I won’t deny that I get pretty excited talking about my passions.
And you should, too.
So much of what we do on a daily basis are chores and errands and monotonous stuff we have to do to live a good life, like pay bills, clean the garage, make dinner every night, organize the office, or serve as a carpool driver, just to name a few.
Yes, we do these things. We have to do them. They are called responsibilities.
We can’t ignore our responsibilities, but we also can’t ignore our passions.
Recently, a friend of mine asked me how I do it. She said, “I don’t understand how you accomplish all you do…you teach, write novels and textbooks, have a family, get involved in the community…how do you find the time for it all?”
My friends, the truth is, I don’t FIND time for it all, I MAKE time for it all.
We cannot ignore what makes us tick…makes us feel alive…makes us feel, well, complete. I explained to my friend that she does the same thing. She runs, swims, participates in distance runs and marathons.
“How do you find time to do all that training?” I asked her. “Just the same way that you carve out time to train for your athletic endeavors, I find time to write or play with fashion.”
When we are passionate about things, as I explained to my students yesterday in feature writing, we absolutely must find time for them, whether that’s hanging out with friends, going to see a movie, playing a round of golf, going on vacation, writing a novel, running a 5K, doing charitable work, listening to or playing music, kayaking on the river, or hiking a favorite trail.
Passion drives us.
If you follow me on Instagram or on my Facebook page, you see that I post a lot of fashion pictures. I’m not a fashion blogger, but I do blog about fashion. I love it. I always have. Just ask my mother, who, when I was little and we would go to New Jersey to visit our family, would take me with my Christmas money to Willowbrook Mall to shop my brains out with my grandmother. How patient they both were to let me shop until or I dropped or my money ran out. My short stint as a fashion consultant ten years ago was so much fun and allowed me to get out of the house and meet people and help them build wardrobes before I became a full-time professor.
Even though I’m no longer a fashion consultant, it’s still a passion. I love clothes like some people love football or going to the theatre. And I have fun with it.
It’s just meant to be fun.
So today, I want you to do something for me (and for yourself). I want you to think about your passions and why you’re not doing them. I want you to carve out some time for YOU to do what YOU LOVE.
Make a promise to yourself that the things that make you tick matter.
And, if you are already pursuing your passions, good for you! I’m so proud of you. Keep at it. 🙂
I’m growing a little disappointed and frustrated these days with the lack of human kindness and decency. Quite frankly, I’m weary of the endless rants and bemoaning on social media, in conversations, and in the mainstream media in general.
What’s happened over the course of the last ten years as social media has become a part of our lives? Have we forgotten to be kind, bite our tongues if it could hurt someone’s feelings, and seek the pleasures of life rather than carrying around a sack of anger every day?
I’m appalled sometimes at what I witness on social media. Yes, I am on social media. It is part of my life simply because I’m an independent author and it is a means to relay messages about my publications. But the horrible things I see people write to each other and about each other on social media are appalling. And I’m not just talking about teens and twenty-year-olds; I’m also talking about grown ups who should know better and have a sense of decorum. Really, people. What makes some folks think they are an authority on everything? Part of living in society and being a part of society is listening to others—and responding without aggression or malice—to their opinions and beliefs. Everyone is entitled to an opinion; I know this well, as we all have them. But having an opinion does not entitle folks to stampede and override the opinion of others. It simply makes them adult bullies and they do not understand the word civility.
It pains me to see people being chastised for their beliefs. Why must we all agree on everything? This isn’t GROUP THINK. I guess I believed diversity of thought makes for better open-minded discussions. How foolish of me.
The lack of decency goes beyond the political, sphere, however. It reaches so far into our everyday lives, our communities, and our children’s lives that I sometimes wonder if I should leave the house. On my commute to work each day, I count myself lucky that I arrive safely every time. As my son is now driving, I am thankful when he returns from the road in one piece. People are driving at ridiculous and reckless speeds, swerving, texting while driving, cursing, and honking horns because no one is going fast enough for them.
I’ve had enough of that behavior. I’d like to exit my car unharmed.
Years ago, when I let an elderly woman go in front of me in the supermarket line, I was yelled at by a surly woman behind me in line for letting the older woman, who struggled to walk and was hunched over her cart, go in front of me.
Sometimes it astounds me.
Another area of growing concern for me is text messaging, especially as I am raising children who seem to love to text all the time. We all know that lots of things become misconstrued and misinterpreted over texting. If you have something to say to someone, say it over the phone or in person. Fighting or telling someone off over text message is immature and a cop-out, not to mention the fact that lots of messages can be muddled. Recently, someone I went to college with for a bit sent me a horrible text message (on my birthday, by the way); it was ignorant and out of left field. And, he had no idea what’s been happening in my world, so his remarks to me were hurtful and unfounded. Needless to say, my life is way too busy and meaningful to allow that type of a person to be a part of it, no matter how long we’ve been friends (or probably better said, in this case, how long we’ve known each other). But people find a lot of nerve over text message; and often, it makes them look bad. And stupid. And like a big fat bully. And like someone I don’t want to know.
All this to say, it’s my belief that decorum and decency are escaping us little by little, and if we don’t watch out, the problem is going to become so much worse than it already is. I loathe the idea of my children trying to raise their children in an environment that seems to be deteriorating.
Bring back the kind words. Don’t be in such a rush that you give someone the finger (like someone did to my son when he was learning to drive) because he is not moving fast enough for you. Think about how you say things and whether or not it’s appropriate to say them. Remember, when you offer your opinion on politics, you run the risk of alienating about 50% of your friends or acquaintances, as they may not be in line with your thinking. And for God’s sake, when you’re in your fifties (or whatever age), don’t send a text message that showcases your ability to be an unmitigated and misguided ass.
Remember: kindness goes a long way. One kind word can truly make the difference in someone’s day—or life.
Today, I had the honor and privilege of being one of several faculty speakers sharing their passions at our Fall 2017 Faculty/Staff meeting at Stevenson University. Below you will find the speech I gave, which was about writing, being an author, and self-publishing.
After all, it is one of my passions…
*** Writing A Novel ***
I consider myself pretty lucky that I get the opportunity to do two things I love on a daily basis: teach and write. I’m a proud professor here at Stevenson University and also an independent author.
I’m an independent author and write novels for two main reasons: (1) because I believe it’s my duty to show my students that I actually practice what I preach and (2) because it’s an outlet for me and I simply love storytelling.
Since 2012, I’ve self-published three fiction books: Beneath the Mimosa Tree, Baseball Girl, and Inn Significant. I also co-authored one textbook on event planning along with my colleagues Chip Rouse and Leeanne Bell McManus which was published by Kendall-Hunt.
During my 13-year career working for the Baltimore Orioles, I was quite fortunate that my love of writing converged with my career where I served as the director of publishing, was the editor of Orioles magazine, and produced and edited the special book celebrating Cal Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak record in 1995. It was fun to tell Cal’s story.
Which brings me to the question I have for all of you. How many of you have a story in your head or finish a book and think, I could write something better than that?
If you’ve ever had this thought, and if you have a vision and can live in a make-believe world (for fiction) or tell a true story with colorful details (for nonfiction), you can write a book, too.
Today, I’m excited to share my love of novel writing and offer some advice using my own experiences to those of you who have a story swirling inside of you.
#1: First, do write your story. Just begin. My first fiction book, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, started as a short story I wrote while getting my first master’s degree. A professor of mine suggested it should become a novel. It only took me twenty years to write that novel during my MFA program in 2009.
Don’t wait 20 years to write your story. Begin now. Just start writing.
#2: Have fun with your characters. The question I’m asked most often at book talks is: How much of the character is you, your family, or your friends? (If you only knew). That’s top secret, but it IS amazing how your friends and family are on their best behavior when they know you are writing. A tip I suggest is to make a list of each of your characters and write down all the things about them: what they like, dislike, look like, say, their dreams, the good and bad of them, etc. It definitely helps when writing.
#3: Enjoy the creativity of writing. Have fun crafting the story, the setting, and plot. Some folks like to outline, and some take a more organic approach. Research the methodology of some of your favorite writers. It’s fascinating to see how one writer’s approach differs from another’s.
#4-When writing, don’t agonize over every word. Do that later during the editing phase, which many of you already know can take longer than you think. It takes me far longer to edit a novel than it does to actually write one.
#5-It may be easier to start with something more personal. For instance, an assignment I give students in my magazine writing class is to write a chapter of their own memoir. Several students have told me that keeping their family histories alive helped them learn to enjoy writing.
#6-Self-publishing takes grit, commitment, and imagination. So why do I choose to self-publish? Because I like owning every step of the process. It sharpens all of my skills: creativity, writing, storytelling, editing, design, and then, the most challenging of all, marketing. As an independent author, it’s all on you. There’s no one to blame and all decisions are yours. It’s fiercely competitive out there, and the odds of massive success are slim. You just have to manage your own expectations.
Some writers may choose to go the agent route or connect with a small press. Do be leery of small presses that want to take your money and have you pay for the start up of your book, sometimes in the neighborhood of $5,000. My start-up costs were minimal. I paid $100 each for the ISBN number for each of my books (a total of $300), then an additional $25 per book for expanded distribution through Amazon. All total it was $375, or $125 per book. That’s it.
#7-Enlist the help of others. When your novel is done, find beta readers who will offer feedback on your draft. Join a writer’s group, either in person or online. Design your own cover or get someone to help you. Ask trustworthy people you know to edit. Chip Rouse over here and my mother, a long-time English teacher, edited my novels. Enter independent author contests. Remember: the project is yours, so you can give to it as much or as little as you like.
#8-Connect with local libraries, media, and the community. They will be good first supporters. In June, I kicked off the summer reading program in Anne Arundel County with a book talk; over the last month, I’ve attended three book clubs for Inn Significant, my latest novel, and I just attended a book signing in Oxford, MD, where the book is set. Enjoy meeting people and networking.
#9-Set up a blog and get a base of readers. Write about your writing, and get personal with your readers. It’s the best way to begin.
#10-Remember, writing books is your love and not the way you make your living. While I would love be on the New York Times Bestseller list (who wouldn’t?), there are thousands of us out there hoping for the same thing. I have to remind myself of why I do this sometimes. The other day when I was struggling with new and innovative ways to promote my book, a friend asked me this question: He said, Do you write to sell or do you write to tell a good story?
I write to tell a good story.
If you have a love of storytelling, then just do it. Tell your story. If you make 10 people happy or thousands, remember why you do it in the first place.
I’m going to attempt to tell these stories as they happened, exactly as they happened. I live in the town of Severna Park, and the closest grocery store is Safeway, which is walkable. I’m over there constantly, as I’m not a big “do the grocery load for the week” kind of person. I pretty much figure out each day what we will eat, and run over and get whatever I need since it’s so convenient.
In the last several months, I’ve had two hilarious Safeway Moments, as I shall call them.
The first happened a few months ago when I was standing in line to pick up a prescription. The line was long. There was a middle-aged woman at the counter being helped, but there was something holding up the process, something the clerk was trying to figure out. Behind her was another woman, tanned with blonde hair, about my age, who had just moved from Florida. Then, there was me. Behind me was a man in his 50s and another man in his late 50s to early 60s.
We were all waiting.
And we were all in our fifties, because, let’s be real, you need a lot of prescriptions, vitamins, supplements, or probiotics in your fifties.
When the problem at the counter was finally sorted out, the woman was getting ready to pay. “And I’d like to use my AARP card for my discount,” she said.
The woman from Florida, whom I had been chatting with, and I both looked at each other. “Did she say she’s using her AARP card for a discount?” I asked.
The woman who was paying turned around and looked at us both, ready to straighten this thing out. “I use my AARP for discounts everywhere. I just used it at Bill Bateman’s (local restaurant) the other night and got $40 off my big bill,” she said.
We were astounded.
It’s been a running joke in my family that when I turned fifty two years ago, that I should immediately sign up for the AARP card. My dad claims you get discounts on lots of stuff. I’ve avoided the reality of the AARP card, because, quite frankly, it’s admitting your age, something I don’t like to do unless pressed, or must be honest, as in yesterday’s post.
I asked the woman if movie discounts were included. I’m all about discounts for the movies, as I refuse to pay full price to see outspoken, condescending, opinionated celebrities when I can wait to get them soon for free on cable.
“Yes…and so many other discounts!” she said. “You’re crazy not to get one.”
The man behind me piped in. “I use my AARP card all the time. Lots of discounts, dear.”
The woman from Florida and I, clearly both not wanting to utter our age, agreed that, perhaps we should look into it. Then the man all the way at the end of the line shouted, “You really need to sign up for one. You’re missing out.”
I felt immediately connected to these fellow people of AARP age. We were communing in the prescription line, discussing membership to the club.
The “I’m old enough for the club card” club.
Needless to say, after the encouragement from my peers, I’m looking into it.
If only for the discounts.
Yesterday, my daughter and I had to run into Safeway for a quick errand. If you’ve been in a Safeway store recently, you know that blasting from the speakers in the store are typically songs from the 70s and 80s, or lighter current stuff by my buddy, Michael Buble. I can’t tell you how many times Buble is playing in the store.
Anyway, yesterday’s featured song as I walked through the door was Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love.” As I am often wont to do when I am with my 15-year-old daughter, I began singing along with the song, quite loudly and on purpose, just to make her wonder about her own mother’s sanity. She is always amazed that I know the lyrics to songs when you could actually understand the lyrics to songs. I knew every word of “Endless Love,” and as such, I was singing it and smiling as I looked at her. As we picked up what we needed and made our way over to the self-check area, there was a man, about my age, singing the song as loudly as I was. And, in front of him was a woman about my age, who was bagging her stuff and singing too.
“We’re all singing along with song!” I said to him as we got in line.
“I’m singing it, she’s singing it, you’re singing it. We’re all singing it,” he said, smiling. “How can you not?”
The woman in front of him looked at me and smiled.
“Exactly,” I said back to him, smiling back and laughing.
“Exactly,” I then said, looking at my daughter.
I figured it was my birthday and I could sing whatever the hell I wanted.
It’s time for the annual birthday post. It’s the one day of the year that I allow myself to feel blessed and old at the same time.
It doesn’t make it easier when your own brother sends you these GOOD MORNING images with “Happy birthday” written across the top of the text.
So, with those lovely images in mind, and with life lessons I’ve learned over the course of all my (yes, 52 years), I thought I’d share them with you today. Please know that these life lessons are in no particular order and were written with full honesty.
52 Life Lessons Thus Far
1. People will surprise you (both in a good way and a bad way).
2. You are smarter than you think you are.
3. Life moves fast.
4. Good intentions do matter.
5. Women can be bitches.
6. You can spend a long time missing someone.
7. Hard work pays off.
8. A sense of humor is vital to survival.
9. Forgive those who hurt you.
10. No matter how hard you try, you will never understand every bit of everyone.
11. A hug has healing powers.
12. Talking politics can be poisonous to friendships.
13. Patience truly is a virtue.
14. Traveling helps you understand yourself and the world around you.
15. A kind word never hurt anybody.
16. Apologize quickly.
17. Life is not always fair.
18. Some people take far more than they give.
19. If friendship is a one-way street, take a detour.
20. Steer clear of negative people, judgmental people, and gossips.
21. Be persistent in pursuit of what you love.
22. Trust your instinct.
23. Remain calm when you want to scream.
24. Be a good listener and a good friend.
25. Read constantly.
26. Be as organized as you can be; it saves time.
27. Stop and smell the roses often and with passion.
28. Tell people you love that you love them, and often.
29. Give yourself permission to fail or make a mistake; it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.
30. Be polite; look people in the eye.
31. Perfect your handshake and your smile.
32. Forgive yourself.
33. Allow your kids to make mistakes.
34. You can’t—and shouldn’t—always pick up other people’s pieces.
35. Write down your family stories.
36. People make time for you if they want to.
37. The best thing you can give your kids are happy memories.
38. Jealousy and envy fracture and break relationships.
39. Make time for your hobbies and the things you love to do.
40. Writing letters still matters.
41. Teaching keeps you young.
42. Having a mentor is crucial to success.
43. The sacrifice bunt is still baffling.
44. Allow people to chase their dreams.
45. Friendships can be disappointing.
46. Success is whatever you want it to be, as determined by you.
47. Rainbows and ladybugs are lucky.
48. Parakeets in the home can be pretty darn noisy.
48. Things are not always as they seem.
49. A good marriage takes work.
50. Joy comes from within; no one can find it for you.
51. Jesus’s teachings of kindness and love can guide your actions in all circumstances.
52. Remember: you have the ability to impact someone else’s life.
Over the weekend I was cleaning out a bunch of files on my computer, and I came across the image below.
It’s the picture I saved when we moved into our home four years ago, and the photo that ended up inspiring the look of our own porch that we added on to our 40-plus-year-old home. This was the image I had pinned on Pinterest that I kept coming back to over and over again.
I remember showing it to our architect and builder and saying that we’d like something similar to this, that we loved the feel of it, and it gave us a homey vibe. And while that table certainly seats a ton of folks, we didn’t need all that much in the way of a ginormous (love that word) table as we are a family of four with small extended families. But, just recently, I found a table at a nearby consignment store, chalk-painted it, bought chairs and cushions from Lowe’s, and now, finally, four years later, our porch is almost exactly the way we imagined it. It easily seats 10 people when we have guests over now.
It’s fantastic how one photo can be the vessel for someone else’s vision. I’m so thankful for the image and the way it led us to our current design.
Sometimes going out to brunch can be a very formal occasion. Other times, it’s a casual affair. When sitting by the water having Sunday coffee and a scrumptious meal, an outfit like this is just perfect. There’s no need to overdress; white pants and a cute top, a little bag, some gold hoops, and some sunnies are all you need.
Honestly, if I had known how much time I would spend preparing and making dinner, I might have given the whole domestic thing a little more thoughtful consideration before I signed on. Or at least I could have put a clause in the marriage vows, perhaps something along the lines of this:
I, Stephanie, take you, Anthony, for my lawful husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, completely exempt from making dinner 300+ nights a year, until death do us part.
I’m feeling funny this morning.
Truthfully, I’m lucky because my hubby helps by shopping for the groceries and helping to clean up said 300+ dinners per year.
But, it goes without saying to those of us who do the cooking, the pressure is STILL on US.
We have to do the most challenging part of all: use our creative energies to determine what exactly will be served EACH NIGHT.
Please understand—I’m not talking about a special occasion dinner; I typically love to design and prepare those types of meals when I entertain. I’m talking about the five or six nights a week that we eat supper together as a family. You know, the monotony of it.
You get to a point where you’re just sick of the whole dinner thing. Being inventive and researching recipes takes so much time. I know. I see my friends pinning their life away on Pinterest, one recipe right after the other. One healthy guacamole recipe at time, one healthy taco and low-carb meal and lemon cheesecake pinned to the boards of “getting healthy” and “yummy desserts” over and over again.
Pin. Pin. Pin. I honestly wonder how many of those pins are ever made.
When people ask the universal question, “If you could have any wish granted, what would it be?”
Gosh, you guys, it’s such an easy one for me. A layup.
I would wish for a freaking chef to make the 300+ meals a year, that’s what I’d wish for. Nothing else even comes close. And I’d want the most innovative, fun-loving, inventive, patient, and energetic chef who took into consideration all of our likes, such as, “I hate when the Brussels sprouts aren’t done enough,” “I get tired of red sauce,” “I don’t like chicken prepared this way,”—all quotes from my darling family members that I’ve heard at one time or another. This magic chef would, of course, get it just right every time. If she could pull that off, it would be one of the most amazing miracles ever witnessed, on par with Moses’ parting of the Red Sea.
Like right now, I’m already thinking about dinner for the weekend and week ahead.
What’s up with that?
Hope I run into you at a local restaurant sometime soon.
It was one of those places I’d seen highlighted over and over again in magazines: Beaufort, South Carolina. As we’ve recently made Hilton Head, South Carolina, our new vacation spot, we’ve been visiting some of the towns nearby each time we go. This past year, after we left Charleston where we spent three days, we mapped our drive to Beaufort and decided it was the perfect place to spend a few hours before checking into our condo on Hilton Head Island.
I’m so glad we took the time to visit. The town was everything I imagined it would be: small, quaint, full of Southern charm, hospitable and friendly, and the best part of all, it was right on the water. (And, a very nice lady in a clothing store let us use their restroom.)
We spent some time strolling the main street with the shops and restaurants, and then took a turn off of the street and explored the quaint, historic town with picturesque homes and white picket fences. One resident had the best Fourth of July decorations I’ve seen, and I wanted to assume that Beaufort’s most happening party would take place at his house.
My favorite part was the waterfront walkway along the water; restaurants with views of it make for perfect spots to sit and relax. There were also big swings that looked across at the boats as they passed by. Scenes from Forrest Gump were filmed in Savannah and in South Carolina, and the scene where Forrest is running and interviewed by the media was supposed to be Mississippi, but it was actually a bridge crossing the Beaufort River on the Richard V. Woods Memorial Bridge in Beaufort pictured below.
If you like visiting small towns, I encourage you to stop for a bit in Beaufort. Eat outside on the water, and just take a load off. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon. And the shopping was good, too.
Yesterday, I received an email from a former student of mine. She said she is an avid reader of my blog and encouraged me to keep on going having read one of my posts I wrote about needing a break from writing. She’s clever, this one. She asked if I remembered advice I had given in class, and stated that she remembered me offering it to students on one pretty, spring day. The advice I had given was this: to step away sometimes from things we are working on and come back to them with fresh perspectives.
Yes, I do remember saying that. It’s one of my mantras for writing. Put it away, and then look at it again later.
I can’t tell you how touched I was to receive that email that cheered me on and told me to persevere.
It’s not the only one I’ve received (which makes me feel super good that people are actually reading my blog and what I write!) I had another former student of mine tell me that my words saved her years ago in one of her darkest moments. Yes, I remember that, too. Her email brought tears to my eyes. We were both going through some tough times and we shared that with each other.
Many people have reached out to me to check on me. I find it sweet, touching, and encouraging.
Let me assure everyone that I am fine. Perfectly fine. Think of me as Elizabeth Gilbert, only without the year-long traveling to three different countries to reconnect with herself in Eat, Pray Love. I just needed a few weeks to sit back and take a look at what I was doing and ask the question why? (You can blame it on the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek that I’ll be using in the new course I’m teaching this fall). Clearly by reading this post and others I have written since that day, I am not giving up blogging. As I said in a previous post, it’s not the writing that is most challenging. I love that. I will keep on doing that. It’s the decision to just take a break from intense book marketing for a bit. It eats up a ton of your time and doesn’t allow you to do the thing you love most: WRITE.
Have no fear: I’ll be back at it. Why? Because I care about my published works too much not to give it all I’ve got.
I just hit the pause button the DVR.
And that clever student of mine also reminded me of another discussion we had in class, as my post hinted at those people who want to see you fail (which, truthfully, we should never take into consideration—ever—although thoughts of them can make you work harder). She said that this notion really resonated with her, and that was “to celebrate other people’s accomplishments.” She said she thinks of our talk all the time, and we shared examples in class of people not always being supportive of our endeavors. As she said, and I quote her, “Learning to celebrate others’ successes showcases a person’s quality, and sometimes an opportunity can arise from that interaction.” In other words, yes, boost them up. Give them a high five. To tell them that the work they have done was well done. As she indicated, it’s a sign of someone’s maturity to be happy for another person’s success. It’s not an indication of our own failure.
And this lack of support is something we notice. We notice when others are not happy for our success (and sometimes they honestly don’t know just the amount of grit and sweat and tears and grueling hours we have that put into it—it can be downright maddening.) As difficult as it may be sometimes, it’s your duty as a friend or family member to extend congratulations when someone else does something awesome and to help in any way you can. We all agreed that we must always try our best to be congratulatory always when someone we know has worked tirelessly to achieve a goal. I’m so glad my student remembered this bit of advice, too.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: it’s been wonderful to hear from people who actually do want to see you continue on your path and hope you reach your goals. And, it’s been pretty cool to have people reiterate some of the discussions we’ve had in the past. Therefore, to my former students, friends, colleagues and family who have reached out to have a side conversation regarding these latest thoughts, THANK YOU. I appreciate you more than you know.
Stepping back to re-examine is a good thing. I’m blessed to have so many helpful encouragers in my life.
And a fresh writing and book promotion perspective is just what the doctor ordered.
There are only a few weeks left of summer, and I made an agreement with myself when I decided to pause for a bit from book promotion that I would reconnect with the simple pleasures of life for a few weeks. There’s something to be said for being able to do this, and to do it in a meaningful way. Taking the time to enjoy your favorite things is important to your psyche. This idea was reinforced on Saturday morning when we lost a pet.
She wasn’t a dog or cat, she was our parakeet, Holly, and we brought her home on Christmas Eve in 2010. She was white with blue feathers and she had a sweet disposition for a parakeet. Moreover, she was my daughter’s bird. My son’s parakeet, Poe, lived to see Holly passed away at the bottom of the cage. My daughter and I gasped when we saw her. She had been ill a couple of months ago and had made a miraculous recovery. We’d seen no signs she was sick again, except for a little labored breathing sometimes.
That little parakeet brought us joy. We always marveled when, as soon as you would turn the water on in the sink, the pair of them would begin to sing. If you put music on in the house or you played the piano, they would chime right in. She was the one of the two who would let you pet her tummy and she’d step onto your finger. She would also eat food from your hand, a Cheerio or piece of spray millet seed.
My daughter has never lost a pet she loved. Tears came as soon as she saw Holly, lifeless, her eyes closed, at the bottom of the cage that morning. I was sort of in shock, too.
My son and husband were at my son’s golf tournament that morning, so we had to execute the burial ourselves. In an “ode to coffee” moment, we placed her in a little coffee box and buried her among the big trees in the back yard. May that sweet little bird rest in peace. We will certainly miss her sweet songs.
Listening to her sing was one of the simple pleasures of life, something that made us happy. But there are so many more. If you had to list your top 10 simple pleasures, what would they be? It’s probably worth attempting to write your own list to see if you can identify those things that make you the happiest. Just jot down simple, everyday things that bring you joy.
I’d love to see your lists. Today, I’ll share mine (in no particular order). Remember, these are simple pleasures we do OUTSIDE of work, no matter how much we love our jobs (and I do love mine!). No working items are allowed here.
Sitting on my porch writing or reading or relaxing.
Watching my son enjoy the game of golf.
Watching my daughter dance in her dance company.
Eating crabs on date night with my husband.
Hanging out at my parents’ house, walking in their neighborhood, or sitting by their pool.
Shopping by myself.
Taking long walks in the neighborhood.
Getting completely lost in a really good book.
Eating a good dessert and watching a movie or series on television with my family.
Drinking a perfect cup of coffee and writing a blog post for you.
Hope your day is full of lots of simple pleasures. See you next time.
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