A Few of my Favorite Things

The days are short, and the long nights are dark and cold…a time when it is important to be vigilant about things that are in contrast to the dreariness of life. Tomorrow is “So-Low-Down-is-Up” Day. These are a few of my favorite things that have brought brightness to my days:

  • Chai tea…something about the boiling of the water, getting the milk out, pulling the mug down out of the cupboard, holding the warm cup in my hands…the familiar ritual of making tea is comforting and reassuring in a day that will hold unforeseen questions and conversation that will be intense.
  • Things that make me laugh…I love this picture emailed to me from a friend…after I read the caption at the bottom.


  • Humorous pictures are a way to cope and find joy in a life that can be stressful and anxious.

“Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after two days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever. Great stories. But two things made me take it down.
First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by.

Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn’t realize that it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of the many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn’t take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard.”

People playing as families–I was running by the river yesterday
and there was a family out on the river…some space had already been cleared off
and the children were playing, skating around.A grownup was shoveling the space bigger…it was magical watching them through the snow
covered trees, it was a picture-postcard-perfect scene.

  • Watching families love each other…saw photos of a weekend getaway a friend of mine and her daughter took on facebook.They posted a pile of photos of a weekend getaway to the ocean (living in California affords them opportunities most of us only dream of). They took pictures of haiku poems they wrote together in the sand, they experimented with taking photos of their silouettes, other pictures leaping in the air with the ocean in the background. It seemed a rich time of reconnecting with the return of the daughter after a semester away at school—silliness, laughter, contemplation, sweet time with each other. Pictures clearly show a wonderful time. Their creation of a heart:
  • Mother and daughter reconnect after a time apart, enjoying and celebrating each other.
  • I was in the center court of Polo Park mall the other day and there was a family of four children…wearing bright red T-shirts that were Seussish—the oldest one had “Thing 1” on his shirt, the next “Thing 2” and so on—VERY cute.They were arranged for a picture with Santa. “Thing 4”, the littlest, was an adorable girl of about 3 who was clearly terrified of this rotund hairy creature dressed in red.Mom pulled her aside and spoke gently into her ear for a moment..and the child, still clearly very frightened, sat on Santa’s footstool—holding her mother’s hand, the mom who was straining to be out of the picture but sustaining contact with her daughter.I loved that picture of the child working hard to stay in a difficult situation, being supported and connected enough with her mother to tolerate the time it took for the photo. Mom was there for her, supporting and encouraging her, helping her to risk trying something new. It was a beautiful moment of maternal support.
  • The section in the Free Press: Random Acts of Kindness…every Saturday.In a world that has a paper full of tragedy, scandals, crime…it’s heartwarming to see that meaningful good is being done…and there are some that take the time to write in to let us know about it. One sample:


Last month during our unusual warm November spell, I happened to stop at a bank on Pembina Highway to do a transaction. Upon pulling up to the bank, I noticed a man sitting on a bench near the bank’s entrance. It was about 8:30 p.m. and quite dark outside, but the temperature was still quite pleasant. I could see his profile in the glow of the streetlight. He was unkempt and his clothes were dirty. I realized that I had seen him before, walking around this end of town during the last few months. He is often wearing a big army parka and carrying a bundle of his possessions.

I finished my bank business and got into my vehicle. I noticed a car pulling up beside me with a woman and a teenage girl inside. The girl got out of the car carrying a Dairy Queen blizzard. She slowly walked up to the man, said something to him and handed him the blizzard. He seemed to say something back to her to which she nodded and then she left.

I figured the woman and the girl had perhaps come to the bank earlier, seen the destitute man and decided to do something special for him. It was just heartwarming to see this kind gesture initiated by these two individuals.

I witnessed a great lesson that there are many caring people left in this world.

— Paul Bilodeau

  • My heatable rice bag…An early Christmas gift handsewn with love by my mom. It’s rare that I am comfortably warm in winter. It’s cold outside, and heading out in the mornings for work is something that is easier to do with a warm bundle of goodness…I hold it in my lap and take turns warming my hands while I drive.At night, it finds itself at the bottom of my bed several minutes before I crawl in…the prewarmed sheets make falling asleep infinitely easier.
    • Adults need to find moments of playfulness and joy as part of living a rounded life.

    I was out this evening skating on an outdoor rink at the local community club under the lights. I have to admit that I wasn’t much looking forward to it…I’m not on skates enough to be confident, and outdoor skating is…well…it’s outdoors.

    But the night was beautiful, I had my warm rice bag in my sweatshirt pocket (of course)–and

    It. Was. Incredible.

    I remember what it was like to be on the ice as a kid. In fact, I was told I skate like a toddler…wide base, bent knees and arms out. It was fun…pure fun.

    I had forgotten what it is like to be a kid. Today I was reminded. And it was good.


Life isn’t just about fun–I get that. Life can be difficult and challenging. It has it’s moments. But moments can bring sparks of joy and remind us of what makes life worth living. No, not just worth living, but celebrating jubilantly. Watching beauty in families, in nature, in fun–they are stored as memories inside of me.

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