Almost two weeks ago, I was outside with our dog, Annie, early in the morning before the sun was up. As she was doing her business, I took a minute to study the clear sky and noticed a very bright star low to the horizon when I looked southwest from my house. I was enthralled with how beautiful and bright this object stood out from the other stars in the sky. It was the oddest thing to be mesmerized by something so seemingly insignificant, like a star in the sky, but I was nonetheless. (By the way, I later discovered it wasn’t a star; it was Jupiter!)
A few days later, on a cold day after yet another snow during this crazy winter we’ve been having, I was outside again with our dog and happened to glance into our flowerbeds and spied a newly sprouted daffodil. This daffodil was not planted by us and seems to have randomly occurred at some point in the existence of our property and dwelling, as it is oddly and closely located behind a large shrub. It appears every spring but on this day, nothing about the climate or setting signaled spring and I was surprised at seeing the daffodil coming to life in such harsh conditions. As with Jupiter in the sky, I was mesmerized by the existence of this thing and how it could easily go unnoticed.
After these two separate incidents with noticing the “little things,” I decided I need to be more aware and present of the small, easily unnoticed things that make me happy and bring my heart joy. Here are some other “little things” that make my life so wonderfully sweet:
- Recently, after her bath time, Ella has requested that I bundle her up in her towel and blanket and cuddle and sing to her. Her sweet little voice asks, “Will you sing ‘Bushel and Peck’?” So I wrap her in my arms and sing, “I love you, a bushel and a peck; a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck. And a barrel and a heap and I’m talkin’ in my sleep about you.” Something about a simple request from your child to sing to her is heart-melting.
- While our new dog, Annie, is the cause of much frustration and scolding at times, she’s really very sweet and yearning for affection. When she reaches her point at night of calming down and hitting what we call her “sleepy time,” she becomes a total sloth and hardly moves. But the best part is that at night, when it’s time for bed, she lies between Andrew and me and will sometimes position herself right next to me. The weight and warmth I feel with her curled into my back or stomach is totally comforting to me. An added bit of perfection is when the little Shih Tzu, Mollie, makes her way into the bed also and travels under the covers to curl up at my feet. Dogs in the bed might be irritating for some, but for me, it’s a little thing that actually brings me happiness.
- I’m an anxious driver and car passenger. I don’t usually seek out getting in the car to just drive around for the fun of it. But on a day when I’m driving and hear one of my favorite songs on the radio, I immediately feel a perk in my spirit and I just have to engage in some sit-down dancing behind the wheel.
- Cooking is not my strength. I didn’t develop an interest in cooking as some people do. However, in the past few years that I’ve used Pinterest and collected recipes, I’ve taken on more cooking ventures. A small joy in a normally undesired experience for me is the moment I taste a bite of a new recipe and actually like it. I get really proud and encouraged to continue trying new culinary feats.
- I think I’m pretty correct in stating that scientists have found links between the sense of smell and emotions and memories. Well, I don’t actually know that for sure but it sounds about right. I’m one of those people that has positive and happy emotional responses to some scents, some of which are odd. One of my odd little habits is to sniff books and magazines. I love the smell of new books, some old books, and specifically certain types of magazines. College alumni newsletters, or at least those from Appalachian State University, have the best glossy paper smell. Makes me sigh with contentment every time I sniff them. Other smells I enjoy include the smell of air right before it rains (invokes memories of summer showers at my grandmother’s house in the Virginia mountains), the scent of gasoline at a gas station on a cold, winter day (invokes memories of car trips with my parents when I was a child), and maybe the weirdest to express is the instance when I walk past another person and catch a scent of their laundry detergent on their clothes. I get an instant of relaxation when I smell lovely laundry detergent wafting from a person’s clothes. It makes me think of the comforts of home and being taken care of. And strangely, I love the smell of a house in which bacon was cooked earlier in the day. I’m not saying I particularly like the smell of bacon when it’s cooking, but if it was cooked and eaten for breakfast, and then perhaps you leave your house to run some errands after breakfast, coming back into your house and smelling the bacon scent is magical. It reminds me (again) of my grandmother’s house and how it perpetually smelled like cooked bacon when family was visiting because no morning was passed without a big breakfast full of eggs, breakfast meats, and syrupy pancakes or waffles.
- While I started this list of “little things” with Ella, I’ll end it with my husband, Andrew. He’s a center of happiness and joy for me everyday, but a little thing that still gives me a quick hitch in my breath is when he grabs my hand to hold it. Mushy, right? Well too bad, it’s true. When out in public, he often reaches for my hand as soon as we begin walking from the car to go into a store. One day last week, while we were in the car to run an errand, he reached across the car to hold my hand while he drove. It’s something so little, that could become so insignificant, but it brings me joy every single time he does it.
This list is only a fraction of the little things that give me “warm fuzzies” in my soul, and a lot of the time, most little things go completely unnoticed because I’m so focused on something else happening in life at that second. But because Jupiter and the daffodil brought me some attention to the phenomena of “little things,” I’m making a pledge to myself to pay more attention to the quick and minute occurrences that make me smile or reignite a dulling flame in my heart and soul. I hope you will also take time to recognize and reflect on the little things in your life that have the possibility of bringing you joy and happiness.
(Aside from the ocean and other colorful twinkling stars pictured in this image, I find this an accurate representation of how I view Jupiter [left side of the picture] when I see it in the dark, early morning sky: a bright and beautiful celestial beacon.)