Always Getting Ready to Live – or Joy in the Simple Things

joy in the simple things

When I was a teenager I dreamed of leaving home and beginning a career. In College, I wrote out 5 and 10-year plans and impatiently longed to meet a man who would treasure me and of the day I could own a home and begin a family. When my first-born arrived I fed my voracious appetite for parenting books, always so impatient for the next child-development milestone, constantly thinking ahead, pushing, dreaming and planning.

These days I often find my thoughts drifting ahead to retirement and what life will be like in the season of empty nest. It can be so hard to live in the now.

I wonder if you relate at all. Do you spend many of your waking hours dreaming of a ‘better life’ or the next achievement- a trimmer body, a fuller bank account, one more promotion to propel you to the top of the food chain, the day your business takes off, a fabulous relationship, a life of more travel, adventure, or ease?

None of these unhealthy goals, necessarily. Or perhaps you move through your days worrying and chronically fearful of what lies around the next corner.

We are always getting ready to live, but never living. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

What if in all the day-dreaming and impatience for life to get started, the plotting and planning ahead, real life is passing us by? What if we are missing the joy in the simple things. None of us knows the number of our days and loss has a way of teaching us that life can be fleeting. Like a vapour.


I want to embrace the simple gifts of today. Smack dab in the midst of work and loving people and commitments, I want to pause and appreciate – the sparkly snow outside my window instead of constantly longing for spring. My 10-year-old with wild hair, all curled up in jammies, watching Netflix, recovering from a virus. Soon she will be a teenager and out of the home more than in.

The distractedness of the cashier’s face this morning that reminds me he is a real person carrying within his own hopes and dreams. The text message from my teenager informing me she forgot her lunch and would I please bring food which, though frustrating in the moment, reminds me that I am needed and that all those years ago I dreamed of being mom.

This is real life.

I want to allow myself to feel. To admit the pain sometimes attached to loving people deeply. To lean into the fear of stepping into the unknown rather than numbing it away like I used to or cowering from all stress. To be fully aware of the tendrils of shame or comparison or unworthiness that snake their way into my mind. To notice them but not let them take root. To confess to myself the sorrow of missing my college-age child who will never again cuddle close with me on the couch, reading picture books. And the pride of watching him learn to fly.

To feel, to my core, intense gratitude flecked with sadness, sometimes even despair, as I prepare healthy food for my family; so many mamas cannot feed their babies today. To acknowledge both the sweet and the sour of this simple day before rushing forward into the next. This is real life.

I want to savour the sights and smells and sounds of day-to-day life. The long talk with a long-distance friend who affirms and encourages and shares a sacred piece of herself with me. The rough skin of my husband’s hands and the light, tentative way that my teenage daughter lays her head on my shoulder. I want to delight in the unexpected gift of spring-like weather wafting through open windows, mid-February, and the earthy tasting, happy-inducing mushroom-espresso coffee from the conscious eatery that I rarely get to visit.

I want to sit down, to rest, and smell and taste and chew my meal and the slightly bitter dark chocolate melting on my tongue instead of rapidly eating while standing and texting. I want to be nourished, not simply fed. This is my one real life.

I want to shed those things that hold me back from really living today. The weight of not good enough. The comparison that steals my joy. The lie that I am broken and irreparable. The internal pressure to move faster or do more. My too high standards, my addictions, my judgments.

I want to throw off the burden of other people’s opinions or choices. I want to freely offer love and compassion even if they turn around to bite me later. To share my story whether others listen or not. To simply sow what I have need of myself in this life. What I have need of today.

I want to live now. Awake and aware. To breathe deeply and hug long. To linger and connect. To take joy in the simple things of this daily, ordinary, beautiful life.

To rest assured that if today is my last I will have really lived.

Krista xo

P.S. Tell me – what are some of the simple things bringing you JOY today? For further reading, you might like (referral links) The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World and Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being.

*Image via Death to Stock


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18 comments on “Always Getting Ready to Live – or Joy in the Simple Things

  1. I love your words. They make me a little sad because my kids are growing up quickly too and I want to savour the moments.
    My joy for today is spending family day as a family 🙂

  2. I can relate to this so much. I live in that realm of bitter and sweet called NOW, watching my kids grow and my hair gray and my life filled with so much abundance. Thank you for your words!

  3. Today’s gifts have been a really long walk with my kids, art time for all of us around the kitchen table and pretty cups of hot cocoa to sip while we each worked on our own pictures. I even took some time to write on my blog today. It’s a good, full day.

  4. I have just reached this conclusion myself. My husband and I have been trying for years to have a child. Much of my life has been about the “next step.” If this doesn’t work, then we will… I realized very recently that there may not be any next step to take in this direction and all I am doing is having a miserable time with my life trying to fit it into what I want it to be. I realized I should love my life for what it is…a husband who adores me, cats that snuggle me, and 300 students who are my kids.

    • That is beautiful, Elizabeth. Surrender to what is can often (I think) be the path to greater peace and joy. Having said that, I have also heard from so many sources (books, podcasts, I mean) how often, when couples give up the ‘need’ to keep trying for a baby, when they relax, that they end up getting pregnant. Interesting.

  5. I am loving your words. I hear your declarations, and I’m inspired to remember my own—they are not dissimilar to yours. Meanwhile, joy! My joy in this moment is watching the reflection of the sun rising as it backlights the spruce trees and hits the stucco wall of our neighbours’ house. . . even though I woke up too early for today, this is the exchange, and it is beautiful. Thank you for your thoughtful writings.

  6. “I want to be nourished, not simply fed.” Exactly, and in all areas of my life; not just food for the body, but food for the mind and soul as well. When you don’t take the time to actually live our lives instead of always planning them, we wake up one morning and find that we are 60 years old, and there are more years behind us than ahead of us. I truly love your posts.

  7. Thank you, Barb. I miss both my parents and think often how we always think we have more time…*later* we will slow down, rest, laugh. But sometimes we don’t have later. So let’s fully live today ❤

  8. I’m retired now and your writing is aimed at younger readers, but I appreciate your views on life so inspiring. When I was younger, it would have been helpful to read your thoughts and concentrate more on the present moment. You have a gift and this is meant as a note of encouragement from a 70+ retired mom and grandma who now enjoys ‘now’ more than ever. That happens when you have more years behind you than in front of you. Blessings to you.

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