Books

I love books. I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone who knows me. In particular, I love hard copy books. I love to hold a book in my hands. But I listen to audio books. And a read e-books too. Hard copies are my favorites, but I’m perfectly happy with books in any form.

The beauty of books is in their variety. And their creation. Books are transmission of knowledge and story. It’s utterly amazing that I can put shapes and symbols on a page that represent my thoughts. Then someone else, someone I have never met, can look at those symbols and shapes and interpret my thoughts, knowledge, and story.

Do I need to learn something? There’s a book for that. Do I need to do some self-improvement or self-empowerment? There’s a book for that. Do I want to escape into another world, another life? There’s a book for that.

Are there other sources for these things? Yes. There are videos, apps, movies, and TV shows.

So why are books a good, or even better option? Once you find the right ones, you don’t have to look for them again. Knowledge is concentrated and distilled. And, in hte case of hard copy books, you don’t have to worry about electricity or a device running out of charge.

One more pro in the case of hard copy books – they can be autographed. It’s hard to have an author sign a phone or e-reader, or an app or computer screen. I know enough authors that I like having the personal notes in their books.

Audiobooks, e-books, hard copy books – they’re all books. They all transmit knowledge and stories to a far wider audience than was every possible before. That knowledge, those stories, will not be lost because the last person who knows them dies. How amazing, how mind blowing, is that?

Small Things

Some days it’s hard to find something to write about. Not because there’s nothing good or beautiful in my day, but because the things that are there are small, common, or specific to me. They don’t seem “big” or “important” enough to write and post about here.

Then I remember why I started this site. And I look at the news and all the negativity and “doom and gloom” in the world today. I needed reminders there were good things to be found. Friends, family, and other people I know needed pops of joy and beauty in their lives.

The whole reason for this site is to show people that even when everything looks bleak, when things are falling apart, joy and beauty still exist. It might be tiny and hard to see unless you’re looking for it and seeing it, we feel better. And when we feel better, we’re kinder, more understanding, and more patient and accepting of others.

It’s a small thing, yet it isn’t. Because we affect everyone we come into contact with even if it doesn’t seem like it. So if we’re kinder, understanding, patient, and accepting, we spread a little bit of that beyond ourselves. That person we interacted with may interact with someone else differently and spread our influence to someone else. So while most of us can’t make big changes in the world on our own, together – by doing little things – we can have a much bigger impact than we think we can

So I’ll keep pointing out the small things. Because they matter. You matter. And we can make a difference. Together we can make the world better moment by moment, person by person.

Awe in Frustration

I’m working out at the gym more often lately. I’m not seeing big progress yet. What I am feeling a lot is sore and challenged. Things I did without thinking when I was younger are difficult, or even out of reach of my current abilities

It’s frustrating. And I could let it get to me, let it discourage me. Sometimes it does. But I often choose to look at it differently. I’m in awe of how my muscles and joints work, amazed at how I took it for granted when I was younger.

The difficulty and the soreness I have now reveals the intricacy of how everything works together. I might not like the way my body looks or feels right now. But I can still see and appreciate the beauty of how muscles tendons, and ligaments work together.

And there is one place where small progress is really big progress. About a decade ago, before I had health insurance, I separated my shoulder. I didn’t get it treated, never did physical therapy. And my mobility and range of motion in the shoulder has been bad ever since. My trainer had a similar injury at one point. So she’s been giving me exercises that help increase my range of motion and mobility in that shoulder. I don’t notice it too much when I’m working out. But every so often, I reach up or out with that arm and am struck by just how much the mobility and range of motion have improved. That excites me even when I’m exhausted or hurting during a work out.

Reminding myself that the soreness I feel after workouts is the muscles repairing themselves and getting stronger makes it easier to deal with. Appreciating what the human body is capable of when I have difficulty with an exercise keeps me from getting overly frustrated. And it reminds me of my goals, of what my body will be able to do eventually.

What about your body created moments of awe for you?

When Darkness Looms

There are times when I have difficulty finding something to write about here. I’ve had a bad day, or maybe a so-so day. Or maybe I can’t think of something I haven’t already written about. Maybe nothing has sparked for me recently or I haven’t had that moment
of beauty, joy, or love.

And then I realize that love and soul aren’t always beautiful or joyful. Sometimes they are ugly and hard. And that’s a truth we don’t acknowledge often. We shove it out of sight and pretend, at least in public, everything is lovely and easy.

It’s okay for things to be difficult. It’s okay to struggle to find the positive, the beautiful, they joy. It’s okay to acknowledge things aren’t perfect, or even good. It’s human to lose sight of the little lights when the darkness makes everyday life a challenge.

I find a quiet kind of joy in knowing that by sharing my difficulties, my imperfections, I may help someone else realize they’re not alone. It’s hard to be human, to have human frailties and weaknesses, when we see everyone’s edited lives online.

There’s a beautiful symmetry in finding a topic for this post as a result of admitting I was having difficulty finding something beautiful and joyful to write about. And my writing about it, thinking it through, sharing my humanity, how I feel has changed. I was feeling blah/meh when I started writing. As I’ve written, my mood has lightened, I’ve relaxed, and I feel better about myself and more optimistic.

Admitting and accepting our frailties, our imperfections, is a reflection of our love and our souls. Not always joyful and beautiful, but always capable of returning to those states.

A Moment in Time

We often complain about time and timing. We don’t have enough time. The mail or other deliveries don’t arrive when we want or need them to. We leave home on time but hit every traffic light or end up behind that one accident.

Those are the things that stand out, that we remember most. They’re the things we talk about and let affect our moods.

But there are times when everything runs like it’s supposed to and we don’t think about it. There are moments when we’re in the right place at the right time – we get the last item on sale, just miss the traffic jam.

Running into a friend at a store or restaurant, something we often think about as coincidence. But it’s an instance of perfect timing. And though we’re often away when packages are delivered, sometimes that one thing we’re anticipating arrives while we’re home and we can enjoy receiving and opening it.

Sometimes we ask a favor, just at the right time. Or we are asked just when we have the resources to help someone. Or we’re outside and looking up just at the perfect time to see a beautiful sunset or sunrise, a perfect full moon, or a shape in the clouds.

Notice these times and timings. Acknowledge them. Celebrate the moments.

Clouds

We’ve been seeing a lot of clouds in central Texas lately. Not a lot of rain, but partially cloudy and overcast days. It’s nice because it cools the temperatures down and it’s been hot here. But that’s not why I find beauty and joy from the clouds.

Partially cloudy days are wonderful. The white and gray clouds against the bright deep blue sky and be beautiful. And finding the shapes and images in the clouds is fun. And it teaches me something about the state of my own mind and soul. If I can’t find the images, I know I’m too stressed or tired and I need to rest, relax, and be kind to myself.

Overcast days are often harder to appreciate, especially because the humidity they bring. But there are times. A light overcast diffuses the bright sunlight. It makes landscapes and surroundings look like paintings or dreams, at least to me. And then there are the storm gray clouds. They look angry and dark, but that particular shade means we’re going to get rain – and rain is almost always welcome here!

Sometimes overcast clouds make me want to curl up under a blanket, in front of a fire, and read. And that’s a comforting, relaxing, contentment. That’s my idea of a quiet, everyday, joy. If those clouds make me feel sad or depressed, I know I need to take some self-care time. I don’t, in those times, see beauty in the clouds, but they show me the needs of my soul.

What do clouds say to you?

Little Annoyances

There are times when my cats annoy me terribly. I have two – Seraph and Watson. They seem to know when I have ten or fifteen minutes left before my alarm goes off or I’m planning to get up. They follow me into the bathroom. They tear around the house chasing each other and knocking things off shelves. They don’t fight but they do warn each other off.

But in the midst of annoying me, one or both of them will pose, or stop and look at me. Or Seraph will come over and bump her head against my arm or head – or start grooming my hair. And the way they both react with I get the laser pointer or treats out makes me laugh.

The contract, in the very instance of the annoyance, is a spark of beauty and joy. I love the little critters even when they’re being brats. I wonder if they act this way sometimes because they know how I’ll react.

Everyday annoyance does not rule out the existence of joy and beauty and love. Sometimes you just have to apuse long enough to see it.

Doing the Unexpected

We get into ruts – doing the same thing, going to the same places, seeing the same people. There is a lot to be said for the beauty of routine. But there is beauty and joy to be found in doing the unusual or unexpected as well.

My usual routine over a weekend, even a long one, is simple. I do the chores that have built up and get in some reading. I may prep food for the week and go out to see a movie. But that’s about it. Pretty boring actually, but relaxing.

Occasionally, I break the pattern. Recently I did. It was a long holiday weekend and I let myself be lazy for two days. But on the third day, I decided to run errands outside the house. The errands didn’t take long and normally I would have headed directly home.

I didn’t. Instead I decided to explore some places I’ve been interested in. One was Japanese book and stationary store. It was a large space, wonderfully stocked with pens, notebooks, Studio Ghibli offerings, chatchkes, manga, and books. I’ll have to go back when I have more money to spend!

I also visited a brewery taproom. There are quite a few in Austin I haven’t been to. So I went to 4th Tap. They were having a video game tournament and were quite busy. But it was a fun atmosphere and the bartender was friendly. I got to meet a few people and talk about beer and gaming. And I got to try some new beers – including two IPAs that I actually liked.

I had a very interesting and satisfying day. And I had experiences I wouldn’t have had if I’d stayed at home or just gone to a movie like I usually do. I found moments of joy and thoroughly enjoyed an amount of socialization that would normally exhaust me.

Is this something I will start doing regularly? Probably not. But it is something to do on occasion and as my budget and temperament allow. Will it always be joyful? Likely not. But I believe I will always find moments of joy in going outside my routine and comfort zone.

Time

Time is a funny thing. We’ve measured out 365 days in a year, 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute. Time, as we measure it is objective.

But time as we experience it is anything but objective. Minutes, hours, days, and even years fly by or stretch out seemingly unending. The times we most want to hold on to slip through our fingers like sand. And stretched time is often filled with anticipation, fear, or despair.

Yet if we measure those seconds, minutes, and hours, we find they don’t total up to what we think they should.

How can time be so subjective? How can it be discretely measured and yet so fluid simultaneously?

I think there’s a beauty in this kind of paradox. Different ways of seeing things and dimensions of how we perceive them. For me, these paradoxes touch on the heart and soul of what the thing presenting the paradox is.

Time is a perfect example. We can, and do, quantify it. Yet it often seems to contradict the set quantification we give it. We know time, yet we don’t. To me, that’s the beauty of it. We don’t know, and we don’t know just what we don’t know.

What I see

Lately I’ve been finding joy and beauty in little things, simple things. The past couple of days, it’s been one of the simplest – at least for me. The fact that it’s not a simple thing for some people is the reason I appreciate it so much.

It’s what I see that is bringing me my enjoyment and appreciation. And what do I see? Color – Simple color.

I’m nearsighted – very nearsighted. If I’m not wearing my glasses or contacts, things start to blur only a few feet away. So sometimes, things are hard to make out. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine what I’m looking at.

But it’s not hard to see. I can see the colors even if I can’t see the details. Sometimes seeing the colors is better than seeing the details.

It’s something that I take for granted. But I know that if I couldn’t see colors and still had poor vision, I would find the world a dreary place to look at.

Colors energize me. Colors affect my moods. On a gray day, all I want to do is curl up under a blanket and either sleep or read. Bright sunny days make me want to sit in the shade, enjoy the colors, and socialize.

I can’t imagine not being able to see those colors. Yet there are people who can only see certain colors. There are people who can’t see much color at all. And there are people who have no sight at all.

So I’m lucky. I appreciate my luck and the colors I see. It’s a little thing that’s not really so small.

What do you see?