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.

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.

Guilty Pleasures- Happy Tears Binges

Sometimes we need to experience something comfortable, something that makes us feel good and hopeful. The news is bad, work was frustrating or infuriating, we’re sick, depressed, or exhausted. We don’t want to think, maybe can’t think. We don’t want something new or exciting.

Some people turn to favorite movies. Some, like me, tend towards favorite books. With streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, and others, many people are turning to binging series. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t require individual attention – you can do other things at the same time, or let your attention wander.

It gives our minds and souls time to rest, relax, and renew. It can help us remember there are good things and good people out there when we need it. Shows like Queer Eye, The British Baking Show, The Voice, and Dancing with the Stars are some of my go-to’s.

Do I tell everyone that I watch them? No. They are my guilty pleasures. Sometimes they bring me to tears – not sad or angry tears, but what I call ‘happy tears.’ They’re the tears that come when someone touches they’re dreams, when a life is changed for the better. They’re the tears that make you feel better.

And that’s the point. There’s enough negativity in the world that we have to deal with. We need those comfortable, comforting, and uplifting pleasures in our lives – guilty or not! We need to take the time – a few hours, a day, a weekend – to recharge and renew our souls, as well as our bodies.

What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?

First World Problems

We don’t think about how lucky we are most of the time. We see all the stuff that isn’t just the way we want it to be and settle our thoughts on that. The bus was crowded or late. Traffic made our drive longer. The grocery store didn’t have the items we wanted. We’re tired and have to go to work. We paid the bills but have no money left for fun. The shower or bath water isn’t hot (or cold) enough.

Each of these things, and others like them, are problems – but they’re also opportunities to remember how lucky we are compared to people in other parts of the world.

The bus was late or crowded? It showed up, is reliable, and you probably didn’t have to stay on it too long. There are places to go that make it worth taking public transportation that’s available.

You hit a traffic snarl? You have a car. You can afford gas. You have someplace to be and relatively quick way to get there.

The grocery store was out of your favorite or desired item? You can still get items from all the necessary food groups (and some unnecessary ones) all in one place at almost any time you want to. There are foods that can’t be grown or produced where you live or at that particular time of year.

We have to go to work. We have a job that provides us a paycheck. And speaking of that paycheck – It went mostly to pay the bills and expenses, right? But we have a roof over our head, electricity, running water. We probably have a phone. We may have cable, internet, and vehicles we’re paying off. It seems like the money just disappeared, but it’s paying for those things.

It’s not easy to remember that many of our problems are because of all the benefits/luxuries we take for granted. We have things and opportunitites that many people around the world don’t. That in itself is something to appreciate and find joy in.

And if we really want to connect, if we want to raise the collective heart and soul of the world, it’s something we can work to change, even if it’s only by doing small things.

So make an effort, in the midst of those first world problems, to appreciate the reasons you have them.

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.

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?

Necessary Luxury

Is luxury beautiful?

It can be. Imagine a morning, laying in bed. You stretch slowly. You fell asleep without worries or thoughts of things that need to be done. No alarm disturbed your sleep. Your mind and body are rested and ready to start the day that has no demands but those you want to accomplish.

Does that sound like luxury? It does to me. It’s a luxury I try to give myself as often as I can – usually one day of my weekend.

And it’s beautiful. It’s self-care and self-love. It recharges my soul.

Beauty, love, soul.

Recharging yourself – your soul, your body, your emotions – is just as important as finding beauty, love, joy, and soul in the world. Recharging yourself lets you help others. You can help them recharge. It’s easier to see the light in the world, to take action to bring light into the world where and when it’s needed.

It doesn’t have to be a day without alarms and plans. It can be a bubble bath, an evening spent with friends. It can be a long run, a meandering drive. A music festival or an hour spend alone in nature. It is whatever soothes your soul. Whatever recharges your emotional and physical energy.

You can’t work to make things better, can’t see the best, the light in the world, if you’re running on empty. Take the time – make the time – to recharge. To experience the necessary luxury, beauty, or recharging.

Your heart and soul will thank you. And so will the world around you that you touch.

Backup

When everything is going off the rails, it’s comforting to know you have backup. It might be a friend or family member. It might be a co-worker. Or it might just be an alternate plan.

There’s a beauty in knowing there are alternatives, that everything doesn’t rest on your shoulders even when it feels that way. There’s a beauty in having trust in someone else to have your back and help you out.

That trust, and the reliability of the other person, are representations of the soul, of the good in most people. It’s the knowledge that if we work together and help each other, everyone benefits.

Backing someone up can be an expression of love and trust. It can be recognition of the collective good will.

It is beautiful. It speaks of, and to, the soul. And it lets us relax, let down the weight we carry – at least for a little while.

Having backup applies to having someone willing to just listen or be supportive. Mental and emotional support is backup as much as physical support in life or in the workplace. And it’s just as important. It’s an even clearer expression of love and soul because there’s no direct benefit for the person backing you up.

Having backup means your light, your spark, doesn’t get completely buried under all the pressures and negativity. And it demonstrates the connection between us all.

Let others back you up. Back up others. Connect, relax, connect.