My Sunshine List

Every once in a while I have to pause . . . I have to slow down . . . I have to breathe deeply.  Every once in a while I have to close my eyes to the world’s many injustices before they consume my spirit and close my ears to all the negativity surrounding me before it steals my very soul.

And every once in a while I have to remind myself to be joyous and grateful.  I wish I didn’t need such reminders–I wish pulses of profound joy were always coursing through the inner workings of my heart, and I wish expressions of gratitude were always leaping instinctively from my lips.  That is as it should be–but that is not how it is.  Despite my periodic, stubborn attempts to prove otherwise, I have no superhuman powers, and my oh-so-human frailties–every once in a while–get the better of me.

But not this morning . . . at least, not for these brief, quiet moments before the sun rises and the day’s worries come knocking on my door.  Before then, let me reflect and give thanks for all that is beautiful and right and good in my life.

This Morning’s Sunshine List:

  • loving my little seventh graders who have yet to realize that talking to the principal in the hallway and waving to her from the bus window isn’t cool–and loving even more those few older students who know it isn’t cool but have enough self-confidence to do it anyway.
  • sleeping under an open window and awakening in the middle of the night to the howl of coyotes in the stillness of a full moon.
  • being asked my opinion and knowing that it was valued.
  • remembering to pay my electric bill the day before it is due instead of the day after (and incurring a frustrating fine).
  • arriving home at the end of a long day and finding a box from Barnes and Noble waiting on my doorstep.
  • trying a new recipe and realizing after the first, mouth-watering bite that it will become a frequent addition to my cooking repertoire.
  • being dazzled by burnished reds and golds glinting in the afternoon sun.
  • listening to the roar of tree frogs at sundown.
  • munching on almonds coated in dark chocolate and knowing their crunchy sweetness is good for me.
  • being introduced to the poetry of Pablo Neruda by a friend and having sleeping passions awakened by its radiant imagery and intense challenges.
  • shopping for smaller sizes . . . and smaller still.
  • knowing that, despite occasional outward appearances and actions seemingly to the contrary, I am a kind person with a giving heart.
  • slipping an age-softened sweatshirt over my head and feeling its warm coziness enveloping me.
  • spotting the season’s first tarantulas skittering across the highway and wondering where they have been and where they are going.
  • remembering a snippet of conversation that made me laugh in delight–and then laughing once more at the memory.
  • painting ten little fingernails and ten little toenails without a single, smudgy do-over.
  • inhaling the spicy aroma of the season’s first pot of chili simmering on the stove.
  • enjoying the company of teachers who show up in my office at the end of the day with no other purpose than to make me smile.
  • getting a massage so relaxing, so gloriously mind-numbing that I doze off in the middle of it.
  • knowing that the people who really, really annoy me are few in number (and are usually loud enough that I can hear them coming in time to dodge their approach).
  • believing in the promise of friends I have yet to meet in places I have yet to visit.
  • soaking in a whirlpool until my aching muscles are pounded into wobbly submission and then sinking chin-deep into fragrant bubbles that dissolve all my cares.
  • realizing that the people in my inner circles will usually forgive me for my random, maddening bouts of insecurity and uncertainty.
  • sleeping until the alarm sounds (such a rare occurrence).
  • having three sons who are so talented and creative and brilliant that I am often in awe of their abilities (and so incredibly proud).
  • attending a local fall festival just for the pleasure of re-uniting with former students.
  • roasting hot dogs on a sharpened stick over a blazing bonfire.
  • spending an entire weekend cleaning house–and still enjoying its relative cleanliness several days later.
  • experiencing the exhilaration of a physical challenge met and exceeded when such a task seemed impossible only weeks before.

I have more–so much more–goodness and beauty and joy in my life, but just for today, if I can remember to be grateful for these few simple pleasures, I can be content.  And, just for today, I can be happy.  Maybe–just maybe–I can share a little of that happiness with those around me.  My sunshine and I are knocking on your door (and we know you’re in there!)–will you let us in?

What is on your Sunshine List today?

About icedteawithlemon

I have recently retired from a 30-year career in education in one of the best school districts in the world. I hope to spend my second life reading, writing, photographing, traveling, biking, cheering on my favorite baseball team (the St. Louis Cardinals), and soaking up glorious sunshine. In my spare time I enjoy playing with my pet tarantulas, trying out new flavors of chewing gum, and knitting socks for prison inmates. I'm almost positive that in a past life I was one of the Seven Dwarfs (most likely "Grumpy"), and in my next life I'm going to be either a taste tester for Hershey's or a model for Victoria's Secret's new line, "Bloomers for Boomers." I want to travel country back roads, singing Vanilla Ice songs at every karaoke bar and rating bathroom cleanliness at every truckstop. And someday I plan to own a private beach where skinny girls aren't allowed. I want to be a writer when I grow up. "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."--Henry David Thoreau
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17 Responses to My Sunshine List

  1. Miles Long says:

    Excellent! And yay!! for poetry and chili…. or Chilean Poets.

  2. beth rodgers says:

    some of my best days at work come after driving down highway w on my way in. The freshly paved road is such a pleasure to drive on. And the scenery doesn’t get more beautiful. I envy you riding your bike down the road.

    • How funny, Beth … I came very close to adding “coasting and cruising down freshly asphalted pavement” to my list (I think I only left it out because I forgot!). It is beautiful scenery–I love the hill at Locust Road with the few trees standing at the summit, and I love my evening bike rides when I can see the lake peeking through the trees! If we try to be more conscious of the beauty around us, it makes the drudgery easier to tolerate!

  3. KathyValentine says:

    I am thinking: Your Best Post, though we love them all and I am wishing I could put my thoughts into words just half as perfectly as you do.

  4. Becky says:

    All a person has to do is take the time, they will see the kind and giving heart. I get to work with her!!

  5. emjayandthem says:

    So many things on your list resonated with me, too.
    Crisp autumn air, living 1/4 mile from a 100 year old orchard, friendship, leftovers, romance, football season and all the cozy fall smells and flavors – apples, chili and stew :).
    Wonderful to take the time and reflect on all there is to be grateful for .. and there’s a lot 🙂

    • There certainly is. This has been a common theme among my blog posts (I think this is the third or fourth list I’ve compiled on the topic of gratitude), and it’s amazing to me how much I really do have to be grateful for when I just take the time to pause and reflect.

  6. bronxboy55 says:

    Beautiful post, Iced Tea. I grow more grateful all the time for the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made through blogging. It’s renewed my faith in a lot of things. And you’ve certainly been a part of that. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much–and right back at you! I am grateful for the day I found YOUR blog, and I am grateful for the inspiration it frequently provides. In fact, I have referred a few friends to your site–friends who are starting to write and share their own thoughts–and have told them to read everything there because THIS is good writing–THIS is what you should be striving toward! (And, as a side note, I think I grow more grateful as I grow older–I don’t know if it’s because I am simply more appreciative or if it’s because I finally have the time to “pause and reflect” now that my every moment isn’t being consumed by the raising of children!)

  7. Jabet says:

    I love dark chocolate-covered almonds, too! Do you get them at the Truck Patch? Yum. Great post, as always! You look fantastic!

    • No, actually, Wal-Mart is now carrying them–I get a BIG bag (Diamond brand) that lasts a couple weeks. They’re not dipped in chocolate–more like powdered–so the calorie count is much lower. Thanks for the compliments (especially that “You look fantastic!” one–nice little ego booster!).

  8. Jabet says:

    Ohhhh, I have some of those, too! I buy those at Sam’s – the cocoa dusted almonds. But, the Truck Patch in Mtn. Home has dark chocolate-covered almonds… and. they. are. delicious.

  9. Kathy says:

    “Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Hugging those students who pull on your heartstrings…listening to my rants and laughing at my pranks that are sometimes at your own expense. You bring sunshine into many lives everyday. Karen-you are a precious, priceless gift. I’m so glad that I call you a friend!

    • Oh my, goodness … thank you, sweet lady. I will always be ready to listen to your rants, and as for your pranks … I enjoy a good laugh, even when the laugh is at my expense (but you do realize, I’m sure, that revenge is sweet!). As for my little heartstring-puller, today he hugged me so hard that I’m pretty sure he bruised my ribs … but I loved it anyway, and before the year is over he may rid me of my qualms about physical contact! Thank you, really.

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