I've come to the conclusion that physical fitness plays a huge role in alleviating my day-to-day stress levels.  I love to start my day with a good workout, and the positive energy from that experience seems to lift me up and help me power through my day.  Whenever I don't have that workout, be it running or strength conditioning, at the start of the day, I'm always a bit more sluggish and sometimes downright grumpy.  Moreover, whenever life throws bumps into my path, I think I can handle them better if I've had some good fitness already or if I get the chance to burn off my stress later in the day.

That said, there are days when it's just not possible to work out.  Additionally, there are other things I enjoy about my life besides feelin' the burn and gettin' my sweat on.

I realized the other day that I am truly, genuinely in a good place right now, and I want to embrace that and appreciate every moment of it, because I know that life is full of ups and downs, and I've got to really live in the moments of the "ups" because the "downs" are inevitably coming. Maybe that sounds really negative, and that's not my intention here.  I think it's just me pausing to recognize that I am really happy and trying to take a moment to reflect on how thankful I am right now that so much of my life at this moment feels So Right.  And if I can pause now and be thankful, maybe later down the road or whenever my mood shifts, I can draw from this well of gratitude and remember all of those things I have to be thankful for.

This is not to say that everything in my life is perfect, because that's totally unrealistic.  And there are moments throughout the day where I get upset or something doesn't go my way, or things just aren't so great.  I still worry about the people I love and the things they are dealing with.

But there is a lot in my life that I am enjoying and I have a lot to be thankful for.

So here's a little list!  And it's a nice thing to think about, especially on days when I can't get my spiritual and emotional form of anti-anxiety medication (aka -- my workout!):
  • I'm loving our Keurig right now, and I'm loving our coffee, my new flavored creamer (sugar-free caramel, yum!), and my evening teas.  This may seem silly or superficial, but it has had a pretty big impact on my life.  I know the flavored creamer is probably processed poison, but it'll be a looooong time before I ever give it up.  I figure, I don't have many vices: I don't gamble, I don't do drugs, I don't do a lot of things to excess, so maybe my flavored creamer is my vice, along with all the caffeine from the coffee!  I would say the coffee and the cream are a bit excessive, but I do have a 12:00 noon cut off point.  No coffee after noon.  There's only so much damage I can do before noon, right?!  Anyway, I look forward to getting up in the morning, because I'm looking forward to my coffee.  I also am already thinking about and looking forward to my evening tea.  I feel a little like I'm turning into an old woman, but I have seriously fallen in love with the warm, relaxing beverage.  It's so soothing, and it has become a part of my evening ritual.  I used to think I wouldn't be able to fall asleep if I didn't have a glass of wine or a beer, and now I actually feel like any alcohol has the *opposite* effect and can prevent me from having a full night of sleep.  Now I'm much more reliant on my evening tea as part of my wind-down process.  
  • I love packing my lunch each day.  I have gotten into the routine of packing up my dinner leftovers into my nice little lunch container, and I enjoy eating my lunch at my desk.  Sometimes I use this time to write a blog post, but often I'll work while I eat.  I truly look forward to my lunch each day, and I know that I am saving money by packing my lunch, and the food is always really yummy (and pretty healthy, too)!
  • I love it when I'm top of things and the house is (relatively) clean and organized.  There's something so special about winding down in the evening, with the great room clear of clutter, the carpets looking fairly well-vacuumed, the kitchen counters and table clear, and knowing that the laundry is clean, folded, and put away.  The truth is, it's not often that all of the things on that list are completed, but it is *such* a good feeling when all of those little chores are done.  Usually the laundry is what ends up at the end of the list.  We often get held up at the "folding and putting away" stage, but these days whenever I am tempted to just let the laundry sit in the dryer or basket, I remind myself of how great it feels when it's all done and put away, and I get my butt in gear and get it done. 
  • Did I say how much I love my coffee and tea?
  • I love cooking, baking, and preparing healthy foods my myself and my family.  There is just something about providing nourishment for my family that brings me a huge sense of peace.  If life gets crazy and we find ourselves getting carry-out, going out to eat, or getting pizza too often in one week, I can feel the anxiety start to creep up on me.  It really does bring me a lot of happiness, fulfillment, and peace to be able to feed them and to give them some fairly decent choices, health-wise.  I've really been enjoying making baked, sweet treats and finding healthier alternatives for the whole family.  One thing I noticed is that as we phase out a lot of processed foods and processed and refined sugars, my palate is really changing, and I'm tasting food in a whole new way.  Sweet vegetables (such as red pepper) taste sweeter, and fresh fruit can just blow me away with its sweetness.  Finding ways to make healthier alternatives for sweet treats has opened up a new world of possibilities, and we are all having a lot of fun exploring the new foods.  I love to get the kids in the kitchen with me, and they're enjoying the new recipes.  Sure, sometimes all of my kitchen "helpers" can get exasperating when they are begging to eat all of the ingredients and fighting over who gets to pour what when, but I love to see them get excited about food prep, and I know it has contributed to some of their willingness to try new foods.

Those are some of the big picture things that I'm loving in life right now.  Nothing super crazy or special, but these are things for which I am thankful on a daily basis.  I'm thankful for the ability to provide food for my family; I'm thankful when my little universe is ordered (or at least when I'm enjoying the illusion of order).  I'm thankful for my little rituals, like my morning coffee and my evening tea and packing my lunch.

Check out my "Things I love" page to see a longer list of the "little things" in life that make me happy.  I'm going to work to keep adding to that list whenever I think of awesome things that make me smile :)

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