It’s time for recess

I have so many different sorts of things I could tell you about today, but I decided it’s time for us to sit upon the ground and tell joyful stories in the manner of children.

Why? Because adults often forget that they are allowed to have fun, even though it’s one of the chief joys of the universe. Fun is one of the things that sees you through, and allows you to be creative.

Today I’m going to share some fun and inspiring things from the land of children for you all. You don’t have to have children or even be fond of them. This is for you. I promise.

  • Sherlock does Sesame Street: Have you ever seen intense actor Benedict Cumberbatch in his role as the famous sleuth? He is the model of focus, but even he can let loose with the Muppets.
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon: There’s no need to get all your wisdom from Oprah. All you need is this kid’s classic and you’ll realize that you control your own destiny and you can design it as you go. It’s short but wise beyond its pages. You’ll even get to see a moose eat pie.
  • Neil Gaiman reading Green Eggs and HamBoth Neil Gaiman and Dr. Seuss were absent the day the memo went out that adults are supposed to be serious all the time. Listen to this for a smile.

You may feel you are too responsible to possibly take a moment out for this story time. I would argue that it would be irresponsible for you to skip it. The nap and the glass of juice afterwards are optional, but I’d recommend those, too. You’ll feel better after a little recess. I promise.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
275. When was the last time you took some time for a little play? Take some as soon as possible. Follow the links, blow some bubbles, or create your own magic. How was it? When are you going to do it again?

With lots of windows

I’m enjoying my new apartment. There are still lots of boxes to tunnel through, but the bones of the place are stunning. I’ve got exposed brick walls, high ceilings, and fancy molding. I’ve got pocket doors and a claw foot tub. The guy who looked at the apartment before I did was upset that it wasn’t more modern. Did I mention the claw foot tub?

I’ve been spending a lot of time in that tub since I moved in. There’s something so simple yet so luxurious about sitting in soapy scented water and just allowing the world to pass by. I love to relax in water of all variations. A long hot shower can steam my troubles away, and I like to wade in swimming pools. As much as I love water I’ve never learned to swim. I plan to remedy that someday.

I have also been luxuriating in my solitude. I most recently shared an apartment with two housemates. That was a fun arrangement and I enjoyed many aspects of it. I’m also glad to have my quiet time back and a little more control over my surroundings. I get a little thrill when I realize that I alone will decide where to place the plates and mugs. I’ve spent a lot of my adult life in shared living situations, so these minor freedoms seem very decadent. I’m thoroughly enjoying each small liberty.

While I unpack I’m also taking the time to get to know my apartment. Each place I’ve lived has had a different character to it, and I find that I therefore live differently in them. This place has plaster walls that cannot tolerate nails well, so I’ll be hanging fewer pictures. I may find another way to display my treasures or I may leave things blank for a while. I’m still deciding how to bring this space to its highest potential.

I also believe that a relationship with an apartment is like any other relationship—while I work to arrange the space to suit my desires the space will slowly be affecting my own perceptions and lifestyle. I can’t wait to see what new fun this apartment will bring my way.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

139. How do you interact with your living space and the people in it? Consider this while enjoying one of your own small luxuries.

I’ll take the express

Tonight I’m off to square dancing class. I’ll have some down time before I get there, because I’m riding the bus. I got rid of my car once I moved to Seattle because we are such a transit-friendly city, and I rarely miss it. These enforced breaks between activities allow me to read, to ponder, to work on my writing. Sometimes I just watch the pigeons and people around me. I remain productive, even when that productivity is limited to regaining my energy. It’s all good. 

I’m prepared for this time. I’ve got bubbles in my purse, and I pick the size of my bags based on whether or not they’ll fit a paperback novel. I’m currently reading a private eye mystery. I’ve also got paper and a pen. Who knows what I’ll need to write down—I might overhear an interesting conversation or get an idea for this blog. I might meet someone on the bus. It’s happened before. 

I love the bus because I get time to explore neighborhoods I don’t otherwise venture into. My square dance class is in Green Lake. It’s very pretty up there, with lots of cute little shops near the lake itself. The lake reminds me of many I met during my time in Minnesota. It’s fairly small—about three miles circumference—and often ringed with bikers, skaters and pedestrians. I get a warm feeling just looking at it. 

If I was driving I would most likely pick the shortest route and arrive just before my activity started. I’d plan to investigate the neighborhood on some other day. That day might come, and it might not. The bus forces me to slow down, to become a tourist in my own town. There are a lot of pretty churches up there, and I enjoy looking at the flowers which are just coming out into the front yards. I saw a forsythia in blossom, and I knew it was spring. 

I’m looking forward to my walk in Green Lake today. It’ll be a good warm-up for the dancing and I think I’ll go down a different street than last time. What will I find? Where it will lead me? I aim to find out. 

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

71.  Explore an unfamiliar neighborhood. Peruse its shops, look at its architecture. Did you find something intriguing?

Down in my heart

Today is one of my busy days—so much to do, so many places to be. When I’m awash in errands and work, I wish I was home instead, washing dishes. I have housemates, and we’ve got a dishwasher, but I actually prefer to do plates and cups in a sink full of suds. The world can be screaming its hubbub all around me, but I am happy with my hands submerged, the lemony scent of Joy rising up from my work.

It’s not just the water that I like, although I do love the water. Showers, tubs, pools and jacuzzis all float my boat, as the saying goes. I like to wash dishes for the tactile pleasure, and I love the feeling of accomplishment. It’s so easy to see progress. After a meal, or even a few meals, you have a stack of grubby plates and cups. Crumbs and sauces stick to the silverware. Half an hour of good clean fun and you’ve got a shiny stack of dishes. You might even be able to convince someone cute to help you dry them.

I like to wash dishes at Zen retreats, too. I am often tasked to help in the kitchen, and the work is a nice break from sitting meditation. Being still all day is not really as appealing as it sounds. When I get a chance to move after hours on my cushion I am ready to take on the world, or at least some dirty bowls. It feels almost sinful.

This blog is about joy, and I’m going to include the dishwashing fluid within its boundaries. I think the advertising executives named their soap Joy so that people would imagine a happier kitchen. Yes, it’s a marketing trick, but I don’t think their intention really matters. Who can’t benefit from a cheerful bottle on their countertop reminding them of one of life’s greatest necessities? Isn’t it joyful to make your home a nicer place, to take care of the person who matters the most? I think everything is connected, so I know that if I start by making my little corner of the universe all squeaky clean that feeling will spread out in bright yellow waves. All this for a squirt of soap and some hot water—what a bargain!

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

68. Wash some dishes by hand. Really pay attention to what you are doing. Did you enjoy it?

Just purse your lips and blow

What if I told you that you could keep hundreds of pieces of art in your jacket pocket? That in the same little container you would hold a substance that could make grumpy people smile? That this very same bottle could be an instantaneous source of personal amusement without any batteries?

How much would you pay for something like that? What if I told you that your masterpieces could fly? How much would you pay now?

You’d probably pay less than two dollars, because this little cylinder of magic is inexpensive and available nearby. Don’t send money, don’t order anything online! What is this elixir of joy? Bubbles! Pustefix is my very favorite brand, but any kind will do, and I carry them all the time. I love Pustefix because the solution comes in a brightly-colored vial and the lid has a wand attached right to the top. No more fishing in the soap, no spilling in your pocket. And they make the most glorious globes of rainbow-hued glass, floating orbs that last a long time before they burst. All these things are important, my friends.

I carry bubbles for many reasons. They give me joy, and they help me spread joy to others. I’ve heard many a “right-on” and a giggle as I blow them amongst the skyscrapers or out into the streets. (For those who do not live in the Pacific Northwest, “right-on” is the local patois of approval.) I love to watch the fluid colors move on something that seems solid, and I find that when I slowly blow out a stream of bubbles I relax without effort. I’ve never smoked, but I imagine that the slow breathing is part of the thrill. Sometimes when I need to escape a hot nightclub for some air I even stand and blow bubbles with the smokers. At those times I’ll often pick one bubble to watch as it floats up into the streetlights. I watch that very same bubble until it suddenly dissolves into the air or disappears in the wind. Voila, meditation without cushions. No stiff knees, no Zen center required. Look—up in the sky—is it a bird? Is it a plane? No—it’s bubbles! Right-on.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
6. Find some bubbles of your very own—doesn’t matter what brand—and try it out for yourself.