Soften Instead

July 31, 2020

“I don’t know why it’s so hard to remember that our fears rarely materialize, and that in bracing ourselves for the impact, we create the impact. If only we could let go and soften our bodies, soften our minds, soften our expectations, whatever happens would be felt as a nudge rather than a crash.”


A Handful of Happy Things (Link Love)

July 24, 2020

I’ve spent more time than usual with my computer over the past months, and I have a handful of happy things to share today. So here goes:

I so much want to travel somewhere, but until I can I’m finding ways to visit places virtually. I’ve watched Will Greene’s time lapse video of Acadia National Park twice already—and I only discovered it yesterday!

A St. Petersburg, Florida couple is turning old newspaper boxes into little free libraries. Especially helpful when libraries are closed or offering limited services.

Scroll to the bottom of this post by Jen Louden for an explanation of why so many of us feel angry, and an exercise to “Prevent the Blast” when you feel like you’re about to snap.

You NEED to see this Squirrel Ninja Obstacle Course.

I feel like what David of raptitude.com writes in “Most Accomplishments Are Invisible” is even truer in July than it was in December when this post went live:

“So if you feel inadequate whenever some form of the ‘achievement Olympics’ comes up, don’t. We live in a society that assesses people by what their lives produce, not what it takes to live them. Inner work is ignored unless it explains some outer work.
“That says a lot about society, and nothing about you. Rest assured that many millions of us know the immense value of changing your inner world, or even just surviving it, because we’re doing it quietly alongside you. Most of what the human world accomplishes on any given day is very hard to see.
I wrote this piece for a local county’s visitor’s guide. Click here to see the entire downloadable guide. 
There’s a new baby giraffe at Busch Gardens in Tampa. I love giraffes!

Hope you have a safe and happy weekend!


Happy People and Hard Times

July 17, 2020

Photo by Hayley Maxwell on Unsplash
“Sometimes, life doesn’t just throw you lemons, it throws you grenades. Personal struggles, transition, illness, loss of loved ones—these are all unavoidable events that every single one of us will experience at some point on our journey. This fact can’t be ignored (as nice as it is to not think about it). Happy people aren’t exempt from hard times; they’re just armed with the foundation, outlook, and effective tools to help them navigate, survive, and heal successfully, as well as create the best possible outcomes.”
Kristi Ling, Operation Happiness

Simple pleasures

Better Late Than Never: The 2020 Summer Fun List

July 13, 2020

Photo by Vicko Mozara on Unsplash

I’ve had a hard time coming up with a Summer Fun List this summer. Nothing much seems like fun, to be honest. It’s doubtful that the places that I would normally seek out for fun this summer will be open, and if they are, I may not feel comfortable visiting them. I won’t be traveling to California to see my mom(s), I won’t be seeing any museum exhibitions or going to any baseball games, and I probably won’t even be wandering the aisles of my local library.

[insert crying emoji]

But summer isn’t cancelled, and neither is fun. Without being too ambitious, I want my remembering self to have something to look back on from this summer, aside from avoiding people and wearing a mask. 

When trying to come up with simple pleasures and everyday adventures to add to my summer fun list, I thought about what types of things would be fun without being too much like chores. I want my fun list to include:

  • Something to look forward to
  • Time to spend doing activities I love
  • Connecting with people I love
  • Doing something new or going someplace new—exploring
  • Eating and/or drinking something seasonal and delicious
  • Enjoying nostalgia
  • Learning something

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • Rewatch some favorite movies, starting with Romancing the Stone
  • Dust off our ice cream maker and make homemade ice cream
  • Institute an occasional aperitif ritual with my husband
  • Return to my sketchbook from France, and do more sketching and art journaling
  • Plan a staycation
  • Watch the sunset on the beach
  • Read from my summer reading list, heavy on books from my own shelves
  • Take part in a travel photo challenge on Facebook (almost complete)
  • Reconnect with friends and family via phone calls, emails, letters

Note: While many people rejoice in the chance to go outside during the summer months, the weather where I live is oppressively hot, humid, and unpleasant, so my list has very few outdoor activities on it. If you live in a kinder climate, Ingrid Fetell Lee’s “How to Find Joy in an Unconventional Summer” contains a multitude of outdoorsy summer fun ideas.

And that’s about all I can think of. And since summer is a typically low energy time for me (and it’s already mid-July!), I’m going to call that good for now.

What about you? Do you have any fun plans this summer? Do share in the comments!

Becoming Our Truest Selves

July 10, 2020

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

“What we perceive as limitations have the potential to become strengths greater than what we had when we were ‘normal’ or unbroken…. This is a philosophy that positions our toughest experiences not as barriers, but as doorways, and may be the key to us becoming our truest selves.”
—Nnedi Okorafor, Broken Places & Outer Spaces

4th of July

Opening the Gate to Joy

July 03, 2020

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Introduction by Ted Kooser: I was once on Deer Isle, Maine, on the Fourth of July, and attended their own town parade. Deer Isle isn’t big enough to mount a very long parade, so they ran it past us twice, first down to the water, and then back up. And we applauded as much with our second viewing as we did with the first. July 4th parades are a wonderful institution. And here’s a parade for you, by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, who lives in southwest Colorado.  Her newest book, Hush, has just been published by Middle Creek Press.

In the Fourth of July Parade

Right down the middle of main street
the woman with the long red braids
and fairy wings strapped to her back
rode a unicycle more than two times
taller than she was—rode it with balance
and grace, her arms stretched out,
as if swimming through gravity,
as if embracing space—her smile an invitation
to join in her bliss. How simple it is, really,
to make of ourselves a gate that swings open
to the joy that is. How simple, like tossing
candy in a parade, to share the key to the gate.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2019 by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, “In the Fourth of July Parade,” (2019 ). Poem reprinted by permission of Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. Introduction copyright © 2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and happy 4th of July!