Over Thanksgiving, my family had the opportunity to get away for a few days and do something we always love doing – travel. We had a great excuse, too; it was Thanksgiving and there was a family reunion happening that week. How could we say no to visiting some places we’ve never been on the East Coast?
We packed a weeks worth of clothes into our two carry-on bags and strapped Joy alongside us. We planned and dreamed about seeing new places.
One of these places was New York City.
I could talk all day about this incredible city and the sights we saw and the people we met, and honestly I learned so many different lessons that would be too long to detail here. For instance, the kindness of complete strangers on the crowded subway as I stood with my baby strapped on me, or the starry-eyed dreamers who would sit next to us, and the flexibility traveling with a child forced on me.
But what I realized, what I’ve learned and had to chew on for days, is that it really takes absolutely nothing to be happy.
Okay, I can already see the eye-rolls happening. “You went to New York City. Of course you had something to be happy about!” I see your point, but here me out.
Before the trip, I disconnected (almost completely) from social media. I didn’t intend to, or even really want to, which is embarrassing and sad. I have a business to run, after all, and a style to maintain on my personal page (off topic but I posted a totally non-cool-toned photo this week and I’m actually okay with it) and I assumed I’d be snapping ALL the InstaStories and posting ALL the photos. But my husband had to ask that I don’t worry about our business, that I spend time solely focusing on Joy & him.
Ouch. With that hint of sobriety, I obliged. And that’s when I was able to realize-
It takes almost nothing to be happy.
Because now I had time to notice – time outside of the perfectly shaped Instagram feeds and the lovely framed photos – that life in general never, ever goes as planned but what makes it so special is who and what you choose to surround yourself with.
We had four days of clothes to last us a 10 day getaway, and within the first 48 hours of exploring the city my child peed on my twice. I remember late at night, after she struggled to fall asleep in the make-shift bed we made for her, I was quietly hand-washing her clothes and my own in this teeny-weeny sink in a hip hotel that probably didn’t have another child in it. And despite my lack of clothes and doing chores on vacation, I had Jeff beside me to joke and laugh with and I was content
One time, we took the C train instead of the A train and ended up 30 minutes out of our way deep into Brooklyn because not only were we on the wrong train, but also missed our exit. The train was crowded, Joy was fussy and we were starving (a general theme of our trip). But between the hum of the tracks and the diversity of people getting on and off again, I was happy to rest my head on my man beside me and run behind schedule.
On another occasion, we were wandering around Central Park – hungry, cranky, and our feet HURT. I’m talking blisters and major pain. It’s funny to look back at now, but we were literally stopping every ten feet to sit and whine about how much pain we were in (thank you Central Park for having hundreds of benches). We even came across a small little playground and let Joy out of the carrier to crawl around and try to eat leaves – the latter not on purpose. And amidst the pain of blisters and my child’s teeth as I tried to pull leaves out of her mouth, I was happy to be in those minutes.
And of course, there were those calm, ordinary moments. Moments like Joy playing in the numerous leaves in central park, becoming increasingly dirty but laughing so contagiously. Like seeing skyscrapers poking out from behind tress, witnessing the crowds hustle by with so many stories and lives, experiencing the cool breath of the first winter air blow by my face.
Would I have felt some of this if I had been as attached to my phone as I usually am on a normal day?
Am I just in general too attached to my phone in a normal, every-day setting? Am I more apt to choose perfectly produced photos over the people in my own life, crafted skyline pictures over the scenes that I call home? I’m almost too scared to answer, because deep down I know what it truly is.
Coming home from New York, I’m inspired to live every day more connected to the people I love, and challenged to spend every outing as if I’m in a brand new place. It’s easy to overlook the beauty of where you are and hold other cities, other dreams on a elevated level.
But there’s a charm about where I’m at, a happiness in every stage- whether I’m in New York City or home. Whether life is exciting or bland, there will always be those calm, ordinary moments that we can find joy in… it just takes a moment to pause and enjoy it.
Sometimes, these moments are mixed bags of good and bad. The harsh mountain wind. Joy’s little feet pitter-pattering around our apartment. The incredibly loud music from our downstairs neighbor. The mountains poking up around corners and buildings. The leaves that collect on our doormat. Do I notice these fleeting memories enough?
May I look for the calm moments despite the chaos, may I choose happiness in ordinary life.
Can I challenge you this week?
Let’s take a moment to set our distractions down – our phones, our computers, our TV – and spend some time in the little moments that are easy to forget. What is your favorite way to enjoy the little moments?