The boys dancing in the rain - the first cool downpour after a lengthy heat wave. What a natural high that was!

I came home from work tonight to a lovely sight — my  two boys, running around the front yard, giggling non-stop from a game of chase with a neighborhood friend. The sheer happiness on the faces was apparent and made me forget, at least for a second or two, just how grumpy I was feeling.

They were on a natural high, no doubt, and it is those moments that I love to freeze-frame in my mind and pull out of my memory when I need a little pick me up.

Natural highs abound around us. Laughing until your face actually hurts. The feeling of slipping into freshly laundered sheets. The smell of a newborn baby’s head. Turning on the radio to your favorite song. These are all little things that can snap me out of any funk and remind me just how great life really is.

Those moments have been few and far between lately. Sickness seems to have taken a hold of my household and won’t let go, and my family and I are reluctantly preparing for the inevitable loss of our beloved basset hound.

It takes its toll on you to be sure — I am both mentally and physically exhausted and my lack of focus on even my favorite tasks of the day is unnerving. But something about coming home to those crazy giggles reminded me that the sunny days will return and that there are small wonders to be enjoyed amidst even the saddest of eras in our lives.

I’m reminding myself of a few of those small wonders this evening — and hope they give me the little kick in the pants I need to get through any dark moments that lie ahead. I hope you, my friends, have an arsenal of natural highs that give you comfort and glee, in times of both happiness and sorrow.

If you care to share, I’d love to hear about them!

  • The first bite of a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. Is there anything yummier than the first bite of anything that you truly enjoy? I look forward to my first sip of coffee in the morning each day — and usually how rewarding that first gulp of java is sets the scene for how the rest of my day unfolds. The first fistful of hot buttery popcorn at the movies, the glorious spray of watermelon juice that only a first bite can deliver, that ooey gooey goodness of the first bite of pizza (from Rusticana of course). I may sound ridiculously food-driven but something about those first bites of my favorite tasty treats are about as blissful as it gets.
  • Flannel Pajamas. There is nothing I look forward to more than slipping off my work clothes and donning my favorite pair of flannel pajamas accompanied by warm fuzzy slippers. No matter how stressed I am, something about that moment just shaves inches of stress off my shoulders.
  • Visits from the UPS man. I love that little brown truck — even if the package arriving at my doorstep is bearing a gift for someone else! There is nothing more exciting than getting that knock on your door, followed by a delivery. I love breaking into my newly delivered treasures and seeing what is inside! I lreally ove watching my boys get a delivery from one of their long-distance relatives. Their faces and sheer lack of patience to rip into the carefully taped cardboard is a feeling I know quite well — and continue to share even in adulthood!
  • Reunions. I melt from the greeting I get from all of my children when I return home. No matter whether I’ve been gone for nine hours or 90 minutes, each of them can be counted on to make sure I know that they know that I have been gone. My sons spot me and through the window I can lip read “Mommy’s home! Yay!” Soon after this proclamation, I hear my four-legged children begin their welcoming howls. It is sheer chaos of the best variety. No drug could ever feel as good as those moments.
  • Finding $20 in your coat pocket. Or that long lost lipstick. I love that giddy feeling when I reach into the coat I haven’t worn in months and find money I didn’t know I’d misplaced. Sometimes that comes in paper and sometimes it comes in coins but any occasion is always one that makes me feel just a little richer than I did a few moments earlier.
  • Driving with the sunroof open on a cool summer night. There is nothing sweeter than cruising in your car with the sunroof open, listening to your favorite song on the radio on a cool summer night. I am sure I look much cooler these days as I complete the aforementioned cruise in a minivan – but I never get tired of that feeling. The twilight of the evening combined with the smells only an Eastern Shore summer can bring – all surrounded with the soundtrack of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” or a similar favorite tune. Instant bliss.
  • A really hot shower. There is nothing more soothing than a hot shower to make all of the worries and weariness fade away for a bit. Combine that with my favorite lavender soap and I could just melt into the floor from relaxation. I love the way the heat sinks into my bones, the way my nightclothes feel on my skin and the way the entire master bedroom smells from the steamy aromatherapy. Sigh.
  • My mommy’s cooking. I am 36 years old, but something about my mother’s chicken noodle soup takes me back to being a little girl. Back to days when life was easy and I felt as safe and secure as could be. There is nothing better than coming home to find a pot of my mom’s soup or a delivery of her baked chicken keeping warm in the oven. I could replicate the recipe to the final detail and never duplicate the taste — or feeling that ultimate comfort food does for my soul.
  • Watching my children sleep. I don’t get the chance to do  this nearly enough — but there is something downright intoxicating about watching my babies at rest. The sweet lip pucker, the slow, soft breathing — it takes me back to when they were newborns when I did, literally stare at their sweet, sleeping faces all day.
  • The view from my front porch. One of my favorite things about our little old house is the swing we have on the front porch. My husband and I love to sit there and watch the boys play in the yard — and the boys like to hop on the swing and pretend it is a playground swing for as long as they can until one of us stops them. We have a lovely neighborhood and there are tons of people around — and so any evening spent in such an idyllic setting — is always worth mustering a smile, no matter how bad the day has been.

I could go on and on for many more words about all of the things that make me happy — the simple things in life that provide a much-needed natural high amidst the craziness and stress of everyday living.

I needed to remind myself of them tonight — and knowing that the list could effortlessly continue well into several pages tells me that no matter how dark the days seem, there will always be something to lighten it up. Now that you mention it, I hear my lavender chamomile bath calling me…