Finding Grandeur in the Little Things


grandeur little things Providence Moms BlogI got the text at 7:47 a.m. on a raw January morning—it was my best friend passing along a link. She didn’t say anything about it; she just gently placed it in my text message inbox and carried on with her day. I thought nothing of it and went on with my day until I got a breather and opened it.

By now, most of us have read the posthumous letter from a dying 26-year-old. It’s an odd feeling to read about someone younger than you passing away—it’s a sweet and sour mix of survivor’s guilt and gratitude that you get one more day on earth to “live right.” After opening the link from my friend and reading that letter, I ugly cried in the office bathroom for a bit until I could get in my car and head back home.

The blessing and  curse of that drive home was that it was a two-hour commute from my company’s Connecticut office. If you know me, you know I’m not idle—I’m always busily making, doing, or organizing something, especially with two toddlers in the house; I simply don’t sit still. Spending two hours in a car leaves me alone with my thoughts—something I appreciate, but don’t do often.

On that ride home, I thought of that letter and the type of life I want to be living. It brought my mind to a quote from a book I just finished by Shauna Niequist called Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life. It goes:

“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my every day to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”  

In that moment, I decided to more frequently appreciate the grandeur of the little things in life—the taste of the first sip of coffee on a weekend morning, a soft, clean bed at the end of a long day, or the warm winter sun that dazzles through our living room window, lighting up the floor while our kids dance and giggle.

And during that drive, I made several commitments to myself. It went like this:

  1. Be kind to yourself—physically and mentally. Push yourself to the limits, but don’t get so obsessed with achievement that you forget to appreciate and care for your body and mind. Stop dwelling and mentally beating yourself up. You can always be and do more, but in this moment, you are enough.
  2. Be more giving. More smiles, more hellos, more compliments. Have you ever received a compliment early in the day—“you look great in that color,” or “wow, your hair looks nice today,”,and it’s carried with you all day like your own personal sun hanging over your head? Compliments are free to give and they can do wonders. I must remember that everyone is fighting their own battle and a small gesture often goes a long way.
  3. Be mindful of celebrating the journey, not just the destination. I’m slated to compete in a fitness competition in April—my first—and part of my “year of yes” decision-making journey (oof). When I set a goal for myself, I’m often motivated by the “moment of glory”—the stepping on stage and feeling proud. Because of this, I often forget about the thousands of tiny steps in which I should celebrate, like the 3:45 a.m. wakeups, the three hours of food prep on weekends, and the BYO lunches and dinners to every. single. occasion. Achievement is marked by more than a Grammy Award or a plush corner office—it’s the thousands of steps beforehand. Celebrate all of those.
  4. Be brave enough to say sorry first. As a stubborn, proud, strong-willed Scorpio, it’s uncomfortable for me to be the first to reach out after a disagreement or, even worse, admit wrongdoing and say sorry (gulp). I vow to swallow my pride and remember that “winning” doesn’t trump relationships with another human.
  5. Be thankful. Reflecting on life’s successes, I can remember a former colleague saying his “toast always fell butter-side up.” There is so much in life that we can credit to hard work, but an equal amount to luck—to falling and hoping that our toast falls butter side up. For so many, the toast falls facedown. I strive to be thankful for the moments my toast lands right-side up and be helpful to others when theirs doesn’t; there are many times in life when mine doesn’t—and won’t—either.

Some say, “life is short” and I had a colleague that said, “life is long”—both true statements that help me justify whatever irrational thing I want to do or buy 😉 (although my life insurance rep and estate planner may feel differently). I say, “life is uncertain”—it’s short and long, it’s messy, it’s challenging, but if you can strive to be a better person while appreciating the magnificence of it all, well, that’s a beautiful thing.