Ten for Tuesday: Mood Brighteners and Inspiration

This morning was dreary. The weather is gray, Robert is out of town... plus, the state of the world. I told friends today, with tongue slightly in cheek, that it feels like The Two Towers meets The Empire Strikes Back, every single day. So I challenged myself to come up with ten small-or-large things that bring a smile to my face. Most turned out to be small, but they are enough bread for today.

1. I have greatly enjoyed Story People by Brian Andreas. A friend of mine receives daily emails from SP and sent this one along because it reminded her of improv:


2. Speaking of improv, mistakes and "failures" are inevitable when you're improvising. And living. This week I was randomly reminded of this cartoon by Stephen McCranie about making friends with failure:


More at the link.

3. At a time when fake news is in the real news, including speculation as to whether the outcome of the election was influenced by Russian meddling, I needed these words from Walt Whitman. I can think of worse criteria for discernment.


4. My kids and I were fascinated by the discovery of a dinosaur tail, preserved in amber, that appears to have feathers.

5. Jolene, sung by Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus (to whom I'm coming around) and Pentatonix:


And as a bonus, this "open apology" to Dolly Parton is wonderful. I will admit--I too thought she was a bimbo when I was much younger. I was so very wrong. Dolly is a national treasure. (Keep your hands OFF her, 2016.)

6. Santa has been in the news lately. Sadly, my second-favorite Santa story turns out to be a hoax. But my favorite one is 100% true. My friend Alex, who has three children who are Latinx and African-American, took them to visit a black Santa at Macy's in New York a few days ago. She reports, "He listened intently to each of our kids, then told them that he loved them and that they were perfect just as they are. By the time we left, Brett and I were both crying. Don't tell me that Santa isn't real."

Don't tell me either.

7. These toffee cookies made with five ingredients: butter, brown sugar, saltines, chocolate chips, and pecans. I wish the recipe were a little more specific--I know my way around a candy thermometer--and I made them in a 13x9 rather than 11x17, so they cooled more into hardened caramel than with that crystalline toffee texture. Still, good and easy.

8. Christmas music. My love for "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" has been well documented, and I have almost two dozen versions of it. (Best one: John Denver and Rowlf the Dog.) But this year I am loving "The Christmas Waltz." It's not one we think about often or list among the greats, but it's pure schmaltz. Here is a version from Tony Bennett that provides top-shelf cheese.

9. Readers and friends reaching out. I sent an email newsletter last week, and every time I do that I get some unsubscribes. No big deal, it's the nature of it. But I got at least as many people saying "That is exactly what I needed." That's a ratio I can live with. And in response to yesterday's very me-focused running post, I heard from a friend asking if I would support her through Couch to 5K.

Thankful for the ways we carry each other.

10. Where Is the Light? I posted this song to Facebook the other day but it's a worthy addition to this list. As the days get shorter, this will lift your spirits and remind you where the light can always be found. Performed by LEA, a wonderful local singer-songwriter here in the DC area.