The most amazing love story since Romeo and Juliet haha

It’s the small things

I am starting to realize that the secret to finding true happiness in life is by taking joy in the small things that come along when you least expect them every day. For example, I forgot my hair straightener in Oklahoma, and Luke mailed it to me. When I opened the package today, I found that he had sent me the sweetest card with pictures of monkeys on the front (because he calls me Monkey lol) and it absolutely made my day! I also got to teach Professor Cummings’s 4th graders at the Magnet School today, and I am pretty sure they all know the 5Ws in a news story lede now. I also met my good friend Laura Metcalf for lunch at the Student Center, which is always fun. (She introduced me to her friend Kayla, so I made a new friend as well). Take all of that and add it to the fact that my political science class was cut blissfully short since we finished our group project early, and I am meeting my friend Lauren Hendrix for dinner to celebrate her upcoming wedding on Saturday. All of these little things equal a great big happiness when added all together. In my opinion, unhappiness often comes when expectations are unrealistic and therefore, not met, or when people fail to find wonder in the small things. I mean all it took was a card with monkeys on it to make my day, or rather relishing the fact that I have the sweetest boyfriend in the world who is just so perfect for me and completes me in so many ways and actually took the time to send that card to me.

I could so easily be focused on negative things this week, such as how many tests/projects I have in the coming days, how Luke and I have nearly 40 days until we’ll see each other again, etc. But, choosing to delight in the small things is really so much more fun, in my opinion. I think the power of a positive attitude and optimistic thinking is often underestimated. I mean after all, a day can be made or ruined by the way you look at it. I think I must provide an example of the power of perspective.

When speaking of these small things that bring joy, I really would be remiss if I did not mention my experience at the local pumpkin patch this past weekend. One of my best friends, Lauren Killen, called me up on Saturday and suggested that we visit the local pumpkin patch where it cost just $10 to get a pumpkin, a hayride and visit the petting zoo. I was all for this, of course, as I had just been thinking I wanted to carve a Jack-O-Lantern for Halloween. (It also provided me with a desperately needed diversion from the mountains of homework and assignments sitting on my desk).

So, I invited my brother and his sweet new girlfriend Ashley to come along with Lauren and I to (yes, this is the real name) Critter Creek to get our pumpkins. We decided to make a day of it and planned to bake pumpkin pies that night while we carved our Jack-O-Lanterns. We arrived at the pumpkin patch around 2:45 p.m. on Saturday (yes, we are terrible Bama fans. We chose the outdoors in lieu of watching Bama squash Missouri on TV). If you know me at all, you know how camera and picture-obsessed I am, and so the following pictures at all of the available photo opps really won’t be surprising:

Ethan and I at Critter Creek – Oct. 13, 2012

Lauren and I at Critter Creek – Oct. 13, 2012

We decided to visit the petting zoo first, and Ashley was extremely excited to pet the cute goats and bunny rabbits. Sadly, the bunny rabbit was not so excited to see Ashley.

Ashley dropping the rabbit (after it clawed at her)

Ashley and the Rabbit Part II

This moment was seriously priceless. We gave up on petting the animals at this point lol Although, Ethan did get to pet a pretty cool turtle. We also saw two black bears trapped in a tiny cage (sad), a puma, an emu and an exotic-looking ferret. Then, it was time for the hay ride.

Ethan and Ashley- Critter Creek Oct. 13, 2012

Although Ethan was trying to look coolly nonchalant in this picture, we were actually all having lots of fun! The bell for the hayride was rung, and we headed up a hill and down the other side to the pumpkin patch, where, my oh my, we found the tiniest pumpkins this side of the Mississippi. But seriously, this was no Tate Farms (in Meridianville, Alabama)…We got the biggest ones that we could find though.

Proudly holding the largest pumpkins in the patch!

On our way back up the hill on the “hayride,” the guide informed us that these pumpkins were basically impossible to carve. He said that he tries every year, but they are just too small. So, we basically scratched the Jack-O-Lantern idea and decided to sit at the picnic table and paint them instead with paint pens. They actually turned out pretty cute, if I do say so myself.

Meet Penelope and Roxy (our pumpkins!)

Our prized creations…E-daddy, Penelope, Roxy and Ashley’s initials

We left the pumpkin patch (since they closed at 4) and did not get to play a game of corn hole. But we still had an AMAZING time, and it was so nice to get out of the house for a while. Our pumpkins are proudly displayed on the bar in our kitchen, and we even had time to bake pumpkin pies AND finish all of our homework.

Now, the moral of the story is that it could have been so easy to be very negative about this experience. After all, we drove 23 minutes down winding country roads to Vance, Ala., paid $10 a piece ($40 total) for these TINY PUMPKINS. I’d barely call that tractor/hay bale contraption a hay ride, and all of the animals were so skittish at the petting zoo that I barely came within three feet of one. Unless you count Ashley being scratched by a rabid rabbit. And, remember, we still could not carve a Jack-O-Lantern because the pumpkins were so tiny…You catch my drift. I am sure you also can see how negativity could have ruined our day and this fun experience with friends. Instead of stomping off mad as hornets in a nest that has been disturbed, we came home with four painted pumpkins, lots of cute pictures, and a fun story to tell too! We also had a blast wandering around that hole-in-the-wall, dilapidated pumpkin patch! It is amazing how a simple thing like perspective and attitude can transform an entire experience.

It makes me think about how much negativity can ruin your life, too. If nothing is ever good enough or never lives up to your unrealistic expectations, are you always going to be miserable, wanting for more than you can ever have? After all, one of the 12 secrets of happiness is to be content with what you have. Another one is to keep a positive mindset no matter what life throws your way. So next time you are complaining about not having the nicest furniture in your college apartment, or the fact that your boyfriend lives hundreds of miles away, think about the person who has no furniture and is homeless or the person who would kill to have a sweet boyfriend who loves them even if he is far away. (hint, hint: read and take to heart, Manda. Listen to your own advice. Haha) This is a hard lesson to learn, but my taking joy in the small things or by embracing those small pumpkins if you will, has helped me to have an INCREDIBLE week despite being overloaded with midterms and other commitments. I think it’s something to remember in the coming days and weeks..It’s really all about finding joy in the small things.


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