How laundry made me tear up

Sitting at my front window, I spy my neighbors, young renters, across the street making trips out to the car. They are loading up with brightly wrapped gifts and loads of laundry baskets. One basket spilled a little on to the snowy ground. It’s dirty already, so who cares. This simple, mundane act sent me through a flood of memories, and stories. Stories of going home for holiday break from school all the way back to when I was a kid and woke up at some crazy hour in the morning (wait, I still do that, every day. ha!) to see what magical things appeared overnight.

View from my Denver studio Christmas Eve morning, my favorite time of day.

I remember one Christmas when I was living in NYC and decided last minute to jump on a tiny plane to a tiny town, for a 24-hour trip to be with my mom, aunt, and little cousin. She was at that really fun age when the magic of Christmas is palatable. We woke up and she saw the bright red shiny shoes under the tree from the loft, “DORTHY SHOES! I’M GOING DOWN!” she declared. She had a thing for Wizard of Oz that year. We all stumbled out of bed to join her.

Though our stories have different details, they all have a common holiday theme, love. Whether we’re celebrating the new babies’ first Christmas, or enjoying time together, or even cherishing the pain in our heart for those that have passed, it’s a gift to be able to fill up on these memories and the love.

I hope this season you’re making more beautiful memories to hold on to for days beyond today. Celebrate, spread the light, be the love. Happy Holidays!

Denver holiday lights and well wishes from Mariah Ehlert Photography
joyous time of year


Why An Experience Is Better Than A Gift

Life is short. It’s such a cliche, but we see it happening every day, and definitely every year when we send the kids off to the first day of school. Can you believe it? NO! Tears. Thumping heart. Moments fly by so quickly. How can we slow them down?

Brain science!

The more we can celebrate those moments, extend them and how they make us feel, the longer they will last. This part, is science. Neurotransmitters firing synapses and strengthening our ‘joy muscles’ (that’s my super not official term) the more we will feel joy. Our brains are designed to protect us from dangers; however, they do not understand the difference between a mountain lion attacking us and bills piling up, and queue stress response for both equally. How can we get out of this loop? JOY MUSCLES EXERCISES!

Part One: Savor. Part Two: Remember.

1. If we savor those memories, we make them bigger and stronger, and that feeling trickles down to our whole body (yes folks, the mind and body are truly connected). Side benefit of strengthening joy muscles: better health.

Yep, it’s true. The more we savor wonderful experiences, the more joy we will feel. How can I do that? Experiences. Create and participate in unique experiences. But don’t stop there. Relish in the, recount them, celebrate them, roll around in them as long as you can and flashback to them often.

2. Remember the memories: triggering that memory (photos work great for this, wink) triggers your brain’s response to it, which you conveniently strengthened in Part One. Do the same exercise again: savor it everytime it pops back into your mind. Turn that one little experience into a full-body happy feeling to reduce stress, increase happiness, and then spread it around. We could all use some wonderful feel-goods.

You’re all set now, go forth and work those joy muscles every chance you get!