice to yourself.  At least every once in a while, you should spend some time deliberately treating yourself like royalty because there is only one of you in this world and therefore you are important.  Often the hardest person to be kind to is yourself, but there is a world of relief when you finally allow yourself to get a break.  Stop trying to fight your own negativity toward yourself and simply stop sending that negativity in the first place.  You may find a whole new you is allowed to blossom.
  14. Seeing that kids nowadays still play the same games you did eons ago when you were a wee child.  The kids I babysit are currently obsessed with Candyland.  Usually, they want to watch TV or jump on the bed, but now I’ll take a double orange up that rainbow memory lane please.
  15. When there’s excitement in the air and it is kind of contagious.  Everyone is gearing up for something and you can feel it and it makes everything else feel like it is leading up to one big explosion of joy.  All of the work is finally put to use and the momentum is unstoppable.
  16. Certainty.  The kind that tucks you in at night with softer sheets and a fluffier pillow.  The type that eases the tension out of your shoulders and takes that weight off of your chest.  When everything settles and you know that the missing pieces have locked into place and things make sense again.  And they make sense in the best way possible.  When the worry is gone and you are left smiling because you know that everything will turn out for the best.
  17. Wintertime flowers.  Not much grows in the winter, but there are a few things that can be coaxed to bloom.  Probably not outside, but you know, with help and shelter.  Seeing the beauty amidst the cold is a really neat metaphor aside from the fact that we really don’t get to see flowers that often in the winter and something so simply breathtaking is an unexpected surprise.  I think God gave us winter for that very reason, so that the spring would seem all the more majestic.
  18. Hearing my sister and her friends laughing.  They spent the evening here last night and the entire time they were a gigantic ball of hysterical giggling.  There were times I was pretty sure that none of them were breathing because they were laughing so hard.  I love having fun myself, but the sounds of other people having fun, especially if one of them is someone I dearly love, are a foolproof way to make me smile.  Knowing that there is so much joy packed into such a little space is a delightful way to end my day.
  19. The noises that snow makes.  As it falls, it creates it’s own sort of hush.  Everything else is muffled, but somehow you can hear the tiny particles settling gently to the earth.  You take a step into it and crunch. Soft as it seems, anything that disturbs it comes crashing through.  It begins to melt and it creaks and groans.  An entire symphony in a little white flake, just waiting to be heard.
  20. Seeing my family satisfied and happy.  My sister turned sixteen today and was finally able to drive herself to school.  It was terrifying, to be honest, but when she got home she had the biggest smile on her face and seemed so content to go about life as normal with the slight change of being able to transport herself everywhere.  She wasn’t bouncing off the walls, she was simply and contentedly happy and that made me happy too.
  21. Letting celebrities just be people.  I got a high five from Luke Smallbone today.  It wasn’t like it was super special or anything, I was simply at a concert, he was singing, he ran around and high-fived some people and I was one of them.  When I told my dad, he laughed and asked if I was going to not wash that hand for three weeks to preserve it or whatever.  It was a joke, but it was kind of a pleasant surprise for me to find that I didn’t have any need to really obsess about it.  Luke is a person just like I am a person and he may have a whole lot more fans than me, but that doesn’t strip away his humanity.  It is refreshing to remember that, difficult as it is with such a prominent celebrity culture, that people are just people.  No more, and certainly no less.
  22. Reunions.  The way someone’s eyes light up when they realize who you are.  How you feel your own lips split into a grin.  The half-second of hesitation before you both drop everything and run into a crushing hug.  The reminder of just how very loved you are.  Those are good things.
  23. Taking a breather.  This world goes so fast that it is easy enough to get swept away from the things that you love and caught up in the things that need to be done.  There is constant chaos and never a moment’s peace.  That is what makes the rare moments that you simply step away from everything so very special.  Take a slow, deep breath and let it out as all of the whirling and speeding fades away and there is nothing but a good rest waiting for you.
  24. Getting a nudge from God.  We sinners need those more often than we should.  A reminder to stay awake and faithful.  A release from the hypnosis of sin dragging us backward.  A simple little hello from the creator reminding us that we are holy.  And that God is big and beautiful and far from safe or tame or casual.  And he wants us to be like him.  Not complacent zombies but vivacious soldiers of the light.
  25. Screaming at the top of your lungs during horror movies.  Okay, so I’m not such a scary movie person.  I like to be able to sleep at night with the lights off and in peace thank you very much.  But, on the rare occasion that someone does finally coerce me in to watching a scary movie with them, my favorite part is to scream as if I was powering the entire city of Monstropolis.  There is a built up sort of energy that you can release in full force with a blood-curdling scream.  And you can’t just go around screaming in polite company, so horror movies make the perfect excuse.
  26. Feeling the world wake up around you.  I am an early riser, which means that I tend to wake to a quiet and almost expectant world.  As if everything is waiting just behind the curtain to burst onto the stage.  I get to watch the light turn color as the sun decides to quit being coy and show its shiny face.  I get to hear the creaks and the footsteps past my door as people start to drag themselves out of bed.  I get to feel the sleep retreat from the building until it is all a-bustle.  That is certainly my reward for giving up an extra hour or so of sleep.
  27. When other people invite you to join them in their enthusiasms.  When a person feels strongly about something, they generally care a great deal for you to not only introduce you to said enthusiasm but to welcome you into the fold with them.  Sure, they’ll shout about it to anyone who will listen, but when you are important enough to them to warrant immersion, you should be tickled.  Plus, there is of course the added benefit of watching their eyes sparkle and knowing that your presence is only making them sparkle brighter.
  28. Wandering around town all by yourself.  Exploring is an endeavor best undertaken when paired with the desire for adventure.  Sometimes, that means going out with a friend or several, but it can also be a solitary undertaking.  And sometimes those explorations you take by yourself can be the ones that teach you the most.
  29. Interactive art.  Art is beautiful to behold and it is made specifically to inspire certain emotions and ideas simply by looking at it or hearing it.  However, art can blossom into something even more enfolding if it is interactive.  If you can touch, smell, make art along with the artist’s intentions.  You become a part of something larger than yourself and you get to contribute the unique you-ness to that art that it will never receive from anyone or anywhere else.
  30. Cheering someone on second-hand.  You don’t know them but you know someone who does and you know they need to be fought for.  So you holler and you clap and you cheer until you are hoarse all for the sake of a second-hand acquaintance.  Because someone you love is cheering them on so you can’t help but join in.
  31. Being in a room with friends and not saying a word.  Whether it is a giant nap-fest, a businesslike powwow, or just a distracted lull in conversation, silence can be a beautiful gift.  Sometimes, I feel like I bond more with other people through ten minutes of silence than I can with hours of really meaningful conversation.  There is something about being in someone else’s presence without necessarily interacting that makes you incredibly comfortable with them completely by accident.