Here I am, sitting inside a coffee shop, and I can’t help but smile.
Life’s not easy, but right now, I can’t help but feel like this world is such a beautiful place.
Every time I seem to turn around, I see beautiful things happening.
Today, I had coffee with a friend who’s a community organizer and is doing beautiful work in Roseville, Minnesota.
Yesterday I was able to help my dad surprise my mom with a 40th anniversary party of when they met. I mean, how adorable is that?
Saturday, John and I were able to have a date night at our favorite Korean restaurant where we were able to laugh and joke and connect deeply on things we care so much about. We did a project together that evening, and we had such a good time.
On Friday, I had lunch with a friend of mine I cherish – he’s gay, Jewish, and into all things theatre, and our conversations are so deep, so hilarious that I can’t help but look forward to our weekly carpool rides after class each Thursday.
Thursday night I watched What Happened, Miss Simone? on Netflix, and I came to deeply respect the artist Nina Simone whose creative soul challenged the social norms of her day and whose sensitive soul struggled to stay alive under the harsh conditions of her reality.
Wednesday I was fortunate to have two coffee dates with two women I care so much about, and just being with them reminded me how many good people are in the world trying to make the world a more beautiful place. And then an old friend I hadn’t seen in almost 20 years crashed on my couch that night due to a canceled flight. The goodness in that day still blows me away.
Tuesday I was on an LGBTQ panel where I helped educate people on what it means to be LGBTQ and have the chance to share part of my story. I was received so warmly and the audience had such good questions. The panel was held by a local church, and I thanked them for being part of the healing work of the world. Too many churches have rejected LGBTQ people, and I loved seeing this church open up themselves to learn from LGBTQ people and be a safe place for queer people of faith. We need more churches like this.
Monday I recorded a video with a beloved pastor, and every time I interact with her, I always think of how she just seems to radiate beauty and strength wherever she goes. It was an honor to make a video with her.
Sunday Mercy and her best friend went to a dance class together, and they LOVED it. I loved watching them move their bodies, own their bodies, and find fun in being free together. They asked when the next class was because they couldn’t wait to dance again.
Do you see all the beauty that happened just in the past week?
And this isn’t everything that happened. This is just one beautiful thing that happened each day. Each day carried more than one beautiful thing, and my heart just feels so full from it all. Like, any second, my heart is going to spill over from all the goodness, richness, and joyfulness of this life.
Why do I share all this?
Because after listening to those two podcasts on Gratitude, I can’t help but take notice of all the good and beautiful things that surround me and happen to me on a daily basis. Not that my days are free of pain, hurt, or frustration. Those things exist, too, but I refuse to let those things taint my joy, to detract all the good things that are happening to me.
A positive affirmation track I’ve been listening to lately and loving reminds me to smile just because I can and because there are things worth smiling about.
As an activist and community organizer, I honestly sometimes forget to smile. I’m so busy resisting ignorance, homophobic comments, and manipulative people that my face is almost always serious. When I listen to that affirmation track and the speaker talks about smiling, I always think, “Oh yeah! Smile… Don’t forget to smile, Nikole.” And then I smile, and it immediately lifts my soul, and my chin, just a bit.
So today, as you start another (but short!) workweek, I hope you are able to look around you, within you, and at your calendar, and take a moment to notice all the good things, good people who are in your life and love you and support you. May you remember that this life is the one life we get and to make the most of it. You are worthy of happy moments and joyful interactions and moments of reflection. So reflect, laugh, remember the good in your life, and, of course, don’t forget to smile. 🙂 It’s a beautiful life.
[Image: Coffee Date by Vanessa Porter via Flicker]