Monday, July 21

You Might Want to Sing it Note for Note

I have long been a diary keeper. A journal-er. A keeper of secrets in writing. What once was recorded between the covers of a spiral bound notebook, now mostly takes place upon the keyboard and monitor, but all the same I like to see my thoughts in written form.

They have never been altogether profound, and frankly a journey through my 8th grade journal would cause nothing short of guffaws and gusty hardy-har-hars if I were to pull it from it's storage box in Arizona and give it a read through. Imagine my 12-year-old Emma's delight to see the names of those boys I loved deeply, desperately and foreverly scribbled in the margins of my entries. (I know I took unbelievable pleasure in reading my mom's diary which we discovered in a hidden box once when my sisters and I were up and coming teens--especially the bits where she was dating my dad. Oh, the joy!)

My journals have never been much of a formal affair and could hardly be relied upon to give accurate blow by blow description of my daily life. Rather, they have been (and this blog continues to be) a place for me to blow off the steam, to record the most memorable feelings, and to stash away the precious keepsakes. In 3-D form, my diary keeping tends to bulge at the binding as I tuck within pages ticket stubs, photographs, drawings and other tokens to spark memories. Not as easily done here in this cyber-space (the sticky tape doesn't seem to hold the pixels) but still I make do with what I've got.

Early in my adult years I tripped across the idea of keeping an ongoing "Love List" in written form and many hand-written entries in the last years have simply been that. A list of the things I love.

Easy to say.

Important to remember.

I like my love lists. It puts everything in perspective in a hurry and keeps me in mind of the simple, beautiful things that make every day a worthwhile investment.

Years ago I had occasion to spend lots of time with a young woman who seemingly didn't have the knack for making love lists, neither internally nor on paper. She was one of those people for whom complaining seemed to bring contentment, and finding the negatives in any given situation brought some sort of warped satisfaction. Not knowing if you know this bit about me, I am going to point out the obvious once again and mention that that? That is not how I roll. I am an inherently happy person, and happy is the condition I most prefer to linger in. GLASS HALF FULL is how I've been described. So, here I was Ms. glass-half-full with Ms. my-glass-is-practically-empty-and-besides-that-there-is-a-fly-stuck-in-the-bottom, my roommate, co-worker and constant companion. (and yes, I do mean 24/7) Things went along just fine for awhile really. I was happy for the two of us and I could cover for her lack of interest in life by painting it a little thick with the Pollyanna vibe. Everything was really peachy. Really. Until it wasn't anymore.

I remember we were driving down a Long Beach highway in between meetings on a Sunday and she sighed deeply over the fact that it looked like it might rain. I followed her gaze through the front window and spotted the single cloud in the sky which for all my knowledge and experience looked nothing at all like a rain cloud And. I. Lost. It. I slammed on the brakes and pulled the car to the side of the road and Let. It. Rip. I don't remember exactly what I said, and I am sure it wasn't gentle in any way but I told her I was tired and she was really going to have to figure out how to be happy in her own right, that I could no longer do it for the both of us. She seemed shocked, dismayed and incredulous.

From that conversation and in the coming days she and I spent a lot of time talking about the idea of happiness, and the idea of finding things to be happy about in spite of whatever might be going on in life, individually or globally. One day not long after that initial brake-squealing discussion we sat down together on the porch of a Manhattan Beach house (no one was home) and wrote (well, I wrote, she dictated) a list of 50 THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR. In the end it was a stunning list full of incidental and all-inclusive items which taken in their sum total would make even the saddest heart sing, and taken individually just might bring a smile to a set of down turned lips. If only for a moment. The discovery for her and for me upon that exercise is that the simple things, which we overlook almost completely on a daily basis, are really the things that make all the difference.

My Love List today looks something like this:

  • The rain which fell incessantly all morning, cleared this afternoon giving way to gorgeous blue sky and big fluffy white clouds!
  • Which made the errand of taking the bottles to the recyclers and hearing the glass smash as Andrew and I tossed them into the abyss even more pleasurable than usual.
  • On the way back to our house, we met a cat who let us pet her fur.
  • And we saw a baby in his pram getting ready to go for a stroll with Mom and Dad.
  • The hours spent in the back garden clearing, trimming, sweeping were hours well spent.
  • I love having my hands in the earth.
  • After all was said and done, I had to re-clean the wound on my hand from yesterday's scissor accident so I could bandage it back up for better healing.
  • I am grateful for band-aids
  • And a loving husband who helps me put them on and make them stick to my palm.
  • And who didn't even roll his eyes over yet another kitchen accident for the accident prone me, he just swooped in to take care of me and give me sympathy.
  • And wipe up blood.
  • I love earthworms, caterpillars, snails, rolly pollys and spiders--all of which we encountered in our attack on the overgrown garden. Each of which fascinated my 5-year old Andrew.
  • I am grateful for help from 14-year old Ian who cleared away all that I trimmed.
  • At the end of it all I toasted the day with a glass of sparkling wine while sitting in the back garden at the table in the sun.

You know, simple pleasures are the best.* Truly.

*Bobby McFerrin

SMID's Music Monday
Happy to sing with the Music Monday bunch.

Button above will take you to the others!

Go on now, click it. Click it good.


  1. Thank you Jenn! 13 weeks into a second pregnancy that really isn't going well and feeling more negative than positive---your post was balm for a very sore soul! Thanks so much!

  2. Great post. It's always better to look up in life :) I have to agree with you that keeping a journal is hard. The longest time I did keep a journal was for 99 consecutive days while in your house, what a coincidence. I love looking back at the stories. A love list is a great idea. I had a section, “What I learned in Holland.” Some of them are quite hilarious. I’ll have to share them with you sometime. ;)

  3. What a lovely song and what a lovely piece. I was never much of a journal writer so my daughter won't have the pleasure of reading about 12-year-old crushes....

  4. Lovely post and lovely song! I'm one of those half full folks and married to a half-empty, so I have to "help" him remember the good things on occasion. I love your love lists idea!

  5. I believe that anything which gives us pleasure is simply the best. But the best of all is just being in the moment - being a part of it all - and feeling the connectedness. And the love.

    (...and Band-Aids are a staple of my existence, too.)

  6. A love list.... what a wonderful idea ! We should all have on and add to it on a regular basis. (((HUGS)))

  7. I'm with you on the glass half full! full of wine and flowing over. but I digress. I had a friend like that and it damn near killed me. lots to be thankful for - even on Sesame Street they tell you that rainy days are good (for the flowers). I don't like worms. not thankful for them.

  8. I love the idea of love lists! And I love yours. Digging in the dirt is something I love.