There is a scene from my own life I keep replaying in my head. A gelato truck appears every afternoon at the edge of the park near our house. Even on days that seem just a little too brisk for frozen desserts, the gelato man is there. Children and adults alike gather–sometimes keeping their distance and sometimes not–to exchange Euros from their pockets for an array of sweet treats.

On one of my dozens of walks with Ralph, passing the gelato truck for the thousandth time, I spotted an elderly man stooped over his cane, gripping it tightly. In his other hand he held a cone topped with perfectly swirled vanilla gelato. I noticed he stayed to chat with the gelato man, clearly in no hurry to be anywhere at all. As the sunlight flickered through the trees overhead, he stood on the sidewalk, tilted his head back and laughed.

In the midst of a global pandemic, when children were kept from the nearby playground for weeks on end, when the nursing home residents who live steps from the park could only see visitors from their balconies–their loved ones on the sidewalk looking up and waving–when masks became more common than not, when panic and fear came like a springtime breeze–invisible but relentless,–this frail, vulnerable man ventured to the gelato truck, turned his face to the sky and found joy.

Weeks before lockdown began, when Covid-19 was a nascent, faraway news story, Scott and I listened to a podcast on “delight.” A few of the stories made us roll our eyes, but some of them stuck with me. The episode explored how people find delight in everyday, seemingly mundane things. This wasn’t exactly Scott’s podcast cup of tea (Give him history, politics…), but I was insistent that we keep listening. When they described a woman finding joy in her morning routine, her dog’s wagging tail, the way she felt after a yoga session, I paused the episode and said, “This is it, babe. This is what I do! It’s exactly what I’ve been talking about.”

I think for weeks now, it’s kept me going. Kept me sane. This pursuit of delight, even if it’s often entirely subconscious.

When I come downstairs and see a French press carafe full of black coffee next to a plate of eggs and sausage, my breath catches in my throat. It simply never gets old, both the love of my husband and the daily joy of this ritual. In the afternoons, I love to look out the kitchen window to our patio and watch our flowers and parsley thrive in the slanting sun. When we take our evening walk, I usually tell Scott something like, “When we get home, I’m going to take a hot shower and try my new dark chocolate.” As if it’s some grand plan I suddenly need to share with him. Scott just nods and smiles at the excitement in my voice.

Earlier, I passed a dental office with the most gorgeous pink flowers in bloom. For days I’d been too shy to stop to take a photo of them, but the street was quiet today and I couldn’t resist any longer. The huge blooms were even more beautiful up close. Ralph gazed up at me with confusion as I snapped photos of a stranger’s garden. Hours later, I’m still smiling at the images.

Life isn’t always vanilla gelato and sunshine. Tiny moments of delight can often be overshadowed by stress or worry or grief, as so many of us have experienced in these uncertain months. The human experience usually doesn’t make sense, and it’s often downright unfair.

Yet, there is still joy. This relentless thing called hope. The pervasive belief that we might soon stand on a busy sidewalk, perhaps even with a gelato cone in hand, and belly laugh beneath a blue sky.

The Marriage Chronicles: Year 3

One of our most eventful, challenging, and wonderful years yet. I still can’t believe I get to live life with Scott by my side. It’s simply the best. We were thrilled to celebrate our third anniversary in Bruges, Belgium! But before I get lost reminiscing about Belgian chocolate, waffles, craft beer, romantic bridges…wait, where was

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On Moving

I live in Europe now. That’s still a little weird to say. So much has changed in just a few weeks. As I write this, I’m tucked away on the second floor of our townhouse in Germany, idly watching cars pass on the street and little dogs scurry down the sidewalk with their owners. They

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This morning, with Ralph, having a latte.

I’ve never been one to stick to a routine for long. Since childhood, I’ve been through various and numerous phases. You name it, I’ve probably written it down or mentally tasked myself with the habit–make your bed every morning, write 500 words a day, exercise five times a week, cook every day for a month.

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Happiness, Hobbits & Tabby Cats

Lately I’ve been relentless in finding delight in seemingly mundane moments. The steam from a great cup of coffee. The way our dog curls up next to our bed, comforted merely by proximity to his people. A clean kitchen or a pink sky or grocery store flowers or a well-worded email or a foggy morning or a story about hobbits or a million things that require only that I notice them. My theory is that if I make a habit of turning to small, good things, I won’t be able to stop.

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Small Victories

I need a haircut in a bad way. My floors need mopping and I need to backup the photos on my phone. I need to write more blog posts and go on a few more runs around the neighborhood. Perfection is something I’ll never achieve, but as I scroll through my social media apps, you’d

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Milky Way Wishes

One day I’ll look back and think about my tired, bare feet swinging from the back of the car. My husband’s blue eyes tracking the clouds overhead, calculating what storms still lay ahead of us. I’ll think about reaching the top of a mountain and wanting to take a picture of Scott to remember the way he stood in awe, gazing at rock formations that predate us by a few million years.

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The Marriage Chronicles: Year 2

Another year is officially in the books for the Hartsfields. I always love doing these posts to look back on the highlight reel of the past year–and the not so glamorous moments, too. No matter what’s happening or where we are, marrying that man is the best decision I’ve ever made. Whether we’re watching The

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Montgomery, Alabama

This month, we officially spent our longest stretch apart since we got married. 25 days, but who was counting? (Me. And Ralph. And Scott.) Scott is (still) attending training at Maxwell Air Force Base for Squadron Officer School until the end of February. At first, in his absence it was nice to be able to

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I thought home was this place you could buy. You could purchase enough throw pillows and rocking chairs and patio lights to make sure you had a sense for the word. When you were lost and someone asked where home was, you’d give them the address on your custom stationary. You’d say the blue Victorian on the street you love. The one with the white shutters and the tire swing out front. Take me home, you’d say, and you’d of course be trying to give directions.

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