The Little (Big) Things

Arthur and I in Cambria celebrating our anniversary, July 2017.

It’s been a while since we have posted to Andrea’s blog. She has recently returned from her annual trip to Cambria, CA where she celebrates her anniversary with her beloved husband Arthur. Andrea originally wrote The Little (Big) Things following her 2014 trip.

by Andrea Chilcote

I noticed this tag line on an email I received today:

“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”

It caused me to pause and reflect back on the sweet weekend I just enjoyed with my husband, Arthur, in one of our favorite places, Cambria CA. While it would be easy to think of the many things we did as “little things,” in comparison to so-called “important things” (you know, work deadlines, and dental appointments), I have a new view of them. The little things in life combine to create the love and joy we give and take.

Cambria, CA [2017]

The weekend was special because we were alone. We travel often with our beloved dogs, and that’s always fun – but this time, a dear friend cared for them while we could fly away, literally, without obligations.

Arthur and I enjoy a rhythm together that’s hard to describe. It’s one that can only happen when we’re alone, without external pressure or deadlines. We plan, yet we’re loose about plans and often change our minds. We take advantage of synchronicities and don’t worry about what might have been. We play together, allow each other space, and make tiny compromises that get rewarded at each next turn.

Arthur and I at the Hero Awards benefiting Friends of Animal Care and Control, February 2015.

“Happy Anniversary beloved Arthur!” July 2017

Here are some of the little things I treasure, the ones that are really big things.

We accommodate each other in a balanced way.

We’re two very different people. Arthur likes to walk the boardwalk, to keep his feet clean. I like my bare feet in the wet sand. We walked the boardwalk together each morning, and he lugged a beach chair to the surf, meditating as I walked for two hours one day.

While Arthur prefers antique shops and sports items, and I prefer jewelry and farmer’s markets, we both like to “vacation” shop. Without planning or even discussing it much, our rhythm prevailed we both had our needs happily met.

We’re flexible.

I was delighted when Arthur suggested, despite other plans, that we wait 90 minutes for seats at our favorite restaurant – the one we had eaten at the night before. We walked the boardwalk and watched the whales while we waited.

We understand one another.

This one comes from so many years together of course – yet I think we forget when our lives are stressful or just too full. We know when to take words literally and when to laugh them off. We know when the other needs help. We know how to touch each other’s heart. We did all of these things this past weekend, because we had the quiet presence in which to do so. That one thing alone was priceless.

What “little things” will you one day look back and treasure? Acknowledge them now, and suddenly they become very, very big.

“Circa 1990. We were such kids.”

Save

Save

Looking for Fun

by Andrea Chilcote

The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. This summer, followers of this blog will enjoy bi-weekly archived posts that have appeared on The Spirited Woman but never before on this site. 

It’s my guess that even the most lighthearted of you would agree that life on planet earth can be a little heavy at times. And I’ve grown to learn that we have to balance that with heaviness with light. There are many ways to lighten the load. One of them is to have fun.

Almost a year ago, I shared with a friend that I had a goal to have more fun. She asked me what kinds of things were fun for me, and that’s when I knew I was in trouble. It was hard for me to think of any.

Now I have to add a caveat here. The dictionary includes “enjoyment” in the definition of fun. I see them as different. I lead a happy life, and there are many, many things I enjoy. It’s just that most don’t have that quality of light frivolity that defines the essence of fun. For me, fun does not have to be funny, but it has to be light. 

So I’ve been searching for fun experiences ever since. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process. I’m sharing what I learned here in the hope of sparking the same quest in you, if your life could use a lightening of the load.

Here’s what I learned about fun.

  • Fun requires connection – with another person, a group, or the animal companions. I take pleasure in many solitary activities – reading and writing come to mind — and I get great fulfillment from them. Fun requires two or more.
  • Fun (for me) has to represent a break from things I find difficult or tedious. A jigsaw puzzle for example, a source of fun for many, does not make my list. That kind of thing creates stress for me.
  • Fun requires space, not ticking clocks. Some tasks can be fun or stressful, depending on whether there is time. Recently a friend taught me how to bake bread. It was a fun experience in part because we had the time to do it properly. I have built that time into subsequent loaves and have no desire to rush that special activity.
  • Time can be short. A spontaneous romp in the yard with my dogs tops my fun list, and it can be done as stress reliever at just about any time and for as long as I wish.
  • Fun has a characteristic similar to that of flow. Flow, proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, is described as complete absorption in what one does. Next time you have fun, notice how your immersion and engagement seem to make the time fly by.

I also learned that fun is very individual when I joined a group of friends for a play that was touted as “hilarious.” Given my quest for fun, it sounded perfect. Not only did I find it silly (not at all funny), I was struck by how many others (most of the people in the theatre) laughed out loud, thoroughly enjoying the performance. I realized (once again) how different we all are. And that’s why your quest for fun, should you take on the challenge I’m offering, will be as unique as you are.

Have fun.

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.
–Simon and Garfunkel