Life's Little Delights!
Ephemeral or physical, commonplace or extraordinary, some things seem to naturally make us smile
BOOMER asked our readers and other favorite Richmonders what makes them happy, satisfied, delighted, joyful – and why. Then we searched for familiar and beloved references and images to help illustrate these smile stimulators. And we put our discoveries together in a collage of delight.
Which of these bring a smile to your face and warmth to your soul?
- “‘In Wildness is the preservation of the World,’ observed Henry David Thoreau … Today, this is the core of the ecological message: break up natural ecosystems and there will be hell to pay – droughts, floods, fires and social instability. To preserve nature, simply immerse yourself in it. You’ll become an advocate … and the bad things will slow down for your efforts. As a younger man, my wife and I snorkeled and explored the channels between the islands in the James River Park System; today [we explore] … things that don’t move much … Immersion in nature soothes the soul and adds to the spirituality of life.” Ralph White, manager of the James River Park System for 32 years
- 🎶 “Living in the sweet Virginia breeze.” 🎶 Robbin Thompson and Steve Bassett
- “The forest offers beauty and poetry to those who are open to it … It feels like a shift of the heart, like falling in love. The forest is worthy of being loved, and of being mourned when it is gone. It is more than trees and timber dollars and habitat. It is a spirit-filled place.” From The Living Forest: A Visual Journey into the Heart of the Woods, by photographer Robert Llewellyn and Joan Maloof
- “Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy.” John Denver
- “Summer breeze makes me feel fine.” Seals & Crofts
- “Sitting by the ocean listening to the waves crashing.” Carolyn C.
- “The river.” Bill S.
- “The sun, full moon, trees, flowers.” Amy B.
- “A warm sunny day with a cool breeze.” Katharine P.
- “Birds singing, spring rain, sunshine.” Beth H.
- “The rain making all the new greenery and flowers come out.” Deborah P.
- “The view from my window of big old trees bursting with life.” Debra P.
- “Warm weather.” Edward B.
CRITTERS CUDDLY AND WILD
- “People with pets lead happier, healthier lives. Pets push us to live in the present, enjoy life’s simple pleasures, get exercise and stop feeling lonely. Nothing feels more joyful at the end of a hard day than coming home to a pet’s enthusiastic and loving welcome.” Robin Robertson Starr, member of the Richmond SPCA Board of Directors
- “All creatures great and small.” Cecil Frances Alexander
- 🎶 “If I could walk with the animals, talk with the animals, grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals, and they could talk to me.” 🎶 Rex Harrison in Doctor Dolittle
- “My cats.” Bill S.
- “My dogs.” Beth H.
- “Animals’ soft fur.” Debra P.
- “Our dog.” Deborah P.
THE HUMAN BOND
- “I wouldn’t trade the last two years for the world. Living in a multigenerational family is hard but the best blessing. My grandmother’s sheer presence taught my kids wisdoms I could never teach.” Heidi Cardenas Weaver, whose home hosted four generations of her family
- 🎶 “Thank you for all of your trust; thank you for not giving up; thank you for holding my hand … I’m thankful for the time I spent with my best friend.” 🎶 Jason Mraz
- 🎶 “For good times and bad times, I’ll be on your side forever more. That’s what friends are for.” 🎶 Dionne Warwick
- 🎶 “People let me tell you about my best friend, he’s a warm-hearted person who loves me till the end.” 🎶 Harry Nilsson in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father
- 🎶 “Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you’ve got to do is call, and I’ll be there, yes I will. You’ve got a friend.” 🎶 Carole King
- 🎶 “Rainy day people always seem to know when you’re feelin’ blue.” 🎶 Gordon Lightfoot
- 🎶 “I get by with a little help from my friends.” 🎶 The Beatles
- “Family” and “friends” Gail R., Judy H., Cody S., Beth H., Deborah P., Amy B.
- “Being with others. Talking to them. Hearing how they feel and how they see things. Telling them about me and how I feel and how I see things.” Mary C.
- “The knowledge that I and those I love are safe and healthy in these trying times.” Debra P.
- “My hubby.” Fran M.
- “My grandkids.” Kimberly S.
- “Seeing my children happy.” Santos G.
RHYTHM, NOTES & MELODIES
- 🎶 “Music is universal and it can be oh, so joyful. As a performer or producer, there is no greater delight than sharing melodies and grooves and lyrics and then getting feedback that we are indeed sharing positive experiences and good vibes with our audiences.” 🎶 J. Plunky Branch, Richmond-based musician and music producer
- 🎶 “Just take those old records off the shelf, I’ll sit and listen to ’em by myself. Today’s music ain’t got the same soul. I like that old-time rock ’n’ roll.” 🎶 Bob Seger
- 🎶 “I love rock ’n’ roll, so put another dime in the jukebox, baby.” 🎶 Joan Jett
- “Music.” Deborah P., Beth H., Donna F., Katharine P.
- “Dancing.” Deborah P.
- “The arts, preferably live.” Debra P.
- “The stirring power of a symphonic movement or a live concert, the soothing tones of a lullaby.” Marta O.
CREATIVITY IN THE VISUAL ARTS
- “I can’t imagine my world without art and painting and teaching.” Curney Nuffer, visual artist and instructor, Crossroads Art Center
- “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso
STIRRING THE MIND
- “As I have traveled higher education’s journey of learning, discovering and engaging, I am frequently reminded of my father’s simple message to me: ‘Son, in all of your getting (education), get understanding (wisdom).’ You see, education is a tremendous vehicle that can take you many places in life, but he knew it was the wisdom and understanding gained through one’s life that would fuel it.” M. Ray McKinnie, Ph.D., dean at College of Agriculture, Virginia State University
- “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Henry Miller
- “Learn as if you were to live forever.” Mahatma Gandhi
- “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” Gustave Flaubert
- “Live with no excuses and travel with no regrets.” Oscar Wilde
- “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” Robert Louis Stevenson
- “A good book.” Katharine P., Beth H.
GRINS & GUFFAWS
- “I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills.” Audrey Hepburn
- “Laughing.” Deborah P.
- “Babies laughing.” Debra P.
- “Playing games with friends.” Daniella C.
- “Laughing so hard your side hurts.” Jamal J.
SHARING OF YOURSELF
- “After recovering from my own life-threatening illness in 2010, I began searching for a way to give back. I’m honored to be able to provide hope to kids at such a vulnerable time in their lives. For me, being a wish granter with Make-A-Wish is akin to being a fairy godmother. It’s the most rewarding volunteer work I’ve ever done!” Anita Crean, wish granter with Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia
- “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Mother Teresa
- Of cooking food for others, especially at his Richmond restaurant, Perch: “I love the smiles (more through eyes these days) I see when feeding the front lines. Makes all the hard work worth it! And it keeps the team motivated to make a difference every day.” Mike Ledesma, owner and chef, Perch
- “A party without cake is just a meeting.” Julia Child
- “Cupcakes. I love cupcakes with real icing, not that whipped stuff.” Lynne R.
- “A glass of wine.” Beth H.
- “Chocolate ice cream.” Katharine P.
- “Food that involves ketchup.” Sonya S.
- “Chocolate and alcohol, especially Irish whiskey.” Deborah P.
- “Red wine.” Debra P.
TAPPING THE BEST OF THE BODY
- “Running has given me so much. It gets me enjoying the outdoors, it takes me to gorgeous neighborhoods, it allows me to see wildlife along park trails; I am always meeting new people; my closest friends developed from running together – but best of all, it gives me enthusiasm and excitement for life!” Rosie Schutte, Richmond runner