Monday, March 31, 2008

Improg word: Small

I don’t know how Hayley does it. It’s been months since she sent me her envelope of words, but somehow almost every time I pull one out, it’s got a message that I need to hear on that particular day. A case in point is today’s word, small.

I have been in a funk for the last couple of days, ruminating, as I sometimes do, on the fact that the big things in my life are not really what I want them to be. If you know me well (that’s you, Hayley), you have some idea of what I’m talking about. If you don’t, suffice it to say that there’s quite a gap between my ideal life and the one I’m living.

When I get in one of these moods, I try to keep my perspective (instead of falling into the black hole of depression which has claimed too much of my time in the past) by reminding myself of two things. First, the challenges I face at this point in my life are very, very small compared to what probably 95% of the world’s population is experiencing. And second, most people could truthfully say that at least some major part of their life is not going quite as they’d like it to. That’s just life. And then I sigh a bit (a habit faithfully passed down among the women on my mother's side) and get on with my day.

When I unfolded the little slip of paper with Hayley’s word on it this morning, a third thing occurred to me. Concentrating on the big issues makes the gap between the life I would live if my fairy godmother ever showed up and the life I live in the real world seem huge. But if I look at the small things instead, I find that many of the details of my wishful-thinking life and my real life are the same.

And then I thought of a fourth thing (four thoughts in one morning—it must be that extra cup of tea I had). I already know that I can change some of the big things in my life that aren’t right and I can’t change others. Figuring out the changes I want to make is one of the goals of my Getting My Shit Together project, and so is making peace with the things I just have to deal with. Here’s the thing: how well I do both of these depends on my attitude, which in turn is heavily influenced by all the small things I experience every day. So, with this caffeine-inspired wisdom, I’m focusing today on the small things—the everyday things that make me feel happy or capable or confident.

Here are some of the good small things in my life:
  • hanging out with my kids

  • mail from a friend

  • talking to my brother and sister-in-law on the phone (this is not a hint, by the way, if either of you are reading this)

  • tea

  • chocolate

  • tea and chocolate at the same time

  • books (although the piles of books in our house are very large things)

  • yarn, fabric, buttons, thread

  • books about yarn, fabric, buttons, thread

  • my cats

  • crossing something off my to-do list

  • anything blooming in my garden

  • suddenly remembering that the Easter Bunny hid the extra jelly beans in my closet (it’s a good thing I’m typing this and not talking, because my teeth are stuck together right now)

  • sunshine after days of gloomy weather
There, in about two minutes I came up with more than a dozen small things that would make my day better even if my fairy godmother had sent me off to my perfect life in a magic pumpkin coach. With some more thought and another cup of tea, I could come up with dozens more. And they’re all things I have in my imperfect life right now (except for the jelly beans, which I've eaten).

What are the good small things in your life?


Hayley Townley, Breast Cancer Survivor Extraordinaire! said...

Your friendship is one of my prized possessions.

Mallu said...

- your blogs
- coffee
- sunshine
- postcards

Margerie said...

Oh Susan. If it makes you feel any better, there is no fairy-tale life. Nuh uh, no way does it exist. We humans must have angst or else we will be bored out of our minds. You are an editor- so edit woman! In all seriousness, I learned the hard way that some things aren't worth worrying about. For example, sure it would be great to have a healthy relationship with XYZ relative. But is is not going to happen. So edit that. Much better. Also have a "friend" that seems to have the fairy-tale life, but in reality it is a little shop of horrors.

Oh, back on topic, the little joys in my life:

* my kids' milestones (ok this is a big one)

* when my DH gets me lunch

* my pets (the stinkers and the big lugs)

* "my" birds (really the wild birds that I feed relentlessly so I can enjoy watching them)

* spring babies (birds, turkeys, squirrels, new blooms)

* hair long enough to blow into pictures I am taking- no wait that is you ;)

* remembering everything on the shopping list that I left at home

* the good parking spot

* little hugs

* blogging baby!

* online shopping- oh so convenient

* good friends (near and far)

So that is a wrap. Chin up Susan- you are wonderful!