To find some relief in a world that too often seems tumultuous and deeply fractured, I’ve recently been trying to cultivate more joy in my life.
This has not necessarily meant seeking more pleasurable experiences. He can just enjoy the good things that happen every day, no matter how small. The extra step of acknowledging and feeling grateful for a meandering stroll, a pint of fresh strawberries, or the rediscovery of a once-favorite song has been linked to remarkable mental health benefits.
A friend and I even started texting each other about our treats at the end of the day. Telling her about the things that made me happy (most recently, exploring a new neighborhood grocery store) and hearing about her positive experiences (yesterday, a neighbor’s backyard party) is now also one of my regular delights. Joy begets joy, it seems.
This brings me to today’s newsletter. In June, as we wrapped up the first six months of the year, I asked you about the best thing that’s happened to you so far in 2023. You told me about whale watching, a spectacular 80th birthday party, falling in love, graduating and even more.
All of your responses have been, well, delightful.
Here are a few, slightly edited for clarity. Enjoy.
“I became a grandmother! I am now fully retired from my 35 year teaching career and babysit my nephew full time. It is a joy to see him grow and develop. When I was raising my two children, I was balancing motherhood and my work life, so I rushed through those years as a child. Now I can sit back and enjoy every bit of it. — Victoria Evashenk, Cupertino
“My biggest win this year: I started volunteering at an animal shelter and ended up adopting a senior bulldog named Knuckles. He has been a shining light in the chaos. — Barbara Soares, Sherman Oaks
“This spring I went out and painted the native poppies of Matilija. After all the healing rains this year, these giant poppies have exploded. I’ve found some in the Santa Monica Mountains, along the LA River, near Highway 134, and even in the cracks of concrete parking lots. — Lois Keller, Studio City
“I recently went on my third whale watching tour with a friend and we saw a humpback breach from the water – a first for me! The whole boat gasped and cheered. — Barton Lynch, San Diego
“I’m really, really proud of myself and my fellow 2023 grads: Many of us started college before the pandemic, our freshman years were cut short once Covid started, endured over a remote school year and an overwhelming sense of disconnecting from our campus communities and then returning to campus to complete our final two years in person. The class of ’23 is proof of the commitment, the ability to adapt and the lasting hope of today’s young people”. — Megan Musolf, Isle Vista
“My greatest joy so far this year is the unprecedented abundance in my hillside garden after winter’s terrifying atmospheric river storms. Plants that had struggled to survive through years of drought and poor watering are now doubled in size and dancing in the breeze with glorious color. — Carol Campbell, Oakland
“I got engaged for the first time at 57. We met in the midst of the pandemic, in August 2020, online, after doing a show about dating in the time of Covid-19. My journalistic curiosity and cynicism led me to discover for myself what was happening to dating during such an unusual historical period. — May Lee, Los Angeles
“Since Christmas my partner, Clebia, had planned a surprise party for my 80th birthday in June. The party itself wasn’t the surprise – it was the guests. I had no idea who was coming.
First to arrive, a friend from Brazil who I’ve known since the 1960s when I was a Peace Corps volunteer. Then a friend from Seattle. The next day, one of my closest Orange County friends walked in my door and joined me for breakfast outside on the deck. He’d mailed me pottery, so I thought he wasn’t coming. The next day, two of my best friends from high school showed up at the party, one from Chicago and one from Los Angeles. They brought in a high school photo album they had made for me. Another couple from Pasadena arrived, and an East Bay Peace Corps colleague struggling with Parkinson’s walked up my 40 steps. A friend I’ve known since 1973 from San Anselmo brought bouquets from her garden, and my neighbor brought me some art supplies.
I had no idea that these loved ones were coming. Had my jaw dropped any further, there would have been a dent in the floor. I was humbled and amazed that they would travel this far to help me celebrate my 80th year on the planet. » — Anna Karin Glass, San Francisco
Where are we travelling
Five favorite spots in Napa Valley, as picked by author and influencer Christina Najjar.
And before you go, some good news
Tuesday wasn’t just the 4th of July. It was also the close of an incredibly snowy ski season in Tahoe.
Thousands of people gathered at the tracks for the last run of the season, some in bikinis or Speedos and some waving flags to celebrate the holiday, The San Francisco Chronicle reports it.
« This has been a sensational year, » Palisades Tahoe spokeswoman Maddy Condon said Tuesday afternoon from the summit. The resort has recorded 723 inches of snow this year, compared with an average of 400, the news reported.
« People came from all over the world, » Condon said.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. —Soumya
PS Here Today’s mini crossword.
Maia Coleman and Johnna Margalotti contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.
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