The other morning after dropping my daughter off at school, I had a sweet walk back home. I took my time. The air was dewy and cool but refreshing. I noticed the sidewalks covered in damp petals. I looked up and delighted in the blooms of Spring. I paused and explored.

“What are the things that I love to do most?” I thought, “Am I doing enough of those things?” I like to check in with myself to make sure that my days are reflecting experiences that bring joy. Then try to prioritize properly if something feels off.  It’s easy to get caught up in the tempo of the city instead of going at a healthy pace. A few months ago, I recognized that I needed something tangible to help keep track of our constant schedule. There was too much moving and not enough clarity. Recently, I purchased a magnetic monthly calendar dry erase board, which I have proudly hung up on our kitchen wall. I am not a planner by nature but I have found that this has helped pull my life together! Since doing this, I have noticed that my family and I now have more time to spend together as well as separately just being. We are still on the go, it just feels more manageable and focused. There is more time for fun and the simple pleasures of life. I may be late to the “organization” party, but baby steps- remember, I’m a free spirit!

Sometimes we have to step outside of personality traits and our normal comforts in order to expand our horizons and even connect more deeply within ourselves and in our different relationships. We can get so caught up in “this is how I’ve been taught,” “this is how I’ve always done it,” and “this is just how I am.” Where is the room for new experiences, for elevated thought and true fulfillment? We need to unlearn in order to move forward at times.  It is a process to becoming the best of who we are. We also have to figure out what makes us happy and be open to the expansion.

It’s so funny to me every time I think about it; the younger me would tease my Mom about her love for HGTV. Now at the end of a long day, curled up on the sofa with a nice pour of rosé indulging in back-to-back episodes of Mediterranean Life is my complete jam. My, me time. I am captivated by the gorgeous, bright aesthetic. Greece, I am coming for you one of these days. Soon. House Hunters International, Bargain Mansions and How Close Can I Beach?… I’m in!

Whether it is stopping by the florist to pick up fresh flowers to go on your dining room table or meeting up with friends for brunch or sitting on your porch enjoying a hot cup of coffee, take time for you. Why wait to use those vacation days or save the good bottle of wine for a special occasion? I have learned to celebrate life every day in one form or another. I see that as being intentional with my time and choosing happiness. For instance, something that I do now that has been a huge source of happiness for me is to pick up the phone and reach out when a loved one crosses my mind. I don’t wait, I do it right then. We live in a world with many options in regards to communication. I choose the route that is most accessible at the time. I stay connected in my relationships and usually find out that that person needs a listening ear. Your heart speaks volumes, trust it.  It could be taking a drive while your favorite songs play or going to get an ice cream cone or sitting down and reading a book with your child. Maybe it’s going to a local park and picking up litter. Or taking your dog for a walk.  I have overwhelming days, but I truly do at least one thing at some point every day that makes me happy. Music is a go-to for me- it gets me back in tune with myself each time and lifts my mood. What makes you smile? It’s ok to take a break.

A couple of weeks ago, I had to make a stop on my way home from work to run an errand. When I got off the train, I didn’t put pressure on myself to hurry. I opted out of checking my TrainTime App. It’s as if the moment I select a train time to my next destination, an imaginary stopwatch automatically starts in my head. Tonight was not the night for that. I picked up my daughter’s item from the store that was waiting for me and decided to have dinner at one of my favorite spots. I had an awesome date with myself. Then I chose my train.

These days, I try to listen to the voice inside that tells me, “Enjoy yourself, you deserve it.”  I have found that I had been playing myself small in the indulgence area at different times over the years. I made safe choices instead of sensibly splurging or going full force towards satisfaction. I’m not just talking about spending money on things. I mean in terms of deciding how and with whom I will spend my time. Choosing to take a few moments to spend any way that you wish is a “splurge” for most of us, life moves so fast. Time is precious, how it is used can add positive energy or drain you. Use it well. It’s important to know what makes us happy, but we not only have to know- we have to live it. We have to find time for happiness. We also have to accept that happiness is an inside job. Filling your cup from external means… Your children. Your grandchildren. Your partner. Your friends. Work. Being busy. Outside validation. That joy will not last if at the end of the day you are not happy with yourself. Take the time to be with yourself. Practice gratitude. Grow. Feel. Heal. Explore. Happiness starts within.

Tiffany Reneé is a writer, poet, mother, wife, activist and Ohio native, based in New York. She is a free spirit who loves to truly connect with others.

She believes that life gives us opportunities to learn and grow daily if we are open to see the beauty in the expansion. Family time, deep conversation, wine, cooking, music, laughter, and travel are a few of her favorite things. She’s a soulful dreamer from the Midwest who has always been drawn to the city lights and the possibility of choosing “more”.

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