Pause and experience small joys on your journey!
It has been a year since my husband and I travelled to Costa Rica! What a wonderful trip that was, both our grand experiences ziplining, white water rafting and climbing a volcano, but also, and more especially for us, the fruits sampled from street vendors, the ceviche created by independent restauranteurs, ocean creatures we discovered while walking and snorkelling, and the conversations with the local people and guides. My husband and I enjoy spending time with local people, learning more about their culture and food, and practicing our skills with their language. They are rich experiences!
The greatest blessing of our trip however, was how we experienced Canada when we returned. We enjoyed all of our experiences in Costa Rica, but on the west side of the country during their wet season, it looks very much like much the central part of Canada. Looking at its landscapes from far away you cannot tell the difference. So, we returned we were determined to enjoy Canada, and our small corner of it, as if we were tourists. Now this was not a great stretch for us because we moved outside Holland Centre in Grey County 17 years ago because of what the area offers, but we do enjoy the little things more. You'll have to forgive me for bragging about our local area, but you should also know that none of these businesses know I am bragging about them, and I am not getting any benefits for doing so. As you will see, the benefits are available to everyone equally. This summer we have enjoyed kayaking on the Sauble River, a river that flows nicely all on its own so that if you want to just float down the river you can, and still make good time. And while we were there we stopped by the Southampton Olive Oil Company to buy my favourite, Coconut Balsamic Vinegar (don't even bother buying coconut vinegar from the grocery store, it is not even close...yes I tried it). You can try every product before you buy and this year I added a Lemon Balsamic because it was so good (I do have a few other flavours, but these are my current favourites).
Throughout the summer we enjoy ice cream at our local gas station, the Holland Centre Gas Bar (Canadians have been enjoying ice cream scooped at gas stations for generations and we continue to enjoy that tradition here in the country), where we buy a "baby" cone for $1.50. These cones are so big that my husband and I share one and we still have to ask them to stop adding ice cream to the cone so we don't waste it. The ice cream is made in Markdale, Ontario by Chapman's Ice Cream, a mere 20 minute drive from our house yet available to and enjoyed by tourists and Canadians across the country. How great is that!
We sit outside and enjoy our 49 acres of paradise at breakfast, lunch and dinner if it is not raining (it has been a little wet this summer). I love the rain...even this summer when we have had a lot of it and the yard still squishes when we walk on it. When you keep in mind that we need the rain as much as the sun the term "liquid sunshine" (taught to me by a dear friend) helps you keep it in perspective. I love the sound of it as well so no issues there.
We weed our raised bed garden (yes you really should try it, much easier to weed than a regular garden) and we continue to finish building our house. It has been 15 years and counting, but we love creating our paradise - 1600 square feet of joy...yes we are building it ourselves and no, nothing is conventional. I think I'll save the details of that joy for a blog post another day!
As you can see, I love the little things that bless my life. I think the biggest part of that is that I notice these small blessings. I live with a grateful heart and I acknowledge the blessings I have. You might think from this that I have never had challenges and that I have always lived life this way. Neither are true. I will not share my personal story with challenges, because I also acknowledge that we all have our challenges, whether the outside world knows about them or not. I will however share with you that what changed my life was an Oprah show. Oprah herself changed my life, but it started with the show when she invited Sarah Ban Breathnach to talk about her new book, "Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy". In that book Sarah highly recommended keeping a gratitude journal, and I did. I was not very grateful when I started because I was in a very dark place in my life at the time. That journal changed my life and I will be forever grateful to Sarah for writing her book, and to Oprah for introducing me to it. Simple steps that changed my life.
So, take a step towards experiencing the small joys on your journey, look at your local community as a tourist would - and go out and make today a great day!