When I was a child, my mother and her best friend played three movies on heavy rotation. Every Sunday, we were treated to either Jesus of Nazareth or The Ten Commandments. As we were not allowed to eat lunch, and forced to wait for Sunday Supper, I admit that I felt a kind of kinship with the characters on the screen. In my mind, the gurgling crampiness of my stomach was on par with the plagues suffered by the Israelites. At least they ended up with manna an hour into the film, whereas I was constantly being told to drink water. Let me just tell you, that when you didn’t have time to eat breakfast before church, and have a completely empty stomach, water hurts. It does not fill you up, no matter which waist-training celebrity swears otherwise.
Thankfully, there was a third movie providing the backdrop for my childhood, The Sound of Music. It was amazing. I knew to my core that I would both make an excellent nun, and be able to outsmart the Nazis if I needed to. I also knew that someday, I would walk/skip down a beautiful street while rocking a carpet bag. Oh, how I loved that bag. I longed to be sixteen going on seventeen with every fiber of my being. I believed that the hills must really be waiting for me to go sing on them, while twirling graciously, arms out and welcoming, to come fully to life with the sound of music.
I will humbly submit my confession that Maria is syllabically similar to my name, and I wanted so badly for people to walk through courtyards trying to solve a problem like Jes-si-ca.
There was, however, one area that I did not agree with Maria Von Trapp. My list of favorite things varies greatly from hers. I don’t care for doorbells, or sleigh bells, and I have never had schnitzel with noodles. But there are a great many things that I do care for. I will share some of them with you now, in no particular order:
I love the way that kindness lights up people’s faces. I love how kindness looks different on everyone who wears it, and how it is always just the right size. I love the smell of crisp fall days. How hot tea slows everything down, and relaxes you in a way that feels personal and universal at the same time. A good cup of tea is like mindfulness in a cup, it just makes everything better.
I love a good, long, intentional kiss. Especially when it’s been years since the initial frenetic passion has worn off, or worn down, by the repetitive motion of mistakes and forgiveness. I love the way children dance in the mirror when they think no one can see them. How they are enough, their bodies are only theirs, and they don’t hesitate to feel joy when they see themselves reflected.
I love contagious laughter. I love when you try to suppress a giggle and it becomes a torrent of hilarity, flowing loudly from mouths that are usually careful. I love movies that make you think. I love people who ignite each other’s passions. I love awkward. I love real. I love the truth, in all of its earth shattering, heart-rending, tearing down and building up, beauty. I love good books. I love heavy blankets and cool air. I love falling asleep to the sound of my husband snoring and my children’s even breathing. I love coffee, especially when someone else makes it for me.
I love how much my children love me. I love that they trust me with their whole hearts, even though I am imperfect. I love the ways they wrap themselves up in my arms and lap, like the best gifts I could hope for. I love seeing them unfurl from the little babies that they were when I met them, and come out into the open as the people I will know forever. I love their strengths and humor, I love their wit and determination. I love that they are the best surprises I have ever had, and how I finally found something worth giving my life away for.
I love life. I love change. I love travel, and friends. I love having people in my life who can bear the weight of my deepest regrets and darkest of truths. I love talking about things that matter, for hours into the night. I love hugs where neither person is quick to let go. I love people who see each other and don’t turn away. I love music, and singing. I love encouraging words, tablecloths, fresh flowers, and freshly baked treats. And ballads by people who can really sing.
I love the ocean, every single part of it. I love flying and rollercoasters. I love the way spring always breaks forth into a glorious new, no matter how bleak the winter was. I love Christmas. I love gifts. I love photos where light is reflected in children’s eyes. I love inextinguishable hope. I love small hands in mine, and how it makes me feel brave. I love how forgiveness can make a marriage stronger, like a broken bone healing straighter than ever. I love the northern lights, and counting stars, finding shapes in clouds, and people who own who they are. I love people who listen when others speak. I love campfires and pedicures, surprise parties, and compliments people really mean.
There are so many things that make my favorites list. Realizing that I have them all, well, that’s truly something worth singing about, even if I’m not Julie Andrews.