And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news. And welcome to 2024!

The Moment, either in its original format of Today’s Moment Of Happiness Despite The News, or its current format as This Week’s Moment Of Happiness Despite The News, has sometimes been a difficult thing to write. I’ve been working on the Moment since the beginning of 2017, which makes it 7 years old now. When it’s difficult, it’s usually because I get up on a Thursday morning that I’m due to write it and post it by 3:00 p.m. and realize that there isn’t any Moment that sticks out. These usually occur during rough weeks and I really have to dig to come up with a memory of a single moment that made me smile.

This week, though, it’s the complete opposite. I’m struggling with coming up with a Moment, not because it was a rough week, but because it was a week of contentment. It was one smooth day after day of “Aaaaaaah.”

Christmas was Christmas, of course.  But the day after Christmas, I shipped my husband off to Omaha to visit with his family, who he hadn’t seen since before the pandemic. He didn’t return until New Year’s Day. My youngest daughter, the only one of four children who can still be considered “living at home”, spent most of her time at work or in her apartment at school. Because she’s in graduate school now and not in the dorm, she didn’t have to move out for winter break. She’s living in an apartment complex built on the university’s property for retired nuns, single parent moms, and graduate students. They don’t make these three groups leave during school breaks, so she popped in and out of my home, but mostly stayed in her apartment. She even had her own Christmas tree this year – pink, of course, and decorated with Squishmallows.

I stayed at home. The plan was that this would give me time to fully focus on the next draft of my newest novel, allowing me to write without distraction. In truth, it ended up being so much more.

It was QUIET. It was like going to the Oregon coast on one of my retreats, but staying within the walls of my home.

And magically, it became the home of my dreams, while I lived the life of my dreams.

I slept until I woke up. I went to bed when I was sleepy. In bed, I read until my eyes were caving in and then I fell asleep effortlessly.

I had breakfast, lunch and dinner every day at my kitchen island, not at my computer. And I read there too, novels, books of my own choosing.

I practiced the piano every day. I played Animal Crossing on my Nintendo Switch every day. I watched a few favorite television shows every day. I took a long, hot shower every day.

And further…

My dishwasher was unloaded every morning and dishes accumulated during the day went right into the newly empty dishwasher, not left to pile in the sink. No one “forgot” to load it or start it, because I was the one doing it.

Every morning, there was freshly made coffee waiting for me, because I took care of setting up the coffeemaker every night before bed.

The garbage wasn’t overflowing because I took it down to the complex’s dumpster before it became overflowing.

The counters were clean and free of clutter. There were no piles of things in the hallways. The pillows were in place on the couch and the loveseat.

I went to the grocery store, bought what I wanted to have for meals, and prepared them when I was hungry.

The dog and two cats, of course, were still home, and I took care of them.

And of course, I wrote. All afternoon, into the evening, and late at night. I finished the next draft of my new novel, and on New Year’s Day, the last day of this respite, I started the next draft, which I believe will be the last. My confidence in this book soared with this ability to work on it every day, in a continuous streak that allowed me to see all of it, beginning, middle, end, with a minimum of time between writing sessions.

Was I lonely? No.

Was I bored? Absolutely not.

In terms of household chores, I was actually doing more than normal, as no one else was around to do them. But that was the thing…they were done. There was no putting it off. There were no half-attempts. There were no groans and complaints while doing them.

I like things neat. I like things organized. I like to know where something is when I need to look for it.

Honestly, I was so content. Content is absolutely the word for it. And it was different than going to Oregon. This was a whole new level of contentment, because I was home. I didn’t have to travel, spending most of the day in the air, followed by a three-hour drive, to get to this contentment. I just walked down the stairs every morning and poured myself a cup of coffee that was ready for me.

So why was this so difficult to write about? Because I didn’t want it to seem like I didn’t miss my family, my students, my clients, my job.

Do I love my husband and my kids? Oh, absolutely.

I didn’t want it to seem like I didn’t miss my students, my clients, my work.

Do I love my students and my clients? Do I love what I do? Oh, without a doubt.

But sometimes you just need that Moment of Quiet. That Moment of Self. When everything you do in a day (or a week, as this was) is something you want to do right then. And when everything you do in a day (or a week) just fills you with comfort. Contentment.

This is why I go to Oregon, by myself, at least once a year.

And this last week, I found it without ever leaving my home.


And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

In my happy place.

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