Well, here we are at the end of another work week already. Doesn’t time sure go fast sometimes?! I hope you’ve enjoyed this weeks’ posts so far. I have a busy day at work today and some after work extracurriculars I’ll be at, so there will not be a formal post today. I promise to make up for it by posting over the weekend 🙂 I would love to hear personally from my readers of any of your simplest pleasures and/or stories that you might find fitting for the website. Please email them to me at smjohnson30@yahoo.com, and I will post them on the website for everyone’s viewing pleasure next week. Hope you all have a wonderful Friday, and don’t forget to come back this weekend for more post updates!


I received my first diary, a Hello Kitty pink covered book, as a gift from my grandparents right around the ripe old age of 10. From there I was off and running. It was a secret place where I could jot down my preteen thoughts, apprehensions, crushes, and more. Most nights before bedtime I could be found in my room, sitting at my desk, pen in hand, journal open, writing furiously. Often I wrote about something that had happened that very day, usually at school. Other times I wrote fictional short stories. Either way, the writing was a cathartic experience through and through.

Over the years, the diaries changed with me. After Hello Kitty, I found a white plastic covered journal sporting a rainbow on the front, and a lock on the side. My brother, although younger than me, was getting old enough to be annoying and a snoop, so I needed the lock to keep him out of my business. Next came a journal with sections of different colored paper, and a lock of course. With that journal, I would write out of order, choosing to write on whatever colored paper my mood was in that day.

As I entered my high school years, instead of writing down short stories and my emotions, I changed to a more artistic outlet. I developed a quote journal for inspiration. The journal I chose was a basic black hardbound covered book with blank white pages. I cut out pictures of my favorite athletes from my sports magazines and pasted them in the blank pages. Around these pictures, I found quotes from auto-biographies, magazines, or even TV interviews and filled up the journal in no time. The journal would come with me to my hockey tournaments and track meets. I found it be a great source of inspiration and motivation before competition in a time before I had a portable cd player and headphones to bury my ears in.

In college, I was much too busy with studies and sports to continue my journal tradition. The portable cd player was with me at all times; at the track as I sat in the holding area waiting for my race to be called to the starting line. At the rink, the headphones were glued to my ears as I sat in my cubby in our locker room awaiting the last ticking minutes until the zamboni cleared the ice and the warm up music, “Welcome To The Jungle,” started. The creative outlet was missing without the journaling, I missed having a place to share my thoughts.

In recent days, I have started this blog, and have found the creative juices to be flowing once again. Some days it is hard to come up with a story, but most days the words flow freely from my fingers. I am having fun reminiscing and using the modern technology to help me portray my thoughts. I realize that I can’t be as open as I would if I was writing in a personal journal, but at the same time, I feel fairly comfortable sharing as much as I have, because I feel my viewers can relate to my experiences. I find it just as fun to visit other’s blogs and websites, to see the various types of people and their ideas that are out there. For those who have never owned a journal or a blog, I challenge you to find some form of creative outlet, a place to publish your views and perspectives, because it is a rewarding and personal experience we each are entitled to.

Today’s Simplest Pleasures:

1.) Writing is a wonderful creative outlet where we can express our feelings and emotions freely.

2.) Journaling and blogging can take many different forms; find one that works for you and go with it.

It was another long day. The new medical records computer system that went “live” just over a week ago at my office has not sped up the process of seeing patients and recording their medical data. In all reality, it has slowed everyone down. We are spending 20 minutes on each patient just trying to plug their meds into the program; by the time I make my way into the room their actual appointed time slot to see me is over. Therefore, I am running into and through the next patient’s minutes causing a snowball effect of each patient needing the time slot of the following patient, etc. etc. It is wearisome to have my fellow coworkers day in and day out complain and question the entire system. By the end of the day, I am completely exhausted and mentally drained.

The drive home is quiet and I think about my duties when I get home; someone has to make dinner. On any other day, I am usually excited to get through the day into my kitchen. It is a place where I find solace as I mix flavors and test out new recipes. Just as running and working out relaxes me, cooking also calms my nerves and makes me feel at peace at the end of the day. I feel like I am nourishing both my husband’s and my soul. We meet together at the end of a long day apart over a bowl of pasta or a plate of chicken and share our days with each other. However, on this day, the last thing I want to do is stand in the kitchen for any length of time prepping, mixing, and cooking food.

As I walk through the front door, I see a sight that erases all the problems of my day. There is my husband, a man who works more than 12 hours most days of the week out in the “field,” where he’s exposed to all the elements, standing over the sink washing dishes. He happened to have a rare day in the office and managed a light 9 hours of work today. He puts the dishes in the drainboard, gives me a quick kiss, and then says the magic words, “Don’t worry, I’m making dinner.”

In that sentence, I fall in love with him all over again. This man has cooked for me less than a handful of times in our entire 4 years of coupledom. As soon as he found out my love for the kitchen, he wiped his hands clean and let me step in and take over the food that entered his mouth. Not to say that I could feed him whatever I wanted (see “Soy Paradise” below for more on that), but I think he felt that if I enjoyed cooking why should he spend precious free time doing something he didn’t care so much about when I was so ready and willing? So on this rare day, I basked in his selflessness, and enjoyed being cooked and served for.

Today’s Simplest Pleasures:

1.) Sometimes it’s o.k. to relax and let someone else help you carry the load. Us women tend to want to do it all, but in reality, we all could use a little helping hand.

2.) Appreciate the selfless acts in life.

3.) Food prepared by another hand can taste so good!

I just married my husband over a year ago, and I can still remember my honeymoon like it was yesterday. My husband and I ventured to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia to a Sandal’s resort to celebrate tying the knot. The weather was a balmy, tropical 85 plus degrees ’round-the-clock. We were greeted by palm trees, banana plantations, and the local people who were so kind and happy to have us as visitors we almost didn’t want to leave. Our resort was just as beautiful as every picture the AAA Travel guide showed us. We were surrounded by lush landscaping and trees that bloomed flowers the colors of a rainbow. The flowery plants attracted an array of hummingbirds; these birds so small and fast, you could only catch a glimpse of them out of the corner of your eye then they were gone. We had three different pools to pick from for our lounging pleasure each accompanied by its own unique poolside bar. There were daily activities galore: beach volleyball, catamarans, kayaking, shuffleboard, and beach-side massages. The pictures we took and the memories we shared will last a lifetime, but nothing will I treasure more than the daily walks we took together on the beach.

The second day of our trip my husband and I decided to explore the beach front property in front of our hotel. It was considered a public area, so we passed groups of local St. Lucians sun-bathing and chasing their kids around the sandy lots. At first we just walked down the beach enjoying each others’ company until my husband spotted his first piece of sea glass. It was a green, smooth piece of glass that had once helped form an old soda bottle; most likely Coca Cola was my guess. He stuffed it into his pocked without saying a word; I watched his action and then quickly followed suit. Soon we were both walking the beach, head down swiveling side to side as we searched for the sea-formed treasures hiding in the sands.

The first day we came back to our room with a pocketful each. We collected our hardware into a plastic bag. From that day on, every morning and afternoon we would spend about an hour beachcombing for our sea glass. We even set guidelines: no brown glass allowed, no sharp pieces, only well worn pieces, and no pieces smaller than the end of our thumbs. We greedily snatched up all we could; we didn’t see it as stealing. We saw it as us helping to make their beaches a cleaner, safer place.

When we arrived home a week later, tan and relaxed from our trip, I pulled a big plastic bag from my suitcase. Inside was at least 5 pounds worth of sea glass we had sorted and soaked in clean water. Each piece had been lovingly dried and polished. I headed to the grocery store and found a quaint glass canister with a clear glass lid that had a hinge to hold it on. We poured our glass into the container until it filled the top. Snapping the lid shut, we stood back and smiled. We didn’t need expensive, fancy trinkets to help us remember our honeymoon. Instead, this canister and the glass that it held was a simple reminder of the time we shared together collecting each piece to help form a unique, one-of-a-kind souvenir.

Today’s simplest pleasures:

1.) Sometimes the best memories and souvenirs are not the ones we buy but the ones we build ourselves.

2.) Find or start your own unique hobby during a vacation to help you remember your trip for always.

Today was another long day between work and a hockey game to be played, so instead of my usual short story, I am going to end today with a quick list of some simplest pleasures I’ve thought of lately but do not have a long enough story to write more than a sentence or two about. Enjoy!

Today’s simplest pleasures:

1.) A fresh, new haircut does wonders for the confidence. It’s an easy way to reinvent yourself.

2.) Sometimes you just have to replace a meal with a favorite dessert. It is a naughty that tastes so nice!

3.) You are never too old for a pool party.

4.) The sight and smell of the ocean is something so magnificent; every person should experience it at least once in their lifetime.

5.) An airy sundress is transforming; it makes every woman beautiful no matter what age, shape, or size.

It is a perfect evening for fishing. The water is calm and clear with only the occasional ripple brought on by the late afternoon breeze. The air crisp and cool; temperatures hovering just below 70 without an ounce of humidity in the air. We glide swiftly over the glass-like water until we round the bend and decelerate rapidly. We maneuver the boat into a quiet little cover where sunlight is blocked by the shadows of large birch trees with leaves overhanging the coastline. Taking our positions on the boat, we grab our poles and cast the lines holding rubbery, fake worms into the waters below.

We are always on a mission when we go out on our boat; to catch and release the biggest bass possible. But the scenery never ceases to amaze me. I end up spending a large amount of my time sightseeing our surroundings as I deftly cast over and over again. I notice how a large collection of weedy plants along the coastline resemble a larger version of green onions. They have white shoots at the bottom; held-fast with long roots into the mucky sand beneath them. They shoot large green stalks up into the air at least 3 or 4 feet high. As we troll around another bend, we stop in front of a large array of lily pads. The beauty and colors is nothing short of one of Monet’s famous paintings. There are roughly 100 green lily pads clustered together; some of their edges overlapping. Pinkish-white flowers top a few, swaying gently in the breeze. Behind the pads, lined rows of those tall green onion plants and brown cattails. Swimming in a line, weaving in out of the stalks, is a family of little brown ducks. They appear to be searching for food, or at the least, playing follow the leader.

My sightseeing comes to a quick end when I feel a pull on the end of my line. I reel the line in just a little, and sure enough meet resistance. Pulling back hard on the line, I set the hook and begin a mad dash to reel the line in as quickly as possible. The fish on the other end is having nothing of this; he is fighting for dear life and making my life hard by trying to make a run down to the bottom of the lake. I turn the crank with all my might and manage to get the fish up near the surface. My husband drops his pole and comes running to the back of the boat. We both stare in awe as the fish comes into view; it is a large four pound bass with a giant white gleaming belly; his green scales shimmer like sequins under the setting sun. I manage to pull him in close to the boat; my husband ready to pull him out of the water with his bare hands when “snap!” The line breaks. Just as quickly as I had him, my beautiful bass is gone, free to resume his life of roaming the depths for food. I can’t get his image out of my mind; the colors and strength in such a small creature become a sharp reminder: always give respect to your competitor no matter what the competition.

Today’s simplest pleasures:

1.) Boating can be a relaxing way to observe and enjoy an aquatic environment.

2.) Fishing is a sport that can be enjoyed by young, old, novice, and advanced. It is a great way to share summer experiences with families and friends alike.

3.) The excitement and adrenaline rush produced by catching a big fish on the end of your line is equivalent to almost any other sport out there.

4.) When fishing, give respect to your competitor on the other end of the line. Always catch and release to help prevent the body of water from being depleted of its natural level of habitants.

There was something different about this day. As I stepped out my front door, I realized it was not an ordinary summer day. At 6:30AM, it was still somewhat dusk. The sun was just starting to peak above the horizon. The air was cooler, almost crisp; not a drop of humidity hung in the air. Running down the well worn sidewalk, I spotted some yellowed leaves dusting my path when it hit me. Fall was in the air. And with fall meant school was right around the corner.

Every August, a few weeks before school started, I always felt a rush of emotions. Part of me became this anxious being; worried about a plethora of things. Would I like my classes and my teachers? How much homework would I have? Which lunch break would I have? How would I get to school? What did I need to bring with me to school on the first day? Should I wear pants or shorts on the first day of class? Which locker would I be assigned? Who would be in my classes?

The other part of me would become extremely excited. I would beg my mother to take me with her every week to the grocery store just so I could browse the school supply aisle. She would always let my brother and I pick out one or two things that were on sale each week until we had all the required materials. My favorite part was selecting between the various markers, colored pencils, and other art supplies. There were so many beautiful colors to choose from. I felt if I had just the right rainbow of colors, I would be able to create the most magnificent colorings of all.

There was also the decision making that went behind which Binder Keeper to select. They were the plastic binders that velcro-ed shut. Every plastic cover had a different theme. There were those with animals, some had scientific themes, or bright arrays of colors. One year I choose a water scene with a dolphin jumping out of the ocean in front of a setting sun. Another year, I choose a bright purple binder as a nod to my favorite color.

I would spend hours in my bedroom, carefully placing the dividers and lined notebook paper into my binder. I would pack my new backpack carefully, placing the binder in first, then my pencil pouch, followed by my ruler, calculator, and art supplies. At least a week before classes began, I’d go through my closet and try on several outfits; contemplating which would look best for school pictures on that first day back.

The first day of class would finally arrive and with it the butterflies in my stomach. I would be so nervous, I’d have a hard time falling asleep the night before. The morning would come quickly, and I would bound out of bed an hour early just to get prepared. When the school bell rang, I’d run into school with all of my excited peers and rush towards my first classroom and a new school year.

I have been out of school three years now, and I still feel the pre-school-year jitters around this time every year. While I may not have a new school year to look forward to, I still feel that same sense of a leaf turning over. I started my current job September 10th last year, so now I have a year review to look forward to rather than a new teacher or class. Labor Day is the last holiday and vacation time to look forward to before the upcoming big “family” holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is, essentially, the last “hurrah” of summer before the pools are closed and boats stored away. A time to enjoy the warm weather once more before the crisp mornings turn into cool days requiring coats and pants. No longer needing a new backpack and school supplies, I head to the stores for end of the summer discounts and a few new fall items to accessorize my work wardrobe. I may not have classes to attend, but my heart is never far from all those children and the adventures they endure each fall as they head back to school.

Today’s simplest pleasures:

1.) The excitement and annual routines of a new school year aren’t just for the kids. Carry some of this excitement with you into your daily activities; it can help make things seem fresh and anew.

2.) With the start of school comes the change of season; enjoy the warmth and sunlight now as it will not be long until fall is upon us.

3.) Remember your first day of school and all the fond memories that it conjures up; it will make you feel young at heart again.

As I step into my parents’ house, I hear an all too familiar, “Bark! Bark!” Rounding the corner at top speed, our family Yorkie, Max, comes running at me full steam ahead. His ears are plastered back, tail wagging one-hundred miles per hour and, I kid you not, I swear he has a toothy doggy smile plastered across his adorable face. If he was a German Shepherd or Lab, he would surely knock me to the ground. Instead, thanks to his small size, his excited pouncing only reaches thigh high at best. It is as if he is seeing me for the first time; when I squat down to his level, he stands on his hind legs to reach my cheek and plaster it with sloppy kisses.

I love this about him, no matter if I have just walked in the door after a month or an hour long absence, it is always the same joyful greeting each and every time. His greeting is like this for me, my family, or even a random door-to-door salesman off the street. Every person is greeted as if they are his long lost friend. After the routine greeting, Max usually runs for his favorite toy, an old tennis ball. He grabs it in his mouth and then proceeds to prance in front of you, waiting for you to lunge for the ball or chase him around the house. He believes that every visitor has entered his house for one reason, and one reason only, to play with him. He will pester each and every person for a few throws of his ball until he wears out his welcome. Finally, the adrenaline surge will die down, and he will resume his regular call of duty, guarding his beloved spot on the couch.

The love this dog shows is unconditional. When he has an accident or misbehaves, rather than moping or holding a grudge after being disciplined, he quickly forgets and returns to his fun-loving self. When I was younger and had tears after a heartbreak, he was there to confide in without judgment. He never complains or whines if something doesn’t go his way. And there’s no need for fancy workout equipment for my parents; he’s their biggest motivation to go for nightly walks after dinner. Max is advancing in age, and I dread the day when he is no longer there to be my fuzzy, loving friend. But I will always cherish the fond memories of his tail-wagging welcome I’ve received at my parents’ front door.

Today’s simplest pleasures:

1.) The love a pet can give is truly unconditional.

2.) Our pets make wonderful friends and can enhance our day-to-day lives.

3.) Need a workout friend? Grab your dog and head out the door for a walk. It’s an easy way to bond with your pet and improve both of your fitness levels.

Until I started working in the Internal Medicine field, I never thought I’d love elderly people so much. I had grandparents growing up that of course I loved dearly, but there was something about them that seemed somewhat disconnected from me. Mostly, I attributed it to their age; I thought that they couldn’t relate to me and the things I did because they were so much older. That and I found it hard to sit down and have a good conversation with them about anything more than how school was going and what I planned to do when I grew up. Too bad I felt that way as a child, because I surely look at them and the geriatric population in a completely different way today.

After spending 2 years in an emergency room, taking care of newborns through adults, I changed fields and entered into my current job in internal medicine. The first day of work I noticed that 80% of my patient population was over the age of 50. Basically, I felt like I was taking care of my parents and grandparents each day. I soon learned that I did not miss the kids. I like kids, don’t get me wrong, but when they are sick and yelling and screaming while you fight them to look into their ears or throats, believe me, you wouldn’t miss it either!

I noticed that the younger patients who I did see in my office were often somewhat embarrassed to open up to me about their symptoms and problems. When I talked with the older patients, they looked me in the eye and told me exactly how they felt. The younger patients often skipped appointments if they were feeling better rather than calling in to cancel. The older population often still followed up as they were scheduled, “Just to be sure everything is ok.” There are always going to be some rude or non-compliant patients out there no matter the age, but what struck me about my geriatric patients was that they had no problem being kind but honest with me. If they felt a new treatment was going to be a waste of their time, they said so. I remember recommending one gentleman go see a hematologist about his abnormal blood labs and easy bruising; he flat out refused. He said, “Let’s recheck the labs again; if they are still abnormal and I need another transfusion then I will think about seeing this specialist.” He just didn’t want to be bothered, at the ripe young age of 92, with yet another doctor’s appointment when he could be at home enjoying his time with his wife. I can’t say that I blamed him.

The best part of my day is when I actually have a few extra minutes to delve into a patient’s interests or history a little further and get to hear some of the unique stories that are out there. If they would let me, most of my older folks would love to sit and talk an hour just about how things have changed since they were young. Many of them remark to me on how young I look and how could I be the one taking care of them? I am “too young to be a doctor.” I find this cute, because I am not really a doctor, but they still call me this even when I try to correct them.

I find more pleasure in my work after caring for this population, because they are often the first ones to thank me just for listening to them. They often do not care if I know for sure what their medical problem is; if I have listened and showed sincere interest in their symptoms and explained how we were going to go about looking into their problems, that was as good to them as a diagnosis. Sometimes, I do nothing more than reassure them that the rash is nothing more than a few mosquito bites clustered over their ankle or that the cough and sniffles is just a cold and not lung cancer. Just my words can bring the biggest smiles to their faces and a “thank you so much!” several times before they head down the hallway and out the door. What this population of patients does for my self esteem and pride as a healthcare provider is nothing short of priceless.

Today’s simplest pleasure:

Get to know a few people in a different age bracket than your own; you’ll be surprised the lessons they can teach you and the satisfaction it can bring to be able to connect to those outside your own generation.

Saturday morning I awoke to a hot and humid day and decided to head out on my usual “long” run. I was shooting for close to an hour of running, and I knew it was going to be tough thanks to the recent demise of my Ipod. It met it’s untimely, watery death in a toilet bowl up at my in-laws’ cottage during vacation about a month ago. I tried Ipod CPR and every remedy I knew on it. I quickly dried it off with a towel and set it out to dry. When that didn’t work, I tried wrapping it in newspaper hoping the paper would absorb the excess water. Then, I stuffed it into a box of rice for 3 days as a last resort. When it STILL wouldn’t turn on, I knew I was doomed. I would have to continue my workouts, for now, music-less until the next Ipod sale came around.

My husband first bought me the Ipod as a gift about 2 years ago on my birthday. As a high school and collegiate runner, I always used to train with a teammate or more, so I never needed the motivation or music to keep my mind occupied. Once I left school and resorted to a lifetime of training alone, he thought it would be nice to have some music to help me get through my workouts. The Ipod became an instant hit; I couldn’t remember how I’d ever lived without it! Every run seemed to fly by, and I was no longer interrupted during my gym sessions by random talkers in the weight room thanks to the earphones crammed in my ears. I guess people decide to leave you alone once they realize you can’t hear what they’re gabbing about.

When the Ipod hit the toilet water, you can imagine how upset I was. How was I going to make it through those long runs alone ? How was I going to face the gym with all of those people who wanted to distract me from my workout with their constant stories about proper lifting technique and protein powders? It was a dark day indeed. Until last Saturday when I headed out for my first hour run without my Ipod.

As I headed down the street, instead of starting my run like I was a horse being shot out of gate at the Kentucky Derby, I actually started somewhat slowly and eased into the run. Without the adrenaline flowing through my body from Linkin Park yelling in my ears, I actually listened and gave it the proper warm up it desired. Feeling the pavement beneath my feet, each muscle and tendon below my waist stretched and awakened. Breathing deeply, I filled my lungs to capacity with the fresh air. As my run progressed, I realized I was paying more attention to my surroundings than I had in awhile. All of my senses became re-awakened. I could hear birds chirping songs in the tree branches above me. I could hear the perfect rhythm of my breathing as I took each step. I could see the beautiful, perfect rows of tall, green cornstalks as I ran past a farmer’s fields. I could smell the earthy scents of dirt and freshly mowed grass. I could taste the saltiness of my own sweat as it beaded down my face and collected on my lip.

Once I neared the last mile of my run, the feeling of lactic acid and fatigue started to settle into my well worn muscles. Instead of forcing every last ounce of energy out of my body, as I often did when I was attached to the Ipod, I listened to my body. Slowly, I eased off the accelerator and allowed my legs to relax and enjoy the last five minutes on the road. The last few steps home, I finished feeling strong rather than completely worn and beaten. The run had a story; a beginning, a middle, and an end. All the runs I had with my Ipod were rushed and fast. My mood was upbeat after realizing not only had I completed the run without the Ipod, I had actually enjoyed it! Dare I say I may have even enjoyed it more?

It has been a month since I accidentally killed my Ipod. I always thought I’d go right out and purchase another one as soon as I had the money to do so. Now that I’ve seen what my body and mind can do without the music though, I am hesitant to return to technology as a motivator. There are definitely days when I wish I had it there to help me through a tough run or as a distraction to keep my mind off of the physical fatigue. Yet, I realize without the Ipod there to distract me, I am enjoying the journey of my workouts more than just the end.

Today’s simplest pleasures:

1.) Never look at a workout as something to “just get through.” Feel blessed and proud that you have a strong body; enjoy every step that it takes you.

2.) Every so often, detach yourself from the headphones. By working out sans music, I guarantee your senses will be heightened; giving you more awareness of both your body and your surroundings.

3.) Every workout should have a beginning (warm up), a middle (steady to hard), and an end (cool down). It helps to break up the monotony of working out at one speed every day and prevents injury in the long run.

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