Little Things Can Be Big If You Let Them

Yesterday’s meme asked me to name two random things I love about life, and it reminded me that once upon a time, I started keeping a list of such things here:

Here’s a small selection of what’s inside, tear-stained and all (click to enlarge):

Some are things probably only I enjoy and some things may not even be enjoyable to me anymore (uh, Smashmouth anyone?), but at the time I wrote it down, it made me smile.

Indeed, each entry sparks a specific image or memory in my mind–a point in life, a few words from someone I haven’t thought of in years, a feeling I couldn’t begin to put into words, in short, a part of me.

I hope you can find something there to make you smile as well.

35 Beans of Wisdom to “Little Things Can Be Big If You Let Them”
  1. Annika

    Oh what a neat handwriting! Are you left-handed?
    This reminds me of something Oprah used to recommend; to keep a journal in which you every day write down something for which you are grateful. I think it is a beautiful idea.

  2. ViVi

    “When telemarketers try to say your name” gave me the biggest laugh! As a fellow owner of a name that ends with a vowel (well, my maiden name, anyway), I always knew immediately when a telemarketer was on the phone!

  3. sognatrice

    Annika, I knew you’d have fun with the handwriting aspect πŸ˜‰

    I used to have an Oprah-touted gratitude journal, but it was so restrictive with each day labeled, so I just started my own list in a nice blank notebook (which incidentally, ended up getting filled in as a journal because I couldn’t find one here and was desperate).

    No, I’m not left-handed, but I always wished I was (I have no idea why). I’m not sure how much I even write like that anymore–those entries are from at least 5 years ago, and I think my handwriting has changed a bit, which makes sense since I have as well πŸ™‚

    Vivi, sadly, I don’t get to experience this one much anymore with telemarketers, but since I’ve move to Italy, the Italians are just as bad with it πŸ˜‰

  4. Annika

    “I’m not left-handed, but I always wished I was”
    That is so funny! When I was younger I always wanted to be left-handed too. I even went as far as to purposedly use my left hand for as much as possible, including writing (at one point I also tried to learn how to write with my feet, but that’s another story) but I was never any good at it.

  5. sognatrice

    You think we just wanted to be different or what? I went through a phase of trying to write as a leftie too, but I can’t say that I was ever much interested in doing so with me toesies. I hope you’ll blog about your efforts, though, so we can all share the experience πŸ˜‰

  6. JT

    I have been adding one new item daily to my list of things that make me smile…and today it’s:

    Only 18 days until ITALY!

    And I have half of tomorrow’s entry already started… πŸ™‚


  7. JT

    I have been adding one new item daily to my list of things that make me smile…and today it’s:

    Only 18 days until ITALY!

    And I have half of tomorrow’s entry already started… πŸ™‚


  8. JT

    Sorry about that. But, yes, I am that excited!

  9. sognatrice

    JT, I would’ve deleted the duplicate comment, but it’s too appropriate in light of your excitement…only 2 and a half weeks? Really? Woohoo!!!

    In case anyone hasn’t caught on, you may have read a little something about JT here.

    You are so outed.

  10. cheeky

    Again what a lovely idea. I related to a “good cry” and “feeling like you’ve known someone all your life after one conversation” – I love it when that happens!
    I see that jt is soon to arrive. That is fantabulous. How fun is that going to be?
    I finally did my “in the kitchen”.

  11. Tai

    I love “When telemarketers attempt to say your name.”

    It’s amazing how many ways people can mispronounce my poor little three-letter, one-syllable name. Always makes me smile.

  12. Curatrix

    I still get a kick out of “Walking on the Sun”, it’s on my running playlist. How about a Philly cheesesteak on a cold day? Memories of that make me smile.

  13. Paolo

    M… you have such old school musical tastes for such a young thing! (Not sure how I know how old you are but I’m sure I do)

    I am in complete agreement, however. And you do have great penmanship for a writer – why does it seem that most writers write in such chickenscratch?

  14. nyc/caribbean ragazza

    Smashmouth? Kidding.

    I do keep a journal but maybe I should try to write down something that I’m grateful for or brings me joy everyday.

  15. alexmom

    “I’ll fix your wagon” hahahahahaha
    I haven’t heard that one since I was a naughty kid, usually accompanied by my mom with her hand in her mouth, biting on her index finger….
    You crack me up!!!

  16. stefanie

    I was going to comment on the neat handwriting and Smashmouth as well, but I see that’s already been covered.

    I did the Oprah-recommended gratitude journal for a while, too. I like your version better, actually.

  17. Erin

    I started a list like this back in highschool and kept it up for a few years. It was very cathartic. That’s a great list you have. Lots of them made me smile : )

  18. Shan

    Great lists! I used to do something similar to that before I got pregnant with Abby and I was trying really hard to find all the good things in my life.

    Very nice handwriting.

  19. The Other Girl

    You have the most wonderful outlook on life; it’s what I admire most about you.

    I have a drawerful of blank journals because I’m a sucker for a bound book with a pretty cover. I’m not much for keeping a diary, though, so they stay blank. But I think I’m going to start a list like this. Not that I renounce any of my natural crankiness; I just like the idea of a book of happy things.

  20. Kimberly

    That was amazing and more inspiring than I can put into words.

    What’s truly awe inspiring is that I bought a notebook a few days ago. I had no idea why, I just felt like I should buy a notebook.

    I think I know why now.

  21. Kelly Parra

    What a wonderful list!! Thanks for sharing the pics! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  22. Heidi

    What a sweet idea. Even if they aren’t things that you are still loving about life how nice to have the record of where you’ve been.

  23. Vanessa

    -taking off high heels
    -reading to someone
    -finding someone who likes to cut a loaf of bread
    good stuff.
    I also love your handwriting!

  24. sognatrice

    Glad to see so many of you can identify with something from the pages πŸ™‚

    Curatrix, I’d be willing to bet dollars to donuts that a Philly cheesesteak (on any day) is somewhere on my list…and if it’s not, I’ll be writing it in shortly.

    Paolo, yeah, I’m kind of a geezer when it comes to music–most of this new fangled kid stuff just grates on me nervous, as my grandmother would say…speaking of which…

    Alexmom, “I’ll fix your wagon” was one of my favorite grandmother sayings; I have a list of those too that I’ll have to post someday.

    NYC, oh come on–you know you sang along to “Walking on the Sun” (like at least Curatrix and me)!

    Stefanie, I like my version of the gratitude journal better too; I found that I’d get down if I missed a day in the Oprah one, and um, that defeats the whole purpose. So I stopped and had this pretty blank journal just sitting there (like some of you, I used to buy them just for fun too; now I can’t find any here!), so I picked it up and started a list.

    I’m guessing I was inspired by that old book “10,000 things to be happy about” or something. I literally highlighted that book and made notes from start to finish…must look for that next time I’m home.

    TheOG, Kimberly, everyone–go ahead and start your own list! Otherwise those blank, pretty books will just be sitting there, and where’s the fun in that?

    And like Heidi said, it’s kind of an interesting way to keep a journal–without writing out what happened on a given day, just jotting down something that made you smile will probably make you remember the whole story in your head anyway.

    Like my “Welcome to Pennsylvania” honks–I used to go home from college with a friend who lived a few towns over in PA. So, after being in the car together for about 6 hours (during which I *never* slept, despite what he’d tell you), he’d always honk the horn as we crossed the border into our home state.


  25. Cherrye


    And, yes (embarrased cough) I like Smashmouth…

  26. sognatrice

    Cherrye, I think it may be because I was writing with a green pen…or because I was thinking of the Natalie Merchant song…or because, you know, sometimes a little jealousy is kind of cute…or something.

    Er, anyway, Smashmouth rules!

    There. I’ve said it.

  27. LinleyShea

    what a wonderful thing to do! it’s always fun to see what other’s value – the little things. I enjoyed reading those few pages!

  28. Nic

    Your “current read” reminded me of one thing for my list: The History of Love by Kraus. Brilliant. Love it.

  29. sognatrice

    Thanks Linley!

    And Nic, I just finished “The History of Love” yesterday, and it’s definitely going on my list. I’m thinking of doing a review for the blog, in fact.

  30. Kali

    This is so interesting, I loved reading your lists! I have the book “10,000 things to be happy about, but I haven’t looked at it in probably 3-4 years.

    I constantly buy notebooks, yet they sit on a shelf of my bookcase, empty. I think you’ve inspired me!

  31. anna

    I hope you aren’t disappointed, cara, but you aren’t the only one who loves black jelly beans.

    Wonderful idea and very inspiring. Thank you for that.

  32. it's me, Val

    I looooved that. How inspiring! You should write a book, you really should πŸ™‚

    As far as left-handedness, that’s me. it’s also my hubby, but get THIS — both my kiddos are right-handed. Go figure πŸ™‚

  33. sognatrice

    Kali, time to make those blank books full books….

    Anna, oh, I’m not even the only one in my family who likes them! I was referring to when you are the only one in a given room who likes them so you’re free to each and every lovely licorice-flavored bean. Yum! Where did I put those now….

    Val, that’s too weird that your kids are righties but you’re both lefties. Huh. Don’t recall learning about that in biology class πŸ˜‰

  34. Dewey

    What a great list. I see some of my favorites on there, too.

  35. sognatrice

    Thanks Dewey! Seems we have even more in common πŸ™‚

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake