As I prepare for my trip to China, I’m again reminded of how blessed I am. I get to travel, eat great food, work at a job that challenges me, and be loved by wonderful people. So often on this blog, I document the big things: trips and meals and time with too-infrequently seen loved ones. All of these things bring immense happiness into my life. But they are the uncommon happenings of what is really a most common life. The extraordinary moments, though wonderful, are not the moments that determine my happiness. Rather, I’ve learned that joy rests in noticing the small moments, the forgettable ones, the seemingly insignificant ones. Today’s post is about acknowledging these moments:
It’s 5 am yoga where I learn to love my body despite its imperfections.
It’s the blessedly short drive to work during which I can daily appreciate the beauty amid which I live.
It’s cuddles, kisses, and excited full-body wiggles from Sydney.
It’s watching the sunrise and sunset and stars from my own backyard.
It’s that moment at the beginning of a therapy session when I’m reminded that I have the opportunity and the privilege to help someone create a better life.
It’s drinking my morning coffee and contemplating the upcoming day.
It’s the process of preparing a beautiful, delicious, and healthful meal while listening to music too loudly and dancing quite poorly.
It’s getting so wrapped up in a great book that I forget where or when or who I am.
It’s the infinite group text with two of my best friends and hilarious conversations with my brothers.
It’s chocolate peanut butter ice cream or a glass of wine. Or both.
It’s cookies made just for me by a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. And it’s watching those sweet kids play outdoors with abandon.
It’s knowing that despite my distance from family, I have a friends who are like family who live nearby.
It’s sunshine and blue skies whether in the mountains or by the ocean.
It’s feeling that place in my heart that will always call Arkansas home.
Ultimately it’s these moments – the mundane, the everyday, the sometimes redundant – that determine the tenor and tone of my life. And what a lovely life it is. What are your small moments?
Like all big sisters should, I have frequently had an opinion (or two… or ten) about what my brothers should be doing at any given point in time. And being the amazing big sister that I am, I was often successful in convincing them to agree with my (obviously superior) perspective. For instance, when we were children, I repeatedly convinced them that they should allow me to pretend like they were my own, personal, real-life dolls. Which basically meant playing dress up with them. Yes, pictures of my brothers in coordinating blue and pink dresses exist. There may have been makeup and high heels involved. But because I love them I will spare them the mortification that would ensue if I shared said pictures. Plus, I have bigger priorities at the moment (see below) that require at least one of my brothers to continue to like me.
Now that I live in far away Oregon, I have decided that at least one of my brothers should also live here, too. It seems perfectly reasonable to expect at least someone in my family to move closer to me. I shouldn’t have to miss them just because I decided I wanted to move halfway across the country. I want my cake (to live in beautiful Oregon) and to eat it, too (being close to family because I miss them). So it is only expected that I used Ethan’s recent trip to Oregon to implement my evil amazing plan: convince him he must move here.
Step 1: Introduce him to Oregon’s gastropubs and microbreweries. In fact, almost as soon as he got off the plane, we headed to Falling Sky Brewery in Eugene.
We had so much fun that we did it again the next day at Vista Pub in Brookings.
Step 2: Show him the undeniably beautiful and varied scenery of Oregon. Beach? Check! Breathtaking mountain views? Check! Redwoods? Check! Okay, so technically these were in California. Saturday morning, we drove to Jedediah Smith State Park in California to see the redwoods. Of course, I had to introduce him to the amazingness of Dutch Bros. Coffee first.
Seriously, Dutch Brothers AND redwoods. How can he not move here?
When we stopped at the visitors center to determine where we wanted to hike, the ranger recommended the short Stout Grove Trail for the best views of the redwoods and then mentioned the Boy Scout Tree Trail, even if we did not want to hike the entire 5.2 miles. Apparently, this was where the Ewok Forest was filmed. She had Ethan at “Ewok Forest.” There was no way we were missing that.
We spent Saturday night in Brookings, Oregon where even the Best Western has an ocean view.
The next day, I showed Ethan even more of Oregon’s awesomeness with a drive along the coast. With views like this, no words are needed.
I had to work Monday morning, but took the afternoon off to spend time with Ethan before he (reluctantly, I might add) left Tuesday morning. He had seen redwoods and the coast, but I couldn’t let him leave without introducing him to the North Umpqua. We spent Monday afternoon doing a bit of hiking – Fall Creek Falls, which was magical, and Susan Creek Falls, which was perfect because it’s an easy trail and you can actually talk when you’re not constantly walking uphill. Oh, and there were waterfalls.
Step 3: Show him the wonderful and fun people he could hang out with if he moved to Oregon. We spent Saturday evening and Sunday morning with the family of one of my best friends. Okay, so technically a third of the people we spent the weekend with were from Texas. For now. My friend is implementing her own convince-them-to-move-to-Oregon plan with the distinct advantage of having grandchildren involved. Regardless, we had a really fun time eating delicious food, enjoying the antics of the kids, and spending time on the beach. Perfection.
Step 4: Feed him oysters and seafood. You just can’t get fresh Oregon oysters or crab salad from crabs that had been alive earlier that day or smoked salmon sandwiches in Arkansas. And you certainly can’t eat such deliciousness while sitting next to the ocean.
Step 5: Remind him how much fun we have together. And how awesome I am at being a big sister. I introduced him to Dutch Brothers and Radiolab. I forced him to watch Mockingjay and Pitch Perfect. I constantly elicited dating advice to get “a guy’s perspective.” We laughed. A lot. Why wouldn’t he want to leave everyone he knows back in Arkansas just so we can hang out/go hiking/have fun together more often? He’s pretty awesome, too. Like, he takes me out to dinner and does not expect me to put on makeup or fix my hair. And he changes the batteries in my smoke detectors. Which means that I don’t have to stand in a chair on a stool in 4-inch heels to change the batteries. Hypothetically, of course.
Step 6: Subtlety remind him about all the incredible things he “just didn’t have time to see.” The key here is subtle. Think, “I’m so sad we didn’t have time to make it to Crater Lake. I can’t wait for you to come back so we can go there!” and “Oh man, I’m so bummed that we didn’t get a chance to do a vineyard tour. Maybe next time!” or perhaps “You think this waterfall is great, you should see (insert one of many waterfalls here). You know, if you moved here we could go hiking together more often…” I am sure he did not pick up on my strategy.
Time will tell whether or not my plan was successful. Regardless, I am so thankful I had the opportunity to spend one hilarious and fun and unforgettable weekend with one of my favorite people.