04 Jan Happiness Touchstones (and a resolution to frequent them more)
Happy New Year everybody! I don’t need to tell you this Christmas was different from our typical celebration. We flew home to Pennsylvania for the Holidays, but it was a whirlwind trip, with parties and gatherings beginning almost as soon as we touched down in Scranton. Things slowed down a bit after Christmas, but then it was my birthday and New Year’s. After all my brothers and sisters had departed, we had to pack up and clean the house!
In the midst of my packing, I came across a list of “Happiness Touchstones.” I had made this list years ago, when I was working through the book The Artist’s Way. It’s a twelve-week course to help artists (in other words, all of us) recover our creativity. The course was invaluable to me. When I found my old list of touchstones last week, it was a sweet reminder to savor the little things. In the years since I originally wrote the list, my touchstones have changed a bit, so I’ll share my revised and updated list.
Coffee with Cream—my original list began with “Caramel Lattes.” They’re not a regular indulgence anymore. Instead, I’ve fallen in love with good-old coffee with half-and-half (no sugar, thank you). I’ve recently discovered caffeine is no longer my friend. Cue tears! I reluctantly switched to decaffeinated, and found that it still offers just the pick-me-up I need. Now, before you click away in disgust, let me emphasize the word reluctantly in the previous sentence. I LOVE coffee. However, I think I love the taste and the experience more than I love the caffeine buzz. Quality beans roasted to perfection make all the difference here.
Snowstorms—Who doesn’t love a good snowstorm? Well, I love them, anyway!
Turquoise—The color and the stone. Note the colors on this website. Ahem.
Skiing—I guess this goes with snowstorms. Skiing in a snowstorm is double the fun!
Music—My original list included a specific artist’s music. An artist I rarely listen to anymore, but I guess he was important to me at the time. Okay, if you must know it was Tom Chapin (Harry Chapin’s brother). I still like his music, but I haven’t listened to it for a while. Now I would say James Taylor, a lot of U2’s music, Third Day, and many worship songs make the list.
Cathedral of St. John the Divine—I love this beautiful, but unfinished, cathedral on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s where I first met Madeleine L’Engle. I found it to be a refuge in my uncertain young adulthood, the liturgy of the church drawing me into its arms and offering solace.
Anne of Green Gables—Though I love the books, I really love the Kevin Sullivan film. I need only pop in the DVD, press play, and I’m overcome with a sense of calm and beauty. It gives me all the feels.
New York City—I heart NY. That is all.
The Pinnacle in Autumn—If you’ve read my blog much, you know I love to hike. One of my favorite Pennsylvania destinations is the Pinnacle. It’s a beautiful spot on the Appalachian Trail, with a terrific view. In October, the fall foliage is at its peak, so we always try to go then. It holds fond memories for Todd and me, as we’ve been hiking it together almost every year since we became a couple.
Reading—There’s nothing like curling up with a good book. Cup of tea or coffee optional.
The Ocean—I knew I loved the ocean, but last month, while the fires raged and the smoke billowed out over the sea, the Pacific and I went a little bit deeper. I discovered something new in the pounding surf. Perhaps I’d known it before, but somewhere along the way I had forgotten. It’s good to be reacquainted, and to know I can indulge a little more often in the next six months.
Watching my kids play outside—This gives me joy unspeakable. And joy, as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, “is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” So, God’s presence lives in my running, smiling children. It’s true.
Swimming in natural water—I have a particular memory from this past summer. My friend Ariana and I were swimming across a lake early one Sunday morning, as we do. The fog gave way to rays of sunshine, and joy overflowed my soul. Once again. God’s presence. When I need a dose of joy and peace, I go back there in my mind.
Sitting on the beach reading or writing—The ocean again, or a lake. Any beach will do, as long as there’s sunshine involved. I love to walk in the sand, and swim in the sea, but I also like to sit my butt down and read a book or write in a journal.
Everybody’s making resolutions these days. I have some goals for 2018 of course, but I’m constantly reassessing and making new goals. My resolution is to touch these points of happiness, of joy, more regularly. Some of them even daily.
What are your happiness touchstones? Tell me in the comments.