Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens…

by Belinda Munoz on May 24, 2010

raindrops on a rose

Have you pulled a voluntary all-nighter lately?  Voluntary being the operative word, I don’t mean over stressful things such as graded tests.  I mean fun things like being out all night on a first date with someone who could be more than a date.  Or how about celebrating with friends when cocktail hour literally lasted as long as a workday?

STRIKE WHILE THE IRON IS HOT

Me?  I just did.  As recently as last night.  No.  Not for a marathon cocktail-hour.  Certainly not for a first date (that would send major tongues-a-wagging in my world).  My brand of all-nighter was over something more solitary yet seriously fun, at least for me — planning a summer vacation.

You know the best thing to do when inspiration hits, strike while the iron is hot.  Last night, the iron was flaming so strike I did.  Expedia and I got cozy all night long.  That’s right.  My virtual travels took me through Costa Rican beaches, Guatemalan markets in Chichicastenango, Belizean waters, Mexican pyramids and Honolulu nights.  I even sojourned to the other border, Canada, and found some lovely destinations up there.

Such is what happens when I do one of my favorite things.  I stop obsessing about how limited time is and I simply amble about enjoying whatever activity has me enraptured.  Even at the expense of losing sleep.

MY FAVORITE THINGS

The mere thought as well as the song from the classic movie The Sound of Music never fail to drop a dollop of sunshine to an ordinary day.  Like a knotted back on the expert hands of a masseur (oh how I long for an hour of this!), little beads of tension scatter when I think about my favorite things.

In today’s modern life, we create many lists.  We have a to-do list, a grocery list, a bucket list, a contact list, etc.  The, uh, list of lists, no doubt, goes on.  But so often these lists are work related designed to increase efficiency.  They exist to help manage our lives.  I know as I live by them and no, am not about to kill any of the ones that are my lifeline to sanity.

But what about a list of your favorite things?  It turns out we don’t need to sneak into Governess Maria’s chamber in the middle of a thunderstorm for a list of our own.  Rather than bore you with what’s on my list of favorite things, here are a few that are proven crowd-pleasers:

  • A day filled with only fun things. If it sounds luxurious, that’s because it is.  But you know what?  I tell myself I’m worth it and voila, I believe  it.
  • A museum day. There was a year or two in my workaholic past when I would only set foot in a museum only while on vacation.  Luckily, I came to my senses.  Husband recently joined me for a museum day.  We admired paintings and sculptures and photographs.  We scratched our heads and furrowed our eyebrows looking at some modern art.  We were both inspired and vowed to do it all again soon.
  • Beauty appreciation day. Some may take this to literally mean gawk at pretty people and pretty things.  No harm in that.  Others may choose to focus on the deeper beauty inherent in many things.
  • A good movie. To be in a position to sneak off to a movie without having to worry about a child or securing a sitter, ah, a favorite memory.
  • A good book. This year, I rediscovered the world of fiction novels again.  And it is yummy.  My latest recommendation is Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s Life After Yes in stores now.
  • Fun company. Sure, there may be sourpuss-types we simply can’t avoid being around.  But they don’t have to monopolize our time.   Those blessed people with sparkling personalities, wit and charm, book some time in their calendar and count down the days.
  • An art project. A blank canvas.  Your inner Picasso.  Go buck wild.  Show off or hide your creation.  It’s up to you.
  • Good chocolate. Recchiuti fleur de sel caramels.  Godiva dark.  Cocoa Bella chews.  Mariebelle beauties.
  • A good home-cooked meal. Nothing fancy.  Nothing complicated.  Pour some wine.  Light a candle.
  • Conversation. Real life stories.  Something beyond chit chat.  Maybe about personal things.  Add laughter, maybe some tears.  I hear it’s very good for the heart.

WHAT GETS OUR ATTENTION?

With all the well-established talk about how short life is, our species never fails to fascinate with the incongruous amount of time and effort we put into activities that are less than our favorite things.  Things like stressing out about the future.  Guessing how others perceive us.  Second-guessing our skills.  Questioning our decisions.  Fretting about worst-case scenarios.

If there’s any list that we should kill pronto, it’s those lists.  The ones that dim our days.  Shorten our already short lives.

And so, while I haven’t settled yet on where my family’s next summer vacation will be, I know it will be great.  After all, I’ve already spent many late-night hours playing around with possibilities.  Possibilities for a super fun time with a couple of my most favorite people.

The pragmatism factor may flicker while dreaming of favorite things.  But our favorite things?  They need our attention.  And, it seems the more attention we give them, the more nourished we become, making all other things all the more enjoyable and fulfilling.

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  1. Tell me some of your favorite things over which you would stay up past your bedtime.  Do you pay enough attention to your favorite things?  Do you wish you had more time for them?
  2. Do you ever find yourself in a battle between your favorite things and less liked things that you must do?  If so, what do you do?
  3. Do you like the song My Favorite Things?  Do you sing it in the shower?  Hum it while you’re grocery shopping?  Whistle it while standing in line somewhere?

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Image by redneckprincess

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Who Deserves a Vacation? — the halfway point
May 28, 2010 at 2:18 am

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Corinne May 24, 2010 at 10:51 am

My favorites are long luxurious baths, time spent with a good book, and sleeping. I’m not going to lie, I love sleeping. Which you can’t really stay up all night to indulge in, except if it’s the day after an all nighter sleep. I love that kind of sleep as well 🙂
(ramble over….)

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2 Katie May 24, 2010 at 11:26 am

I love that your list is filled with life’s simple pleasures. I love walking in the early morning, writing with a breeze on my face, sitting on my daughter’s bed and listening to her talk about her life, holding hands and belly laughing. Thanks for reminding me of what I love.

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3 Justine May 24, 2010 at 11:54 am

That’s my favorite Sound of Music song! And I sang it to my little one while she was in my belly, and it is now my go-to lullaby for her. Why not right? Why not go to bed with a list of your favorite things instead of cradles that fall?

You know, it’s funny but this last weekend we were contemplating our summer vacation, and that’s exactly the kind of thing that would keep me up late. Planning a getaway, indulging in a little time just for ourselves, away from our frenzied lives.

And yes to all of you favorite things – especially the book, conversations and the homecooked meal. It’s amazing what simple candlelight can do to an evening at home.

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4 Rudri May 24, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I love that Sound of Music song. Some of my favorites are reading a good book, writing, and listening to music while doing bills (I know odd way to stay up late). Anyway, I loved your list as well. And I love the idea of fun list even more.
I am curious – Where did you decide to vacation?

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5 Belinda Munoz May 25, 2010 at 8:24 am

Rudri, I love that you listen to music while playing bills. I do that, too. It takes the sting away just a little bit. We haven’t decided on a destination yet but taking mileage, money and weather concerns, I think we’ll end up in western Canada or one of the Hawaiian islands.

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6 Lauren May 24, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Dear Belinda,

What lovely meanderings…mesmerizing!

Just the other night I was up into the wee hours with 3 remarkable women friends. How good is this – it was my friend’s birthday and she had a gourmet vegan meal catered for just the 4 of us. The caterers were fun women and they served us incredible food. Champagne flowed.

The best part, hanging together into the early morning hours laughing and laughing and crying and crying. Hugging, declaring the joy and beauty of deep friendships.

Personally, I often am up until the middle of the night because I’m excited to be “working” on creating something I love and hope will be of value.

I love the thought of being up all night planning a vacation! While I didn’t do that, I was just at Esalen and the thought of planning a lengthy stay there had me up half the night tuning into the possibilities. It takes my breath away!

For me your last paragraph about what gets our attention is so significant. Where do we choose to place our attention? Sometimes I bite off too much at once and then become stressed that I can’t get it all done immediately.

At times like this, I need to re-focus and get in touch with where I’m choosing to place my attention. It feels oh so much better to place it on what fun things I might do or on what really brings me deep happiness and joy!

As usual, your post is fantastic!

Warm regards,
Lauren

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7 Belinda Munoz May 25, 2010 at 8:19 am

Lauren, it sounds like you and your women friends know how to live to the fullest! As for Esalen, I have to admit, it’s a bit of a mythical place for me. Maybe one day…

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8 Eva @ EvaEvolving May 24, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Yes to Godiva dark chocolate! Yes to museums, especially those in your own city and not when you’re on a vacation.

I don’t do well on less than 6 or 7 hours of sleep… but when I do stay up late, it’s almost always for a good book. In bed, cozy under the comforter, with my reading lamp on, the dog curled up next to me. Ahhh, lovely.

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9 Tess The Bold Life May 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm

I’m an early riser so I don’t do all nighters. I get like a kid who went to a slumber party and comes home cranky.

I love what you did and who you ventured into all those new territories!

So I get up early to do my favorites things:
Sit in nature
Anything creative with my hands
A long talk with a early rising daughter
and to read….ahhh!

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10 Kristen @ Motherese May 24, 2010 at 1:57 pm

I stayed up way too late the other night watching TV. It’s something I almost never do, but there was something so appealing about indulging in (really corny) television and eating chocolate while everybody else slept. I felt like a kid on a Friday night, getting to stay up late. These days alone time is so rare that I just wanted it to last and last.

One idea really stood out for me in your post: this concept of “listing” the negatives (i.e. how others see us, what our flaws are). It had never occurred to me before how actively I do this. And you’re right: that’s one list I absolutely do not need!

Thanks, Belinda!

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11 Stacia May 24, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Oh, boy, do I love that song! And good chocolate. Yum! As for pulling an all-nighter, I can’t remember the last time I did that for something fun. I’m going to have to rectify that soon! =>

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12 Tony Single May 24, 2010 at 4:25 pm

A good book, CD or videogame will often keep me up past my bedtime. So will the latest piece of writing or art that I happen to be working on. 🙂

I often wish that I could do these things all the time, but everyday life has a way of getting in there and snipping your time short. It’s the provervial bucket of cold water on my happy time, as it were. I’ve learned to live in expectation of the things I enjoy to get me through the mind numbingly boring, tedious and stressful bits.

I confess I’m not a fan of that song or movie, but my sunbeam of a wife certainly is! She actually sings it on occasion, especially when she’s in the kitchen or the shower. I’d much rather listen to her rendition than the real thing because then I know she’s feeling happy and carefree… and, as we all know, happiness and carefreeness are precious commodities in these troubling times. 🙂

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13 Tony Single May 24, 2010 at 4:26 pm

D’oh! I typed “provervial” instead of “proverbial”. Good grief…

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14 Belinda Munoz May 25, 2010 at 8:05 am

Just knocked 10 points off your score, Tony 😉

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15 Baker May 24, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Hello Belinda,
There are two things in particular that I do that makes me stay after my bedtime. These two activites are writing and reading. Sometimes I just can’t get enough of it!
This was a nice read and good reminder of how amazing life is. 🙂

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16 Tom May 24, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Talking with friends is by far the number one favourite thing that I’ll stay up to do. However a lot of less than favourite things we do enable us to have our favourite thing moments. I firmly believe that there is something to be enjoyed in every activity, so if there’s something I HAVE to do, I might as well try and find a way to enjoy it.

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17 Tisha May 25, 2010 at 5:24 am

Hi Belinda,

I smiled as soon as I read the first line of your post because it’s 5am and I haven’t been to bed yet! I get lost online sometimes – some work, some play – but I enjoy it all. I remember doing all-nighters with the Twilight Zone marathons on a few New Year’s Eves after the kids came along and there was no Champagne, no partying…and no babysitter. I’ve also been known to get lost in a good book until the wee hours; that’s something I really do wish I had more time (or energy) for these days.
As for the battle between favorite things or tasks, the fun thing will always win out over the chore for me. And, really Belinda, who doesn’t love My Favorite Things! 🙂 Thanks for putting it in a never-ending loop in my head for the next 24 hours 😉

Hugs!

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18 Invisible Mikey May 25, 2010 at 11:57 am

I like the simplicity of your approach, Belinda, and reading your May posts made me smile. By accident of birth I’m cursed with a preference for complexity, so I’m not a big fan of Rodgers and Hammerstein. I’m more into Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Noel Coward-type songs, but I play heavy metal to get the housework done, and I’ll sing anything (even – gasp – disco) if I’m driving alone in the car.

I’m also into staying up too long on purpose, because it’s a cheap altered state of consciousness. I’ll do it to write, to watch old movies or just to dream without sleeping. Thanks for asking.

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19 Zauzeti May 25, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Greetings and best wishes from Damir

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20 BigLittleWolf May 25, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Too many all-nighters and near all-nighters for weeks now. (Another coming up tonite. And one more tomorrow night. Then that’s it – I hope – for a few months!)

None of those voluntary…

But the best voluntary all-nighters? A great read you simply can’t put down. A loved one (you simply can’t put down). A transatlantic flight to your favorite place in the world… where friends, art, and discussion await.

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21 Giulietta May 25, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Hi Belinda,

Yes, I like that song. Have played it many times on the piano. Fun post!

I stay up late learning new songs. Each one presents a new singing challenge.
I stay up late writing op-ed columns.
I stay up late laughing with my husband.
I stay up late singing out at karaoke nights.

Thanks! Giulietta

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22 Wilma Ham May 25, 2010 at 5:32 pm

The trick for me has been to fill my life with many favorite things so I do not have to do all nighters. They would kill me.
So I go out to get veggies for lunch and dinner, chores and fun.
I quit my job and build my own business, chores and fun at the same time too.
Hanging out washing in the sun and hearing the stream is chore and fun.
I live where I would love to go on vacation.
We are not here to do chores, we are here to create and live a joyful life so I am rearranging life to have the gap between ‘must and like’ smaller and smaller. xox Wilma

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23 Leslie May 25, 2010 at 9:08 pm

I adore My Favorite Things! Listening to it, singing it, playing it – I love it. And I love imagining life as a musical. More than a soundtrack, with everyone singing along. I want an everyday chorus! (But not my own seven-child chorus.)
I stay up late on weeknights to read and/or write – I love watching movies late on weekends. And when I’m doing the not-so-fun stuff of life, I try to do it early in the day (it’s my best and most energetic time) and to fun, upbeat music. Afterward, I’ll cook or bake something as a reward. To-dos accomplished and creativity nurtured – those are two of my favorite things.

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24 fatima da May 26, 2010 at 1:26 am

Woo! what an interesting post Belinda , I am a to-do-list –fan but never really thought much of a favourite to do list hhmm…how awesome !…. I must go away now to create one and get back to you on this …. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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