As much as I love a fresh start, this time of year can also get a little discouraging. We don’t have the cold and gloom here in Phoenix that much of the world fights during January, for which I am oh-so-grateful. There are, however, some other things going on in my life that are stressing me out just a little. I know everything will eventually fall into place, but the immediate outlook is not too rosy.
When I am feeling overly stressed, it is easy for me to start counting things in my life that are going wrong. Pretty soon, a whole list of grievances is at my fingertips, quickly leading to overwhelm and increased discontent.
That, my friends, is not the path I want to take right now. Counting blessings is infinitely more productive than counting stressors, so I have put together a list of five little things that are making me happy right now.
Because it is approximately one million degrees here during the summer…and late spring…and fall, I spend a lot of time in shorts, breezy skirts, and sandals. But I am a jeans girl at heart because I am all about effortless style.
Now that winter has arrived in all of its 70-degree grandeur, I reach for one of my two favorite pairs of jeans 99% of the time. They match everything and can be dressed up or down depending on my mood. And the best part is that nobody can even tell when I wear the same pair for three days in a row without washing them. Looking put together while doing less laundry is happiness personified.
Also, I can totally wear UGG boots when it is 70 degrees outside. I gotta take what “cold” I can get in this desert!
I enjoy hiking all year round, but it is infinitely more pleasant in the winter when the weather is downright beautiful in these parts. Hitting the trail is my favorite form of exercise, mostly because I usually go with a friend. There is something about sunshine, movement, crisp air, and good company that feels more like therapy than exercise.
The friend who has been hiking with me once or twice a week for the past two years has kids who are almost the same ages as mine. As a result, we are dealing with very similar issues. The trail has become a safe place to share unfiltered struggles, heartaches, joy, perspective, loads of empathy, and tidbits of advice. The time I spend there leaves me feeling refreshed, understood, and ready to tackle the world. It is always one of the highlights of my week.
3. The Greatest Showman
Have you seen it yet? If not, you simply MUST! It was hands down my favorite show of the year. It might even be my favorite show of the decade.
I will admit that I went in skeptical because I wasn’t all that impressed with the preview. But I LOVED it so much that I went back to watch it a second time in the theatre, which I rarely do, and I would go back again and again in a heartbeat.
Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, and Zendaya beautifully portray the story of the visionary P.T. Barnum, founder of the Barnum circus, and his rise from poverty to success. The incredible music and dancing combined with numerous themes that I cannot stop thinking about make the whole package so much FUN. We have been playing the soundtrack on repeat for two weeks, and I cannot get enough of it.
One of the best parts is that it is CLEAN and appropriate for the whole family. That combination is hard to find these days outside of animated movies. My kids all loved it, as well. Do yourself a favor and hit the theatre to see this spectacular show. I promise you won’t regret it!
Last Saturday, my family went to help with an Eagle Scout project while I volunteered to stay home and clean the entire house by myself. The kids were more than happy to hand me their chores for the day, and I could not wait to do a post-holiday cleanup.
While spending six hours cleaning is not usually my idea of a good time, I enjoyed it immensely because I didn’t have to listen to the kids’ music choices while I worked. Instead, I had six hours of uninterrupted podcast listening. It reminded me of how much I LOVE podcasts. Some are inspiring, others educational, and sometimes, they are just downright fun.
A few of my current favorites are:
1. Sorta Awesome with Meg Teitz
Meg and her co-hosts are thoughtful, funny, and engaging. Their goal is “for listeners to feel encouraged, empowered and excited to find the awesome in the everyday.”
Whether exploring the deep or the seemingly simple, listening makes me feel like I am talking to a good friend.
Jen is warm and hilarious! I often feel like we are soul sisters. While I don’t agree with all of her ideas on Christianity, so many of her thoughts speak to me on a deep level. Plus, she makes me laugh, and I will not say no to hilarity!
I especially enjoyed this episode with Brené Brown.
3. This episode of Death, Sex, and Money
It explores the dark reality of student loans, and what people don’t want to say about them. It had me thinking for days. (P.S. We have a lot of student loan debt. Dental school…)
Love her or hate her, Oprah is very good at what she does. I never really got into her TV show, but I listened to a couple of episodes of her podcast while I was cleaning, and I found all of them quite inspiring. Check out the episode with Jack Canfield about fulfilling your soul’s purpose. That one spoke right to my heart.
5. Weekly letters from my missionary
My favorite part of Christmas this year was a one-hour Skype call with my son, who is serving a two-year mission in Hawaii. Hearing his voice and seeing his JOY was the best present of all.
Because I only get to talk to him twice a year, on Christmas and Mother’s Day, his weekly emails are a HUGE source of joy for me. They remind me of why this experience is exactly what he needs. A quote from his most recent letter sums it up nicely:
“As I am sacrificing my time for two years on a mission, I am truly finding myself.”
I don’t know what more a mama could ask.
Simple pleasures can sometimes make a big difference in perspective. With a little effort, they can help turn stress into joy.
What is making you happy? Tell me about it in the comments section.