"Cultivate le petit bonheur (the little happiness) until courage returns. Look forward to the beauty of the next moment, the next hour, the promise of a good meal, sleep, a book, a movie, the likelihood that tonight the stars will shine and tomorrow the sun will shine. Sink roots into the present until the strength grows to think about tomorrow.”
These past two weeks this quote and I have been intimately connected. Written on a piece of scrap paper it has sat on the bathroom sink and waited for me to finish my shower. It tarried patiently on my vanity as I straightened my unruly long hair. It has been wrinkled and smushed into my sensible teaching slacks waiting for my hand to grasp it, grip it, crinkle it in my white knuckled fist when desperate thoughts wove within my daily routine; in between my reading lessons and correcting spelling tests, when walking down a quiet hall or standing robot-like waiting for the copier to finish spitting out the day's assignments.
It's that french phrase that makes the quote stand out for me: Le petit bonheur--small moments of happiness. Such a simple but profound idea and one I am sure we could all lean on every once in awhile. When the thought of tomorrow is worrisome and heavy--concentrate instead on what is good and satisfying even if it is small. It is the precious present that will get you through until you feel strong enough to tackle the "unknown tomorrows" that we all have.
So that's what I did this week. I marked, noticed and counted my petit bonheur, and if you'll indulge me, I'd like to share with you some of the happiest moments if not only to remind myself of the joie de vivre, but also perhaps to help someone else who may be in the "deep downs" find some light even in what seems the blackest of times.
Ma Petit Bonheur
1. Ila has taken to imitating a rabbit when the bunny picture shows up in her favorite book. It is the most precious thing I have ever witnessed. Her chubby cheeks move up and down in tandem with her rosy pink nose and her eyes get squinty. Le Petit Bonheur...
2. This weekend my sixteen year old asked...I repeat....ASKED to accompany us on a shopping trip to The Christmas Tree Shop. He sat in the backseat with Ila, sang Sesame Street Songs with her and had several easy conversations with us about school, about Christmas, about his future.
3. The same 16 year old told me last week that our house was "a home"...a home. Two words never sounded so good.
4. The crock pot...YES I said the crock pot. DEFINITELY a petit bonheur. Especially when my hubby uses it. This past week I feasted on spaghetti with homemade sauce and meatballs the size of baseballs. I came home today to the creamiest cheesiest potato and ham soup that the world has ever eaten. It was paired with thick slabs of farmer's wheat bread that he grilled with cheddar cheese; a perfect meal for a rainy fall night--Yes? Le petit bonheur!
5. Then of course there is bath time with Ila. There are SO many petit bonheurs during this daily 15 minutes I am not sure I even know where to start. How about that Buddha belly so full after a delicious crock pot dinner. Before putting her into the warm bath water there's nothing like the squealing giggles she lets loose when I blow raspberries on that sweet round tummy...le petit bonheur. Each night she does this incredibly endearing thing where she grabs her rubber ducky, points her chubby finger at me and grunts. This is my music cue and at that moment I begin my rendition of "Rubber Ducky," my voice echoing off the white tiled wall. She leans against the back of the tub and twirls her yellow duck interjecting her rudimentary language where she can. But the happiest part of the bath has to be towel time. Wrapping her in that purple heavy cotton "princess" towel with a crown for the hood, she squirms and wriggles happily in my arms. The warmth of her body seeps through the towel right into my soul. I put my nose on the top of her wet hair and breath in deeeeeeply. When drying her off on the bathroom sink's counter I kiss her shoulders, her round knees, the bottoms of her tiny feet, her hands and right on up her arms to her arm pits--all with no resistance ( a rare moment!) She anticipates this routine sitting mesmerized with each kiss and then bursts out into her heartiest belly laugh when her arms get kissed. That delightful sound floats up out of her mouth into the steamy bathroom and strokes my cheek like a soothing hand. Best of all, she'll snuggle into the crook of my neck all the way down the hall to her room. I almost hate to put her down on her changing table. Bath time...le petit bonheur.
6. Le petit bonheur, a small happiness, doesn't seem to fit this next one. I mean my Facebook friend, Suz, must have the most giant personality that the world has ever experienced. I am not sure if she knows of the jovialities and super smiles she spreads throughout the world of Facebook. To those who don't know her or have never read her statuses, I call her the female Robin Williams. This woman is freaking hilarious. During one teary wallowing moment, I turned on my computer to read this status posted by my friend, " So I'm checking out at the grocery and the comedian/cashier dude holds up the 2 pack of dog bones and asks, "for your husband?" I replied, "well, he gets bored when he's in the dog house...plus it gives him clean breath."Or how about this one "So. my 17 year old big dude is trying to pick a 'sexy' name for his car. hubby has googled 'sexy names' and is reading htem off in a strange(ie. sultry) voice. we're actually having a debate in the kitchen over this. seriously. ::eyeroll:: " --If you ever need a moment of laughter be sure to visit her world at suzpatrick.blogspot.com!
And now for some truly tiny petit bonheur!
A. Palmer's Cocoa Butter Oil massaged into my tired feet at the end of the day.
B. A husband who knows that talk is cheap but massaging my feet is PRICELESS.
C. A full tank of gas when I am in a hurry.
D. A call out of the blue that showers me with understanding and advice from a best friend in Tampa.
E. Grape infused vodka, Dole All Natural Pink Lemonade, Perrier...together....yum!
F. Nestle's Tollhouse Ice Cream Sandwiches...nothing else to say about THAT one!
G. The Sunday NY Times Book Review.
H. A virtual trip to Amazon.com after reading the book review. This week I bought --To the End of the Land by David Grossman. Each day I look forward to a jaunt to the mailbox to pick up a prized possession--a book and devour its words.
Le petit bonheur. Le petit bonheur. Le petit bonheur. Look for it. Listen to it. Learn from it. Love it. I guarantee that those small happinesses will add up to Le Grand Bonheur--a great big ginormous contentment-- that outshines those scary tomorrows and gives us palpable energy we need to take us forward.