I spent about an hour early this morning chopping vegetables for salsa. It was peaceful there in the kitchen, quiet all around but for the brief moments of knife to wood. I stood there chopping amidst remnants of last night’s dinner, a sinkful of dirties, piles of mail, and a counter collection of life’s daily detritus. So the environment itself was anything but serene, and on any other day, I probably would’ve felt rattled by the magnitude I almost always make it to be.
But not today.
Today I woke feeling calm. Confident. Capable. Ready for those dishes and that job and even an unexpected plot twist or two. Maybe overwhelm has no room to take root on a Friday. Maybe my inside knows my outside survived Monday through Thursday, proof Friday is certainly do-able. Maybe there’s a Friday kind of calm.
I’m all for feeling it. And wish it for you as well.
A few minutes shy of six this morning, I left the early Sunday comfort of home to greet the sunrise. I must’ve looked a character in gym shorts, my husband’s oversized t-shirt, plum-colored windbreaker, and tall, black rubber boots. I cared not. Clutching my keys and my camera, my new tripod, my wallet, and glasses, I left a quick note for my still-sleeping husband. My heart was as full as my hands and off I went.
For me, there’s such a dichotomy between dreaming and doing. I’ve oodles of dreams and years’ worth of intentions. What I don’t have – often – is the daring to do. Or the time. Or the energy. Or the opportunity. Whether one or all of the above, the point is dreams remain dormant until and when I decide to do, to act, to move, to create, to dare.
Dreaming isn’t doing, and many days, all I do … is dream.
But back to the sunrise and me in all my sartorial glory. And while I didn’t much care what I looked like to whomsoever passed me by at 5:59 this morning, I felt a bit vulnerable out there in the wide, open world of what if. Vulnerability or not. I did it anyway.
I’ve often imagined a dawn cresting over the farm down the road. Imagined the sky. Purpling and pinking. Imagined the solitary trees shadowed against the brightening sky. I imagined the horses off in the distance, the greening slope of the hill, and the brown barn. Imagined myself right there, experiencing it all. Photographing it all. I’ve dreamed it. And today … done it.
No matter I chose the wrong camera lens. No matter I couldn’t quite find the angle I wanted. No matter the car idling and blinking roadside (or my anxiety about leaving it there as I wandered away with my camera.) No matter the on-the-fly tripod learning curve. No matter my appearance or as yet unbrushed teeth. No matter my vulnerability. What mattered most was me. Out and about in my little town, chasing a dream and the sunrise.
A day to experiment or go for the sure thing. Maybe try a first-time recipe or mix up something tried and true. Measure or estimate. Who cares? Why worry? Stack the dishes and let them air dry. Give the whole kitchen a lick and promise because tomorrow’s gonna be a great day too.
It’s a day for curiosity. Maybe I’ll open a new book or page through an old one. It’s a day to live astonished. Or curious. Delighted. Or Daring. It’s a day for supposing. For wonder. A day to ask a question and then find an answer. To take a chance. Stand up. Speak out. Share.
Today’s a great day.
It’s a day for movement. For walking. Climbing. Biking. Waving. Smiling. Swimming. Dancing. Singing. A day for leaping before looking. For whistling. And blowing bubbles.
It’s a great day. A day for wishing on dandelions and stars and birthday candles. A day for hoping against hope. For dreaming. And today’s a day for giving. My time. Attention. Eye-contact. Forgiveness. An invitation. A compliment. Some just-baked cookies. A donation. My thanks.
Today’s a great day to listen. Birds and breezes. Kids in the pool. Conversations in the car. The solid th-wack of a satisfying backhand.
It’s a day for work. I write. Plan. Clean. Think.
Or why not rest? Read. Rock. Day-dream. Breathe.
Today’s a beautiful day for beginnings. For beauty. For kindness. It’s a fine day for chasing rainbows and believing in miracles.
(In case anyone else needs a little encouragement today.)
You can do it.
Whatever — it — is.
So go ahead. Light a candle. Take a deep breath. Make space. Clear your calendar. Find an opportunity.
And do it.
Take the photograph. Hike the mountain. Paint that wall. Or a watercolor. Swim in a cool, clear lake. Chase the sunset. Follow a thunderstorm.
Ask for help. Seek community. A kindred spirit. Reach out.
Press your luck. Find your fortune. Act on the dream. Lose your way. Find it again. Follow your instincts. Take a chance. Roll the dice. Trust.
You can do it.
Which of your many thoughts just won’t go away? What keeps you awake in the middle of the night? Who’s on your mind? Where do you need to be? Feed the craving. Satisfy your thirst. Give yourself a little nudge. Get started. Be brave. Hold your nose. And jump.
Ready? Set? Go!
Write the chapter. Book the trip. Find that friend you’ve been thinking about all these years. Lose the weight. Schedule the appointment. Plant a meadow. Follow a new path.
Why wait ‘til tomorrow? Forget the forecast. Go anyway. Simplify. Streamline. Speak your truth. Believe.
Cheer yourself on. Pat your own back. Keep your own promises.
I’m a list maker. A note taker. A sometime journaler. A writer in the margins. Scraps of thoughts. A wisp of an idea. The tinkle of a phrase or whisper of a word. I write them all down.
This is the summer of new adventures. I’m driving down roads I’ve never been down before. Exploring. Growing. Getting down to the basics of living a full life. Good health. Gratitude. Beauty. And happiness there for the noticing. Ah. The noticing.
Happiness, I’ve discovered, is not some designated point on the timeline of my life, some ultimate destination, or final achievement. It arrives in single moments – simple moments – and I’ve learned how important it is to be paying attention.
What makes me happy in the course of a single day?
Depends on the day of course. The season. Me. Responsibilities. What happys me one day is circumstantial to the life I’m living right there and then. Such moments pass quickly, easily-forgotten, and replaced by the next, newest, present breath, vision, or feeling.
Which is why I’m keeping a list.
For me, happiness is all wrapped up with a bow of gratitude, so maybe a happiness list is a lot like a gratitude list, but whatever I call it, I want to be sure my days, my newest adventures, and the smallest, happiest moments of my life are recognized and recorded.
Like a child emptying my pockets of treasures at the end of the day, here’s the happy list from just one afternoon in Vermont:
the lush green of trees bordering a hiking trail
the sound of rushing water
still pond reflections
a forest floor full of ferns dappled by sunlight
the smell of just mowed hay
sun on my face
Vermont’s state colors: verdant green, the deepest sky blue, barn red, and crisp, white clouds
the curve of fence posts up toward the horizon
curtains billowed by the breeze
I want to live a wonder-full life, awestruck and gratitude filled. Celebrating the regular alongside the unfamiliar and unexpected. Using all of my senses to experience the day I’m living right this very minute. Breathing deeply. Smiling. And satisfied.
I’ve been measuring time in flowers. Watching spring unfold petal by petal. Open. Warm. (Sometimes.)
After the dormancy of a long, difficult winter, the beauty is there for the noticing in real time. The first unfurl of a leaf, a sudden bright shock of forsythia by the side of a salty, winter sand-covered road, and just now the peonies by the front porch, plump and ready to burst.
Life cycles, of course. Even within a season. Memories attach to events and flowers mark places along a continuum. I wonder if I’ll ever again see an early crocus in bloom without remembering a friend, lost too soon this spring. Or breathe another lilac perfumed breeze without remembering Mother’s Day. In the spaces between, I’m mentally tracking time in tulips and daffodils, following spring’s slow but steady march until summer comes.
Hope follows despair as bloom follows an empty landscape.
Summer’s about ready to take her turn, and just today I discovered wild daisies! Already. Almost before I was ready. The iris in front of that yellow house down the street is in bloom. Those iris always bloom the week before the last day of school. Another flower on the timeline and a consistency I can count on.
The point is, I suppose, is to know where you are at all times. More aware. More present. Equally intentional and spontaneous. There are flowers to count time by and tides rolling in on schedule. Places to go. Things to do. People to meet. I’m always optimistic at the crest of a new season. More ready to begin again, make good on promises to myself I may have broken in seasons past, itchy to explore all my life has to offer.