I am going back to my favorite things, and telling you more about what makes me tick, so that I can reassure myself in the process, at a time when so much is changing and I need my emotional anchors. We all need to retain that sense of security and familiar when circumstances around us are changing fast. We do that by being attached to things, habits, people, sounds, sights, tastes and smells that we know and love. These are the constants in our lives that give us a sense of perspective, that not only offer us reassurance but a sense of normalcy in times when we need to ground ourselves.
Sometimes it is beneficial to go over what makes you you, the one person in the world who thinks, acts, feels, dreams and reacts like you. What are your favorite things?
Let me tell you a few of mine.
Some of the things I love are the comfortable familiar situations that fill me up with warmth and a sense of security.
Being with my loved one, walking somewhere at a leisurely pace, his arm around me, my head on his shoulder, closing my eyes. That’s about it. No words, just that. One of the best places and best feelings in the world. Knowing you belong together.
Waking up on a Sunday morning and making pancakes. I made that into a tradition for my people. Not everyone cares for the pancakes anymore, but they are still made, every Sunday, sometimes with French toast to break the monotony, or Hagelslag, the Dutch sugary breakfast sprinkles that you put on buttered toast (Dutch people are weird in their food taste, but Andy loves that stuff). The sense of familiar is one of my favorite feelings, knowing you are there, and they are there, and things are good.
Decorating the Christmas tree. Another tradition that I ingrained in the life of my kids. The communal work, the goofiness, with carols in the background, vin chaud for me (some people will wince at this one, but they should try vin chaud first), everyone has a role, no one’s choice of decoration placement is wrong, democracy and community work in practice. Makes kids know they have a role in their family. They love that.
Sitting with a book. Anywhere. In my hammock in the garden, on the beach, under a blanket near the fireplace, in the dentist’s waiting room, while having lunch in the cafeteria, on the train, as long as there is a good book and a comfortable place to sit or lie down. I’m in. It is a good place to be.
Being around trees. All my life, it has been an obsession of mine to see and feel trees, which is why I suffered in concrete jungles. I would go to Central Park or any other little park in NY every chance I get when I lived there at different times in my life. I need to coexist with nature as an omnipresent prop in my life. The outdoors is my place to be calm. I used to spend most of my time outdoors as a child. I love tall trees, they fascinate me. Some of the most beautiful trees I have had the chance to meet were in places like Fiji, Moorea in Tahiti, California along the pacific coast highway, the giant ferns in New Zealand, the Cedars in Lebanon, the beautiful evergreens of Switzerland, the date palms in Abou Khassib in South Iraq, the changing foliage in trees in New York state, Massachusetts and Canada, the beautiful lush green jungle trees of Congo, Kenya and Tanzania, the Aki trees in Jamaica, the raffles in Singapore, the beautiful coconut trees in Bali, and lemon trees everywhere. Andy and Sasha make fun of my fascination with trees, but I think they secretly love them as well. My dream is yet to see the trees of the amazon basin. Our planet’s main lung.
Skiing. All kinds. On water – I spent my childhood and teenage years on a mono ski being pulled by a boat on almost every summer day, which is why I have strong muscles in my arms and legs. On snow- the exhilarating, fresh, cool wind that bites your face when you are racing down the slopes on a clear frosty day makes it all the more exciting. The thrill is what makes me such an addict to the sport despite having smashed my arm skiing on icy slopes and had many operations that left me with two spectacular scars on my left arm. I still love skiing more than any other activity I could think of. It is one of my absolute favorite things to do with sports. I recently tried Sand surfing, a different, albeit slow sliding experience on the warm soft sand in Dubai.
Cafés. My favorite cafés of all time are those old ones where you smell the coffee and pastries when you walk in, where old people sit and read the newspaper, play cards or backgammon, and where there is a sense of neighborhood, where you can sit calmly, watch people, be inspired, and write.
Do you have a mental list of favorite things you like to do, favorite places you like to be in, and favorite situations that inspire you and make you feel more like yourself? Do you go to these places often? Do you connect with your favorite things, favorite people?
Take time today to think of those places and things that make you happy and at peace with yourself. I wish you a peaceful, loving, calm day. This entry is especially for you, Ross. I know you are in one of your favorite places, on an island by the sea. Enjoy your beach break and see you soon.