You might think that this is a shameless excuse to share some pictures of one of my very favorite people in the world and, well, you might be right. But I will say that I learn from her every day, about what makes life special, and about what we can get out of it even when things aren't going our way.
So, without further ado, how to savor life . . . *
1. Don't be afraid to like what you like. (Yes, my daughter is giggling like a hyena over the half of bell pepper I let her gnaw on). It doesn't matter who laughs at you, or whether they take photos and post them online. What matters is that you know what you like, and that you aren't afraid to grab hold of it when you get the chance.
I know it's easy for me to forget about the everyday things that I love when life is hard, but I do that at the peril of my soul (hear me - not just of my momentary happiness, but of my soul). Even when all of life is rich and easy and full of joy, it's the little things I love that stand out and make each day special, not the big ones.
2. Try new things. After all, somebody just might be handing you a spatula of cookie dough! It might be scary and it might mean putting yourself out there in a new way, but trying new things will give you a sense of accomplishment, and just might lead you to more of those things that you love.
It's especially hard to find the energy to try something new when you feel like getting through daily life is kicking your butt. But being in a rut saps your energy, too, just in ways that you might not recognize immediately. If you find yourself hesitant to try something new, especially when you think you might like it, take some time to look into your heart and see what's going on there.
3. When you find something you love, hold on tight (it doesn't hurt to flirt with the camera a little, too). It might feel silly to expend energy on something "extra" when you're struggling to make it through each day, but persisting in those extras will help you remember why you love your life.
When I'm going through a hard spell, I find myself dropping even things that I love from my life. They take too much energy, or I don't think they'll give me enough joy to overcome the discouragement I feel, and so I just don't bother to do them. But then I find myself in a life with nothing that I love, nothing that looks like me. And so now I try to hold onto those things, to cups of tea and morning prayer and blogging, because they make life richer.
4. Embrace the mess! Life is messy; it just is. Even when things seem neat and tidy, it's just a mess waiting to happen (especially if you have a toddler!). We can hate the mess, and spend our lives fighting the inevitable, or we can embrace it as part of who we are, and find the things worth savoring in it.
When I'm struggling, I want to get rid of the mess. I want to throw it out, to make it go away, because then I feel like I'm in control of something, even if I can't control the larger circumstances that are making me unhappy. But the truth is that none of it is mine to control anyway, and my efforts to impose order will probably be interrupted by a small someone trying to impose chaos. Much better to live in the truth - that I control very little - and move on from there.
*This post feels a little "rah-rah" for me. But these are lessons I've learned, lessons I learn everyday, watching my girl live. Even when her teeth hurt and her nose is running and she's tripped and hit her head 3 times before noon, she savors the good things that come along. My heart wants to be like that, letting the bad go to the only One who can do anything about it, and wrapping my arms around the goods, big and small, the cross my path. That's what I hope for you, too.