To excite myself, I sometimes like to put on a pair of heels. Most of my life as a mum, and if I’m being perfectly honest even before becoming a mum, is spent in flat shoes (or no shoes). Sneakers, loafers, flip flops, slippers — anything with even an air of hygge, while simultaneously being primed for an unexpected run, or even blocks of slow-paced walking around large foreign cities. You never know when you would need to do those things. Additionally, its one of my tricks to feeling less trapped in everyday mazes — wearing footwear that keeps me nimble enough to make a necessary escape, even though it does nothing for me by way to elongating my limbs or adding glamour to mom jeans.
Perhaps, this the season of life when I’m perfectly comfortable with the length of my limbs or the social profiling of my jeans. Who knows? But it sure feels pretty comfortable.
Having said that, I do admit to putting on heels during an odd date night or to a solo adventure to the theatre. It’s a good game of let’s-pretend-I’m-not-me. It may occur once every few years, but it does happen. It’s one of the easiest ways to take a vacation, doing something that’s completely out of character. It fills your head with all kinds of sensations that are new for you, and hence challenging to navigate or exciting, whichever way you prefer to look at it.
But that’s not always what I’m after, this particular exact brand of excitement. Sometimes the small joys come from predictable sources, like an unaccompanied trip to a coffee shop a little outside your usual ambit. Taking longer to leave your conditioner in your hair, padding around the house in a bathrobe and fluffy slippers while it drenches your neglected mop. On some days it comes while I take a pause to watch, with complete trusting leisure, as my 14-month old eats sweet potato wedges that are too large for her tiny hands. It can be a sweet little short film if you make the time for it.
Other times, it can be more spontaneous, this process of accessing small everyday joys. Like saying yes to Korean fried chicken even though you mostly eat nutrition-dense foods. The head rush you get when intentionally saying yes to and demolishing a leg of perfectly fried Korean chicken is solid gold.
Another mini joy fountain if you’d like to explore it, is when your friend unexpectedly sends you an old picture of the two of you together, or perhaps a group photo of a whole platoon of you in some combination of stretch jeans, hair scrunchies and pit stains. It could be from a college social or from an overnight school camp, there isn’t any set formula, really. Your innocent problems and inappropriate childhood crushes come flooding to you mind. Admittedly, this tactic can backfire if you spot facial hair you’d forgotten you ever had, but it’s a risk I’m up for.
You may find a gradual release of joy when you reveal cloaked hurts to a friend with a patient ear or sharp bursts of it when you hear well-written dialogue, or see a delicate-framed woman reigning at combat sport, boxing maybe, at your local gym. The strongest girls always take the spots right up front.
The latest time I felt it was when a man and his 4 month old French Bulldog were out on a walk this morning, and every time he stopped at a crossing, the dog (Jack, I walked up and asked) would stop too. He would look up at his master besotted, so small in comparison, and simply fawn.
It reminded me of my little daughter, and her little ways, and how she always thinks I’m interesting to study even when to my eye, I’m at my very most banal humdrum at best.
P.S. How creatives look after their mental health