Over a year ago now–during an afternoon in January, I was walking Soup along the river path. I watched the light sparkle through the lightly swaying branches as the sun warmed my face for the first time in weeks–because it was nearly the end of winter in England, which is basically just grey-all-the-time-land.
I was struck with a feeling of simple tranquility. I felt happy and content to just be alive and present right in that moment.
My husband was scheduled to be deploying soon for six months. Winter clouds had taken over; a certain amount of gloom lingers during English winters. Winters in England are not particularly cold, but they are just grey, an incessant shade of grey from 8am when daylight arrives until 4:30pm when darkness settles in–the same shade of grey, with no change in shifting clouds or daylight. I’d left a particularly toxic work situation only a couple months prior and self employment with my art and freelance graphic design had its own challenges. I hadn’t realized the amount of anxiety that was building up. Many uncertainties combined with the certainty of 6 months alone just left me with this lingering subtle sadness about life.
Despite my anxiety, I was lost in the joy of the picturesque simplicity of water, sunshine, and my darling dog. I listened to the leaves rustle and the soft trickle of the river. I couldn’t help but smile as my dog happily frolicked down the trail. I found myself wishing I could find these serene moments more often.
The absurdity hit me—these beautiful moments exist all around me every day. This seems so obvious, even cliché. However, I truly understood, for the first time in my life—I could have this beauty every day. That day, I learned to appreciate the loveliness of moments that often go unnoticed.
I remember times throughout high school and university, struggling with depression, when I deeply wished to experience the ongoing happiness and an appreciation for life in each moment—I simply couldn’t fathom how that state of mind was even possible. It’s sad I didn’t have this realization sooner, although, at least I’d grown into this positive realization by 26. Appreciating the simple beauty around me seemed like a kitschy sentiment you see on generic home decor. Life has so many tendrils of crazy how can there be moments worth taking the time to let soak in? But, I need that time to irrationally worry about an infinite number of very unlikely scenarios that will be varying degrees of awful! Because once you are used to that state of mind, it is tricky to be self-aware and work to untangle that stress. It starts to feel normal, it feels sad but cozy. It becomes automatic.
After my husband deployed, the house was quiet and I used that time to focus on my artistic career objectives. I was inspired by Gandhi’s Seven Social Sins and created a series of twenty-one mixed media works. I continued to feel inspired, hopeful and content. I took Soupy out for a walk most days. On each walk, I enjoyed the beauty of the English countryside and the charm of the subtle details around me.
Working for myself has been an uphill struggle. I’ve been heavily pursuing my art, which has resulted in many rejection letters. However, my persistence has also resulted in sales, commissioned pieces, published works and articles, several group exhibitions and ultimately more people becoming aware of my art–so I do my best to remain focused on the positive.
Over these past two years, I’ve been viewing life with fresh eyes. Last April, we moved here to Terceira and I’ve continued to appreciate the daily beauty in little moments.
I love my warm cup of coffee in the morning, and the way my milk swirls into the dark and changes its color. I love cloudy days when the ocean blends seamlessly into the sky with no discernible horizon line. I love kicking the ball for my dogs on sunny afternoons after work. I love the feeling of my cat pawing my back and her soft purr as I nap on the sofa. Every day I try to remind myself to make the conscious effort daily to appreciate the simple moments in life that make me happy.