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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.