This summer has been somewhat of a challenge for me. I have been in work situations that were less than ideal, with a total of three hours of commuting each day. Both my jobs are desk jobs, and I sit in a cubicle, eat my lunch at my desk, and don’t really see sunlight until I leave. I get headaches from staring at a screen all the time. I get up at 5am everyday, and get home around 6:30, eat dinner, unwind a bit, and head to bed to repeat the same thing the next day. My family moved to New York while I was already in college, so I do not know anyone here nor do I have a group of friends to return to. So after a short while of working two jobs, commuting, and feeling a bit isolated, I found myself becoming discouraged.
I got grumpy.
Then a bit bitter.
And so I had to check myself. I am blessed enough to have two jobs, when some people have a hard time getting just one. I am fortunate to have a family that opens their home to me, allowing me to stay under their roof and eat their food, rent free. I am lucky to have experiences that I can add to a resume as I gear up for the next phase of life. All of these things are so good, and I really am in a very blessed position.
So I started to try to actively notice the things that brought me joy, or made me smile, as cheesy as it sounds. I started to take my time, look at my phone less, and notice more. As I began to do this I realized that there were so many sweet little moments built into my day, and as I took notice of them the monotony of my days seemed to be a little less daunting. I started to write down in my calendar one thing each day that made me happy. It’s been fun to look back at my summer and see these little notes dotting my days. Here is a list of some of the things I’ve come to notice and appreciate:
- Hot coffee with whole milk. Life is too short to put skim in your coffee.
- Cinnamon raisin Ezekiel muffins – I actually get excited about these as I climb in bed knowing that they’ll be waiting for me in the morning.
- The herd of young ballerinas that I see crossing Union Square each day. They look so excited and graceful in their pink tights and perfect chignons.
- Getting to read a book for pleasure. During the school year I do not have time to read anything apart from what is on a syllabus. I’ve devoured three books in the last five days.
- Mornings that are cool enough to wear a sweater while I drink my coffee.
- The sense of hopeful purpose that buzzes about New York City each morning. I find a certain rush walking along the busy avenues as the skies turn early blue.
- The Union Square farmers market.
- Frozen watermelon – it’s better than any ice cream or frozen yogurt out there. Try it. Slice it thin, put it between wax paper, and freeze. You’ll thank me later.
- The corner store where I stop for coffee every morning. It’s $2 for 20oz. and I’m a happy girl.
- The fact that the air around my house smells like the sea. It makes me think I’m on vacation even when I’m not.
I have many, many more. If you made it this far down the list, congrats. I encourage you to look around you and take note of the little moments that add joy to your life. I have found that thankfulness and gratefulness trump bitterness, and I am beginning to understand the concept of joy being a choice rather than a feeling. I know this isn’t fitness or nutrition related, per se, but I do think that mental and emotional health is paramount when it comes to overall health. My steps feel lighter, my mood has lifted. I feel less captive by my computer and desk than I did a few weeks ago. Start your own list. See where the little sprouts of joy spring up from the concrete of monotony, where the vivid ivy overshadows the dull brick wall. Step out of the culture that criticizes more than it appreciates. I hope you find that life is far more beautiful than you may have noticed, and that you feel a bit more encouraged today.