18 Things That Make Me Happy
I’ve been blogging now for
137 years forever too long nearly seven years, and I’ve never had an interesting About page. Don’t get me wrong- I’ve written interesting About pages. Unfortunately, each clever fact was really a passing thought in my head somewhere between shampoo and rinse/repeat. I have never gotten around to actually writing an About worth reading. If you go to my friend Sarah’s blog, you’ll actually learn a bit about her on her Real Life About including what she and her family look like. Check in with Charlie and Andy at How To Be A Dad and you’ll learn about their site while getting to know them. My About page? An outdated, glorified speaker’s bio.
Last night I was watching my nine year old read a book while standing on his head on the sectional couch and I announced, “Watching you read makes me happy.” He replied, “I know.” And that was that. This morning somewhere between rinse/repeat and conditioning I asked myself, “What else makes you happy?” and the list of answers began to sound in my head like that About page I’ve never gotten around to writing.
I’ll still probably never have a cutesy About with a fun family photo and ironically witty information, but in the meantime, here are some of the things that make me happy. Don’t you feel like you know me so much better already?
(Disclaimer: This list is far from exhaustive. If you think that something we do together makes me happy, go ahead and assume you’re right. And thank you.)
- Seeing my children read: Just the other day I caught my daughter sitting on the couch, looking down at her lap, and reminded her that her screen time was over for the day. That’s when I noticed that she was reading a book, not staring at an iPad. My kids both love to read, and catching them doing so continues to fill me with joy.
- Water: When I was pregnant and incredibly ill, there were very few things that made life feel tolerable. Zofran in IV form was one of them. Salt was also a keeper. But the most incredible relief I felt came from water. I would sit on the shower floor directly in the water’s stream, face tilted down so I could breathe, and stay there until the water went from scalding hot to barely lukewarm. Sometimes I would crawl out, shivering, wrap up in towels on the bathroom floor, and just wait for the hot water heater to provide me a second round of relief. When I miscarried my second pregnancy while on vacation at Lake Anna in Virginia, I managed to slip away to the water for about an hour, disappearing in my thoughts, weightless in the murkiness around me. It is my favorite drink, the best way to pass a summer day, and one of my happiest of happy places.
- Xanax during a panic attack: I’ve experienced anxiety for as long as I can remember, but my first definitive panic attack occurred during my first semester of graduate school. I was living alone in a 10th floor, one room apartment in west Philly, and I was terrified that I’d throw myself out the window rather than continue to feel that feeling. It wasn’t until 10 years later that I realized there was a medication that stops a panic attack in its tracks. Until then I rode out each occurrence like it was a freight train barreling down on me, my body curled up in a ball, hoping to hide between the rails and survive another round.
- That sound cats make when you touch them and they didn’t know you were there: If you’re a cat lover, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re not, you’re missing out.
- Fresh air through an open window: Each spring when the fahrenheit manages to flirt with that sixty degree mark, I run around my house opening windows with the desperation of someone bailing water out of a sinking boat. There is nothing quite like the smell of fresh air drifting in through an open window after a long winter, a spring rain, or at the end of a hot day. UPDATE: Last month my dog pushed my cat out a living room window and into the bushes in front of my house, so while open windows are still glorious, they need to only be open to a size that is cat losing prohibitive.
- Driving too fast: I grew up riding ATV’s and jet skis so it’s no wonder that I’m a speed-loving adrenaline junkie. My first car was a Mustang convertible, and (Mom and Dad, this is where you should stop reading), I on more than one occasion took it up over the 100mph mark while flying down the middle of the interstate. I’m the official driver in my family, partly because my husband gets turned around and lost in our own town, but mostly because I simply love to drive. Fast. With the windows down and the music loud.
- Feeding the people I love: My parents never taught me how to cook. They also never taught me how to change a flat tire, do laundry, or iron my clothes. Basically they taught me how to argue my way into or out of any situation then sent me out into the world. Somewhere in the last 14 years of marriage I’ve learned to enjoy cooking, mostly because it’s meant the discovery of foods my parents never served. The happiest moment of my day often comes when my children and husband all agree that dinner is delicious.
- Crossing items off of a to-do list: I confess to sometimes writing down tasks I’ve already accomplished just so I can cross them off.
- Sex: Thank you, God, for having the creativity and generosity to create this gift. Amen.
- Long walks: I should really call these “wanders,” and they need to include nature and solitude. Four years ago we moved to a home with a walking path that touches our property line. I try to get out there every day – sometimes more than once now that we have a puppy – and I find that this is where I do my best thinking and my best praying. It’s also where I’m able to recharge my happy battery.
- Manual labor: I remember waking up on some summer Saturday mornings in my childhood to find that my mom was already outside, working on weeding her flower beds. She’d be dressed in old, dirty clothing, her arms already muddy and sweaty. I couldn’t understand why she was out there and felt like this must be one of the tough parts of adulthood – having to care for your landscaping. Based on the trucks full of hired help that I see roll into my neighborhood every morning from April through October, I think that many of my neighbors agree that these are tasks best left to someone else. But one of my greatest pleasures is working my ass off outside, ending my day filthy and exhausted. I get nearly the same enjoyment from cleaning my house, but find that I like to do this only periodically and if someone is coming to visit.
- Good food: See #7 – I had no idea growing up that so many foods existed or that vegetables could be prepared in some way other than boiled. The world is my oyster. Note: I don’t eat oysters.
- My legs immediately after I’ve shaved: I don’t shave my legs every day. I understand that there are some women who do this. Women who take/have/find/make the time to shave their legs daily, I applaud you. But this is not me for at least eight months of the year. If I’m going to choose between taking the time to shave my legs or taking the time to lie in bed and do nothing, I’m most likely to choose the latter. My husband and his scruffy face are with me on this, by the way, and luckily for him, the beard look is incredibly fashionable. Stubbly girl legs, however, are not. My laziness aside, I love the way my legs feel immediately after I’ve shaved. I love showering in general (see #2 above) so the times when I’m able to revel in the steamy water and break out all of my yummy smelling things and pull out a brand new razor and walk out feeling smooth and smelling delicious – heavenly.
- Making people laugh: I spoke last month at New Media Expo, and several times during my presentation the audience laughed out loud. Throughout the forty-five minutes I heard a random chuckle or two, but there were a handful of moments when the whole room laughed. Really laughed. Oh my goodness, this fills my buckets. I remember a time in elementary school when every student had a tissue box on his or her desk and then each student wrote compliments on slips of paper. At the end of the exercise we got to go through our tissue box and read the 26 nice things our classmates had written to us. I had 20+ slips of paper telling me that I was smart, one with “You’re a good flute player” that most likely came from my fellow flute friend Kim, and a couple “You are really funny” papers. Those last ones were the only compliments that mattered to me. Thirty-seven years old and it still makes me soar when I hear laughter in response to the words that I say.
- Music (playing it, hearing it, knowing it exists): There’s an Adele song, “I’ll Be Waiting,” where about twenty seconds into the song, the brass section kicks in. And I mean they KICK. IN. It doesn’t matter how many times I hear it. I am absolutely filled with joy every single time. Music elicits emotions from me like nothing else in this world, and simply knowing that this joy is at my fingertips – at times quite literally – is an incredible blessing. I am a sucker for a mid-song key change. I weep over movie soundtracks. I play Chopin when I’m sad and Beethoven when I’m angry. When I’m happy? Showtunes. Lots of them. And fast. I love to get lost in music, and without music, I would be lost.
- Thunderstorms: I didn’t realize until adulthood that there are parts of the world that never experience thunderstorms. I can’t imagine life without the excitement of electricity literally in the air and the smell after a torrential downpour. It’s worth occasionally having to run for cover to experience the power of an incredible storm.
- Dark chocolate: Bitter and sweet at the same time. It’s perfection.
- Smiling at strangers: Have you ever made eye contact with and smiled at a total stranger while walking busily through life? They always smile back. Every. Single. Time. And their faces are a mix of surprise and joy. It’s contagiously beautiful.