Good Enough

Good Enough

I woke up this morning feeling….off.  Not terrible.  But not good either.  Definitely not good enough to feel positive about the trajectory of the day.  After a weekend of great conversation, meeting new babies, cozy fires and time away from a work computer, a day when work was back on the agenda seemed like a practical joke – the mean kind.

How could it be time to spend another day sitting in front of the computer, making phone calls and asking questions?  And how could the forecast call for above average temperatures – in December?  For someone who enjoys activities that require snow and ice, above average temperatures are not cause for celebration.

I was unsettled, and it seemed like interacting with anything even slightly undesirable would cause me to slip into an all day melancholy.  As I was resigning myself to a day spent tapping a keyboard, I saw the sun through the window and noticed the sparkle of the snow against the skeleton trees of the lake’s shoreline. But the potentially rising temperature and the schedule of my afternoon overshadowed the beauty that I usually see in those things.  I felt myself sinking into a haze of wanting something different.  I felt like someone who is unsatisfied with daily life and someone who dreads the work week.

So I went outside.  Instead of letting myself simmer in that haze of wanting, I put on my ski boots and mentally prepared myself for a slow sloppy loop around the perimeter of the lake through mushy snow.  I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I know enough about health and wellness to understand that getting some fresh air and exercise can boost one’s mood – and enough about motivation to know that you don’t have to feel motivated to do something.  Sometimes you just have to do it.  I went out the backdoor, down the still frosty steps to the snow crusted lake, stepped into my skis and pushed off.

And then I noticed something.

The snow on the lake wasn’t actually mushy.  The glide from the crusty snow that was left on the ice was actually pretty good.  95% better than anticipated.  Worth more than one lap around, even.  Good enough.  I stopped at the midpoint, looked up and realized that all of the trees were blindingly white in their frosty jackets that were made possible by the cold nights and warmer days of the past week.  Stunning enough to make me pause and just look.  Good enough.

It was good enough to snap me out of my melancholy stupor and remind me of all the things that are worth celebrating during the days that I spend here on this earth, despite work computers, endless phone calls and forecasts that aren’t ideal.  There will surely be days in the future when I feel off balance or in want of something different.  But there will also surely be little things – like unexpectedly good enough skiing conditions and the beauty of hoarfrost – that punctuate even the dreariest of days with one more little detail that makes life worth celebrating.

It’s nice to remember why I’ve chosen to live where I do and why I like this time of year as the daylight wanes, even when it’s warmer than I might prefer.  It’s nice to remember that I don’t have to let waking up on the wrong side of the bed and a task list that I’m not looking forward to color my whole day black.  And it’s nice to notice the beauty that pierces the ordinary days just because of making one little choice over another.

To Be Thankful

To Be Thankful

I think it annoys God if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.

– Alice Walker, The Color Purple.

I have been keeping a gratitude journal since November 30, 2012. I don’t remember why I started doing it. Probably because I read about the idea in one of the countless books that I consumed that year, and it sounded like a good idea at the time. Fortunately, it was a good idea and has proved to be a worthy practice as I walk through the days and the weeks and the months.  I have missed one day so far – June 21, 2013. Perhaps the longest day of the year doesn’t need extra acknowldgement because it is already so saturated with light.

The intent to notice these little bits of happiness each day has created a sense of spaciousness that wasn’t there before. Or maybe it was there, but I didn’t take the time to invite it into daily life. To be thankful for something is to recognize how it has added a layer of beauty to an ordinary day.

Looking back, some days sound pretty routine.

November 30, 2012: Watching Eva notice the world around her.
February 24, 2013: Hearing Nick read books to Eva before she goes to bed.
March 5, 2013: Listening to Eva babble to herself as she wakes up in her crib.

Some days have events that are unlikely to ever be duplicated.
December 16, 2012: A bird, standing on ice that is barely covered with water. A Jesus bird.
August 23, 2013: The neighborhood black bear cub, strolling past my office sliding door in the morning sun.
April 11, 2014: Passing the neighbor kids walking their new goats on leashes before their parents could tell them to stay off the road.

Some days are more challenging.
December 5, 2012: Being able to offer comfort to Eva when she’s not content.
October 14, 2013: The contrast that is provided by people who don’t see what I see.
November 13, 2013: How the gift of soup from a neighbor can erase loneliness.

Most days celebrate the way a physical body can move.
September 16, 2013: Running around the lake and picking cherry tomatoes to start the day.
November 2, 2013: Yoga – the way movement and breath provide a way to re-center on the present.
January 13, 2014: Skiing across the frozen lake into the rising sun.

All days are punctuated by the presence of life and the vibrancy of the natural world.
December 26, 2012: The way a single snowflake can catch the light and sparkle like a diamond.
January 16, 2013: Pink clouds moving across a late afternoon sky, filling the horizon with warmth on a cold day.
April 3, 2013: New life emerging from the soil as the mid-west welcomes another spring.
August 20, 2013: Tangerine skies and evening shadows that hint at possibilities yet to come.
October 5, 2013: The way that orange maple leaves command attention.
January 14, 2014: The muted beauty in fresh snow falling off of pine trees in a gentle breeze.

 

To be thankful. I think the beauty in the world can only grow if we remember to notice it. Perhaps noticing it – and giving voice to the noticing – will allow it to seep into the spaciousness that exists in each of us as we walk through the days, and the weeks, and the months.

What gratitude practice will you use to invite beauty into your days and weeks and months?