Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Enjoying the Small Things
By Rose Carlson
I regularly read a blog called Enjoying the Small Things. It is written by a gal who lives in southern Florida with her husband and two young daughters, one of who has special needs. This blog writer has a really great way with words as well as a sunny outlook on life, and she often writes posts about the “small things” she stops to take notice of in her daily life. I’ve been reading her blog for nearly a year, and many times, she has inspired me to do the same…to stop and notice the seemingly insignificant details and events of life, take note of them, and most of all, remember and write about them. And that’s what this
post is about…enjoying the small things because often, when you are grieving, small things may be the only things you have to hold onto and get you through each day. While it has been many years since I lived through my own losses, I do often encounter situations that remind of when I was, and I try to relate the things I write on this blog to those who are new to this heartbreaking journey.
Recently, St. Louis was hit with a doozy of an ice storm. We don’t normally get a whole lot of snow in St. Louis. We tend to get smallish snow storms that result in a few inches, and we are more likely to get freezing rain and sleet. This winter, however, has been a difficult one, with several snow storms along with the ice storm last week. It’s no secret to those who know me that winter is my least favorite season…the cold goes right through me, driving on snowy, icy roads scare me, and the storms frequently shut our community down. I could happily live on the beach and not care if I never laid my eyes on another snow flake. This winter though, I decided to make the best of our many snow days and try to appreciate the beauty that winter can hold. I resolved to try to look beyond the sloppy, slushy roads and notice the sun sparkling on the snow-covered branches of trees and bushes. I even went out in my yard at 5 AM on Christmas morning in my pajamas and boots to take pictures after looking out the window and noticing how stunning the Christmas lights looked blanketed with snow. It has not made me any more fond of winter, but I do feel as if the frosty, dreary weather hasn’t gotten me down as much as it normally does.
Last week after the ice storm, at the end of my first day back at work, I took a longer, more scenic route on my way home, a road that winds along the Missouri River bottom. I often do this, even though it lengthens my ride home. Driving along the river road is more relaxing and has much better views than taking the highway and sitting in traffic; it helps me “destress” a bit on my way home. On this particular day, it was breathtaking. I have no other way to describe it. I was so very cold, but the sun was peeking through the clouds and shimmering on the ice-covered trees and the tall grasses that border the road. It was one of the most picturesque winter scenes I have ever seen--everything was coated with what looked like sparkling glass. I had my camera with me, and I pulled over on the side of the road, climbed over a snow bank, and tried to capture the magnificence of this winter landscape.
My photographs did not come close to capturing what I hoped they would, but the next day, I stopped again to take some pictures of Old Man Winter in all his icy glory—this time of the river where it flows through the downtown area of my city. Again, I thought in amazement how beautiful it all was…the barren, brown trees against the pale blue sky…the large chunks of ice floating lazily down the river…the stark contrast of the black wrought iron fence against the whiteness of the snow…I was freezing, yet I stood for a few minutes admiring the harsh beauty.
So back to the reason for this post…enjoying the small things. Sometimes, in the midst of grief just as in the midst of frigid, icy winter, it can take a great deal of effort to appreciate or find even the most minuscule things to enjoy. Yet if you do make the effort, you will probably find small yet lovely things all around you. And noticing them can make the difference between a day that you just muddle through waiting for things to get better and a day that you can look back on when it ends and know that you made the best of whatever it held. Often, it does seem as if things will never get better, which makes noticing and enjoying small things all that much more important. And while you will still be grieving and deeply missing your baby, you may find that focusing on the little details may bring you some peace and maybe even a moment or two of joy, in spite of your sadness.
You may be thinking right now that there is absolutely nothing in your life any longer that will bring you joy. In fact, you may be thinking right at this moment that you will never enjoy anything or laugh or even smile ever again because it is not uncommon to feel that way after your baby dies. And while I know it is hard to do, try to trust me when I say that you will slowly begin to feel better, to smile and laugh again, even if in the beginning it is only because of small things.
I challenge you to take a few moments each day to seek out something that will bring you some happiness, make you smile or make you feel grateful. Whether it is cuddling with a pet, going for coffee with a friend, noticing an early spring breeze blowing through your open window, taking a slower paced route home from work or simply looking at something you see every day with “new” eyes, it can help heal your broken heart to focus on something pleasant each day, even if it is only for a few moments. I think you will find that as the days go by, it will become like second nature for you to look for these small things to enjoy. You may find that you begin to notice little “gifts” each day that you might not have noticed if you were not actively seeking them out. It can also be helpful to write these things down each day in a journal; you will then have a permanent record of how far you have come months or years down the road.
If you would like to share, I’d love to hear about what small things you are enjoying right now.