Small Pleasures: March 2017 Edition

At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I’m going to go ahead and say this has been the most unusual (in a good way) March of my life.  My husband and I just returned from French Polynesia where we spent fifteen magical days celebrating our 25th anniversary.  Without a doubt, the trip was filled with big and unique pleasures (i.e., scuba diving for the first time, watching performers from the Marquesa Islands, waking up in an over-the-water bungalow to a turquoise sea and an unobstructed view of Moorea, etc.).  I want to talk and talk and talk about all that.  But not today.  Instead, I’m remembering those small things that made my big adventure that much more delightful.  Here are my small pleasures of March…

  1. Word Trek.  This phone app takes the word search to a whole new level by using every single letter of the search format to form words.  The game tells you how many words to look for and the number of letters in each word and you have to discover the rest on your own.  As you move through the levels, the number of letters in the search and length of the words increases.  I downloaded the game before we left on our trip and Jay and I chewed up hours of airplane and yacht downtime trying to decipher the puzzles.  It’s fun and I feel smart when I play it.  That’s a first class win-win in my book.
  2. The Body Shop’s Coconut Body Butter.  In my humble opinion, this is the creamiest, most delicious smelling lotion ever.  It comes in a jar, which also makes it a smart travel choice.  It’s the perfect accoutrement for sailing around tropical islands.  I polished off one whole container on our trip so it was a small pleasure I indulged in with abandon.
  3. Chocolate croissants.  French Polynesia is an interesting amalgamation of Polynesian and French cultures and I was surprised by the large population of French people who lived throughout the islands we visited.  Perhaps that’s why the croissants were so good.  I consumed a ridiculous number of big, flaky chocolate ones while on vacation which I always spread with an embarrassing amount of butter.  They were something wonderful to wake up to each day.  (Now my mouth is watering.)
  4. The Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny.  Cruising around French Polynesia provided plenty of opportunity for reading.  So did 28 hours of airplane time.  In total, I finished five books over 15 days.  Two of those books, A Fatal Grace and The Cruelest Month, are part of a murder mystery series by Louise Penny that I am really enjoying.  The setting for the books is the area in and around a small, picturesque village in Canada near Quebec and the characters are singular and likeable.  The murders aren’t graphic and end up being a catalyst to delve deeper into the worst (and best) of human nature. I’m currently reading the fourth book, A Rule Against Murder, and will definitely continue with this somewhat fluffy but well-written and satisfying series.
  5. Snorkeling.  Because snorkeling is something I only get to do when I travel, I could label it as a big, special pleasure.  But the act is so simple and has such a high happiness quotient for me that it feels more like a small, intimate joy.  Every time I put my face in the water and get a peek at the vibrant world under the waves, I get a thrill.  And yet, there is also something meditative and mindful about snorkeling.  I breathe deeply and regularly, I float languidly, and I am forced, because of my mask, to look closely at what is directly in front of me.  I slow down and am able to see details I might otherwise miss (like a blue-spotted boxfish resting at the base of some coral or a single clownfish hanging out in an anemone).  Snorkeling almost always ends up being a spiritual experience for me.  I am so thankful for the opportunities I had to indulge in this pleasure this month and I’m sure it’s one of the reasons I came home feeling so rejuvenated.

DSCN0254

{ Double-Saddle Butterflyfish – Taha’a  (photo taken by Jay Yoder) }

So tell me, what small or not so small pleasures have you been enjoying lately?

 

Small Pleasures: January 2017 Edition

dsc_8530

In many ways, January has been a struggle.  I freely acknowledge this truth but have no interest in dwelling on it.  Instead, I’m focusing on the little things in my life that made January even the tiniest bit more pleasant.  When life feels hard, I seek out ways to soften the edges and my January needed a lot of softening.

  1. Winter twilight.  I’ve been wondering lately if there is any beauty comparable to the quiet, muted loveliness of dusk in January.  These evenings always lift my spirit and draw my heart into worship.
  2. Books.  Well-written, entertaining books which don’t require monumental mental effort have been my escape of choice lately (i.e., Journey to Munich, I Let You Go, and Everything I Never Told You).   Me, finding pleasure in books? -Shocker, I know. 🙂
  3. Hot tea.  Sipping a cup of steaming tea is a pleasure I’ve been indulging in with abandon this month.  As a matter of fact, I’m having a cup of my favorite, Harney’s Christmas Tea, as I type.  Delicious!
  4. Victoria.  PBS’s Masterpiece Theater is working it’s magic once again and my daughter, Julia, and I have fallen under the spell.  Every Sunday evening we settle in to experience the early reign of Queen Victoria as she navigates the intrigues of Court and the complexities of royal responsibility and love.  Starring Jenna Coleman as Victoria, Rufus Sewell as Lord Melbourne, and Tom Hughes as Albert, Victoria is a dependable bright spot in my week.  I’ll be sad when it’s over; we’ll have to check out The Crown on Netflix next to get our royal fix.
  5. Anticipation.  My husband and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary this year by traveling to the Society Islands of French Polynesia in March.  We will spend most of our time on the Wind Spirit sailing between the islands  and are hoping for gorgeous scenery, spectacular snorkeling, and sublime relaxation.  It’s summer there this time of year so the weather will be hot, humid, and perhaps a bit rainy – all the things winter in Pennsylvania is not.  I can’t wait for this trip and the anticipation of it has helped me endure the rough spots of this month.

Well, January is almost over and thankfully so.  Here’s to a February that is healthier, saner, and much less stressful.

What small pleasures are getting you through?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Tiny

A few years ago my family had the pleasure of visiting Eleuthera, one of the islands of the Bahamas.  We stayed in a tiny house that overlooked an endless pink sand beach and the gentle edge of the Atlantic Ocean.  Over the course of a week, we discovered many little treasures: lizards, fish, snails, sea shells.  This itty-bitty guy was my favorite…

dsc_1444

{ Hermit crab found at Preacher’s Cave, Eleuthera, Bahamas }

Find many more tiny things here.

A Quest for the Soul of Scotland

Last year was full of milestones for my family and, to celebrate our accomplishments, we traveled to Scotland for some time together and a little adventure.  In a trip that was incredible from beginning to end, our most favorite experiences happened in the wilder places of the country.  That is where we encountered the soul of Caledonia.

dsc_4546

{ Coastal walk to Dunnottar Castle}

dsc_4722

{ Beach below Dunnottar Castle }

dsc_4724

{ Dunnattor Castle from beach }

dsc_5203-2

{ Corrie Fee, Glen Clova }

dsc_5219

{ Corrie Fee, Glen Clova }

dsc_5924

{ Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye }

dsc_6300

 { Steahl Falls, Glen Nevis }

dsc_6296

{ Steahl Falls, Glen Nevis }

dsc_6351

{ Steahl Falls, Glen Nevis }

Discover quests of all kinds at The Daily Post.

Small Pleasures: August Edition

August threw me from the heights of unstructured leisure to the rude awakening of a tightly scheduled existence with barely enough time to catch my breath.  Now, in the middle of September, I realize I never took the time to review the best small pleasures of last month.  They were delightful and deserve the proper amount of recognition and gratitude so I’m posting them without guilt even though summer vacation is long gone.

  1. Stargazing.  Light pollution makes for a very disappointing stargazing experience in my neighborhood.  When we camped in the Adirondacks in early August, I was thrilled to find a visible swath of Milky Way and a glittering mass of stars filling the clear night sky.  My experience was the same as Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman when he sings, “When I look at the stars, I see Someone else, when I look at the stars, I feel like myself.”
  2. Sitting around a campfire on a cool night in the Adirondacks.  This includes hanging with family and making s’mores.  No other explanation needed.
  3. Listening to The Girl With All the Gifts audiobook with my family.  The Girl With All the Gifts is a great book that generated a bit of communal gagging and several stimulating discussions.  There is nothing like vicariously battling zombies to bring a family together.  (Book review can be found here.)
  4. Vistas.  I’m talking about the view from Mount Defiance looking across Fort Ticonderoga and Lake Champlain and the panorama of wilderness from the fire tower on top of Snowy Mountain.  Nothing was much higher than four thousand feet but the views were spectacular and all the more rewarding if effort was required to get my middle-aged, sadly out-of-shape body to the lookout spot (i.e., the 7 mile Snowy Mountain butt-kicking haul).
  5. Kayaking on a perfect summer evening.  Simply sublime…

dsc_0931

dsc_0942

dsc_0919