Even my yogurt celebrates small joys (or "the little things")
Maybe you thought I had given up on Small Joys after such a long hiatus. Every time I am back in this space, I think to myself, "I am going to spend more time writing! I am going to get back into it." For reasons unknown, I have not picked up the pen (or laptop) to write in quite some time, until recently, that is. Sometimes when my brain feels overloaded, I find it hard to put words on paper to express how I am feeling. Although, it is also true that I feel like I have always best expressed myself through writing vs. speaking. This is why I will likely never be a public speaker or maybe even the author of a book-- I wouldn't be able to handle the speaking piece that came with it.
I started a new job back in December, and shortly after getting settled there, the pandemic began. I have decided to keep this space free from some of the very weighty things of this world for the time being, so I am not going to spend a lot of time reflecting on what that has brought to our world at this time. There are important things happening around us at the time that I am writing this, but I don't have the words for them yet. And because I'm out of practice with writing, let's start with a simple first post back, a continuation of the Small Joys series. I am appalled that I have not posted a Small Joys since 2017--that is wild!
Here are the things that are bringing joy to me in this season.
No. 1: Spending time outdoors with friends. A few months ago we had some friends over for the weekend during a time when we probably shouldn't have, but we enjoyed it SO very much and did our best to be respectful of space. Social distancing is now one of the most used terms-- one that I don't believe anyone had ever heard of until several months ago. As spending time indoors with other people has been heavily frowned upon, we have been enjoying as much time outside as possible with friends. The outdoors have been life-giving to us in this season, and God's beauty in nature has reminded us of both His love for us and how incredible He is as a Maker.
No. 2: Baby birds. It's funny how I just take so much more notice of things around our home recently. Probably because home is the only place we've really been recently (besides Wal-mart, which has become my new "happy place?" The world is weird. Target seems too far across town to travel to, but Wal-mart is 5 minutes down the road and has become the place I frequent most when I need groceries and a place to wander and browse at random home goods and clothing items). In any case, Doc helped us discover this bird nest in one of our trees which just has the must beautiful robin egg blue eggs inside. They've since hatched, and we were careful to never touch them. They have now flown the nest and are out in the world!
No. 3: Hand lettering/calligraphy. Many many years ago, I developed an interest in hand lettering and calligraphy. I took a beginner's calligraphy class with a friend, asked for many books on the matter for Christmas that year, and then my Master's program ramped up, and I just never got back into it. One thing I have learned about this craft, as with many others, is that you have to practice a LOT to become good at it. I've picked it up a few times over this "stay at home" season and this photo below shows my current "best." This one is hand lettering using Micron pens; I am still working through some troubleshooting issues with calligraphy (just simple things like... how much ink is supposed to go on my nib?? I have not found the happy medium and always have too much or too little). It is fun to do something creative to take my mind off of work and house chores that need to be done.
No. 4: Tomato pie. Oh, this was a true delight. The last time I had tomato pie was in the fall when we visited our friends in Beaufort, SC. I have such lovely memories from that weekend-- we went to a book sale along the waterway, sauntered around the sweet streets dripping with Spanish moss, went to a literary reading in a coffee shop for the SC Writer's Association (what a dream! I need to find one of those up here to join), and stumbled onto tomato pie. This is apparently a Southern thing, and I do have a memory of one of my dear friends, Shannon, making a tomato pie in college (or shortly thereafter) for our book club. This is a recipe I will serve over and over again. My first one was unimpressive-- I was low on tomatoes and other ingredients that are important to its composition, but it was still good despite all of that! We now have tomatoes that are ALMOST ready to eat form our garden, anD I have a feeling they will make a tasty tomato pie.
No. 5: Kayaking. When we first moved to our neighborhood a few years ago, we had no idea that lake access was included in our HOA dues. We figured you had to become a "member" of the marina or something like that. But when we went to sing the paperwork at closing, the previous owner told us that we would just love the lake and that it was the one thing he would really miss about this neighborhood. We started off renting kayaks from the marina for $5 an hour; we quickly realized with how much we were using them that we might be better off purchasing our own. We have come to really love kayaking, and for me, it is the closest connection to water I can get around here. At home, the ocean is my happy place. In the Midwest, it's lakes.
No. 6: Magazines. Yes, magazines have becomes something that I really look forward to reading these days. Life seems much slower in the midst of the pandemic, and I find that I am carving out needed time for things like resting, reading books, reading magazines, etc. My brain feels full during the week-- there is way too much to remember and way too much to keep up with tat work. Changes are happening all the time and by the time I get home in the evenings, my brain has no space for anything more that is heavy. Magazines give me a nice escape from the world around me. My favorites are Southern Living, Real Simple, and Better Homes & Gardens.
No. 7: Hot tea. Scott and I have recently started drinking tea together. I've always enjoyed hot tea, and I remember in an interview once I was asked what I did when I was feeling stressed or overwhelmed-- my response was that I took a moment to step away and make a hot cup of tea. Looking back, I am not sure that they were looking for an answer like that, but it's what I do when I need to reset. We've been enjoying hot tea in a pot Scott made in college with tow mugs that he also made in his ceramics class. It's nice to have Oolong tea with our dinner or just as an evening drink to relax before bed.
No. 8: Sunrises by the lake. We went to the lake up north last weekend, and I slept in a trundle bed out on the porch so I could wake up with the sun. I woke up for sunrises and writing, and there's just something so lovely about that time of the morning when the sky is waking up but all the people are still sleeping. I took my notebook out there to write and enjoy this beautiful sunrise. It was so worth the 5:45AM wakeup call on a weekend.
No. 9: Plant based life. I am moving more towards a plant based diet for health reasons and have really enjoyed experimenting with new types of ingredients that I am unfamiliar with. I have learned that you can be a really good cook with one type of food and feel totally lost when trying out new types of cuisine. Breakfasts and lunches feel easy with prepping for plant based meals, but dinner can sometimes be hard! As a result, I am eating a "normal" dinner with Scott and trying to slowly slip in some plant based dinners. I don't think I will ever be 100% plant based mostly because I want to be able to enjoy going to gatherings in friends' homes without concern for what I eat there, but at home I would love to adopt a mostly plant based diet. I just finished the book How Not to Die by Michael Greger which was full of information about plant based diets and how they promote health.
No. 10: Dreams of the future. Scott and I are making plans for some changes ahead for us and are just dreaming a lot about what life could look like-- do we want to live in a tiny house? Do we want to rent? Do we want another dog (5 more please)? It's fun to think and dream together. One of my dreams is a she shed like the one below. We saw this one while on a walk last weekend and I can't think of anything dreamier.
Hope you're looking for joy in the midst of your ordinary this week.