To find some relief in a world that too often feels tumultuous and deeply fractured, I’ve recently been trying to cultivate more delight in my life.
This hasn’t necessarily meant seeking out more pleasurable experiences. It can simply be reveling in good things that happen daily, no matter how small. The extra step of acknowledging and feeling grateful for a meandering walk, a pint of fresh strawberries or the rediscovery of a once-favorite song has been linked to impressive mental health benefits.
A friend and I have even begun texting each other about our delights at the end of the day. Telling her the things that made me happy (most recently, exploring a new neighborhood grocery store) and hearing her positive experiences (yesterday, a neighbor’s backyard party) is now one of my regular delights, too. Joy begets joy, it seems.
That 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 had happened to you so far in 2023. You told me about whale sightings, a spectacular 80th birthday party, falling in love, momentous graduations and more.
All your responses were, well, delightful.
Here are some of them, lightly edited for clarity. Enjoy.
“I became a grandmother! I am now fully retired from my teaching career of 35 years and am babysitting my grandson full time. It is a joy to watch him grow and develop. When I was raising my own two children I was balancing motherhood and my work life, so I rushed through those baby years. Now I can sit back and enjoy every little bit of it.” — Victoria Evashenk, Cupertino
“My major win this year: I started volunteering at an animal shelter and ended up adopting a senior bulldog named Knuckles. He has been a bright light in the chaos.” — Barbara Soares, Sherman Oaks
“I have been getting outside and painting the native Matilija poppies this spring. After all the healing rains this year, these giant poppies have been exploding. I found some up in the Santa Monica Mountains, along the L.A. River, by the 134 Highway 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 college graduates — many of us began college before the pandemic, had our freshman years disrupted and torn apart once Covid started, endured over a year of remote school and an overwhelming sense of disconnect from our campus communities and then made it back to campus to complete our final two years in person. The class of ’23 is proof of the commitment, adaptability and enduring hope of today’s young adults.” — Megan Musolf, Isla Vista
“My greatest delight so far this year is the unprecedented abundance in my hillside garden after the terrifying atmospheric river rainstorms of winter. Plants that had struggled to survive through years of drought and skimping irrigation have now doubled in size and dance in the breeze in glorious colors.” — Carol Campbell, Oakland
”I got engaged for the first time at 57. We met each other during the height of the pandemic, in August 2020, online, after I did a show on dating in the time of Covid-19. My journalistic curiosity and cynicism led me to find out for myself what was happening to dating during such an unusual time in history.” — May Lee, Los Angeles
“Since Christmas, my partner, Clebia, had been planning a surprise party for my 80th birthday in June. The party itself was not the surprise — it was the guests. I had no clue who was coming.
First to arrive — a friend from Brazil whom I’ve known since the ’60s, when I was a Peace Corps volunteer. Then a friend from Seattle. The next day, one of my dearest friends from Orange County walked in my door and joined me for breakfast al fresco on the deck. She had sent me ceramics through the mail, so I had assumed she wouldn’t come. At the party the next day, two of my besties from high school came, one from Chicago and one from L.A. They brought an album of high school photos they’d created for me. Another couple from Pasadena arrived, and a Peace Corps colleague from the East Bay who struggles with Parkinson’s climbed my 40 steps. A friend I’ve known since 1973 from San Anselmo brought bouquets from her garden, and my next-door neighbor brought me art supplies.
I had no idea that these beloved people were coming. If my jaw had dropped any farther, there’d be a dent in my floor. I was humbled and astounded that they would travel so far to help me celebrate my 80th year on the planet.” — Anne Karin Glass, San Francisco
Where we’re traveling
Five favorite places in Napa Valley, as picked by the author and influencer Christina Najjar.
And before you go, some good news
Tuesday wasn’t just July 4. It was also the close of an incredibly snowy ski season in Tahoe.
Thousands gathered on the slopes for the last run of the season, some in bikinis or Speedos and some waving flags to celebrate the holiday, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“This has been a sensational year,” Maddy Condon, a spokeswoman for Palisades Tahoe, said Tuesday afternoon from the summit. The resort logged 723 inches of snow this year, compared with an average of 400, the news outlet reported.
“People have been coming from all over the world,” Condon said.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.
Maia Coleman and Johnna Margalotti contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.