Friday, March 31, 2017

The Simple Pleasures

How long has it been since you’ve allowed yourself to become lost in a moment? When was the last time you really smelled the roses? Observed some cows grazing in a pasture? Enjoyed the feel of your cat’s fur beneath your fingertips? Basked in the warmth of the sun as the springtime breeze caressed your face? Or gazed up into the nighttime sky filled with awe and wonder? How long has it been since you’ve taken a moment to enjoy the simple pleasures that surround us?

I know what you’re thinking…. Who’s got time for that? For goodness sakes, most days, I barely have time to take a bathroom break. Look, between work, errands, dealing with kids, figuring out what’s for supper, keeping the house from looking like an episode of Hoarders, trying to accommodate my husband’s needs, and somehow fitting in a fifteen minute or so devotional, I barely have time to make it to bed at a decent hour before it’s time to begin the vicious cycle all over again. Oh, and don’t worry. I am going to relax. We’ve got a trip planned for this summer, like always. Trust me, I’ll take some time then to enjoy nature and whatever else type moments you mentioned.

Perdido Beach, Alabama, during a trip we took two years ago.

Hey, I hear you loud and clear. Oh, and I most definitely understand because, well, that pretty much sums up my life, too. But what if we’re missing out by not indulging in a moment here or there? We lead such hectic, planned-out lives. Think about it, we even feel the need to schedule time to relax. Yeah, let that sink in for a minute, why don’t you.

Honestly, does relaxation and planning go hand-in-hand like we’ve conditioned our minds to think? Why have we, as a society, determined that we need to hold out for some perfect, manufactured setting we deem best before we can truly relax? How often have we been guilty of thinking – when I go to the beach in a couple of weeks, when I finally board that cruise ship, when I enter the spa this afternoon, or when I drive up to the cabin in the mountains, that’s when I’ll finally be able to let go and simply relax. I’m sure we’ve all thought something along those lines before, and there’s nothing wrong with planning or setting aside time so we can relax. But what if there’s more to relaxation than simply the destination? What if it’s not about the where but is, instead, about the how? What if there’s an art to relaxation, a method if you will? What if true relaxation is made up of simple moments that aren’t constrained by our schedules?

A cruise ship from one of my parent's trips. (And, no, I've never been on a cruise.)

I say this because I’ve been stressed more than usual. This was Spring Break week in north Alabama and my kids are staying with their grandparents who live nearly five hours away. I had this week planned out, too. No kids equaled plenty of time to catch up on household chores, to paint the wall in my son’s bedroom, to plant shrubs and flowers in my flower beds, to sort through my kids outgrown clothes, to reseal the grout in the tiled areas of my house, to work on my blog, to write another chapter in my book…and technically the list goes on, but I won’t bore you with any more of the details.

Needless to say, by Wednesday I was nowhere near the point of tackling half the things I’d set out to do. So, like a good Christian wife and mother...ahhh....Yeah right. Not me; instead, I did what I do best. I panicked. I mentally freaked out for several hours. But guess what, life went on. Which made me realize, that even though all those tasks are important, life does go on whether I can accomplish them all or not. And one day, before I know it, time will rob me of my youth and I will be unable to accomplish much of anything due to age and physical limitations. Then, I’ll look back and wish I’d enjoyed some moments along the way, made a few memories, and didn’t take life so seriously. So, I determined, while I’m accomplishing my tasks each day, I’ll also find a way to enjoy the simple things in life that are readily available.

The next day, as I washed dishes, I glanced out my window and watched the cows grazing in the rolling field behind our house. I love cows. It’s a love I’ve had since childhood when I had the privilege of bottle-raising a calf. And guess what? In that moment, I found myself relaxing a little while doing a chore.

Me bottle feeding Honey.

Honey when she was old enough to be with the other cows.

A photo op I took of some of the cows in the field behind my house.

Later, I cleaned out the inside of my car. I found mostly my kids’ stuff – toys, pieces of toys, hair ties, and trash including a half-eaten corndog and a shriveled-up piece of a banana…ummm…Yuck! But amongst the sorted piles, I took time to enjoy the sun’s warmth which was accompanied by the ever-present blustery, springtime breeze. I even paid attention to the sounds around me – the birds chirping, the bees buzzing by, the rustle of the grass rippling in the brisk gusts. It was actually relaxing. That night, I stood out on my back deck, tired and physically drained from a long day; but I chose to glance upward and observe the majestic, star-filled sky. I relaxed in the moment, knowing that the God who created something so spectacular also chose to create me.


When I finally made it to bed a couple of hours later, I read a chapter from a friend’s book I’ve been meaning to finish, and my cat of nearly ten years curled up on top of me as usual. I began to pet her out of habit but, instead, decided to notice the sensation of her fur beneath my fingertips. I relaxed because this, my friend, is my happy place – reading a book and being with my cat. If you didn’t already know, I’m a cat person, always have been, always will be. I fully embrace the colloquial term “Crazy Cat Lady.” That would be so me if I weren’t married to my wonderful husband. He keeps my cat collecting habits in check. Just so you know, I currently only have three – one inside and two outside.

Dixie Bryant
This morning, after painting a second coat of paint on my son’s wall, I sat down in front of the computer to type this and indulged in the first sip of a piping hot cappuccino I’d made. Wow! Life is always better after that first sip!

My favorite mug!
So far, becoming lost in a moment has made a significant impact on my overall view of life. Plus, being acutely aware of the simple pleasures found while accomplishing a task has made all the difference on my stress level throughout the day. So, I want to continually allow myself to become lost in the moments, to smell the roses whenever the opportunity presents itself. And I long to share these experiences with my children so they too can learn the importance of embracing the simple things in life. And hopefully, you’ll find ways to do the same.

We’re surrounded by a beautiful world created by the One who loves us. He took the time to observe what He’d accomplished after each day of creation so that He could determine if it was good – that it would be the perfect environment for the creation He loved most of all. So, why not plan our days, even plan our vacations, all the while making sure to be aware of the little things – the things that will put a smile on our faces or will provide a calming effect in the midst of our hectic, crazy lives?


To the simple pleasures,

Shauna Williams