Flipping your calendar to the next page. The boxes are crisp and blank, waiting to be filled with whatever adventures you wish to take. There is no sense of urgency, only of the newness of starting over. Almost literally turning over a new leaf. Whatever clutter was on the last page isn’t here yet. So relax, and enjoy the wide expanse of possibility.
Ice cream and a movie with friends. Yeah, it sounds kind of lazy and fattening or maybe depressing and sulky, but sometimes you just need to take a step back sit down, and chill for a little while.
When you curl your hair and it kind of goes out of control. You were intending just a nice simple texture and all of a sudden your aesthetic is headed toward the eighties and there’s nothing you can do about it so you just rock it.
Singing in echoey places. The sounds swirl around and light up like fireflies filling the space with a symphony. The melody might be a touch staggered, but it brings its own blend of beauty to the music. Every note balloons into the space, multiplying itself and before you know it one voice has filled the entire space from barely more than a whisper to a great gust of confidence and the knowledge that it is warranted. So sing on friend! Let the ripples of your song run back to you so you can see how that voice makes others smile.
Doing something creative that looks like it came off of Pinterest when you’re finished. I used to look through Martha Stewart magazines and think that this stuff is too perfect there is no way that is a realistic way to live. And then Pinterest came along and it was no longer just living rooms that looked pristine, it was the way people did their hair and dressed on a daily basis and drank their coffee for goodness’ sake. But some days, you get crafty and the creative juices are just flowing like mad and when you step away from your handiwork, you realize that you have achieved Pinterest status.
Jazz music. What a genre, am I right? It’s so spunky and full of life. You can’t help but tap your foot because the music inspires so much motion that if you don’t do that you have no choice but to get up and start dancing. I don’t understand how a little thing like a specific conglomeration of noises can be that powerful, but I sure do support it.
Listening to kiddos give you advice. Today a group of third graders was giving advice about how to treat your boyfriend/girlfriend. Most of their tips were simple but pretty solid what should be common sense advice. Be nice to them. Spend time with them. Eventually they got to “give them things”, which is normal enough, but then they added “except you can’t bribe them with money because you can’t pay someone to date you” and that was when it got fun. They’re not wrong, but it is so interesting to see how kids perceive the world and what goes on in those heads of theirs.
Keeping in contact with people who are far away. I spent the last academic year living almost four hours away from my childhood home, but by the end of the year I had a home there too and a whole network of amazing friends who I love dearly. The past month has been strange being away from them because I was living and going to school in the exact same proximity as them. But thank the Lord for easy long-distance communication nowadays. Even though we are scattered around the country and in some cases around the world, I still get to see their faces regularly. And that makes me happy.
Fashion hats. When little kids play dress-up, it almost always involves putting something on top of their heads, whether it be a frilly bonnet or a straw hat or a saucepan. I am so glad that that habit can continue into adulthood with socially acceptable (and really fun) hats. Every time I wear one, a little part of me still feels like the little girl getting all gussied up to have a tea party with her stuffed animals.
Fresh fruit season. There are so many ways in which spring is a season of waking up and coming alive, but one of my favorite parts is that as it gives way into early summer it starts to yield fruit. Berries and peaches and pears. Later melons start cropping up and brighten the whole summer.
Morning thunderstorms. Where I live, thunderstorms are pretty common but they always seem to bluster up in the afternoons, evenings, or two am. The really rare gems are the morning thunderstorms. When you wake to timid blue-gray light and the pitter-patter of rain harmonizing with the whistling wind and the occasional burst of thunder and all of that enveloping you inside your cocoon of sheets makes you feel like the safest, coziest person alive.
Listening to jazz music while you live your life. There is no easier way to make the entire world feel like a swanky 1920’s house party than to pop on a bit of jazz music and tap your foot. Instantly everything seems a little shinier
Hand-me-downs from people you love. When something has been owned by someone you love, you know that there is some of them stored up in that thing. Not necessarily physically, but you always know that it used to belong in hands that you love dearly. You know that the fabric you are wearing once hung on them or that the pages you are turning have been worn soft by their fingers as they experienced the same story as you many years before.
Getting emotionally invested in competition television contestants. My new favorite cooking show is The Great British Bake-Off (called The Great British Baking Show in America) and I love the feeling after a few episodes of really being able to root for these total strangers like they are my own children. TV is actually really good at intentionally doing that, but I fall for it willingly. It is more fun to be supportive of strangers than to distantly appraise their creations.
Petting the bridge of a cat’s nose. Cuddle time with cats is always a beautiful thing, but there are very rare moments when those fickle little furballs are so happy and sleepy that they let you pet their nose. Their eyes close and they look like they are smiling. Like a child who has been tucked into bed, read a story, and been given a back rub. They are already drowsy and nearly asleep so you give them a soft goodnight kiss on the forehead and they grin as they slip into the sweetest of dreams. That’s what petting a cat’s nose feels like.
Doing good, hard manual work. God made humans with a thing called work ethic and we really need a good hard roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-your-hands-dirty day every now and again. There is therapy in scrubbing the floor as hard as you can, really putting your shoulder into it until it shines like new. In breaking the soild with a shovel and planting tiny seeds that will soon be flowers and delicious foods. In methodically pulling the rake back and throwing it forward over and over again until there is one huge tempting pile of rusty leaves sitting on the lawn just waiting to be jumped into. Sure, you are bone tired at the end of the day, but it is the kind of tired that sends you to bed happy with the day’s work.
Watching bubbles rise in champagne. It is mesmerizing to watch their seemingly neverending flow that somehow combines refined and reserved poshness with elated clelebration. The golden color catches the light and makes the motion all the more dazzling.
A big, bright breakfast. It is my firm belief that how you begin the day determines your attitude all day long, which is why I love mornings so much. They are just brimming with possibility. When you wake up and make eggs and toast with marmalade and put it on a cheerful plate with maybe a steaming mug of coffee and a bright glass of orange juice, the whole day seems like it’s going to be as sunny as the yolk you just ate. Time stretches out and allows for the luxury of reading the newspaper while you finish the coffee that, if truth be told, you only topped off so you could do just that. Already, you are sure that you can take on whatever this day has to offer and not only that, but you are excited to meet it.
Sewing your own clothes. Wearing something that your own hands stitched has an entirely different countenance than clothes you tried on in the store and then brought home. The seams are personal and the cloth is an old friend. The whole ensemble is a quiet matter of pride, not one to be flaunted, but neither should it be hidden away. A secret between you and the garment that makes you hold your head a little higher and puts an extra spring in your step.
The sound of applause. No, I’m not talking about being the recipient of such a gesture, but the actual noise itself. I mean, how cool is it that the sound of contact between two hands is such a sharp one, but with even three or four of pairs of hands it starts to soften and blend into a pleasant crackling like a fireplace or the pitter patter of rain on the window. Once you get more than about a dozen hands, it becomes almost a continuous wave of sound that rolls about the room. A hundred or more pairs of hands clapping together but in their own individual way and with their own unique rhythm is a roar that bellows out its approval, much softer than a single clap, but far more boisterous.
The first day you wake up early after not having done so in a very long time. Humans are fallible. We take the things we are used to for granted, no matter how awe-inspiring they are. We forget that they hold so much beauty and eventually don’t bother to see them at all. Waking up early simply for the purpose of being out of bed as the sun is making it’s way softly, carefully up from the horizon loses it’s luster when heavy eyes convince you that the pillow is a far better place for your head than the clouds in the early morning. When something finally coerces you away from the immense comfort of your sheets in the early morning again, the view is astounding. You can’t believe that you have ever let yourself miss watching as the brushstrokes of pink and lavender fade from the sky and the world looks fresh and new.
Cheering for the underdog. I have no clue why, but there is something so instinctively human about feeling so much warmth and support for the poor guy who has all the odds stacked against him. Oh sure, we like to talk about survival of the fittest and all of that chatter, but we are so much more likely to love the brave woman who started off barely scraping by as a waitress who is now one of the world’s top chefs than the rich kid who became the rich adult. There is satisfaction in hard-earned, unlikely success.
Bright colored shoes. Carrying everyone’s attention around on your feet. It almost feels like you are walking with your feet colored in paint and it is surprising that you don’t leave a trail of luminescent footprints behind you.
Hearing people humming to themselves while they work. It is nice to know that someone is engrossed in their own little world, and that that world is full of music. To see that they are genuinely happy, even when they think no one is looking.
Fireflies. I am not a fan of bugs. At all. Even the pretty and harmless ones kind of freak me out when they fly in my vicinity. But I love to sit on the porch at dusk and see the little lights start to rise out of the grass. There is a magic about it that even someone with as intense of a dislike of insects and similar creatures cannot help but marvel at.
Awkward tan lines. If you intend to make it through life without hating everything, you have to know how to laugh at yourself. Tan lines are always a starting place for getting a chuckle out of the situations in front of you. My sister used to be one of the most accident-prone people I knew and she always had a bandage on somewhere. This meant that her summers usually involved sporting at least a couple of stellar band-aid tans. This summer, someone my mom knows got a tattoo across the top of his back and went out wake boarding afterwards. He knew that he needed to sunscreen his tattoo, but he didn’t think about the rest of his back, so now he has a nice light frame for his ink. And of course, if we’re telling embarrassing tan stories, we can’t forget the first time I went to the pool this summer and tried to do my sunscreen by myself. My family says the spot I missed on my back looks like a bird. People who hadn’t seen my back before that think I have a birthmark. Regardless, it is a lovely little (actually, it’s not really that little at all) accessory that gives me a nice reminder that life is pretty ridiculous every time I go swimming.
When you aren’t the only one who cries at a movie. It is nice to know that you have some support for the fact that a screen managed to water your eyes and maybe your whole face. It feels a little more sane when someone else’s mascara is just as gone as yours is.
When a book-to-screen adaptation is super accurate. Those of us nerds out there understand just what a rare beauty it is to find a screen telling of our favorite stories that sticks as faithfully as possible to the book from whence it came. When the cast is perfect, you just kind of squeal with happiness. But then the look of the thing is right too. Costuming and set and props. And your squeal raises an octave. And then the events happen in almost the exact order and you start jumping up and down because you can’t contain your excitement. But I think perhaps the most satisfying moment is when there is an entire chunk of dialogue or even a whole scene of it that word for word uses the book as a script. There is a special place in my heart for such things.
Board game nights. Possibly my new favorite social event is simply to gather with people I love and play board games. We can have conversations and get competitive and laugh and do it all at whatever pace we choose. It feels like a rather adulty way to spend the evening somehow and it makes me feel more like growing up.
Looking through cook books. When my grandma was in a care facility with Alzheimer’s, one of the activities that the care takers gave her to keep busy was a pile of cookbooks that she could meander through and talk about at her leisure. We always kind of laughed that she enjoyed it so much, but you know what? I get it. Cookbooks are motivating. They make you want to be creative and grandiose in your meals and even if you know you’ll never accomplish all of the dishes that are now on your mind for dinner, it inspires you to actually maybe try something new. Or something challenging. Either way, it gets you away from giving up and having spaghetti again, so that’s a plus.