Start Small

(This is just two of the three small boys with my small girl)

Sometimes, the smallest things make a day—or night—much better. I felt as if my quality of life rose when I bought a white noise machine. The idea came from my frantic-for-every-second-of-sleep sister, who has three children four and under. She treats sleep like crumbs and she is starving for every last one. So, when she suggested the white noise machine helped them, I thought it might help us, too—and now there’s one for the small girl and one for us (to combat snoring, in a meet force with force play). It helps, yes.

(our porch date)

But then another of my peeps with small child and the crumb mentality in re: sleep showed me her white noise machine a week ago. This one makes a range of white noise sounds (along with generic white noise) from nature, and so I’ve been sleeping to the waves. It’s a little bit like going from a black and white scene to Technicolor, only the make-you-feel-sleepy version. Soothed, I am, even though one night the waves did not meet the snores decibel -or-decibel. I don’t think I can profess enough love for the ocean’s appearance into my landlocked nights, even if it’s canned ocean sounds.

This got me thinking about how sometimes the most mundane and concrete things matter. Would my life be happy without GoBerry, the very best frozen yogurt I’ve ever had in all my life? Sure, but my life is better with it; my life is improved—and plus, I have friends out of the deal and they’ve made my life truly better.

I feel the same about Emily Rosenfeld’s jewelry. I was just fine without my cherished necklace she made around my neck, but those little hearts and that little house do remind me I carry my love for my sweet family with me. The chain gets tangled with the other necklace I wear, Looka Jewelry’s small silver envelope (because I love snail mail). The way those chains make a mess and I patiently untangle them each day at some point is its own little pleasurable task. Even beauty is tangled sometimes. Even the people you love most get jumbled, or maybe especially this is the case—and still you love them every day. The reminder is a good one. And PS: Emily is lovely—and each time I see her, I smile, because her warmth is that infectious. PPS: Locals, you could meet her tomorrow at Pinch, where she’s having a trunk show.

I took a photo yesterday while I hung out on the porch stairs with Ione of my feet in my workhorse shoes, ubiquitous in Northampton, the Dansko clogs. I snapped it as a #365FeministSelfie. Truth is, I heart those shoes. It’s really about time for me to get a new pair, and soon enough (autumn, most likely) I will do. The shoes you feel the happiest in, the ones that take your feet where you want to go, those are for sure small things that make your life better.

If there’s a point to these disparate-seeming things observed, it’s that the act of observation—and appreciation—for sure bring happiness. The happiness may come in dribs and drabs, splashes, or licks and steps, but days (and nights) are really, when you get down to it, a bunch of moments glommed together. Break it down. Enjoy a splash, or a step. Then, you’ll enjoy the next soon enough. Oh—and sleep, of course, that, too, helps.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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