“If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is.”

“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” – Kurt Vonnegut

Since I retired two years ago from teaching, I often find myself scurrying to fill my days with activities. Lunch with a friend. Errands to the grocery store or post office. Yoga classes. Day trips to new places. Scribbling out a blog post. Writing more of my book. If my days aren’t packed with all types of endeavors, I feel guilty. I need to be busy. I need to be productive. I shouldn’t waste these days.

But there are also days when I spend all morning in my pajamas and robe (today). The car never leaves the garage (Hey, I’m helping save the ozone.). I cuddle on the couch and read an entire book (It can be done.), or find a show to binge-watch on Netflix. (Personal recommendations? Anne with an E, Friends from College, Girlboss, and Grace and Frankie. Guilty pleasures? The Ranch and Fuller House.)

What I need to pack away is the guilt I sometimes feel on these days. It is not critical to have every moment crammed. Every item on my goal list does not need to be checked off. Sometimes quiet is the answer and for that I should be grateful.

Busyness does not equal happiness. After all these months I still struggle with this concept. When my husband comes home I love to report to him all I have done. See, honey? I’m not a total slacker. I do things. I contribute. But here’s the thing: he never judges. If my days are packed with stories, he listens. If I’ve sequestered myself at home, he smiles. 

I am slowly learning to smile at myself. I am grateful for these muted days when I slowly sip coffee while a cat purrs on my lap. I shuffle around in my ragged pink robe, not planning a thing. I put aside “I shoulds and I need tos” and bask in “whatevers.” There is solace in throwing out lists and relishing in simple joys.

And I whisper, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

Sweet summer evening, hot wine and bread
Sharing your supper, sharing your bed
Simple joys have a simple voice:
It says why not go ahead?

— “Simple Joys”, Pippin

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