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
awkwardhilarious 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?