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Smell the Coffee: Inspired by my own list of comforts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The current issue of Redbook magazine includes an article called "Inspiration Board," featuring a collection of things meant to "make life happier, saner and sweeter."

While many of the prettily illustrated suggestions were really nothing more than thinly disguised advertisements, others were amusing, like the one that promised "20 seconds of pure joy" could be had by calling the "emergency Hall & Oates line at 719-26-OATES."

Still, as I read through the rest of the magazine's list, I felt my personal snarkiness factor increasing. This featured quote from Garrison Keillor pushed me over the edge: "There is almost no marital problem that can't be helped by taking off your clothes."

I have, at times, a wee problem with cynicism, so when I saw Keillor's advice, I thought: "What if it's an argument over whose turn it is to take Junior to school?"

I can't say for sure, but I'm pretty sure Celeste wouldn't abide our driving naked.

But it was at that point that I realized an adjustment in attitude might be needed.

So I reached behind my desk, slid open the window, and climbed out on the roof. I was joined by Sully, our black cat, who flopped down beside me, tail flicking and tickling my arm.

It was almost full dark, but birds were still singing and the trees were busy with squirrels. I could hear the sounds of basketball from the court behind the nearby elementary school, the clink of swings. Smell something wonderful cooking on a faraway grill.

As mild as this winter had been, it still left me hungrier for spring than I can ever remember being before. I'm itching to get my hands in the dirt, to clean up the yard, to dig out the fire pit I've been dreaming about. I want to plant and rake and weed. The urge to do it feels instinctual and strangely necessary, as though not doing it would hurt me somehow.

I stayed on the roof with the cat until a ringing phone sent me racing inside. After a quick drive downtown to retrieve my daughter from play practice, I crawled onto the roof once again, tried to get to that peaceful zone I'd found earlier. But it wouldn't come. Instead, my mind was filled with racing thoughts and a to-do list as long as my arm.

I returned to my desk and the Redbook magazine with its Inspiration Board, and decided I needed to start a list of my own. A list that keeps track of the sweet things in life for those times when the blues start to threaten. Things like how it feels to sleep on clean sheets with the windows open and a storm brewing.

Or taking a nap that isn't ended by a barking dog or ringing phone.

Or finding a smiley face drawn on the steamed bathroom mirror.

Like how it feels to wear something new. That I bought really cheap. Using a gift card. And a coupon. And without being asked if I qualify for a senior discount.

Like spotting a squirrel asleep on a branch, balanced on its belly, legs dangling.

Or floating in the water, finding shells with my toes.

Like a day off of work in the middle of the week.

Not a cloud in the sky.

And a new pair of work gloves.

Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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