finding joy in the little things

The past handful of months have been … wild. I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard every adjective under the sun to describe the roller coaster that has been 2020. It really hasn’t let up and I’m just in a constant state of wincing, ready for the next disaster or tragedy to take place.

I’m always one to think of the worst case scenarios. No matter the situation, no matter how brief or casual it may be, somewhere in the back of my mind I will have thought of at least one way it could all go horribly wrong. It’s super easy (too easy) for me to fall down the hole of scary. I fall and fall letting all the sad things, the awful things happening, the lack of hope, doubt, everything just drown me out.

But, there are moments, little windows that might only last a few minutes, maybe even only a couple of seconds. In those moments I remember all the good in the world. I remember why it’s worth enduring all the bad because the good is SO GOOD. For every moment that stops my heart, that sinks my stomach or clouds my head, there’s moments I’m laughing so hard I can’t catch my breath. There’s moments I sigh and feel at peace, no tightness or weight on my chest. There’s moments where I’m drinking milk tea and I do a little happy dance because it’s just hitting the spot.

There’s so much good and I think a lot of us (myself included) can miss out on it. It’s so easy to get caught up in the bad, letting it creep into every part of your day. It’s nice to push yourself to see the good.

I love the “little things”. The things that happen during your day that you don’t really notice maybe. Like sunsets, hot cups of tea, stars, your favorite tv show, warm breezes, your favorite t-shirt, etc. Little things that you find comfort in, that you depend on throughout your day whether you know it or not. And maybe I’m the only one who depends on these things, but to me they’re sometimes what my day can almost revolve around.
Having a bad day at work? Well just remember when you get home you can make a cup of tea and it will be hot.
Have an interview? Having a bad day in general? When you get into bed under your favorite quilt, you’ll watch an episode of your show and the good guys WILL catch the bad guys no matter how the rest of your day goes.

The little things mean more to me than big productions and big doings. There’s something so innocent, calming, and just hopeful about moments that may get so easily lost in the grand scheme of things. But they’re oh so precious. So, I thought we would talk about some of my favorite little things, my favorite moments where the good in the world far outshines the bad.

  • One of my favorite things to do in the whole wide world is look at the sky. Early morning skies here are usually foggy and overcast, reminding me of autumn/winter mornings and it makes me want to stay in bed and be lazy and cozy for far too long. Afternoon skies are usually clear blue, maybe a few clouds. Bright blue like a crayon. Evening skies are my favorites though (shh don’t tell the others) because that’s when the show really starts. Reds, oranges, pinks, greens, purples, every color imaginable is somehow incorporated. Some nights one more than the others. It’s always breathtaking to me, the fact that every day, every single day there’s a brand new sunset. All we have to do is poke our heads out a window or sit with a friend at a park, or in their yard and watch it. There’s something so comforting about sunsets. How they’re bound to happen everyday, but each day will be slightly different.
    And now for my second favorite, NIGHT SKIES. I have a thing about stars and the moon. There’s a magic to them I can’t get over and I hope I never do. My new window in my loft, the one right next to the side of my bed has a view of the stars. I typically can see the Big Dipper if it’s not too cloudy, and it makes me so happy. There’s just something special about a light in the midst of darkness.
    Sitting with a friend to watch the sky, standing by yourself on a bench to get a better view, stealing side glances at the colors on your way home from work, sharing a look with the stars as you head to bed, it can be hours or a second. But there’s something so uplifting in that moment, no matter how quick it might be.
  • I’ve had an odd couple of weeks. I’ve had some great times and so many good things have happened. But my anxiety has been a little troubling and kept me up late, kept me home from stores, and has just plain been wearing me out. One night I found myself sat criss cross on the floor of my loft, my star lights that wrap my ceiling glowed blue, red, green and orange. I had a hot cup of tea in hand because my Mom just does that sometimes. Brings me a cup of tea, and she’s always brought me one exactly when I needed it. It’s like she’s a mind reader or something. But I sat there, tea in hand, and a song sent to me by a friend played in my ears as I stared at my lights. And in that moment, life was good. There was nothing more I wanted in that window of three minutes as I listened to a new song that meant a lot to another person entirely, sipped my tea (it always tastes better when mom makes it), and enjoyed my lights that some might deem childish.
  • Wandering a thrift store, literally surrounding yourself with items that used to belong to others is one of my favorite past times. A store full of any and everything you can imagine because someone either tired of the object and wanted a change, or they had no need for it any longer. Maybe it reminded them of someone they didn’t want to remember anymore, or maybe the item belonged to someone who had passed away. It’s almost overwhelming to think of everything in that little shop having a story. But it’s oh so amazing.
    I love thrift stores because I could spend hours in some of them. Looking at each and every tea cup, perusing the books, wondering what will jump out at me and beg me to take it home with me. Last time I went I came back with a little lighthouse figurine. He now lives on my windowsill next to a jar of stars, and his name is Lawrence. Lawrence the Lighthouse.
    Being able to spend a few dollars and come home with something like that, it sounds silly. But I find immense joy in it. It feels like finding treasure, claiming it as your own even though others around you are probably anything but jealous of you and your lighthouse find. It’s fun to fill your space with “silly” things, things that spark conversation or have a story behind it rather than “Oh I got it at Target.” Which let it be said there is nothing wrong with Target, Target is one of my happy places. I just find that when I’m in my own little nook, all my objects mismatched all over, it reminds me of a million small stories that remind me that life is good.
  • You know that window of time, when dinner is finished and everyone is still sitting around the table, fed and happy? Then all it takes is one person to tell a joke, for everyone to laugh. And then another person to add on, and then another, and another. Until you don’t remember a moment in which you weren’t laughing, and everyone is on the same page, cracking joke after joke.
    The joy is contagious, the mood is light. And you just feel so at peace. To be surrounded by your favorite humans, and to be ridiculously happy and silly with them.
  • The other night I couldn’t sleep. So I decided to sit up and do something until my eyes couldn’t stay open. I threw on a hoodie, fluffed my pillows, put on a Lord of the Rings soundtrack, and played Animal Crossing. It was 1am and I was wide awake, hiding under a hood and blankets, listening to epic war themes while planting flowers and fishing in a video game. It was just a moment that felt almost out of time itself. A feeling only capable of being created in the 2-5am realm. I usually hate that time, because my mind plays tricks on me and anything seems to fly there. But if you get it just right, it can be a little pocket of time that you can just relax in.
    I laughed because 7 year old Madi never would have thought that this was where 22 year old Madi would end up. But I wasn’t mad about it. I like that even as a “grown up” you can still be a little kid. Like, come on. All the things you wanted to do as a kid, you finally have the ability to do when you’re older. So why not do them? Just because they’re childish? Psh, play Animal Crossing at 1am if you want. Buy juice boxes at the store and have cereal for dinner. Not all the time maybe, but why not? Be a little kid. It’s a lot of fun.
  • No matter how small my “bedroom” has been over the past handful of years, I do whatever I can to make it feel like home. In China I brought a fuzzy blanket, a stuffed animal from a friend, and I printed out oh so many pictures of friends and family to hang on my wall.
    At one place I lit a candle whenever I could and strung up lights around my bed. I used my favorite quilt too.
    Now that I have more of a nook, I kinda went all out. Art is hanging above my bed, lights in the shape of stars wrap the ceiling, a sad ghost sits on my bedside table, right next to a turtle made of shells named Frank. One windowsill has a sign from a friend, a daily reminder that they love me. The other has a lighthouse and a little bowl filled with jewelry. Along with a jar of stars and a postcard full of seeds.
    For me, to come home and be surrounded by a collection of items that make me happy…it makes the day a lot more bearable.

There’s just so so many moments in which life feels so so peaceful. Like waking up at 2am to realize you don’t have to be up for a while longer, a cool breeze coming in through the window, half asleep you get up long enough to layer a hoodie on before curling back up under your blankets and falling back to sleep. In that moment you’re not scared, you’re not worried, you’re content.

As you can probably tell I could talk about this for far too long, so maybe I should stop now. I just hope I never tire of how the smallest of things can make me so happy. Light leaking through windows, seeds sprouting, warm cookies… I highly recommend allowing yourself to take joy in the moments of quiet. Like I said it could only be a couple of seconds, it’s not going to take over your entire day. But don’t seek them out, don’t force them to happen either. Just try to appreciate them as they happen.

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