In no particular order, some things that make me happy.
1. Taking myself on long walks around my neighborhood with a camera slung over my shoulder. I love finding little vignettes that make me smile, or are interesting combination of colors, texture, or light. (It is super pretentious to use the word vignette? Say, more pretentious than looking up a synonym for vignette so people on the internet don’t wonder that I’m pretentious?!)
2. Peppermint tea, slightly sweetened, no cream or milk. This is particularly wonderful at home with cozy slippers or in a sun-filled spot at a cafe with deep leather chairs and a good book.
3. Snuggling into Blue Eyes’ shoulder and listening to the sound of his heart. His strong arms, smell, and kind heart will forever be my safe place.
5. Real roses, as in, ones from your grandmother’s garden. While I was growing up we had an enormous rose garden along the entire east wall of our house, 2 or 3 bushes deep and something like 30 feet long. In the summer my Mom would trim 100 blooms off those bushes every few days. Real roses have this incredible sweet scent, and they are broader than they are tall with slightly irregular petals that are the softest, silkiest things in the world. Real roses are wild and warm and invoke memories of running barefoot in the dewy grass. I realize I am kind of ruined for regular (or even high-end) florist roses; to me they feel, smell, and look like plastic.
6. Rows and rows and rows of books. I think the library scene from Beauty and the Beast is forever imprinted on my brain. My dream house will have a 2-story library with a spiral staircase and an enormous fireplace. I know the chic thing nowadays is to have an e-reader and keep thousands of books on a slim device that fits into your purse. That just is not my style. I love a printed book, the weight, the smell, the feel. I love shelves and shelves of them in different colors and sizes with each title beckoning me to “pick me! pick me!”
7. Painting. I am not good at it yet, but I really enjoy mixing oil paints to create bright, clear colors, and then seeing how accurately I can recreate the picture in my head. I have a dear friend who is a legit artist–galleries and shows and hundreds of sold paintings–and she has been incredibly kind and encouraging. She goes so far in her encouragement that she introduces me to her friends as “Harriet, who is also an artist.” This, of course, makes me feel hopelessly inadequate and also incredibly, deliriously hopeful.
8. I am blessed with some of the most lovely friends on the planet, I feel as I get older I am finding more and more women with whom I deeply connect and appreciate. I’m not sure what actions on my part deserve such luck and such incredible friendships, but I am so grateful for this support-network of ladies who encourage me, inspire me, listen to me, laugh with me, cry with me. I’ve always heard you get fewer and fewer friends as you get older, and I have found this absolutely not to be the case. I have more important and fulfilling friendships now than I have had at any other time in my life.
9. This may sound off, but I love being busy. Which does absolutely not mean I love not having time for the things I value, I am getting better and better at segmenting my time to include the things that are important to me. I mean, I love having a lengthy-but-doable list of projects at work. I love having a constantly evolving to-do list at home. I love the routine that comes from having a full schedule, but one that has blocks of time for relaxing and friends and detoxification built in. I would so much rather be busy than any other alternative.
10. Seeing people in love. Not PDA-obsessed teenagers making out at the mall, but people with a shared history together of hurts and joy, fear and triumph, failure and success. I love seeing those people still choose each other, still light up when they see each other, still show affection towards each other and exude a happy contentment just because they are together. It chokes me up every time.
What do you love? What makes you happy? What are the things in your life you crave?