April 7, 2014

Tiny Happiness: How Instagram is Archiving my Gratitude.

gratitude and rust

I am rediscovering all the things there are to be grateful for—and there are just so many!

After a long time of feeling nothing at all, I am so grateful now for the smallest, even banal, moments. I am grateful just to be able to take a photo and remember it—every splendid rush of feeling, the smells, quietness and loudness of that moment.

So Instagram is helping me archive a whole collection of feelings by the moment. And then the words—oh, always the words—breathe life into each freeze-frame of tiny happiness.

I am alone a lot these days so my words and the things I see, feel, touch, taste and smell are what keep me company. In that quiet aloneness, we seem to live a whole lot more; and we have the space to appreciate it all.

So this is a snapshot of all the snapshots—all the millions of feelings and things-to-be-grateful-for condensed into a few Instagrams. I hope it’ll inspire you to find your own ‘Kodak moments’ of joy—there’s joy in every second of every frame.

pool swim outdoorsThis new year of the unicorn: play. Feel the sun of my face and water on my skin. Move and stretch and swim the length of a country. Eat biscuits without guilt. Drive long drives into the lights of the city with a dear friend. Soda water and lemon. Secrets and giggling hehehe like a teenager. Gratitude for feeling young. Daring to let my heart open again (and maybe get broken). Singing. Taboo, the game. Telling truths over vodka. New friendships with people I’ve worked with but not really known. Cuddling and talking to the furbabies because they are always there full of love. Ice cream. Four days of living unapologetically for the first time in a very long time. Gratitude gratitude gratitude



coffee cafeAloneness is wonderful. All that quiet and daydreaming that you allow yourself in that wide open space of your own company. Weekday drives into the city, where roads are clear but twinkling with just the right amount of light. Step out into a balmy, almost too-warm night and find a corner in a coffee shop where there is no one. Drink a hot chocolate that is fluffy like fleece and comes with two just-right marshmallows for that extra square of velvet. Let your mind wander towards only the happiest things so that you smile to yourself like a child with an imaginary secret. Feel gladness just for knowing that you are right where you should be.


yogaWhen it’s too hot to go outside, find refuge in a cool indoors with a book and quiet jazz (Stan Getz, the music of the month) and an elastic clock, because time stretches away forever like this. My mind does little hops and beats as it journeys its way through a new book (well, three new books). There is a newfound delight on each page. This Saturday I realised again that the best adventures are had when you’re just sitting quietly, unmoving, your head in a book. But I also get restless so on Sunday I felt I must get up and move. I discovered a new workout for myself, oh the best kind: dancing, moving, hopping from one foot to another in my underwear to the tunes on my stereo but, more than that, also to the rhythm of my own beat. In between that, all my favourite step and combat moves, just this time without the pressure of a clas situation or any potential damage on the knees. Free flow, dance, move whichever way I feel like. In between, punch the air, knee-lifts, vertical ab crunches. All along—feeling the sexiest me as I whoop and shake and wiggle like no one’s watching (since no one is) and thinking, as I catch my reflection in the mirror, “Damn, girl, you look mighty fine!


bedI have a proper bedroom, but about five months ago, I decided to move into another tinier room and sleep on the sofa bed. There’s hardly any space in here—the room is filled with books and magazines, my desk, a hundred paper bags filled with things I’ve bought but haven’t put away.  I have everything I need in this 20-square-foot of space. But oh, what a sacred little space. It is here that I dream and breathe, where I meditate and sit with my feelings, no matter how good or bad they are. It’s where I kick up my legs as I laugh too loudly and talk on the phone with a best friend. It’s where I sit to write and write and write, get lost in a book, doze, wake up to read, doze again and eat crumbly bits of Toblerone. It is where I start my days, the light of a dusky blue morning creepy in between white curtains and I hear my furbaby bark his good morning to the neighbourhood. It is also where I end my days, moving from movement, activity, noise, thoughts, into this gentle quietness, where it’s okay to just lie and rest and be. Just be.


night drive road

The roads and lights have kept me company on many a sad and lonely night. Remember, those long, long#drives all around the #city, going nowhere in particular, at a time when all I could think of was#escape escape escape. It is a comforting place to be in your car, going everywhere and nowhere at once, feeling at once a part of the city and yet apart from it. A good song on the radio, your own thoughts, old trees and a twinkling of lights – the only companions for a midnight drive to nowhere. Escape, drive, cruise, adventure.




dimsumThis is about dimsum. And more than the little bamboo cases of dumplings and buns, it is about what “dim sum” really means—dim (touch) sum (heart): to touch the heart. I sat around a round table this afternoon with three friends who have known my pains and my joys, and everything that has made my heart sing and bleed. One of them had made it possible for me to leave a painful place; another gave me new ways of looking, feeling and loving; and the last who has only ever believed in the spark within me, no matter how dark things became. And so, after a long, slow, fragmented year, we are learning to laugh again, to talk about our shared histories and create new stories. We are daring to open our hearts again and do things to make them sing—to question, daydream, wonder, create, feel, love and love and love again.


We are reaching down into the forgotten spaces of our hearts and reigniting the sparks that had brought us altogether in the first place.

Remember the good times, put aside the bad—or perhaps just learn from them, from each other, move from the space in my heart to the space in yours as we talk about the things we’ve seen, lived and understood. You have truths to tell and so do I. So as we pour warm tea into each other’s little mugs, we also pour our hearts into each other’s open hands. We talk about the things that have made us cry, kept us awake, frightened us and made us small. We also talk about the things that are making our hearts soar, lighting up our passions, radiating strength and making us big again. Dim sum. Touching the heart. From my heart to yours, and yours to mine, we will live, love, dance, sing and whoop all over again.


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Editor: Jenna Penielle Lyons

Photos: Elephant Journal archives and author’s own

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