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?

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.

Finding Light from Outside

There are times when finding beauty, love, and joy in our own lives is difficult. Nothing seems to be going quite right. The weather is less than optimal, maybe even dreary. Our mood just can’t, or won’t, see the points of brightness in our own existence for a time.

We may need to look outside ourselves to find that spark to kindle our own light. In times when news and politics only darken the work, where can we look?

We can look to our family and friends, to those acquaintances on social media we consider friends, or people we admire. Among them, we can find the pleasures, triumphs, and joys they are experiencing. And in these, we can find our light.

It is not our own light, beauty, or joy, but it is those those things all the the same. Any eye can see beauty. Joy can be, should be, shared. And light grows when more people share it. Those who care for us, those who share such things where we can see them, are sharing them with everyone. They do not begrudge us being lifted from our own darkness by what they share.

So when you have little light, joy, or beauty in your own life, take head of the light in the lives of others. Use it to spark your own. Then share it for the next person who needs something to kindle their brightness.

Not Invisible

Find the Soul is a project that I started, then set on the back burner. It wasn’t intentional, but life got in the way.

Wait

Stop

Rewind

Find the Soul is a project I started and then I *let* life get in the way. When it could have done the most good, I put it off. But I never completely lost sight of it. And it’s time to wake it up. Because I’m not the only person who needs the reminder that there’s good out there.

A lot of us need that reminder right now. And not just now. Everyday, every minute, someone is looking for that one thing, that small bright spot that tells us things can be, will be, better eventually.

But better doesn’t happen until someone takes action. It doesn’t have to be a big action – but it does have to be something. A pebble, in the right place, at the right time, can keep a flood from happening. And the pebble may never know the difference it made.

I am a pebble. I’m taking action. I’m not taking a big, public, dramatic stand. I’m putting pebbles and twigs in place to turn a flood – or create ripples – I may never see. And I know there are others out there doing the same. I know there are people out there who need the one tiny light to show them darkness is not all there is to look forward to.

There is beauty and love out there. There is soul in the world even when it appears it’s been lost. I can see it if I look for it. I’ve seen it before.

So it’s time to start looking, start seeing, again. And it’s time to share it. It’s time to make a start, however tiny, however invisible, it may seem.

Because beauty, love, and soul are not invisible. I am not invisible. You are not invisible.

We make a difference.

We see the beauty.

We share the love.

We are the soul that needs to be seen.

Comfort Food

Simple things can make us feel strongly, drastically, different.  For me, one of those things is comfort food.  I might be depressed, exhausted, or angry. Comfort foods, whether I have to prepare them or just pop them in the microwave, make me feel better. I associate them with better times and better feelings.

Suddenly, I’m not as sad or angry. I can find a little energy where I thought there wasn’t any. I can see a little light where things are dark.

Can comfort foods be dangerous? Certainly. It can be all to easy to fall into emotional eating – to eat, rather than deal with the emotions and issues that are behind the need for comfort.

But it’s also true that sometimes what we need is a reminder of family, better times, or just a bit of sun seen/felt through the rain.

So for me, comfort foods  are a connection to those things. They help me move from seeing the darkness to being able to look for the light.

Cool Weather 

Central Texas isn’t known for cool weather, even during the winter. Winter usually means the daytime temps may dip into the 60s and we get some rain. It’s more like the spring or autumn weather other places get.

Don’t get me wrong – It’s a beautiful break from the hot and humid days of summer, and even the 80s we see in spring.  Temperatures dipping into the 40s and 50s at night means it’s time to use the fireplace that sits unused most of the year.

This year, we’ve had downright cold weather – a real winter – at least by our standards.  In the 15 years I’ve lived here, we’ve had snow maybe 6 times. Three of those were this winter. It was just enough snow to be pretty – to close schools and business for a day or two, but not enough to really disrupt things.

I grew up in the mid-west – snowy winters until I was 9. Then I lived in California for years. Three years in Nebraska and Kansas were enough to convince me that I didn’t want to live someplace that had a regular “winter.”  But sometimes I miss it, so this winter has been a nice change.

For me, the cooler than normal weather and the three snowfalls have been beautiful.

Coffee Tea or Juice 

I don’t know about anyone else but I need something to help me get my day started.

For me, that something is usually coffee. It’s not the caffeine.  It’s the routine of making the coffee and taking a few minutes to just sit down and relax for a few minutes before starting the day.

For some of my friends, it’s coffee. For others, it’s tea. And for a few it’s something else entirely… milk, juice, etc.

What it is doesn’t matter. The beauty is that the ritual, along with the drink, gives us a chance to ease into the day at least a little bit.