The world seems heavy and overwhelmed lately and when that happens, it’s important we remember things, people and places that make us smile. I know that gratitude is paramount to living a full, happy life but sometimes embracing gratitude is a bit elusive. We want to do feel grateful, but it’s tricky when the mind is bogged down with worry or stress.
One strategy I’ve found to help with gratitude is to go back one month in my photos on my phone. I’ll look through all the pictures during that particular month. I find that I start smiling to myself. There is so much goodness and beauty in the world. We’re making memories every day. For the month of January, I found a lot to smile about.
1. A New Year: This is a picture taken during a New Year Day’s hike. It’s a tradition we started this year and plan to continue. Being outside and enjoying Earth’s glorious beauty is a wonderful day to embrace the end of one year and the beginning of another.
2). Family: My sister, brother-in-law and nieces came in from D.C. for the first week of January. It’s always wonderful to be with them. And when I snap photos like the one below, it makes my heart swell. All the kids are growing way too fast. Time, please stand still.
3). Friends: The holidays always offer some time to see old friends, and I can’t describe how happy that makes me. This is a photo of one of my very best friends, Jenn, who I do not see nearly enough, even though she only lives 25 min. away. We are both busy working moms so when we finally get a chance to catch up, it means everything.
4). Exercise: During January, I finally got back into the routine of exercising. My boyfriend, Matthew, and I have been holding one another accountable. We are training for a race in early April, so I’ve been running, swimming and doing interval workouts. It feels so good, physically and mentally, to be back in a fitness groove.
5). Whole 30: Also in January, Matthew and I did the Whole 30 eating program which focuses on eating whole foods and eliminating all processed foods, refined sugars, etc. We’ve both lost weight and have much more energy. There are some food items I miss, such as cheese and tortilla chips, but overall, it’s been an amazing experience. We’ve learned a lot about nutrition and how are bodies react to the foods we eat.
6). Out to lunch: There were a few warm and sunny days during the month of January and we took full advantage of them. Matthew’s parents came up one day and we enjoyed the warmth by dining outside in downtown Asheville. The family time and the vitamin D did our bodies a lot of good!
7). Birthdays: January is one of my favorite months because it’s the month both of my sweet boys were born. Brooks’s birthday is January 19, and Case’s is January 20. We always have fun celebrating both of them together. I truly can’t believe they are eleven and eight already. Where does the time go?
8). Love where you live: We live in an adorable small town in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Our Main Street is always hosting fun and exciting events. During January, the boys and I enjoyed an annual chili cook-off presented by local merchants and restaurants. With Main Streets dying all over the country, I’m so thankful our little town is thriving.
9). Music: Matthew and I both love live music. We’ve challenged ourselves in 2020 to see more shows in one year than ever before. During January, Matthew’s sister and brother-in-law came into town and we all went to see an Americana bluegrass band called The Devil Makes Three. Music has always been healing for me. I’d forgotten how much fun concerts can be.
10). Nature: We’ve also taken on a challenge to hike at least two hikes a month. We were on a roll in January and hiked three. Like music, there is something healing and therapeutic about being outside. We live near the Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountain range so there is no excuse for us to stay indoors when we can be enjoying the glory of God’s green earth.
There you have it. Ten things that made me smile during January 2020. I’m a big picture taker. Even though I’m not attached to my phone when it comes to social media, playing games, etc., I love taking photos. I encourage you to do the same. Sometimes we don’t think to pull our phones out and snap some images, but why not? Believe me, when you sit down and scroll through pictures from a given time period, it will make your heart so happy. I hope January offered some smiles for you.
Here’s to a wonderful February!