I love this week’s blog and hope it will inspire you to try a few of the suggestions or put together your own list to create more joy in your everyday.
But first, a few stories to share that inspired this week’s content…
I’ve been in Northern Wisconsin the past week and Tuesday I popped over to the grocery store thinking the place would be empty after the Labor Day weekend. What I found were instead the longest lines I have ever seen… and only three lanes open. If this would have been five years ago, I would have either:
- Hopped on my phone to check out social media.
- Complained to myself or to the person behind me.
This time, however, I chose to walk the walk and use this time to just be present… and I am so glad I did because if I had done any of the three above, I wouldn’t have seen the person right in front of me. It was a woman who owns a well-known resort that is no longer in operation but for years even after the resort closed down, she had the most beautiful shop within the main lodge. Furniture, dishes, jewelry, paintings, etc. Just beautiful things but as we talked I mentioned to her it was more the experience of going there than anything else. She looked at me and said “the music, the candles burning, the ambiance… that was what it was about!”
Now isn’t this true? Walking into her place all five senses were lit up… the beautiful view of the lake, the comforting scent of the candles, the delicious candy she had out for customers, the relaxing music, and soft fabrics of the blankets and clothes. It was a reminder to me that we all have the power to create this experience for ourselves every day in our own homes and offices.
As we bid farewell, I smiled at the frazzled checkout woman. She replied with a not so nice cross between a snarl and a frown. Rather than get annoyed as I used to, I instead stepped into compassion. “Rough day?” I asked. Immediately, her shoulders sunk and she said: “I am so sorry… we thought the tourists would all be gone by now but they decided to stay… and several colleagues called in sick today…and I am exhausted.” We continued to talk and she thanked me for letting her vent and for not reacting to her initial vibe towards me. As I walked away I thought about how most often our surface reaction simply shields inner overwhelm and sometimes it just takes a little kindness toward ourselves (and others!) to step out of that space.
Lots of lessons just from one little snapshot in time in line at a store… who knew?
Next, I ventured over to the new coffee shop/bistro I had heard about in town. Well, the minute I walked in I realized this was clearly not your run of the mill coffee shop. Once again, from the minute I opened the door, I heard Frank Sinatra playing, smelled the Irish scones baking, and was doing an inner squeal of delight as I looked around at the beautiful tea sets, comfortable furniture, and overall special touches. I felt like I was in one of Louise Penney’s books walking into the famous bistro.. with a little bit of the Anne of Green Gables essence thrown in. Needless to say, I was in heaven.
As I sat there eating my tomato bisque soup along with the radish and cucumber sandwich, I realized the deliciousness of the entire morning had elevated my spirit. I just sat there in pure joy… and I didn’t have to travel anywhere, spend a ton of money, or being constantly “doing” anything to get to this place of contentment. It was the aftereffect of experiencing simple pleasures.
Sometimes do you forget the power of these lingering little sparks of joy that invite us in to experience not only serenity but hope… I know I do.
Friends laugh how I iron my pillowcases AND put lavender essential oil in the iron for steaming. I thought I was a rarity… until I moved into my condo building downtown. Did you know that some people (maybe you?!) send their entire set of sheets out to the cleaners EVERY WEEK? I was surprised… then envious!
Now some people might think this is a waste of money but I say “Live and Let Live!” Everyone finds value in different things and that’s just fine. For some buying a latte every day at Starbucks make them feel cozy… while others prefer fresh flower once a week.
The key is figuring out what simple pleasure makes YOUR heart sing… and then making no excuses to anyone about diving into them.
So for this week, I’d love to share 20 simple ideas to create more happiness in your every day that I love and ones I’ve learned from clients:
- Essential oil diffuser. Ok, this is a biggie. I love love love my diffuser. For the past few weeks it’s been the lemongrass essential oil… other times it’s lavender or rose. Birdie loves it (hey her own vet has it in the exam rooms!) and I do too. Young Living or Doterra are two of my favorite lines.
- Spa channel on Pandora: Team this up with #1 and you’ve got your own in-home spa ambiance.
- Soft throw blankets: Don’t underestimate the amount of self-care a soft blanket can evoke on a rainy day… and Mom are you listening to this one? Quit giving all the cozy blankets to the dogs! Seriously! 🙂
- Fresh flowers: I like to buy Bells of Ireland because they last for a super long time. Check out farmers market for beautiful arrangements for a fraction of grocery store prices.
- Fresh sheets: Enough said…and just try ironing your pillowcases… with a few drops of lavender oil in the steamer portion of the iron… I promise you it will change your life 🙂
- Lay outfits out the night before: If you were like me, you loved laying out your clothes before school. Why did I ever stop doing this?? I am going to implement this one this week. It saves time the next morning….and I bet people will notice the effort you put in.
- Open up your own spa: Turn your bathroom into a spa with different essential oils, Epsom salt, and bubbles. I’ve moved away from spending money on facials, pedicures, and manicures as I do it all in my “Spa by Meg.” P.S. Here is my favorite Epsom salt. I swear it’s the same scent they blast through the vents at the Westin Hotels! It’s the matcha green tea.
- Be kind when someone is rude… because you never know what just happened to them five minutes ago.
- Use cloth napkins… and here I go again… iron them! I have found the nicest linens at estate sales at a fraction of the cost.. and this way I don’t feel bad if the stains don’t come out! P.S. you really don’t have to iron them… but I highly recommend it 🙂
- Hold the door open for someone. This feels as though it’s becoming a lost art.. and so easy to do. Just like smiling at someone for no reason in particular. You just do it because that is who you want to be in this world.
- Quit saving anything for “someday special.” This means your clothes, jewelry, dishes, etc. Today is actually the most special thing you hold right now.
- Let someone merge in front of you on the highway… and if someone lets you do it give them a thank you wave in the rear view mirror. Again, it’s the little things!
- Go to the movies. Some places have super-reduced rates for morning or mid-day flicks… and you’ll have the entire place to yourself!
- Shine your shoes. This is one I am going to do. I have the shoe shine products and never use them! A good friend always says “your shoes and your hands are the two things on your body that you actually look at during the day… so why not make them the best they can be?”
- Get your clothes tailored… from a good tailor!
- Try floating. Have you heard of this? I did it with a few girlfriends a few weeks ago. You float in a warm bath in a huge pod with the lights off, soft music playing and I believe 900 pounds of salt! Each of us had our own rooms and one of them fell asleep, the other couldn’t wait to get out as it was 60 minutes… but we all agreed that the after-effects were unbelievable. I had the best nights sleep for 3-4 days after the float… and seriously felt like someone had given me a “feel good” tranquilizer. For any anxiety types out there I highly recommend it. If you’re in Milwaukee, try this place: Float Milwaukee.
- Go to an amusement park. One of my friends exudes happiness. Maybe it’s because she’s a yoga teacher or maybe it’s because she has an annual pass to Six Flags Great America! Bring out the kid in you and try this one. Oh and p.s. If you are in Wisconsin Rapids and love yoga, grab on to some of her joy at one of her classes: Rejuvenate with Yoga.
- Consignment stores in person or online. I’ve decorated almost my entire place with great finds from estate sales and consignment stores… and I’ve sold several things online as well. My favorite online store is this one: TheRealReal
- Bake or cook for your friends. I love doing this because it’s an act of self love AND love for others. My favorite brownie recipe is a vegan black bean recipe… don’t tell anyone what is in it until after they eat it! You will be amazed at how delicious it is.
- Engage in your community. Google your area for seasonal festivals, concerts, sports games, farmers markets, and cultural events. Even if you are in a small town like my hometown, there is always something to do. Sometimes I prefer smaller towns as there isn’t the “event overload” that happens when you have free time on the weekends. My point is… no matter what the size of the city you live in or where you reside, there are opportunities and possibilities… and if there aren’t, then that is your queue to create them!
So there you go. I find it helpful to remind myself that time is the most valuable resource. How you spend it and who you spend it with really defines your life. How we do one thing, is how we do everything. So choose to step into life through the lens of awe and appreciation and let the magic and mysticism of life envelope you with love.
I’ll leave you with this quote from the author of Let Your Life Speak.
“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.”
― Parker Palmer
See you soon,