Happy Little Things

2020 has been a heavy year. Honestly, it felt that way before the Rona took us all hostage. I’m fighting that. In that vein, I like to remind myself of “little happy things.”

Oatmeal. It’s the best comfort food. It’s hot. It’s creamy. It’s versatile. Oh, and it helped bring my strangely high cholesterol down last fall! (family heart disease history) It is not uncommon to find a packet of instant oatmeal at my desk. I’d like to say that I do all the overnight oat stuff, but that would be blowing smoke… I don’t prep well.

Music. I dressed this morning to 90’s hits. I have uplifting, contemporary Christian on at my desk. I sang and played piano with my sisters this weekend. I run to music of all genres with a good beat, but sometimes questionable lyrics. Music has the power to set moods, change moods, set a pace, and uplift!

Walks. Yesterday, I texted a friend spontaneously to ask if she wanted to take a 20 minute walk over lunch. She did! This may not seem like a huge deal, but stepping away from work and everything else to move and chat with a friend was probably the high point of my day. Movement feels good. Fresh air feels great. Time with a friend is priceless!

Basically, all my “little happy things” were free or cheap. Instead of focusing on how certain points of my day were dumpster fires, turning my attention to these “little happy things” flipped that narrative.

Isn’t that what this year is teaching us to do? We don’t have to focus on all the big things taken away. Instead, I encourage you to look for all the little rays of sunshine. For me, sometimes it’s a simple as “hey, that phone call sucked… think I’ll go for a quick walk or maybe a mug of oatmeal.” I know, not eloquent… but very real.

What are your little happy things? Maybe you have a dozen or perhaps you are striving for one. I’ve been in both places. Today, take a moment to jot down one or two and keep it somewhere. Save it. In the words of the California Raisins, you’ll have “sunshine on a cloudy day.”


Catching Up

Autumn came rushing in on the heels of a couple of triple digit days. Currently, the weather outside is 43 degrees F and rainy. By rushing, I shall further describe as when the wind hit the house, I wondered if it would snap a tree or two in the yard. Mother Nature is so temperamental this year. This is the part where we all just shrug our shoulders and say “2020.”

I’ll reintroduce myself as it has been months since I last wrote. I’m Jen. Reading, writing, music, running, and noticing the details in nature are all enjoyable for me. My heart and soul belong to Jesus. My husband still gets best friend status after 20 years of being around me. He put a ring on it 15 years ago. A young boy and girl live at our house and look and act like us. All good stuff!

As for many others, this year has been in absolutely NO WAY as I had planned it in my head or on my beloved planner. Schools closed in March. The kids and I completely locked down for a couple of weeks. At that point, my husband (who I also own an “essential” business with and work with daily) informed me exhaustedly that “this isn’t working.” I went to splitting my days between being in the office (we moved all our customer contact outside) and schooling at home.

Note- I did not say homeschooling. My children attend a school with wonderful teachers. They listen, learn, and enjoy being there. Although I have a BS in Secondary Education, I have no interest in being my children’s main teacher. More power to the mamas and dads that do! Rather, I essentially proctored their education online with their teachers taking the lead via Zoom, Google Classroom, and a host of other educational sites they were assigned. We all survived, but anxiety abounded and many tears were shed by all.

Bring on summer! Kids played baseball and softball. They spent time with friends. We had a couple excursions to the local lake and went to our local pool three times. Both kids had bucket calves (big, spoiled babies!) for 4-H, so although our fair was extremely pared down due to the C-word precautions, we had activities there as well. Following that up, we went on vacation. We tried to take the road less traveled thru Nebraska, Wyoming, a slice of Montana, a corner of Idaho, and finished up in Utah. There was camping, geysers, wildlife, hiking, and as a friend referred to it- a vacation full of the outdoors – as the original social distancing. We traveled and lived this summer.

We are thankful that our mostly rural area has stayed healthy. School is back in session for almost 3 1/2 weeks IN PERSON. My kids are thrilled! (as if their mama!) I am confident that all the possible safety precautions are being taken while still conducting school as normally as possible. Thus far, nothing tied to the school. Hallelujah!

Now, here we are solidly standing in September. The successful start to school and the hope I refuse to surrender to the nay-sayers combine to help me remain optimistic. I refuse to watch the news for more than 10 minutes a day. Who doesn’t have anxiety with that constant noise?

With that, I leave you for a bit. I hope to write again soon. — Jen