Month: March 2014

100 Days

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I think it is safe to say I have an obsession with the little beautiful things. That is, after all, what this blog is named after, and as we all know I have spent a fair amount of time thinking and writing and taking pictures of small pieces of my everyday life and sharing them with you (whether you asked for that picture of my breakfast sandwich or not). IMG_4349
So when I stumbled across the 100happydays project, which some of you may have heard of already, I was extremely excited. In case you haven’t heard about it yet, let me tell you. 100happydays challenges you to post a picture of something that makes your day a little brighter in some way, every single day for 100 days. Pretty self-explanatory.

The impetus for this idea? It’s been proven that if we take a moment to notice the little things, to point out something small (even amidst all the negative) that makes us happy, we will BE happier people on a day-to-day basis. By focusing on the small beauties we are taking control of our happiness. IMG_4341
Since, let’s be real, this year has had its fair share of unhappy moments, and since I am a TOTAL cheeseball and love this kind of stuff, I obviously signed up right away. The website emphasizes that this challenge is for you and not a “showing off contest”. But again, I feel like I’ve already shared a whole lot of me with a whole lot of you.

So here we go. 100 happy days. Come join me. Continue to follow along with the blog or on Instagram (lwalpuck). Maybe even start your own 100happydays challenge.

In the meantime, you know what to expect from me. More photos of tasty looking sandwiches. IMG_4342
Moments by the water.
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Or a handful of dangerously addicting mini-Cadbury eggs.IMG_4373

So here we go, dear friends and readers. Here’s to day one. IMG_4378

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Beautiful Things: The sun and the smell of a book

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Another Friday afternoon, another seat in the sun. This week I am not sitting at Powell’s (although yes, I did stop by there this afternoon) as I write this blog post. I am sitting on the seat of our tiny little front “porch” and the sun is still out even though it is almost 7:00pm and I do not hate it this time. I do not hate it at all. I am a delightfully normal temperature and the sun along with the recent spring weather has been kind of a life changer. IMG_4287IMG_3260
Although it snows a lot more in Maine and rains in Portland, I have decided that I think Maine and Oregon winters are more similar than most would like to think. There is the same grey weariness. The same feeling of extreme jubilation when the sun does finally come out again. I remember sitting outside on Colby’s campus soaking in the sun during the spring not just because it felt warm but because I actually felt as if my body was absorbing some much needed nutrients. It was regaining life again.

As I was sauntering back to the bus stop after my Powell’s visit on this beautiful, sunny, spring Friday afternoon I was feeling the usual “I’m-Leah-and-I-just-bought-a-new-book” self-satisfied smugness. I just get unbelievably excited to open a new book. There is so much anticipation, so much build-up. So much potential. I feel jittery inside.

I am realizing now, as I write this, that these are all things most normal people might use to describe their feelings about a new relationship. Unbelievably excited. Anticipation. Potential. The jitters. The fact that I equate these feelings with the relationship I have with my books is potentially extremely odd but also speaks to the magnitude of my feelings for them. IMG_3259
A new book is just a beautiful thing. As I was standing at the bus stop waiting for the 8 bus to arrive (another inanimate object with which I have a relationship, albeit one that is not nearly as clear cut and adoring), I pulled out the new book to start reading. I just couldn’t help myself. It was at this moment that I realized that whenever I start a new book, I do four things.

1) Run my hands across its cover. Look at the front, look at the back. Take a moment to feel its sheer physical presence in my hands.
2) Quickly glance over a few of the quoted reviews featured on the back cover or the first couple inside pages. This really helps add to the build-up and anticipation.
3) Do you remember way back when we learned about using books as resources in the library at school? There is this little index on the page with all the publishing information in a book and there you can find a section that has numbered categories specifying the different genres or themes that that particular novel fits into. I don’t know why this is something that I even remember exists, and I really don’t know why I always read it but I do.
4) I always always smell my book. Today at the bus stop I had a brief moment where I thought “maybe you should hold off on the smelling since you are in a public place and there are people around” but I did it anyways. IMG_3270 IMG_3271
Sometimes we just need to sit in the sun and say thank you for existing, thank you for coming back into my life. And sometimes, you just need to stick your nose in a book and inhale. It’s the little beautiful things.
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Sweat on, sweat on

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As I sit here in a Powell’s window at my computer, the sun is blazing, I am sweating incessantly, and I am thinking a lot about place.

I am thinking about place in the sense of the physical spaces we inhabit – for example, this (now sweaty) chair overlooking Burnside and its whole smorgasbord of characters wandering down the street  – as well as the more metaphoric ones – for example, this liminal year of post-grad.

In the past nine months I have lived in five different places. Waterville, ME. Bethesda, MD. Boston, MA. Various small towns across Spain, and finally, Portland, OR. When I think about it, and realize that I have maybe lived in a total of three different places in my entire life up until this point, I realize that five in the span of nine months is kind of a big jump. IMG_2694
I am a firm believer that the people you surround yourself with are what makes a place a home. Every time I read some small blurb somewhere reinforcing this notion, that we are happiest when we surround ourselves with people that make us happy, I just nod my head in agreement. Preach. College was the epitome of this for me. By senior year, I had a group of about twenty girlfriends that I adored (and still do) and spent every minute surrounded by. How does one go from this utterly unique sense of family and place in college to just floating in various cities the year after?
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As someone whose mind is always running, who is always eager to analyze, to meditate (prime example – I even meditate on what my sandwich preferences mean), the notion of finding that sense of place and purpose again has been one of the most difficult parts of this year for me. I walked across Spain to find place. I moved across the country to try something different and find purpose. And yet, nine months, four moves, three jobs, and countless informational interviews later, I still feel like I am floating. I still question if I am, physically and metaphorically, in the right place. IMG_2620
I know this is really only the beginning of it all, and no one realistically knows where life will go at this point (that’s part of just the way it works), but I know at least some of you are right there with me wishing for those answers. When do we take risks? At what point do we know it’s okay to say, “I tried this, I learned, it’s just not working”? At what point do we pick another country to walk across?

At some point I hope to be able to say, here I am. Right here. Sure of my place. For the time being, look for the curly-headed girl sweating in a bookstore window, drinking a large coffee. She is almost always in so many places, all at once. IMG_1981