I’m a firm believer that simple joys make life worth living.
The small moments.
The sly smile from a friend that you’d miss if you blink, a perfectly broken in pair of chucks, the evolution of a rain drop to a thunderstorm, and the gift of a cup of coffee all bring me pure happiness. The kind of happiness that starts in your chest, radiates through your body, and erupts as a giggle past your lips.
But sometimes life gets in the way of the simple joys. You blink and miss the smile. The sky is a mundane drizzle without the explosion of light and sound. You have to make your own coffee in the morning.
And slowly happiness becomes an elusive concept you can’t quite grasp, rent or own.
My personal happiness is inexorably tied to the idea that I’m free to roam and wander and cater to the whims of my wild, wild heart.
If I’m ever overwhelmed by the impulse to get drunk on red wine and run through the streets shouting “GIVE ME BRIE OR GIVE ME DEATH!”, I have to be able to act on that impulse. I need to feel like all the things I’ve ever wanted to do are settled at my fingertips, waiting patiently for me to pluck one up and start on my next adventure.
Because sometimes I don’t feel that way and fall short. Instead of feeling consistently delighted, I’ll feel boring, restless, unhappy and satisfied with feeling that way.
I’ll forget to take gentle care.
Self-care is one of the most important and most neglected aspects of being human. It’s so easy to become wrapped up in the needs of others that you might look around and be unable to find a person looking after you.
Similar to the concept beaten into our consciousness by flight attendants in ill-fitting polyester uniforms, you need to put your oxygen mask on before you try to help the person next to you. Reverse the catchphrase coined and made cliché by Grey’s Anatomy’s Twisted Sisters and be your own person.
When I feel as though I’ve lost my way, there’s a list I consult to facilitate the healing. It is as follows:
Compare their advice and go with the one that takes the least amount of work. Probably dad. Mom likes to give lots of feedback.
Buy a bottle of wine for each day of the week and see how many you’re left with on Sunday night. If that number is zero, you’re right on track.
Bake something. In cases of extreme emergency, focus on recipes that include pumpkin purée.
Run a bath. Wait 30 minutes because the water is too hot. Make a mental note that you’re 26 and still can’t run a proper bath for yourself.
Cry. Seriously, you know this makes you feel better so let it out. Just don’t let anyone see you do it. This is for you, not for them.
Finish one of the 6 books that you’re currently reading. It will make you feel like you’ve accomplished something.
Go for a run. You’ll hate it and then you’ll be really happy.
Talk to your dog. He loves it and it strangely makes you feel like you’re not alone in this world.
Call Mom and tell her you’re OK. She’s worried about your previous conversation and needs reassurance. Omit the wine bottle count (even though you think she’d secretly be really impressed with your progression).
Spend some time alone. That’s what taking gentle care is all about.
So when I lose track of the gorgeous seconds that string together to make perfect moments, I know that it’s time to reference my list.
Do you remember to take gentle care?