1. The bedroom - we made the decision to not have a television in the room, in order for us to foster a more peaceful sleeping environment. It seems to be working. I have to say that there are times that I do miss reaching for the remote and turning the TV on to either cartoons or a good movie at 3 AM, but it's truly something I can do without. Soft sheets, calming scents and good lighting are key to a great sleep experience.
2. The beach - I'm not a huge beach bum, to be honest... some aspects of it can be quite irritating (like finding cigarette butts or empty beer bottles in the sand, or oneself downwind of the stench of fresh pee... how disrespectful!), but the sound of the waves lapping up on to the shore, the sand between my toes, a fun ride on a boogie board, falling asleep under the sun, or watching a breathtaking sunset while sipping on an ice cold drink. It's something I'd love to share with my daughter when she's old enough to appreciate it.
3. Loved ones (the PEACEFUL ones!) - friends, lovers, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents. Sometimes all it takes is one look from one of them to say, "it's all right." I treasure those that do provide me with the comfort that everything will be okay, and am flattered when I'm told I do the same. I try to stay away from too much drama and discord, that when either one enters my life, I take pains to stay away from it until cooler heads prevail. Life's too short to stress out. I'd like to think I've outgrown looking for problems where they don't exist.
4. A good romance novel - Like Water For Chocolate is probably the last romance I indulged in, and I LOVED IT!!! I found myself taken for an amazing ride by the protagonists of the story, not to mention in the delicious dishes that served as the background for their love affair. How a dish with rose petal sauce could cause one character to burn with the heat of a thousand passion-filled nights. Incredible!
5. Chill-out music - I have quite a few pieces of music on my now dead hard drive. Classical, jazz, some new age, soul... just songs that put me in a much better mood the moment they start playing. Speaking of which, I'd better get that data off of my hard drive before I go insane! (Update: so far, the data recovery company has given me the news that my pictures have been recovered... haven't heard anything about the music though.)
6. Prayer - one of my favorite places is an empty church. No parking problems, no long communion queues, no rush to leave. I try to find the most deserted part of the church, settle in an empty pew (either sitting or kneeling) and pray, pouring out whatever's going on in my heart at that moment. Prayer precedes every show I do, whether alone or in a group, and it immediately centers all of us and bonds us all as a team.
7. Late nights at home - between 12 MN and 5 AM is my favorite time of the day. No activity... no phone calls... no demands... just me and whatever tickles my fancy, whether it's a book, needlework, a movie on HBO, surfing the internet, or just daydreaming.
8. Daydreams - it's an indulgence I allow myself... to be transported to another place or another time and let my imagination run free. It is in my mind that I have no limits or boundaries. I can be completely liberated to think about anything.
9. Knitting - sounds like something only grandmothers do, but it's meditative and quiet activity. I was once described as having "itchy fingers", meaning that I loved anything that had to do with keeping my hands busy, be it assembling a LEGO set or a model car, playing the piano, crocheting, needlepoint, fixing something in the house, whatever. Sometimes my hands were a force for good; at others, a force for destruction. Now, I'd like to think they're a force for creation.
10. A fantastic massage - it's been a long while since I've been able to indulge in a full body massage the way I like it: strong and deep. But lately I've been enjoying Thai foot massages at least once a week during my pregnancy, and it's been a wonderful treat. Two hours. Halfway through poking at my left foot, I'm fast asleep and off to another world.
11. Driving - let me be more specific: driving on a long stretch of east coast highway, surrounded by tall evergreens in the afternoon, almost amber sunlight. Nothing but me and the music off my iPod, a tall glass of iced coffee (and perhaps a snack) and the road.
12. Blogging - or writing long email... or putting an entry in my journal... anything that purges me of stress and anxiety. I'm not the screaming kind of girl; I'd much rather find a more peaceful means of exorcising whatever darkness or demons haunt me from time to time.
There you have it! My own little pieces of heaven on earth that bring me calm. What are yours?
(entry amended May 8, 2006.)