My life is anything but simple. And I won’t deny that I like it that way. When someone asks me “how are you?” my pat answer is busy, busy, busy. Even with the kids grown and gone, my time and schedule are full, sometimes to the point of out of control. So I am not what you would call a simple person, because I love and crave change, noise, social events, action and adventure. However, living in the woods now, out of sight of the nearest neighbor, is a pleasure for those rare quiet times in the rocking chair on the front porch with coffee mug or wine glass in hand. In spite of my reputation for vibrating audibly when I’m out doing my thing, there are many, many little things in my life that make me happy and put a smile on my face.
Hummingbirds are the first thing that come to mind. For most of my adult life, I have had a fascination with these minuscule, busy, buzzy creatures. When I lived out in the Arizona desert, hummingbird sightings were anything but unusual. Less common was my thrilling experience actually touching and holding these miraculous tiny treasures. Three times! Not many people can say that…The first time, one flew into the house through an open door. It was terrified and beating itself against a window trying to escape. I came up and cupped it in my hands and took it outside. When I opened my hands, it just sat there for a moment before zooming off. I like to think it was enjoying being close to me as much as I was enjoying holding it. Most likely, it was just taking a moment to regroup after realizing it was still alive and free again. Another time, I stepped outside my door and one just came up and landed on my shirt. I froze until it realized that I wasn’t a giant flower, and then took off. The third time, I rescued one that had hit a window trying to get at a flower pot on the inside. It was quivering in the grass when I picked it up and then it flew away. I can sit and watch my hummingbird feeder for quite a long stretch of time, and when I hear the loud buzz that warns of an approach, the smile grows on my face even before I catch my glimpse.
Flowers, both in the garden and in vases around the house always brighten my day. Something about the riot of color and the gorgeous arrangements just do it for me. This is nature at its most impressive “look what I can do”, all dolled up and showing off. This could be hereditary; my tante Kitty in Amsterdam filled the house with fresh cut beauty from the local Bloemenmarkt. When I was a teenager and spending the summer with her, one of my jobs was to go to the flower market each Friday morning and negotiate to make the most magnificent bouquets for the cheapest price.
Babies of all kinds, human and animal, draw out an involuntary awwwwwwww and a pouty lip and a silly look on my face. I am a sucker for big eyes and tiny toes or paws. I want to stop, touch, play, watch, engage, anything to keep the little cutey nearby. And nothing, on the whole planet, can make me happier than listening to and watching an infant have a good long belly laugh. Their entire bodies are just a bundle of unbridled joy. Who could resist?
The beach makes me feel almost primal. The sound, smell, sight and power of the ocean has an emotional impact on me that “happy” does not begin to describe. Standing at the edge of the shore, with the waves trying to drag me in, or diving through them like a seal, or sitting and watching the sunset with dancing orange and purple layers over the horizon- I feel a deep contentment, like coming home.
Certain odors also make put an involuntary smile on my face. Coffee, anything citrus, baby powder, Australian Gold sunscreen lotion, sauteed garlic or onions ( in fact, many food odors, but then you all know if you have been reading that I love food), my Aunt Hindy/Oma’s kitchen- all tickle my olfactory sense and create a feeling of positive emotion.
Material things don’t usually make me happy. I went, in my early life, without most of them and it helped put those “things” in perspective. They don’t matter. But every once in a while, a thing will make me want to hold it, own it, display it, use it. Most recently it is a coffee mug from a non-existent coffee shop from a soap opera that I have been watching off and on for thirty years. I found it online, and I just wanted it. So I bought myself (and my friend and fellow-soap watcher) one, and it makes me cheerful in its whimsy. A bit embarrassed (it effectively outs me as a soap opera watcher) , but cheerful, nonetheless. I love certain things that I own- some of my clothes, shoes, furniture, etc. And they even make me happy to look at them or wear them. And someone I know and love will call me out if I don’t publicly admit that a new sports car is fun to have too. But that is really happy with a lowercase h; not exactly what I am getting at here.
The moral of this blog post is, I guess, find what makes you happy and surround yourself with it. Remember to look at it (or smell, taste or touch it) and savor the joy it brings. Life is too short, stressed, busy, and full- if you do not make time to notice something that is positive every day, you are truly missing out.