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Small Pleasures

As many TGB readers noted on the posts I wrote about my cancer, small pleasures are closely related to the idea of living in the moment.

We usually develop an appreciation of such commonplaces throughout our lives but are so busy in our midyears that we hardly recognize their importance.

Nevertheless, they accumulate over time. Here are a few that never fail to please me.

Hot showers. Twice in my life, men I was dating thought it was a sexy idea to shower together. Hmmmph. They both suffered from the same malady: to me, what they called hot felt like jumping into a flowing river in January.

But alone, ahhhh - the hot, hot water pouring over my head and shoulders and down my body from above, perhaps just a tad too hot so that it becomes almost a meditation. It is sublime and best of all, I get to do it every day.

A great perk of being retired is snuggling in bed on a cold, winter morning. Even though in retirement there is nowhere I need to be, I still feel a little giddy, like I'm getting away with something, and the bed (why is this?) is never more comfortable than just before rising.

Cat watching. As much time as they spend sleeping (some say 17 hours a day), cats are busy little creatures when they are awake.

There is a lot of “laundry” to do keeping their fur groomed and if you pay attention you will see that they pause now and then to stare into space – as though the licking maybe makes them high.

Cats are especially fascinating when they don't know you're watching but even then, it's hard to catch them doing anything that isn't as graceful as a ballerina. Which is, of course, what make it so funny when they miscalculate a jump.

It's even funnier when they know you've caught them being ungainly and they try to pretend they planned it that way.

Full moon. For reasons I don't know, it seem more beautiful in winter than summer; I never tire of seeing a full moon etched against the dark sky on a cold, clear night – like someone hung it up there just for me.

What a pleasure it is to have a book you can't put down and strain to keep your eyes open while reading in bed at night, eager to find out what's next. Even better is looking forward to getting back to such a book later after you did fall asleep while reading.

Ice cream. Need I say more?

New-fallen snow early in the morning. I will quote myself on this one as I wrote it 12 years ago:

”Is there anything better than waking in winter to the special hush a new snowfall brings to the big city? It is different from silence. Listen carefully and you will find that the sound of the quiet can be heard, especially at dawn.

“It is irresistible then to bundle up in layers, pull on a fur hat and go out into the street just as the sky is turning from black to sapphire blue - and be the first on my block to make footprints, and even an angel, in the snow.”

That worked in New York City and I miss it now. We don't get enough snow in northwest Oregon to be able to hear the silence, and certainly not to make a snow angel.

The first crocuses. What you can take pleasure in in Oregon, however, are the first crocuses that surprise me every year when they peek their purple or white heads up when you think it's still too early for them to bloom. They always makes me smile.

Here is a little video dissertation I found on the importance of small pleasures.

When small pleasures really pay off, I think, is in our late years when natural decline or illness can prevent our grander pleasures, especially physical ones.

What are your favorite small pleasures?



Comments

Sharing a leisurely meal and talk with a long-time friend.

Having summer breakfasts on the terrace, 26 floors above the city, as the sun starts to rise. The gentle warmth on my face, wafting scents from the Hudson River, Riverside and Central Parks, life seems eternal. I am intoxicated by imagining endless possibilities for the rest of the day.

A full moon especially if there is someone to share it with, a sunrise over the ocean, sunset anywhere, bare feet on grass, a hug from my grandson, a favorite song on the radio, a piece of really good chocolate melting on my tongue. I think I could go on and on.

My bed just before rising in the morning.
Sitting on a stair, halfway up the stairs, chatting to my four year old grandchild.
Choc ices on sticks, feet up on the coffee table.
Being retired!

The smell of onions sauteing in butter. Ripe strawberries hitting the tip of the tongue. The emergence of the first delicate spring flowers. Birdsong at the crack of dawn. Wading in warm, gentle surf. Soaking in a warm tub while reading. I cannot imagine life without all its small pleasures.

I live in the desert, so a slice of cold watermelon on a hot summer day. Yes to really hot showers; even on a 118 degree day! The very sensual pleasure of climbing into a bed freshly made with sheets which have dried on a line outdoors; oh the delicious scent. Making others laugh. A rarity these days: a good night's sleep. A good book.

Watching the birds...on the bird feeder in my yard or on the lake I live on.
I never really noticed birds when I was younger, but now I really enjoy looking at them.

'Twas a small pleasure to read about your small pleasures

The feel of Hunky Husband's cheek when freshly shaved (and the scent of his after-shave) - The children, next door, jumping on their trampoline - The sound of a Carolina wren, as I lie abed, at day-break - "Discovering" a new author whose past 25 years have been spent writing a series of books that I may, now, sequentially devour - A cool shower on a hot day - Swimming laps as the lone occupant of the activity center's pool - Being asked to help the seminar presenter with a term of technical jargon that she can't pull out of memory (and being able to provide it!) - Solving a computer glitch - Waking up of a morning

Getting into a clean bed right after a shower. That feeling of running away when I begin a road trip. Really good dark chocolate.

Petting my dogs as we wake up in the morning. Taking a walk before the world wakes up and feeling as if I own the streets and sidewalks. Watching squirrels chase each other, and birds preen. The beauty and wonder of the first buds and flowers of spring. In certain weather, the variety and beauty of cloud formations. I could go on and on about so much wonder in our world. Never tire of it!

The rare chocolate milkshake made with real ice cream and the container it was made in, the deep belly laugh of my 18 month old grandson, the smell of a rose in the hot sunshine, the mist coming off the lake in the early morning, the trill of a songbird, and a squeeze of my hand by my husband.

Cutting a bouquet of my roses (many with a heavenly scent) for our enjoyment..and also sharing my roses with my friends. Wish I could give you a bunch of them when they start to bloom, Ronni.

Completing a collage, and, later, thinking about the artwork of fellow students when I'm driving home afterwards.

Hiking in nature and smelling the fresh air, and hearing the birds singing in the trees, so happy to be alive, or hearing the seagulls, and seeing the shore birds running in and out with the tide.

Wonderful topic to keep us "in the moment", really all we truly have. It's a gift to be in the moment; that's why it's called the present.

Ah, yes, the silence of new fallen snow. You can hear it before you even get out of bed in the morning. And it's all the more delightful for knowing you are retired and won't have to drive in it. -- Waking at your leisure instead of to a rude alarm clock. -- Long, very hot showers. -- The mountains, whether snowy, foggy, cloudy, or bathed in the glow of a sunset. I get a delightful little flutter of contentment inside whenever I look at them. -- Snuggling in a warm, soft bed while a thunderstorm rages outside. -- A steaming cup of coffee freshly made and waiting for me when I stumble into the kitchen every morning. The bliss of crawling into a cozy bed at the end of the day. (I know, lots of references to my bed. My parents called me "snoozin' Susan" when I was little!)

What a great post and I so enjoyed everyone's equally small but wonderful pleasures.

While playing cards ,getting the card I have been waiting for,hearing from someone I never expected and finding the right treat to take to a friend's get-together and also when something I predicted really happens. Above all,a beautiful painting at a museum I went to by pure chance.

The smell of rain on a summer's day, when it has just sprinkled from an overhead passing cloud.

The smell of ocean salt air on hot summer day with the anticipation of walking on the beach as the sun goes down.

The sound of ocean waves with the feel of the mist hitting you as you walk toward the setting sun.

A sunset in New Mexico with the smell of pinion pine in restaurant ovens.
The taste of a dinner of Santa Fe enchiladas with green sauce. The drive from Santa Fe to Taos.

Watching rain in the distance and you stand completely dry in the sun in New Mexico.

Okay, I now think I have to make plans for one last trip to New Mexico, where I left my heart 30 years ago.


What is it about chocolate? I see it on several lists. That's my go-to happiness as well. that cup of hot chocolate at about 11 am each morning; that hunk of good chocolate any time of day, and maybe just a touch of chocolate ice cream later on...

Ronni, everything on your list (with the exception of that snow - I'll enjoy that vicariously, thank you) is on mine as well.

I'll only add the joy of the freshness of my hillside after a rain with burgeoning, budding flowers in abundance.

Thank you for today's smile and a reminder to remember the very special things in life.

Oh yes fresh snow and the quiet and fresh air smell.

Fresh coffee perking, fresh bread baking.

Just a couple thoughts.

A surprise visit from an old friend, the first sip of freshly brewed coffee in the morning, the twitter of the birds happily singing their delight in the day, the wake-up to find that my Texas Ranger is in full lilac covered blooms after a rain.

A surprise bouquet from a loved one and a visit from an out-of-state good friend who will listen to my ramblings that have been pent up waiting for an audience.

Going to bed and discovering there are no pains to keep me awake.

Surviving another day without falling.

Retirement small pleasure - it's 3 pm and I'm still in my PJs.

A few weeks ago an unusual thing happened in Massachusetts! The sun was shining and it as 70%. I took myself outside and went for a walk in the sunshine. I still remember how good that felt and how well I slept that night. Can't wait for Spring to come.

Taking off on a road trip with GPS at the wheel.

Walking Ste. Catherine Street, Montreal with Mister GPS.

Sitting by the lake with mom.

Sharing stories about growing up in our big family.

Making mom laugh until she cries.

Sitting alone in my car watching the ice break up on the lake.

Walking and breakfast with my sister.

Listening to the "Crazy Heart" soundtrack on our recent road trip to South Padre Island, Texas. Songs matched the scenery.

Seeing a rabbit in my back yard.

The sound and sight of Canada Geese flying home in spring.

Having a long hot bath.

Watching my husband's choir sing "The Fields of Athenry."

Listening to Gladys Knight sing "You're the Best Thing that ever happened to me."

Watching my senior friend's reaction when I bring her Scottish strawberry jam.

Watching my mother's delighted smile today when I found her little church bird house sticking out of the snow. The plow knocked it off the hook. This will be the third time the bird house was rescued and re-built. Only thing missing is the roof. It's still under the snow, but not for long.

Reading Ronni's blog.

Making someone laugh.

Someone makes me laugh.

Laughter is good for the soul.

Thank you for writing this lovely post to help me realize my simple pleasures and read others.

I love reading in my sunroom when warm breezes waft through the screens.

I love seeing and hugging all my grandchildren and watching them interact with each other!

I love a piece of hot, buttered cornbread.

I love stepping into the hot tub after swimming.

I love winning a Scrabble game!

Rare though it is, I have little to add. The 3 C's: Cats, Coffee and Chocolate. (I also like TGB and hot baths.)

Sometimes after a good loll about in bed, I walk into the kitchen and am just thrilled by the morning light on the soft orange walls and cupboards. Plants starting to poke up through the soil and mulch at this time of year, biscuits just out of the oven, friends around my old dining room table, Orion floating in the night sky..............small, great joys are everywhere, always, when we are open to them. What a lovely topic!

Walking through the Farmers Market and admiring all the beautiful fresh produce and flowers. It really keeps me in touch with the changing seasons.

Sinking into a hot, hot, hot bath at night, preferably with some delicious bath oil scent wafting out of the tub.

Daffodils! (Just bought my first set from the grocery store)

Big yellow harvest moons, so heavy you think they can't possibly stay up there in the sky and will soon plop onto the horizon.

Mozart. Bach. Dvorak. Chopin.

Met Opera broadcasts: the joy! Oh the joy!

Rereading Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights and swooning all over again.

Making apple sauce in the fall with apples bought form the market.

And more.

I regret that I just can't express my simple pleasures so easily or poetically.
But, this is what I like to do routinely over and over in life.
Happy Hours and dining out with my wife.
Romance.
Listening to power rock 'n roll.
Planning Trips and tourism.
Endless hours watching financial and business shows on radio and TV.
Learning and speaking Spanish.
People watching and analysis.
I'm pretty machine like--so it seems--not overly into nature or showers.
How dull! I think I'm an interloper here.


Morning coffee while I sit outside with my iPad.
Putzing in my garden.
Listening to the birds outside.
A nice lunch or dinner with friends
Settling in my recliner for the evening for a little TV
Reading all my blogs I follow
The kitty of course

Life's best pleasures are the small ones

It is intoxicating reading all of these pleasures.

Let me add - sitting on the deck with a cup of freshly brewed coffee and my laptop watching the birds at the birdfeeder. Listening to the soft rustle of trees above me and the smells of the earth.

Being retired.

Ronni, thank you. Your post and the comments have made my day.

I'm not retired. Nor probably will ever be.

But, we have a small upstairs window that looks out to the back 4 acres and our neighbor's cows. Sometimes -near the treeline- there is a mama doe and her triplets (this year). If I time it right, I can see the sun just starting to rise, and the breath of the deer (when it's cold) as they munch on grass.

Then, any morning is joyful when I can see Pizza Dog trotting on the side of our country lane towards "Snappy's" little gas station/store to get his morning treat. The owner started this habit about 3 years ago, and Pizza Dog seldom misses a day. His trek time varies, but usually around 7:20 in the morning. Pizza Dog's real name is "Choncho", but most all the neighbors know him by his almost famous one. Sometimes I spot him coming back from Snappy's, his small round pizza in his mouth, prancing back home. We have a very busy back road and people drive far too fast. I worry about Pizza Dog, but he's survived this long.

I love when the weather turns warmer and the days are longer; KMay and I enjoy wine in the evenings on our back deck and watch the two rescue horses in our neighbor's pasture. "Mariah" and "Petra". Petra loves the apple horse treats we bring them, and he will nudge Mariah out of the way to be sure he gets the first nugget. Petra will come to the fence anytime we are out on the deck, I think he loves the old 60's music we play when we are out there. Mostly he loves treats, LOL.

We have beautiful red-tailed hawks, and in the spring you can hear them calling to their mates. We have about 8 bird feeders and we get so many visitors: cardinals, finches, sparrows, bluebirds, jaybirds, woodpeckers, doves, and of course, the pesky starlings sometimes. An occasional crow early in the morning.

My one hour commute to work each way is not pleasant, but we are enjoying being out in the country. Planning on having some sheep, maybe goats and chickens soon. We share the 8 acres and two houses with our daughter, son-in-law, and our 7 year-old granddaughter. She is a joy to us as well.

Thanks for helping us appreciate those small pleasures even more.

In a life far away I remember experiencing the quiet of the early morning and the pleasure of that first cup of coffee along with the first cigarette of the day sitting on the porch swing looking across the lake as the sun came up.

Today one of my small pleasures is returning to the United States after having been away for an extended length of time. I can easily read all the signs and understand what everyone is saying.

Hearing my grandchild say Gramma for the first time when it comes out as "bah gah"!

A winter sunset. The colors are so vivid.

Yes, a hot shower! And, a hot bath. A hot lavender bath with epsom salts.

Sleeping in my bed the day I washed the sheets, blankets and pillowcases. I do this every week and it never fails to fill me with gratitude.

An afternoon spent reading and drinking tea.

My vegetable garden. I always feel like time stands still when I garden.

Scented soaps. I buy scented vegetable based soaps from Italy at TJ Maxx. They are truly a small pleasure.

A tall cold glass of water with a wedge of lemon first thing in the morning.

Walking anywhere where there are a lot of trees. Trees are so quiet and so majestic.

This was fun! Thank you Ronni!


After watching my husband, Dick, slowly spiral downhill from the effects of an aneurysm, Parkinson's and then as an added bonus Lewy Body Dementia, I may not have gained the lesson of patience from his disabilities, but in retrospect have learned gratitude for even the smallest of pleasures. I never get out of bed in the morning without being grateful and thanking my God for the ability to get out of bed, put one foot in front of the other and go to the bathroom to pee on my own. Other small pleasures include going to bed and getting up when I want to, being able to watch mysteries and read books and understand the plots, loving the independence of being alone and enjoying every moment of it, and, of course, all of the above comments from others concerning nature, the first cup of coffee in the morning, my garden in the summer, my children, grandchildren and greats....laughter, colors, doing my art projects, looking forward to this blog and could especially relate to Victoria's comment on being out of the country and being able to finally read signs and understand what people are saying! So grateful for all of the innumerable small pleasures every moment that surprise me daily.

Pretty much everything listed above.

Hubby and I, and the 14 lb. terrier-mix love muffin who joined our household in October enjoyed a walk in 8 or 9 inches of fresh snow at midnight last week. The dog loved jumping in the piles, and we loved walking in the post-snowfall silence, in the middle of the streets.

Howling like wolves with above mentioned love muffin.

Dog training with that love muffin. He is so eager to please and loves to learn new skills.

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