Things I Know I Love

Years ago, during a particularly rough patch of solo-parenting (John’s work schedule had him away regularly), I flipped to the back of my planner and made a list titled, quite unoriginally: Things I Like. At the time I was most certainly not enjoying: feeding, bathing, and diapering little kids by myself. Bedtime was an exhausting trainwreck; mornings weren’t much better. So it helped, a bit, to be able to reference a list of things I actually enjoyed, including: thick blankets, hot showers, watching Blue Jays baseball, and eating sushi.

While I’m still no fan of solo-parenting, life looks a lot different these days. There are no diapers to change and mornings/bedtime are a lot more tolerable without an infant or toddler in the house. More generally, I’m being intentional about spending time doing things that I actually like doing (and finding ways, where appropriate, to avoid the rest).

So I don’t love fresh flowers or sweating or spicy food or rollercoasters…but here are some things I do love.

  • Photography. Taking photos, editing photos, looking at others’ photos – I love it all.
  • Tidying/Decluttering. Organizing a sock drawer, clearing out the fridge, sorting through old clothes in a closet – these are happy activities that both calm and energize me.
  • Reading. I’ve loved books my whole life and browsing at a library or looking over at my bedside table and seeing a stack of new books never fails to fill me with joy.
  • Writing cheques. I’ve talked about this quirk before, but I absolutely love writing cheques. Weird/random, I know.
  • Going to my favourite coffee shop. I don’t go often (an average of once a month?), and I always get the same thing (Earl Grey with oat milk), but I love this space. Sometimes I meet friends and other times I take a book or my laptop and enjoy solitude. It’s such a warm, inviting place.
  • Eating. While there are a few things I tend to avoid (cheese, spicy food, and quiche), for the most part I love all foods. I know many people enjoy eating, so this isn’t necessarily very original but, occasionally, I hear about someone who genuinely doesn’t care about how food tastes or looks (how, I ask?!) – or has a lot of food intolerances – and it just reiterates how much I love food and appreciate my ability to enjoy a wide variety of foods! Favourites: sushi, roasted sweet potato, peanut butter, eggs (any form but quiche), oatmeal, Twizzlers, cherry cheesecake.
  • Hot showers. While I’m not always a fan of getting wet – mostly because I find it a huge nuisance to deal with wet hair – I love long, hot showers. The long and hot parts are key. I don’t take one every day, but in the winter a hot shower is one of my favourite things to do when I’m tired and cold. (Incidentally, I loathe baths and often go years without taking one.)
  • Massages. I know some people don’t like the sensation of a massage (especially face massages), but I love them. One year we had an especially great insurance plan and I maxed out every penny of my massage allowance!
  • Opening curtains in the morning. Specific, I know, but opening curtains never fail to delight me – even if I’m in a hotel room. I crave natural light and find any space looks mildly (or, in some cases, majorly) depressing until the curtains and blinds are open. Thankfully we have a lot of windows in our house and once everything is opened up our house is very bright.
  • Closing curtains/turning on lamps at night. On the flip side, I love making the house cozy and warm in the evening. Shutting curtains and blinds and turning off overhead lights in exchange for softer lamp light makes for a satisfying evening transition.
  • Laughing. I love to laugh. John makes an effort to get a chuckle (or cackle, I have a range of equally awkward hilarious laughter sounds) at every available opportunity and he is usually successful. I’m trying to go out of my way to seek laughter these days. In terms of a specific comedian, Nate Bargatze is my favourite because of his deadpan delivery and the fact his material is family-friendly (I don’t enjoy crass humour, which seems to make up the majority of standup acts).
  • Behind-the-scenes. I love documentaries and memoirs. When I was in high school, I went through a major Tolkien phase. As much as I loved the actual Lord of the Rings movies, what I liked far more was watching behind-the-scenes footage – learning about costume design and location scouting or watching outtakes was the epitome of good entertainment to me.

I also love: going to art galleries or museums with John, holding hands with the kids when we’re out running errands, warm Magic bags when I’m cold, long walks with family and friends, washing dishes (if there aren’t too many and my sink will drain), the smell of permanent marker and, well, a lot of other things!

The older I get, the more I’m learning to give myself permission to be okay with admitting there are things I simply don’t enjoy. I don’t have to eat the melted cheese on lasagne or hop on a rollercoaster. I realize that saying yes to uncomfortable things can be fun and part of life’s adventure – to that end, there is a good chance I will end up on a rollercoaster this summer. I try to factor in the discomfort where it feels appropriate and a net-positive experience.

But other times, it’s okay to admit that life feels best when I’ve closed the curtains and turned on the lamps by 6 pm on a Saturday night. Closely followed by hopping in for a hot shower and putting on cozy PJ’s before sitting down to watch Nate Bargatze on an at-home date night with John.

Your turn. What are some things – big or small – you genuinely enjoy? Does anyone reading here like baths, leave curtains closed during the day, and feel apathetic about photography?

Header photo by Eddie & Carolina Stigson on Unsplash

26 thoughts on “Things I Know I Love”

  1. You and my husband are two peas in a pod about writing cheques. He loves that, too.

    Things I love: drinking a mug of coffee in the early morning while sitting outside enjoying nature; clean sheets; the scent of shampoo while I was my hair; and TV sitcoms with great writing, unique characters.

    1. Wow – I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone mention enjoying cheque-writing. I’m not sure why I like it so much but I really dislike spending money?! Nevertheless, I’m practically giddy when I fill out a cheque.

      A hot cup of coffee enjoyed outside (especially on a slightly crisp, sunny summer morning) is hard to beat. I also love great sitcoms!

  2. Things I genuinely love: Leisurely afternoon walks with the dog when I can let her sniff as much as she wants; the sound of the streets after a snowstorm; the way neighbors pile out of their homes during a power outage; watching my nieces and nephews invent a game, play it, and referee the rules themselves without any interference from adults; when the cat is so happy laying on my that she starts drooling; the satisfaction of turning the last page on a book that is a 5/5. This was a great exercise for me to start my day.

    1. I love how you added the “genuine” to your statement. It’s so easy to say: “I love such-and-such” but I don’t know if we often take the time to think about what, at the deepest level, feeds our soul in terms of activities. We don’t love them because someone else told us to, they just flow effortlessly and bring joy.

      The satisfaction of finishing a 5/5 book is such a great one! I love how specific you were, too. I know exactly what you mean about the street sounds after a snowstorm <3

  3. I love opening up the blinds in the morning. I do my yoga early in the morning and this time of year, I get to watch the sky brighten and the sunrise. It’s one of my favourite things.

    I have lots of things I love! Reading, gardening, being outside in general, getting sweaty, listening to music, playing piano…so many things I can’t even list!

    1. I am not a morning person (sigh) so I rarely see the sunrise, but your description sounds lovely and I can see why it’s such a treasured part of your day.

  4. I do not like baths at all!!! Would be fine if I never took one again in my life. We have a big soaker tub in our bathroom and I would love to get rid of it when/if we remodel some day because it’s a total waste of space and something we never use!

    Things I do love: hearing Paul spontaneously tell me he loves me, family walks/scoots, running with my neighbor and running by myself, coffee with sugar-free vanilla creamer from Aldi, a bowl of ice cream with m&ms on top, the smell of food grilling, natural sunlight and long days of sunlight (although they wreak havoc on my kids sleep, even with black out curtains – they must hear the birds or something??), reading my husband’s humor section in his company’s monthly finance publication (such a quirky thing his company provides but it’s one of the most read sections since he is very funny!) and enjoying a glass of white wine at the end of the day.

    It’s good to focus on the positive because there are a number of things I’m not loving right now. Like Will’s sleep – I think he’s going through a sleep regression. Bedtime is rough and he wakes at night at times and it is very hard to get him back to sleep. And Paul’s bedtime isn’t exactly easy either and both boys are up before 6 most days and sometimes as early as 5… So it’s good think about all the good that offsets the crappy sleep!

    1. Yup. I’m a hard pass on baths. Ironically, I heard someone discussing a recent bathroom remodel where they had switched from a shower surround to a bathtub and I (silently in my head) was screaming “Why would anyone do that??!!!” Even my kids almost exclusively shower and have since they were about 1 or 2?

      Your “loves” sound wonderful and yes…toddler sleep regressions are a form of parental torture!

  5. So good and timely to return to the online world and land on this post! I have been busy doing things for “me” this past month or two now my daughter has entered into a new stage. She has a kind of placement that takes her out of the home a few days a week and it’s been incredibly eye-opening for me to say, “Hey, what do ‘I’ want to do!” Consequently, right now I am enjoying studying for my yoga teacher training, sitting on my day bed drinking tea whilst looking out of the open hatch onto the canal and not feeling like I need to be anywhere else. I also enjoyed an afternoon of cooking Greek food with my husband and daring to dream about the “next” chapter. It’s kind of crazy how quickly time flies. I hope you are well, Elizabeth. Glad to catch up!

    1. So nice to “hear” your voice again, Alice! Time does fly and we might as well fill as much of it as possible doing things we enjoy, right?! Sometimes it seems we almost have to give ourselves permission to do this, though.
      Glad to hear you’ve had some space to think and grow over the last few months and drinking tea while looking out onto a canal sounds lovely!

  6. We have some of these in common- I love reading, eating, earl grey tea… i don’t love writing checks so much, but to each his own.
    I’m glad to hear you like massages! I know some people don’t, but as a massage therapist, that baffles me! Massages feel SO GOOD!!!
    I love how you have little things on yours, like opening the curtains in the morning. It’s good to appreciate the pleasure in these moments. You’re inspiring me to make my own list!

    1. The writing cheques one is out there, I admit.
      I can’t imagine how anyone wouldn’t enjoy a massage but, as I’ve said before, I do have a very, very sensitive back at first. Once my nerves calm down (I’m not nervous, my actual physical nerves), a massage is just about #1 on my “love” list but maybe some people have a lingering sensitivity?
      Can’t wait to see your list <3

  7. I agree with every word of your hot showers bullet — I ALSO hate being wet, and loathe baths, but long, hot showers are an occasional decadence.

    Have you ever written about reading slumps and how to combat them? I am in a very thick reading slump, and because — like you — I LOVE to read, it’s making me feel wan and incomplete. My normal solutions (reading old favorites, reading something hotly anticipated) have fallen mostly flat and I don’t liiiiiike this. šŸ™

    1. Baths are just…icky to me. And I always feel overheated and dirty after a bath. But I know other people who bathe EVERY day. To each their own, I guess!

      Hmmm. I’ve definitely had reading slumps but right now I’m just not reading and it feels AMAZING. More on this tomorrow, but I’ve had a somewhat unplanned break from books coming in from the library and I haven’t even picked up much beloved books from my shelf and as much as I thought it would feel weird (I usually have something on the go), I’m actually really, really enjoying the break. Reading was starting to feel like a bit of a chore lately. That said, I almost always have a major dip in my reading over the summer – I read a lot of books in the fall/winter. I don’t like reading books on the beach or outside, so it seems like summer is a natural lull for me in terms of books. Maybe if I hop on the Kindle bandwagon I’d feel a bit differently?

  8. It’s always a good reminder to go through the things we love, so we can do more of them! I also don’t like being wet, but love showers. I also love baths, but our bathtub is tiny and filled with toys so that rarely happens.

    Other things I love: hiking, the first cup of tea in the morning, reading outside in my hammock, snacks, bubbly water, and making art/playing with paper/writing letters.

    1. The first cup of tea/coffee is magical. I’m drinking mine as I read your comment and couldn’t agree more.

  9. OMG I so wish you lived down the road, I would join you in your favourite cafe, although I would be drinking a herbal as tea makes me ill, eating, laughing (and yes I too have a selection too) and talking about behind the scenes of anything we might have both watched.. I love all those things and opening the curtains of a morning, closing them at night to make the house cosy and decluttering. Great post Elisabeth, thank you for sharing.

    1. Sounds like we’re kindred spirits on things we “love!”
      It made me laugh that you say you have a “selection” of laughs, too! I chortle, cackle, belly laugh…it’s all pretty funny.

  10. I’m glad to find another human that likes having their curtains and blinds opened in the morning! Our house does not get a lot of natural light (something I did not notice when made our offer) so ALL the blinds get opened every morning (unless I leave for work before my husband gets up – this is rare. And on those days, they get opened in the afternoon when I get home). I have noticed that a LOT of people in this neighborhood don’t open their blinds; which baffles me to no end.

    1. Yes – it baffles me too! I remember a friend who ALWAYS kept all the bedroom doors closed during the day which made the hallway look soooo dark and depressing to me. I couldn’t imagine doing such a thing (in addition to opening curtains, I always want all the doors open, too, so natural light floods everywhere.

      My Mom has always LOVED, LOVED, LOVED natural light and they have an insane number of windows in their home (granted they live in the middle of the woods, so there is a lot of shading from trees) and I think I developed my need for light from her. I don’t like being in basements or even bedrooms during the day – put me where the light is streaming in.

  11. great post! It made me think what small things that I enjoy doing. quiet morning in the darkness and total silence is definitely one, lazy weekends, hours reading without needing to rush, naps, massage, hosting dinner parties with few close friends, cooking for the family a new recipe, take walk with the girls, last mile of a long run… so many actually. I’ll write a post about it too, thanks for the inspiration.

  12. Solo parenting is most definitely on my list of DO NOT LIKE. I love your list of attainable likes, and I am going to make my own as I embark on a solo parenting adventure (grrrrrrrrrrr). Thanks for this inspiration!

    Sidenote: we only have curtains in Minnie’s room, and they are a new addition because early morning sun and loud birds have conspired to destroy her sleep. Opening and closing them IS a delight, actually.

    1. All the best with the solo-parenting! Definitely not my favourite configuration, either.
      Sun + birds = a nightmare for early waking.

  13. I love this list. I love being able to talk about the things you love and even more about the things that you’re okay with not liking! I am going to share a few of the things I am okay with not liking … alcohol (mostly), horror movies, lipstick, dystopian novels, rollercoasters (high five! ;)).

    The part about “eating” was interesting… I know a few people that claim that don’t care about food/eating (HOW??), but I swear these are people with undiagnosed eating disorders or something. The have issues around food (mostly with NOT eating it and are constantly dieting) but claim that they don’t care about eating/food in the first place. It’s rather curious, if you ask me. I, for one, love food and everything that has to do with it. In German we say “love goes through the stomach” and that’s definitely true for Jon and me… I think we bonded over food initially šŸ™‚

    1. I agree with you on all of your “okay with not liking list!”
      I have actually met people that seem to be ambivalent about food (or will just eat anything but not have strong preferences). I simply can’t imagine this. Good food is so…good.

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