Living a colorful life ~ Love On Haight, San Francisco California
It’s Friday morning. The only weekday morning I don’t have my children. This usually means I can wake up to the sunlight peeking through the shades, rather than the sound of fighting over whose bowl of cereal is more full or the nails on chalkboard sound of cartoon characters blaring through the TV. Don’t get me wrong, I love those little monsters with every fiber in my body. But the silence and ease of Friday mornings remains idyllic.
As I listen to music and get ready for my day, I look to the coming weekend with anticipation. I have a few things planned, but for the most part, I’m free (which doesn’t happen often enough). I decide to head to my favorite coffee shop in town. It’s downtown and completely out of my way to work, but I love the place. The inside is too small for the amount of patrons they see on a daily basis; especially on Saturday mornings when people are out enjoying the farmer’s market. What it lacks in size, however, it makes up for in charm. The establishment is a reminder of the small town that this rapidly growing commuter location once was. The young employees are always eager and cheery and dare I say, actually seem to enjoy their job. Their Chai lattes (my drink of choice) taste earthy and robust, unlike the over processed/syrupy concoction Starbucks has to offer. Their bagels are always so fresh and toasted to perfection. It’s just one of those things in life that make me happy, albeit small and seemingly insignificant.
Upon walking in, I see familiar faces. A group of old retired men that sit there every morning chatting about sports and politics. I wonder how many of them consider that the highlight of their day. I’m reminded that no matter our age, we never lose that need to belong, to be in the company of peers. I also see a Grandma sitting with her little Granddaughter, enjoying a drink and something sweet. The smile on both of their faces is so bright that I can’t help but smile myself. They are unsuccessfully taking a “selfie”, so I offer to take their picture for them. The Grandma gladly relinquishes the phone to me and tells me they are having a special “Grandma/Granddaughter Day”. Growing up, I never had Grandparents I was close to and in that quick moment, I was happy to have captured the memory they were making together. How beautiful that life offers us so many different types of relationships to nourish and enjoy.
As I wait for my order, I sit at an empty table next to a middle aged woman. She was probably in her mid to late forties, sitting in yoga pants, reading the newspaper and sipping her perfectly foamed cappuccino. I envied her for a second, sitting there enjoying her morning, with no apparent rush. Suddenly she looks over at me with an endearing smile and says: “I love your outfit; your skirt with those cute sandals….very pretty. I saw you walk in and wanted to tell you.” Those are the best compliments, the random ones….with no ulterior motive, no hesitations. I thanked her and headed off to work.
On my drive I thought about those few minutes in the coffee shop. How many people we come across on a daily basis and how we have the power to impact one another with a smile, a kind word, or gesture. How we are all in different stages of our lives and yet we are all in pursuit of the same basic things. I wondered, too, where I’d be when I was that woman’s age, the one that offered the compliment. Approaching my 30th birthday now, feeling the pressure of having life more “together” than I do at this moment, although not really knowing what that entails. Wondering how I will let the events in my life shape me in the next 15-20 years. Will I let them make me bitter or better? Will I continue to look for the good in people and in the situations that I am faced with?
On this particular Friday morning, however, I am a young, single, working Mother of two. Like the loving Grandma, the relaxed middle aged woman, and the retired comrade’s, I have something to offer to those around me. With drink in hand and head held high, I’m ready to take on the day; and the world for that matter.
“Wake up early. Drink coffee. Be ambitious, keep your priorities straight, your mind right, and your head up. Do well, live well, and dress really well. Do what you love, love what you do. It is time to start living.” ~ Anonymous
When I initially thought about sharing my writing, my first thought was one of self-doubt. Who would really care to read the things I have to say? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a people person, I have no problem holding interesting conversations. In general, I feel I have a lot to offer others, on an intellectual level, as well as an emotional and empathetic level. However, by most standards, I’ve done nothing spectacular in my life. I have not traveled the world (though I’d love to), I have not endured anything especially horrific or had to overcome any monumental obstacles. I do, however, possess something invaluable. That is my outlook on life, my perception and perspective that are unique because they are all my own.
It is a beautiful thing to know that we wake up every day with the ability to make it a positive one. We choose what we focus our thoughts on, how we interact with others, and how we handle the situations we are faced with. It’s been said “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.” The moment I began to focus on this fact, is the moment I began to feel at peace. Too many nights in my relatively young life have been spent regretting the things I did not accomplish that day, even though I was going to bed mentally and physically drained. Until one day when everything seemed much more simplistic in my head. Did I smile and laugh today? Did I speak to someone I loved today? Did I eat good food, drink clean water and wake up in a comfortable bed? Are my children happy and well cared for? The answer to all of those questions was of course, yes, every day. Our perspective is a powerful force in our life.
In the words of the intriguing author, Oscar Wilde: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” I’ve chosen to look at the stars, and it is an amazing view.
I knew I could never write fiction because honestly I’ve never been much of a dreamer. Wild heart; need for change; craving for adventure; spontaneous; yes, but not a dreamer. What I mean by that is ever since I was a child my expectations for life were fairly realistic. I wasn’t the girl with the box of cut outs envisioning my elaborate wedding day or the mansion I would live in by the ocean. All I really remember wanting was to be happy. Which I’ve realized is a concept so relative, so fluctuating, that the mansion may be more attainable for some people. I don’t say this from a pessimistic point of view. Really, I’d say I’ve always had more of an optimistic disposition. But as I approach my 30th birthday, which is scary and fascinating all in one, I realize that being happy isn’t necessarily a goal as it is a way of life. If our happiness can be defined by fulfillment of specific goals (i.e. buying our dream house; retiring; getting married and starting a family) then really, it’s fleeting. A house can be lost to Mother Nature or because of economic circumstances. Retiring could get old and perhaps boring. Marriages break up often and starting a family comes with challenges all its own. If we, however, find ways to be happy in our everyday life, then really, we’ve won.
And here’s where most get stumped. Because you see, it’s much easier said than done. To be happy every day, when there are surmounting pressures of life and we experience little disappointments with ourselves and others often. However applicable, one of my favorite quotes is this one by Augusten Burroughs: “So we can be filled with holes, and loss and wide expanses of unhealed geography – and we can also be excited by life, and in love and content at the exact same moment.” What does that mean to you? To me, it means that we don’t have to have things together (mentally, emotionally, physically, materially, etc.) in order to be happy and fulfilled. Happiness doesn’t have to be merely a passing emotion. It can be a permanent state of being, no matter the circumstances.
My hope in creating this blog is that I can reflect on a regular basis on the things that I, and most of us, can find happiness in. I hope others can relate, and possibly find through my posts, some gratitude of their own. Not that everything I intend to post will be altogether cheery. But I’ve learned that there is always beauty behind the madness. Struggle, dysfunction, grief, heart ache…..they all give us a chance to appreciate when things are good and give us a broader view of life.