“This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.” This is a quote attributed to Maya Angelou, an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She lived a full 86 years publishing seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Not only was her word use powerful and on point, but her delivery, when she spoke, was entrancing. I believe her motto and how she approached and lived her life is really summed up nicely with, “this is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.”
Recently I have begun saying it as a sort of mantra to begin my day and to orient my children to the possibilities that lie ahead – despite not being able to leave the house. These days especially, I feel that we need to approach each day as a new start – a beginning of a story that has yet to be written. I pull open my sons’ shades in the morning and declare – “this is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before!” I have said this with such regularity that now they interrupt me before I’m finished with a groan and “I know, I know! It’s a new day and you’ve already decided its going to be wonderful.”
Make a healthy choice
It’s really this message of each day as an opportunity for a fresh beginning, a beautiful gift waiting to be unwrapped that I want to bestow upon my children as I work to impress this upon myself right now. No matter what is occurring in the world, we do get to choose our attitude. It’s rarely easy, but it is true. Our actions are a result of the thoughts we feed ourselves each day. We can feed ourselves uplifting, nutritious thoughts and practice gratitude or we can feed ourselves with negativity void of nutritional value and feel the effects weigh us down. We all know that there is uncertainty in the world, but truth be told – each day has always held uncertainty whether in the midst of a pandemic or not. We never know what will unfold, what gift may reside beneath the wrapping, but we can decide to look for the good. This is something that we need to intentionally practice and not just once, but regularly. Our brains actually look for danger as a matter of survival and obviously this has benefited our species greatly. However, we need to take charge of what we expose ourselves to and how we respond to circumstances and events around us.
Adventure right here, right now
I also think of Maya Angelou’s quote as a challenge to celebrate the everyday, the ordinariness of our routines and activities. Especially now, it’s difficult to plan for something grandiose or for an adventure that takes place in a different city, state, or country. Fortunately offers of virtual tours of museums and cities have popped up to provide us with a taste of the experience without leaving our houses and computers. I have to be honest. I do not feel joy being at my computer as much as I have been these past several weeks. It is hard for me to stay focused when I am wearing many hats at once and it is difficult to connect with others on a personal, intimate level when our interactions take place through screens. Yet, I know that there is cause for celebration even in the most mundane of activities and lack luster exchanges. It doesn’t take me long to shift my gaze from my screen to any number of windows, a plant, a photograph, a piece of artwork, to provide me pause and space to relish in what exists around me with just a slight shift of my awareness.
The small things
I am looking for small ways to add spice and variety to the everyday, like wearing different jewelry, perfume, hats, or preparing different meals as well as shifting things around in our house to shifting things around in our schedule. I continue to look for smaller and smaller elements that I can play with to add spice and variety to the every day. When I do this, I am intentionally planting things throughout my day that I can draw my attention to providing me with a little lift when I didn’t even know I needed it. When strung together, these minor tweaks and indulgences lead to something more significant; something worthy of celebration.
It’s all about the experience
True, celebrations are often depicted as social gatherings and hardly something that an individual engages in on her own, but I think that is just a limitation of imagination. If we can imagine the experience of celebrating and what that experience feels like, might we not be able to recreate that feeling at any time and link it to whatever we want? It need not be your birthday, retirement, graduation, or any other number of milestones, but is life lived each day not a momentous event in and of itself? Is not surviving, thriving each day in an unpredictable world in which all we have control over is our own attitude – worthy of celebration? I do believe we are missing out on much of what life has to offer by only holding out for big events to allow ourselves the opportunity to celebrate. What if we regarded small, seemingly insignificant parts of our life with deep heart felt appreciation? Wouldn’t joy just erupt from us more often and with more intensity? Isn’t that what a celebration is?
I know we have all experienced days that are uncomfortable for a myriad of reasons and the day itself may feel drawn out and we might say to ourselves, “I can’t wait for this day to be over!” but haven’t we also experienced those days that are full of joy and comfort, happiness, and wonder? On those days we might whisper or scream, “I don’t want this day to ever end!” If we opened up each day as if it could potentially be the day that holds wonder and joy, we are already one step toward experiencing it.
Tomorrow I challenge you to set the intention as soon as you open up your eyes. Draw forth gratitude as you welcome in yet another day. It may be the path less traveled these days, but still available – and I think it’ll be wonderful. 🙂