My life has been crazy chaotic lately. There were days last week when I’d leave the house at 6:30am and not get back til after ten at night. I’ve tried fitting in a full work schedule and a full social calendar and I have gotten completely burnt out. Time management has never been my strong point.
At a particularly low point this week, when I was feeling exhausted and overwhelmed and a little too negative, I decided that something’s gotta give. So I quit my Thai class, which significantly freed up my weeknights. And I decided to start adding a little positivity to my life.
I started keeping a journal of little joys. Anything that adds joy to my life or makes me smile gets jotted down in a book, and then when I start to feel frazzled and overwhelmed and negative, I open the book, and remember just how lovely life really is.
Here are a couple things this week that have brought me joy:
* The change in light as the seasons shift. It used to be light long before I’d leave for work, but now as I drive, the sun is a giant globe of hazy yellow just beginning to lift its head above the horizon.
In the final minutes of my morning commute I drive past a rice field near my school. This week especially, the beauty of it has struck me as I’ve reveled in the soft golden light sparsing through the last remnants of fog rising from the yellow rice plants. There is something so comforting about the look of the morning fog, so consistently familiar no matter where in the world you happen to be. I used to feel the same sense of sublime beauty as I watched the fog rise from the valley below the monastery I lived in in Italy that wafted past our windows during class. I felt the same sense of peace when tara and I walked through the fog filled mountain trails in our early mornings on El Camino de Santiago in Spain. Each time I see it, it’s like the same feeling of magic I felt when I looked at clouds as a child and imagined what it would be like to live in them.
* Late nights spent with dear friends. My coworker Eddie left for America this week, and before he departed, we spent one final evening with some friends drinking kava. It was one of those blissfully simple nights, filled with heartfelt conversations and a sense of gratitude at being surrounded by such impactful people. I often take my friendships for granted, and forget how rare good connections can be. This week I have been reminded how insanely lucky I am to have such incredible people in my life, both in Chiang Mai and in any of the other 15 places I’ve spent my life. Locations change, but the loveliness of people’s hearts often does not.
* The hilarity of taking 11 toddlers to an aquarium. This was one of those mixed bags of joy and extreme stress (you try keeping track of 11 two year olds in dark underwater tunnels…) but it was a lot of fun. Two year olds are such wonderful little people. Everything is so new and exciting to them and they are so passionate about discovering the world. It’s a nice change from adults who are often a little numb to life’s simple pleasures. Like seeing a sting ray for the first time and absolutely freaking out about it
* Reunited friendships. This weekend I flew down to Bangkok to see my friend Emmett, who I met in Chiang Mai during the CELTA. He’s been teaching here since the spring, while I’ve been in Chiang Mai. We decided it had been long enough since we hung out, so I popped down for the weekend to see him. We did a whole lot of wandering around the city, going out with friends, and exploring temples and markets, but the best part of the weekend has definitely been the comfort of being able to do absolutely nothing in the company of a hilarious friend who also enjoys drinking smoothies and watching Netflix and avoiding the sticky heat outside at all costs. Every once in a while, a little laziness can do a world of good. It’s the little things. Though for the record, Bangkok is the worst. Skip it and come to Chiang Mai.
A hundred things have brought me joy this week. A hundred more have brought me anxiety. The trick is to remember the good things and forget about the things that suck. That’s all optimism is I think, trying to think of the good over the bad. And there’s a hell of a lot of good in my life. ❤️
So here’s to foggy mornings, and good friends, afternoons of piano and practicing for band gigs, the smell of coffee on weekend mornings, finding baby snails inching along the sidewalk, the sound of the the birds’ morning crescendos, late nights with strong cocktails, afternoon runs, thanksgiving meals with the loveliest people, the brisk damp air in the dark early morning, letters from home, and all the other tiny joys that fill my days so regularly.
Life is hard, but it’s just so beautiful.