14,000 Things to Be Happy About.

The post-Christmas doldrums have hit me again, accompanied by several cloudy, drizzly (and at times, torrentially downpour-y) days here in Dallas while Steven has been gone with his staff at the Urbana missions conference in St. Louis. Yesterday, I had finally had enough. I decided to quit ho-humming around the house and regain some perspective.

I put Greta in her crate so I could have some "me" time. I then gathered my charming December issue of Coastal Living and a little gem of a book called 14,000 Things To Be Happy About by Barbara Ann Kipfer and locked myself inside the bathroom. After filling my pedestal tub just below the drain line (so the water doesn't make that funny sucking noise) with cotton-puff-piles of bubbles and about 20 drops of lavender oil, I soaked. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. And soaked and soaked and soaked.

For some reason, the Happy book usually resides in the shelf nook of the telephone table in our livingroom. I have no idea why. No one touches it, or picks it up to enjoy a few pages, or even realizes its there. But yesterday, it was the perfect remedy.

The Happy book is a conglomeration of Barbara Ann Kipfer's 20 years of "happy thing lists." It's written as a list of word pictures with no capitalization, line after line for 612 pages of things that make you smile. It's a chubby book, indeed. As I soaked in my aromatheraputic haven and read, I was reminded again how much more I have than I deserve. So many of the moments described in the book made me smile because I had already experienced them!

Here are some of my favorite lines from the book, scattered with my own photos showing how I've experienced them...

* a lake catching the last flecks of sunlight coming in over the pines

* a boat tour to see picturesque little ocher-and-red villages

* brand-new notebooks

* braiding-gimp at camp

* the delicious smell of cooking food and the hustle and bustle of the preparation

* doing your own thing

* lakeside roads with farm stands offering apples, pumpkins, pears, and other fruits and vegetables

* splendid "dunkers" with coffee

* hymn-sings

* cinnamon coffeecake

* dinner with laughter

* rooms with polished pine floorboards and doorjambs that tilt and slant and extra touches like silk flowers and current issues of antique and wildlife magazines

* stopping being a perfectionist

* personality profiles

* the first week of school

* a shrug of the shoulder when things don't get done

* a new canvas

* braking for rainbows

* a cardinal's brilliance against the snow

* a cathedral of trees

* seeing happy parents

* a "winged" hairstyle after wearing a baseball cap

* spending the morning in bed, watching old movies, collaborating on the crossword puzzle, making popcorn, napping, exchanging long stories of childhood, ordering in pizza, and just being lazy

* the cool underside of a pillow

* panoramic murals

* taking a walk when the world is too much

* running down a beach

* cinnamony aplesauce

* old childhood books

* people knowing where they stand with you

* wet babies

* feeling witty, confident, devastatingly feminine

* washing the car while barefoot

* carrying cups of coffee out to the porch to enjoy the morning sunshine

In only 29 years, I've seen more places than some see in a lifetime. Although I would characterize myself as an introvert, I've been blessed with many friendships around the world and more memories than I can count. My life has been filled with many joyful celebrations. There is so much more life to live. In fact, if I compiled a book of all of my happy things, I'd have way more than 14,000 lines.

* B/W dinner photo taken by Jeremy Cowart.
* Rainbow photo taken coincidentally by Stephanie Woodward on our wedding day, before we knew her! Same rainbow Steven & I saw on the way to our reception.
* B/W pic of me on a walk in NYC with the umbrella taken by Susan Bill.