Photo by Josue Escoto on Unsplash

I’ve been daydreaming of summer lately. It represents the shaky promise of freer days. When I say shaky, I mean 25th-level-of-an-intense-game-of-Jenga-shaky. There’s a very good chance it’ll come crashing to the ground. But, I’m an optimist.

I’m cautiously hopeful that I’ll be able to get on an airplane in July to celebrate my bridal shower in Minnesota. I daydream of opening gifts in a white dress next to Lake Pepin with a mimosa in my hand. I hope I’ll get to celebrate my birthday in June with a small group of friends. Come August, I hope I’ll be poolside in New Mexico for my bachelorette party.

I hope, I hope, I hope. But, I don’t know. One thing I do know, though, is that I don’t want to daydream my life away and only wish for the future. I want to be present, here, now. I know that might sound strange because these days are what many would consider some of their worst. So when I say I don’t want to wish them away, I don’t say it to be insensitive.

I say it from a place of acceptance. Regardless of how strange, sad, difficult, these days are; they’re still days of our lives that we’ll never get back. And despite the struggle, there is still a lot to be grateful for. In the darkness, there are still moments that are beautiful, precious, bonding, defining. I don’t want to miss out on any of them because I’m too busy wishing for better days ahead.

We’re all guilty of that, by the way. It’s very human of us to dream of happier days. It makes the uncomfortable moments feel more bearable when we have a light at the end of the tunnel. But, what if that light; that beacon of hope, doesn’t exist? What if we realized that the determining factor is always us? That we’re the light?

“Wherever You Go, There You Are.”

Several months ago, a woman on Facebook shared this quote in response to a blog post I’d written. I’d written about how I’d moved away from home, hoping to find happiness, only to be greeted with the same old problems I’d always had. “Wherever you go, there you are,” she said. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

It’s obvious, yet we discount the depth of it. We are always with ourselves. No matter how far we try to run from our problems or achieve our way to happiness; we still return face-to-face with ourselves at the end of the day. That’s why, when many of us say we’ll be more grateful when this pandemic is over; when we swear we won’t take things for granted and that we’ll appreciate our loved ones, even more, I’m skeptical.

I don’t fully believe it only because I know old habits die hard. If you’re used to wishing for better circumstances to make you happy, this situation is no exception. If you want to be a more grateful, content, happy human, it begins today. It begins with how you handle challenging situations. Because if you can be grateful in the mess, you can be grateful in the good times.

Before I go on, I’m not trying to discount the fact that these days we’re in are tough. I also realize that the level of difficulty is a sliding scale for each of us. Many have lost their jobs, have sick loved ones, or are adapting to homeschooling their children for the first time. Others are bored at home, battling mental health issues, or feeling incredibly lonely.

No matter which angle you’re coming at it from, this a lot. And if you’re feeling hopeless or scared or stressed, your feelings are so valid. I want you to feel your feelings. I don’t want you to mask them and I’ll certainly never tell you to “just think positive!”. I just don’t want you to get stuck there.

Feel your feelings. Cry, scream, vent. Do whatever you need to do. And then lift your head to look around. I promise there is still so much beauty right now. Can you see it?

Create a List of the Little Things You Love

While we’re in quarantine, feeling helpless and facing the unknown; life is still happening. I hope you don’t forget to notice it. I want you to create a list of the little things you love. I want you to start looking for reasons to be grateful at this very moment. I want you to practice being the light instead of waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Some of my favorite things in the entire world don’t cost a thing. They’re small, simple moments. Blink your eyes and they’re gone. When I’m too busy future tripping and forgetting to be present, these are the things I miss.

  • I love seeing my fiance laugh really hard. It makes me instantly happy. It always makes my heart skip a beat.
  • I love going for walks and collecting wildflowers to make imperfect, messy bouquets to scatter throughout the home.
  • I love tossing warm blueberries and strawberries into my oatmeal. It’s a sweet and nourishing way to begin my day.
  • I love that I can work out from home. I love the ache of sore muscles; a sweet reminder that I’m taking care of myself.
  • I love the way we’re connecting so much online lately. I think it’s sweet the way no one wants to get off the phone because we’re so happy to be connected.
  • I love listening to the rain on the roof while I write. I love the flicker of the candle on my desk and the promise of a new day.

These are the little moments that make up my life. What about you? What do you love? What are you so grateful for?

I know these times are less than ideal. And yes, better days are coming. I just hope you remember to be here now, too. I hope you remember that there are so many blessings right in front of you. I hope you choose to be the light instead of waiting for it.