When we selected the photo of designer and author Ingrid Fetell Lee for the cover of this issue, I was drawn to the image’s overall energy. Lee’s radiant expression, her vibrant wardrobe, the sunlight bursting around her hair — together, all of the elements made me feel hopeful, optimistic, joyful. The image exuded a sense of possibility and positivity that I wanted to bottle up.
I still feel that way about it today — and even more so since Lydia Anderson, Experience Life’s executive creative director, added the finishing touches. Those subtle circles of pink and green? They’re inspired by play, one of Lee’s 10 aesthetics of joy. (Read more about her work at “Sharing the Joy: Ingrid Fetell Lee“.) The cover line “Simple Pleasures”? It’s an ideal way to honor the little things that have helped many of us through challenging times.
In the spirit of celebrating those little things, I’m taking a cue from Lee’s work — which is all about “the surprising power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness” — to share a few of the simple pleasures in my life.
As a bit of a challenge, I used Lee’s aesthetics of joy to guide my choices. Here’s what I came up with:
Energy: The deep blue of my bedroom. When we remodeled our home, we were limited by budget to two paint colors; this was the one nonneutral color I had to have. I love it to this day: It’s calming, which is just the kind of energy I need at bedtime.
Abundance: Fresh red raspberries. I have fond memories from childhood of enjoying these berries straight off a bush on my parents’ farm. Now, it’s a treat to go there in midsummer when the berries are ripe — ready to be eaten by the handful or in homemade vanilla pudding.
Freedom: Paddleboarding is my favorite way to move in the summer. I love the independence of being out there navigating the wind and waves. It’s as if anything is possible. I feel like I can do anything.
Harmony: Yoga is where I find balance. Things that seem overwhelming when I begin a practice often feel doable by the time I’m lying in savasana.
Play: Beagle puppies — besides newborn babies, there’s nothing cuter, in my view: their floppy ears; their patchwork bodies; their joyful, clumsy, eager pouncing.
Surprise: Unexpected phone calls and texts from friends and loved ones. These out-of-the-blue catch-ups often make my day and are such amazing reminders about who matters most in our lives. (See “Friendship Matters” for more on the importance of friendships.)
Transcendence: Sunsets inspire a sense of awe in my soul. I love that they’re something many of us can see and enjoy, day in and day out.
Magic: Cardinal sightings as signs from loved ones who are no longer here. My grandma, who passed away in 2018, introduced me to this idea when I was a kid; whenever I cross paths with this feathered species, I take a breath and offer a few words of gratitude.
Celebration: “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi is the song that gets me (and my sister and cousins) on the dance floor whenever and wherever we are. Every. Single. Time.
Renewal: Reading has been my favorite leisure activity for as long as I can remember. When I’m bored, stressed out, or in need of inspiration, immersing myself in a good book refreshes and motivates me.
So, what are the ordinary things that create extraordinary happiness in your life? I hope you’ll take the time to think about it — it’s a fun exercise in and of itself.