Updated: May 31, 2022
The word "life" seems vast and infinite. Whenever I hear the word life, I immediately think of time. I begin reflecting upon all of the significant events in my life. It is very easy to get caught up in the daily hustle and bustle of life and not take the time to appreciate the beauty of nature, small acts of kindness, and moments of gratitude and thoughtfulness. The truth is, we tend to focus more on the major events of our lives because they are so ingrained in our memory that we overlook the little things. The purpose of this blog is to inspire you to become more aware of your surroundings, more appreciative of what you have, more sensitive to random acts of kindness, and more curious about humanity and the world. So, I invite you to take the time to slow down and observe your surroundings. Find something good that moves your heart and makes you smile. Break free from time constraints and take a moment to appreciate the simple things in life.
*Here are a few of my personal observations and stories from over the years about the simple things in life.
1) The beauty of nature.
Nature is a rebel. Regardless of what happens in the world, nature persists in performing its duties. Even in the face of war, pandemics, natural disasters, political instability, life, and even death, nature continues. Yet, the beauty of nature is often overlooked.
Alice Walker wrote in her book The Color Purple, "I think it [turns] God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don't notice it." Nature is a personal therapist who says nothing but speaks volumes.
2) The laughter of children.
One summer night, as I returned home, I saw children catching fireflies. They were laughing and running around without a care in the world. When they would catch a firefly in their cupped hands, they would slowly open it up and giggle as it flew away. It warmed my heart to see children playing outside without fear. The infectious laughter of children can make even the hardest of hearts smile.
3) The beauty of flowers.
There is something about the vibrant colors of flowers that can transform your mood. Its fragrant smell draws you to it. The petals of flowers have such an intricate, layered arrangement that they still have plenty of petals to display their beauty even if one falls to the ground. The exquisite detail within the parts of a flower convinces me that God is an artist. It seems like God purposely created seeds within every living thing to keep bringing forth beautiful creations.
4) The wings of a bird.
I watched a bird clean its wings in a park while perched on top of a sign. It looked small and unassuming until it prepared to fly. Then, the bird stretched its wings, revealing its entire wingspan in all its glory. Its feathers were all arranged asymmetrically for flight. Seeing it soar through the air was truly spectacular. It amazes me how something as light as a feather can defy gravity so well that it glides through the air with ease despite strong winds.
5) The peacefulness of flowing water.
Flowing water is a sanctuary for the mind. Water has a soothing effect on the spirit. There is something about the sounds of trickling water that brings our minds into balance. Maybe water relaxes us because we first experienced it as infants in our mothers' wombs. Nobody knows for sure. However, when I sit near a body of water, whether it's an ocean, a river, or even a small creek, the stress of everyday life suddenly slips away, and I feel calm.
6) Simple acts of chivalry.
Story 1 - As I was walking to an elevator on the way to an appointment, I passed by an older gentleman. He was on a walker and slowly making his way down the hall towards the elevator. I noticed him right away because he was dressed so sharply. When I got into the elevator, I held the door open for him. Before he could get into the elevator, other people jumped in ahead of him, completely ignoring him. When he finally approached the elevator, he tipped his hat to me and said, "Good morning." Then everyone on the elevator became quiet, perhaps ashamed of how they treated him. The way he tipped his hat to me made me feel special. I was like, "Who does that anymore?"
Story 2 - I was visiting an elementary school, and as I walked to the door, a first-grade student ran up and held the door open for me. This simple act made me smile.
Story 3 - A few weeks ago, my mom visited me in Baltimore, and she seems to like it! I heard story after story of how the men in Baltimore treat her whenever she comes through the Amtrak Station. If you ask me, I think that's the real reason she visits me! One time she got lost, and one of the male train attendants helped her and waited with her until she got on the right train. I thought she wasn't going to ever stop smiling. Then, as we were leaving Charm City Restaurant, my mom was struggling to get the door open, and a man walked up and said, "Let me open the door for you." So, she started smiling again. I will have to keep an eye on my mother when she comes to visit! It's good to know that chivalry still exists in the world.
7) A hug.
I entered a school cafeteria full of children. One of those students was from my former school. The moment he saw me, he wanted to hug me. But due to the pandemic, it was awkward not being able to embrace him. We did the elbow greeting instead. Today, hugging is considered sacred, especially in light of the current pandemic. In the past, we simply gave each other hugs as a routine gesture without much thought. However, the recent pandemic has brought a renewed appreciation for hugs after being unable to spend time with loved ones for months, and for some, a full year. So, if the environment is safe, may your hugs with your loved ones be intentional and full of love for one another.
8) The anomaly of a face-to-face conversation.
In the age of social media, text messages, and cell phones, it is rare to see people talking for extended periods of time without looking down at their devices. These devices are void of tone, emotions, genuine expressions, and the human spirit. During these times, getting to know someone is equivalent to clicking on a link and visiting their social media page. But this is superficial. A person's social media page does not represent who they are. I had a whole conversation with friends yesterday, and I could see, hear, and feel their words and emotions. There were no misunderstandings or misinterpreted tones. We actually spoke without our electronic devices. Tevin Campbell's song "Can We Talk for a Minute? " is still relevant today. We cannot forget the importance of face-to-face conversations, of looking into another person's eyes and observing their reactions. Can we talk?
9) Waking up in the morning.
Every day that you wake up in the morning is a wonderful gift. You made it through another day. There's a reason you're alive to see the sunrise, the blue skies, birds singing, and a purpose calling you. Breathe and be thankful.
10) Saying thank you.
Story 1 - I had the opportunity to read my children's book at school during American Education Week. I received dozens of thank you letters saying how much the book had affected their lives. It was an unforgettable experience.
Story 2: My school held its third-quarter awards ceremony. A parent of a 1st grader stopped me in the hall and said, "Thank you. You know you laid that foundation, right?" Then she hugged me. I was emotional. It meant so much to me. Teachers need to hear those two words. It is a simple 'thank you' that lets you know your labor was appreciated, and it was not in vain.
11) Visiting the library and getting a library card.
I am an educator in Baltimore. Growing up, I enjoyed reading and going to the library. I remember walking into a library for the first time as a child. There were so many books. The library was a whole new world, literally. I could borrow any book I wanted for free! I assumed everyone checked out books from the library. Unfortunately, I was wrong. After reading a story to my class, I asked my students if they had a library card. Out of 23 students, only one person raised their hand! I thought to myself, "This is crazy." Some of my students had never been to a library before. The following day, I started a library card drive. I went down to the library to pick up library card applications. I sent them home with my students. Once they returned their applications, they received their library cards. I can still remember the smiles on their faces when they received their cards. It was such a simple gesture, but it made a significant impact.
12) A smile.
It costs nothing to smile. Turn someone's frown upside down by smiling. “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which has the potential to turn a life around." - Leo F. Buscaglia
13) Recognizing the "behind-the-scenes" worker.
The people or employees who work behind the scenes to make things happen are often overlooked. Most organizations or agencies today exist as a result of people putting in hours of effort behind the scenes to achieve success. Unfortunately, we tend to give credit and promotions to the "brown-nosers" and those who are friends with management. Leaders must be wise enough to see through the murky waters of labor to recognize those who are genuinely working hard without receiving any recognition. People who are producing quality work should be acknowledged. These are your true workers.
14) A cold glass of sweet tea.
Nothing beats a cold glass of sweet tea on a hot summer day. It brings me back to my southern roots with front porch gossip, green bean snapping, and a cool breeze. Simple things.
15) A compliment.
When someone says, "You look good," it changes your whole mood. Compliments have a way of making you smile. If you see something beautiful in someone, speak it.
16) Hiding notes of love and uplifting messages around the house.
It's simple to show your loved ones how much you love and appreciate them. Hide love notes or uplifting messages in places you know they frequent. For example, if your children are of age and still at home, leave an uplifting message for them on their bedroom mirror, such as "I am proud of you" or "I love you." Send them a "just because" text if they are not at home. You can leave heart pictures or smiley faces if your children are young. They will love it. Leave notes for your spouse or significant other. Place it near the coffee mug, the steering wheel of their vehicle, the bathroom mirror, or the shower door. If you're looking for a wild night, set the mood with your love notes! Am I helping anyone? Now, if your kids find your notes, you don't have to be embarrassed. They are just witnesses to love in action. Simple things.
17) Just being there.
People who are there for you when you need them are priceless. In some cases, they don't even have to say a word. Looking up and seeing their face or hearing their voice provides all the assurance you need. We never forget the ones who showed up. Just be there.
18) Praying for someone.
I believe the most selfless thing you can do for anyone is to pray for them. It is unobtrusive, and it's between you and God. It is an act of love to bring someone else's needs before the heart of God. Seeing your prayers answered is an even greater blessing. Pray for one another.
*Note - Some observations occurred at different times, either before or during the pandemic.