“Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.”
I would never claim to be a movie buff, mostly because I hardly ever see movies in theatres (or even the year they come out). In fact, I’m not really an early adapter or lover of anything. So, it’s no surprise that I was late to the Secret Life of Walter Mitty fan club. The movie is captivating in so many ways, and definitely falls into my “top 5 movies list,” but one of my favorite lines is when Sean Penn’s character says “Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.”
When I first saw the film, that line hit me so hard and really gave me a new perspective on life’s simple moments. I used to be a “grass is greener on the other side” person, but I’ve learned to better appreciate the joys that abound in my daily life. Beautiful things aren’t necessarily the biggest, loudest, most colorful ones. They’re often the quotidian, consistent things that bring us joy.
So, in no particular order, here are a few of my favorite (and most beautiful) things…
I wake up every morning excited to drink coffee – the thought literally motivates me to get out of bed. Nine out of ten times I take my coffee black, but I do love a miel (honey & cinnamon latte) or an iced oat milk latte with a little hazelnut or cinnamon dolce syrup.
Making it. Buying it. Admiring it. I’m particularly fond of expressionist paintings and contemporary mixed-media art. I’ve had the pleasure of taking a few art classes, but mostly, I just figure things out along the way (and always trust that canvases can be painted over!). My favorite thing to do in Chicago is to spend an afternoon leisurely wandering around the Art Institute, and I have hundreds of photos on my phone of the same pieces of art that catch my eye every time I visit the museum.
3. Knick-knacks from traveling
I’ve traveled to 19 countries in my life, most of them as a young adult for study abroad or volunteer trips. In each country, I tried to find a memento that felt representative of the journey, like the Ladurée box that contained my first taste of French macarons or a felt apple ornament that displayed the craftmanship of the Kazakh people and an ode to the origin of the fruit. I keep most of these little knick-knacks on a shelf above my bed as a daily reminder of great travel memories I have collected.
I’ve been making up dances (and forcing family and friends to watch said dances) since I was a toddler. In high school I was able to start stretching my choreographic talents for theatre productions, and over the past 10 years, I’ve been fortunate to teach dance at a local studio and get paid to do what I love! I also still love opportunities for informal creation in the form of a kitchen TikTok dance or a backyard “show” of acrobatic tricks. I will gladly watch any and all recital dances (live and old videos).
Green things make me so happy. I love the literal life that adding plants to a room brings and the joy of watching a new bud form on a stem. I don’t exactly have a green thumb, but I’m really good at not letting plants die.
My journey as a yoga practitioner and instructor is a random one, but I’m so thankful for it! Doing yoga has helped me get better at creating margins in my life. The style of yoga that I first learned and continued to practice has a strong emphasis on breathing and connecting movement to that breath. Whenever I’m stressed, I take a few moments to sit quietly and just breathe, and if I have time, do a quick flow to release some endorphins and refocus my thinking.
My parents read with me before bed every night when I was young, which instilled in me a love for literature. While I’m not always great at carving out time for a chapter or two before bed these days, there is something incredibly fulfilling to me about sitting down to learn from the writings of others. When I do read, I write book reviews on my blog, Seeking the Significant. My go-to genres are classic European literature (à la Jane Austen, Victor Hugo, Oscar Wilde), contemporary memoirs (Wild, A Promised Land, To Shake the Sleeping Self, Just Mercy), and historical nonfiction (Hidden Figures, The Boys in the Boat, Devil in the White City).
I’m not exactly a “warm weather” person, but I love getting hit with a stream of sunshine. It’s just so happy.
Baking brings me great satisfaction and great anxiety… but mostly satisfaction! I have always loved eating sweet treats and it’s been a true joy to hone my baking skills over the past few years. Now that we’re expanding our Philo Collective dreams with more baked goods (and our Farmers’ Market debut!!) I have derived extreme joy from being able to brighten someone’s day with scones, biscotti, pizzelle, macaroons and of course, our signature macarons!
10. Quality time with family & friends
I have the incredible blessing of a system of family and friends who know how to love, encourage, rally and support with kindness and conviction. Some of my favorite memories have been spending a lazy afternoon sharing a good meal, a sunny patio and even a few moments of comfortable silence in the company of great people.