Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Little Things & Simple Pleasures

A long time ago I decided that major milestones, while very important, are not the benchmarks of my life. It became very important to take notice of the little things in life after I lost my sister. She was rarely able to participate in the big things during her short time here on earth. She never had a real boyfriend, never went to prom, never got to look at colleges, the list goes on and on. What she had to do instead was find things in her daily life that made her happy and share the little joys that we all take for granted far too often. I wanted to know how she felt, so I started to take notice of the "little things" in my life. Here are some of them…

Any Morning With My Wife And Dogs.

Mornings in particular are difficult for me nowadays. I usually don’t feel well and will end up in back in bed soon after I attempt to start my day. Before Carly leaves for work, she always makes a point to lay beside me for a few moments and give me a few kisses on the forehead. This is usually followed by my two rambunctious puppies climbing all over me and lick my face to let me know they're ready for “Dad” to get up and start the day. My wife and my “furry alarm clocks” remind me how blessed I am to have a family that loves me. Not everyone is so lucky.

Putting My Shoes On After Wearing Bowling Shoes

I am not a big fan of bowling, so I rarely get to experience this “little thing.” Those times I do are worth the wait. After wearing those bowling shoes for two hours plus, I feel like I am walking on 2 x 4’s. So at the end of the evening, when lights come up and we sit at those alley tables, my feet slide into heaven. It’s like walking on pillows for the next few minutes as the sensation goes up and down my legs, the pain in my back disappears, and all is right with the world. I also find myself thinking of when I was a kid shopping for new shoes. My feet were two sizes apart due to a mild case of cerebral palsy and spastic diaplagia, so we often had to buy two pairs of shoes. As I got older, one foot was in adult sizes and one was in kids sizes. I used to be embarrassed by this until I found a place that donated random pairs of shoes to mission trips in third world countries. The gentleman who ran this operation showed me some pictures of children with one leg, but they had the coolest looking shoe in town. These are children who rarely see - let alone have access to - comfortable shoes. My embarrassment melted away. To this day, I wonder if they get that same sensation when they put their new shoes on for the first time.

Weekend Summer Mornings

It doesn’t really matter what I'mm doing at the time. It could be yard work, it could be fun getaway with friends and family, or it could be sitting on the porch in my pajamas. There is something very peaceful to me about those mornings. I just take it all in. Often times I will sit there in silence and listen to the cars pass by, the birds in my backyard, even just watching my dogs tear around the yard. The world is so simple and peaceful then. I wish I could save those moments for times when I really struggle so that I could inject a small dose of serenity back into my day.


I love kids. Most have a curiosity and honesty that I have come to appreciate deeply. Here are a few gems that have made me laugh:

1.I was watching my friend Randy’s five year old kid, Alex. He came over for the afternoon and I fed him lunch; just a basic PB & J with a side of chips and glass of milk. He gulped down his milk first and then started to munch away on his sandwich. Half way through, the peanut butter started to stick to the roof of his mouth. He grabbed his empty milk glass, held it up and said: “Hey Josh, help a brother out!” It was very hard to hold in my laughter while trying to explain how to properly ask for more milk.

2. I worked at a daycare during college. During my time there, I got sick and was put on home I.V. antibiotics. This meant there was a huge tube protruding from my arm and was not easy to hide from the kids. Instead, I decided to take the time to sit down with the kids in a group and explain to them why I had this thing in my arm and answer any questions they might have. I got the normal stuff like “Does it hurt?”, “Is your arm going to fall off?”, and a bunch of other questions. The final question was the best one of all. This little fellow with glasses and a “Jimmy Neutron” T-shirt stood up and asked: “Can you put Kool-Aid in that thing? If you could that would be awesome!”

3. Last summer, Carly’s family from Nebraska came up for a long weekend. One the family members was a sweet young lady named Rylee. I swear, she was the most energetic nine year old I had ever met. She was always asking questions, very observant, and always willing to voice her opinions. It had been a long weekend running around the Twin Cities and toward the end I was pretty exhausted. On their last afternoon in town we stopped by the park to have some lunch and Riley came and sat by me. She tapped me on the shoulder and said: “Josh, are you okay? I noticed you aren’t talking a lot and you never stop talking, so something must be wrong.” I smiled at her and told her I could say the same thing about her. She just rolled her eyes and gave me a big smile.

Conversations With My Mother

We talk at least twice a week and have lunch pretty often. During those conversations we’ll talk about nothing and everything all at once. We drive each other crazy, but are always there when the other needs a sounding board. I have seen too much in my life to take those conversations - or our relationship - for granted. She is a major part of who I am and I am very lucky to have her.

Blasting My Music With The Windows Rolled Down In The Early Fall

No better time of the year than a crisp fall day to cruise the streets. Normally, I have oldies going, but sometimes I’ll make a playlist to remind me of people that I care for. Music is great therapy.

Last but certainly not least…

Whenever Someone Thinks About Me

This could be inviting me to something, calling me up to see how things are going, sending me an email saying “I heard this song that reminded me of you.” That says something about my relationship with that person. The fact that I have made a big enough impact on their life that they would think of me during their busy day or include me in their plans is a privilege. Thanks for the honor of the moment.

“Simple pleasures are the best. Yes they are.”
Bobby McFerrin from the song “Simple Pleasures.”

Peaceful Things,



  1. Josh -- saw your blog link on Facebook - and I got hooked reading your stories. Thanks for always keeping things in perspective and sharing your inspiration with others.


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Peaceful Things ~ Josh
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