This took 3 years to finish.
How to Appreciate the Little Things, whether you’re living through a pandemic or not.
** Original Start of Post – written February 2018 **
As a mom of a now 13 month old little boy, and a 12 year old pug I often feel drained by the end of the day. Some days I even wake up that way. Growing up in the 80s and 90s we were taught to be independent ladies, “Girl Power” and “Dream Big”, rang through our heads. This was all great stuff, and for the first 12 years of my adulthood, getting a job in my field, loving working for Sports teams and concert venues, I was living the independent woman lifestyle. Even while in a loving relationship with my now, super awesome, husband, I really felt like I was living life for me.
Now a stay at home mom, and wife, I find myself cycling through a roller-coaster of emotions and thoughts. It is hard to feel like myself when my world has made such a drastic change over the last year and a half. From driven career minded independent woman, to dependable stay at home mom. One of my re-occurring thoughts is that had I been brought up in a world, just a little more like my Nana’s perhaps I would have been more mentally prepared for this life. Of course, there are a million other things about the environment in which our greater generation of women grew up in, that I would not want to be part of, and am grateful for their sacrifices and battles fought so we can choose how we live now. (*Update to 2021, and we too are living in a pandemic and on the brink of war type world, who would’ve thought*).
When trying to regain a balance of my “self” vs. the me which now encompasses my husband, my child and of course my senior pug, I was searching for something that I could call MINE, only mine, something just for me. What a silly idea that was. Well maybe not silly, but futile. When you’re in a loving relationship with someone, or you’re a parent there will never be anything that is truly yours ever again.
If you think going to Zumba is just for you, it’s not, getting time away to exercise ultimately makes you a better you, a better mom and a better partner. Starting that online course, trying that new hobby, striving for that promotion, all those things ultimately will be for your whole family. So again, it is for everyone, there is no “U” in family.
** Update 01/2021 **
This draft of the article was started ages ago, February of 2018 to be exact. Flash forward to January 2021 and my 13 month old little boy is now turning 4, and we had to say goodbye to our beloved Franklin pug. As I look back on it, the original post was a little self-centered maybe, totally a take on a new mom trying to find herself, which is still important. But as far as appreciating the little things, I think this topic is a little more universal, and as such, this post should be also. Maybe that is why I never finished it the first time, or it could’ve been the mom-life that got in the way.
Now almost 3 years later, as a family and as a Nation we have gone through almost a year of COVID related quarantine, survived 4 years of Donald Trump in power south of the border and seen so many changes around the globe. So as I revisit this topic of appreciating the little things, I think it has become more important than ever and certainly more relevant to the lives we are leading today. And so the rest of this post will be, How to Appreciate the Little Things, whether you’re living through a pandemic or not.
Wow I am struggling here.
Here is how I was going to start off this new version of the post …
“Over the past decade, a shift in focus has been occurring around the globe, for sure in North America. Self-care, meditation, mantras, looking inward, finding moments of gratitude, journaling, we are surrounded by limitless ways to appreciate your life and the world around you. At the same time, and I know I am part of this problem, media and toxic relationships keep us vibrating with negative energy, struggling through the day to NOT scream at someone who doesn’t respect or appreciate the nature of the challenges and struggles the world is facing today.”
Then I stopped. This is not the vibe I wanted and not the voice I want to put out there. I want to keep this simple, easy to absorb and hopefully helpful in the end. So I am just going to do a little, here’s how I’ve learned to appreciate the small things. Hope this doesn’t end up sounding like one big meme.
Get outside, breathe deep and look up. Hopefully it is a clear day. If you do this at night and can see the stars or the moon, it can be even more impactful. On a sunny day, find some soft snow, or grass or sand, and lay down like a starfish. Not only is this a great way to ground yourself, but also gives you a quick reminder of just how small we are. Your biggest problems, though important, are likely smaller than we make them. If you are lucky enough to have a home, a source of income that doesn’t endanger your life, and a person to call a friend, please count yourself lucky. They seem like small things in the grand scheme of things, but they are not.
Breathing itself, as we truly can appreciate now more than ever, is a healing and wonderful way to feel alive. Those impacted by COVID will likely never truly regain their full lung health, and I bet you they would tell you, get out there and take a breath.
Be an Observer
Our current world almost demands us to be constantly talking, telling the world our story, commenting, liking, giving your opinion, share share share it all. I suggest that sometimes, take the time to be a quiet observer. Sit quietly, wherever, with a small smile take it all in. Each person, living a their life, their own set of troubles, successes, differences. The meme that goes around asking you to be kind, because you really don’t know someone else’s story is a good one, and 100% true. Even your best friend or sibling might not be giving you the full truth of their life, and if they did, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will get it.
So appreciate our differences, people singing at bus stops, dogs that just can’t wait to catch that squirrel, a person holding a door for someone, smiling toddlers, and people that just can’t keep from dancing. Enjoy the colour of your friends eyes, the friendly wave of your mail-person, find the good and soak it in.
Savor the Flavour
Whether you had to make the meal or not, when you can, take the time to enjoy eating the meal. It’s something we take for granted all the time. If we were much older, if we lived elsewhere in the world, or our economic situation was different, enjoying the crunch, the taste, the texture of our food as it nourishes our body may not come as easily as it does now. Appreciate food!
Respect Your “Self”
This is a hard one, but an important one. Try and learn to respect yourself. By this, I do not mean taking time for facials, or a glass of wine #metime. I mean the actual work of respecting your SELF, your mind, your body, and your soul. When interacting with others, when talking to yourself, take stock of where you are at. Give yourself the opportunity to be honest with how your body, mind and soul are doing. We are pretty amazing creatures, what we can do is astonishing, what we can go through and recover from is even more astonishing. Respect your life’s story, appreciate all the bits that made you who you are today, the good and the ugly. Maybe today isn’t the day you conquer your negative thoughts or feel super amazing about the skin your in, but tomorrow could be. Respect your journey, feel your feelings, take care of our vessel as best you can (you only get one) and do your best to feed your mind those positive vibes and energy whenever you can.
RuPaul has some famous words that I love, but I don’t know are 100% true. “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love someone else”. Sometimes we have a hard time loving ourselves, that doesn’t make us incapable of finding love in and for others. Sometimes it is that outside love, from family and friends, that can impact us and get us back on the path to loving ourselves. Caring for someone or something (pets or passion projects) can help keep us going when times are tough. So in the end, just love. Having love in your life, whether its romantic or not, is often considered to be a little thing, something easy. While that isn’t necessarily true, I hope you can find love and appreciate that it is a gift, and that it can fill you up when you’re running low. Take care of that love, with a phone call (video or regular), share a meal, write a letter, once this pandemic is over hug everyone! Find love, spread love, we could all use it.
So I think that’s it, my big important (by my own opinion of course) post about appreciating the little things, that took me 3 years to finish. I’m sure it’s still imperfect, which is just fine with me. I am also an ongoing work in progress. I have good days when I can appreciate all the hectic crazy that is life, and others when I just want to punch the people of the internet and scream for divine intervention to fix what I see as the madness of the world. I am trying to do the little things, to make it easier to appreciate the little things. Getting outside, taking a breath when my kid is driving me nuts, looking at it from a different perspective, knowing that friends and family are just a click away, but ultimately I can still have serious internal conversations and get clarity on my own when I need to. Knowing that now, I am rambling when I should just be ending this off with a nice concise sentence or two but continuing anyway. Okay, I checked myself there.
In this complicated world of billions, recognize the balance of big and little, find the good, share the love, respect yourself, and appreciate the little things, cause if you can’t do it after the crazy year we’ve had, you may never be able to. Just kidding, keep trying, you’ll get there. Peace out 2020!