don’t forget what you love

Darling – will you hear me for a second? Don’t forget to love the things you love. I relearned this for my own self recently, and I think the story is important. Get cozy.

I used to take my phone with me everywhere not so much for phone things but for the camera. In fact if there was a pretty aesthetic somewhere, I’d go and get my phone so I could try to find a way to photograph it. Raining? Let me find the prettiest view of raindrops through the right window. Sunshine? Maybe I could blow some bubbles and catch rainbow reflections. A pile of pillows in a coffee shop window? Excuse me while I’m the weirdo trying to subtly get the lighting just right and keep that lady working on her computer out of the photo. 

Two summers ago we moved up to a summer camp for my husband’s job and there was no cell signal. We had wi-fi in a few select locations, but I began to use the lack of reception and internet as a good reason to disconnect from my phone on a regular basis. I don’t think that was a bad idea, but I began to lose my habit of cell phone photography. I wasn’t a professional by any means – I just loved trying to capture moments of beauty. But slowly that capturing slipped away. A whole year went by that way. I even started taking walks at home without my phone. I don’t think that was a bad practice either, but maybe I was too thorough. I went through our second summer at camp and have scarcely any photographs to show for it. 

But now I’ve realized that since I’m not looking for beautiful pictures, I’m not even looking as much. I don’t notice the beautiful things that would have captivated me a year or two ago. And I miss that. 

I set out to spend less time with my phone and I accomplished that goal, but I should maybe have been more specific with myself. I should maybe spend less time scrolling through social media from the comfort of my cozy corner chair, and more time out photographing the pretty things I love to share on Instagram. So darling, don’t forget to love what you love. You can find yourself missing pieces of you that you never intended to let go of, and that would be a real heart-break. The world needs all the beauty you have to offer. 

It’s true that sometimes you need to step back from the things that you love for a little while. I stepped back from writing for a while and came back refreshed and ready to do more. It was wholesome, if tumultuous. I understand that we need breaks, time to rest, moments or months of quiet. But I came back and I think the coming back is important. 

I’m just now coming back to taking pictures on my cell phone and it’s giving me life in ways I had forgotten about. What beautiful things have you forgotten to love? What favorite habits or life-giving places have you been setting aside for too long? Don’t forget that it’s ok to love the simple things – taking walks or going for a run, walking through a greenhouse or planting a garden, sitting at a coffee shop or practicing a pour over. These little habits of ours are restful and nurturing and odds are when you neglect them they’re taking more from you than you know. 

Set aside some time to be frivolous. Take your phone with you on a long walk. Stop to photograph anything that catches your eye, big as a house or small as a leaf. Lace up your running shoes and do the extra mile, even if you feel like you should be home doing the dishes. Bake something and if you’re worried about that baking habit sticking to your hips, look up a new recipe and discover ways to make your favorite foods love you back. Just don’t forget to love the things that you love, babe.

life-changing

“Like I don’t want to hype the coffee up but it will change your life,” the text read. I almost laughed. Regardless of how life-changing the coffee will be at this new place, I am just looking forward to spending an evening with this wild, beautiful friend of mine.

Perhaps because I am a word-nerd and perhaps because I’m looking forward to good coffee, I’ve been thinking about that text message all day. (Heck maybe I’m just crazy for thinking about a text message all day. You decide.) Around lunch time, laughing through a staring contest with my toddler, the silly joy of it all just landed where I needed to hear it: what if you let it change your life?

Not in a big way – I don’t mean that. I’m not going to be stopping here every weekday AM for my morning coffee or anything. But I could let this expectation of great coffee fill my evening up with joy like a helium balloon so sky-bound it tugs against its string.

And if coffee can change my life, why not a silly staring contest with my toddler over lunch? Why not the contrasted flavor of sweet potatoes and a bowl of chili? Sometimes there just enough laughter involved in my grinning boy smearing his lunch across his tray (who says you can’t play with food?!) that clean up brings a memory and a smile, not a groan. On Wednesday the sky was pink with sunset clouds that hovered behind bare tree limbs. I left the sidewalk for the grass and snow, just to be more inside the sweet soft dusky beauty.

Maybe we need more moments like this. Maybe looking up at the smallest, most simple things can change our ordinary lives in the most profound ways of all.

courage, dear heart

2018: I set my Nalgene and books on a table by the window, claiming my seat. The windows of Peak Place Coffeehouse look right across the valleyed city towards the mountain; view well suited to name.

“Iced coffee with cream, please.” I tip fifty cents, exchange my greetings with the barista; we know each other.

Something prompts me to record the moment. I hold my camera up, trying to capture the beautiful mountain logo next to my coffee. My usual coffee; my usual tip; my usual seat. I don’t often photograph what I’m eating or drinking, no matter how aesthetic, but the moment seemed stirred with significance. I remember.

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2015: I have worked at this new bank for two weeks; maybe my discomfort and weariness is foreshadowing as well as adjustment. Every moment of work is a tense one, it seems to me. I come in early for a meeting, and leave to get coffee nearby during the hour before my shift. The keyed up nerves from work encroach on my sleep. However early I begin my day, I am already tired from worry the night before. I photograph my coffee, feeling my anonymity in the city with every patron’s glance that does not turn my way.

I put the photograph on Instagram – is it the only place people know me now? – and caption it desperately “That morning. That weariness. So: Courage, Dear Heart.”

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2018: I sit with this creamy coffee and savor the stillness inside. There is no desperate murmuring of courage quotes, no clinging to hopeful phrases in the wish that they penetrate my skin. I am full of hope. Courage is my quiet constant anthem. I have come through, I marvel softly. I have come through those years to life and life abundant.

Coffee drunk for hope tastes of temporary sweetness, part-time courage. Coffee drunk in triumph plays the tang against the cream and all that is sweet is sweeter still in victory. Have I ever had such good coffee?

Have hope. Your breaking heart was meant to be whole and God writes stories that put the pieces back together. Maybe it will be these three years of trying before you remember who you are but don’t you give up, darling.

Don’t you ever give up.