The Little Things

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Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference. It can be a handwritten note, a simple “hello”, or a home cooked meal. For me, it was pancakes, a run, and the return of an old co-worker.

Before I became the advisor of my current department, I was a student worker. For two years I worked alongside some of the most creative, hard working, meticulous, and driven students. When I was offered the full-time position, all I could think was how incredible reuniting with them would be. Well last December those talented people graduated and even though they’ve been replaced by wonderful students, a small part of me is incomplete. They weren’t just co-workers, they were family. So when one of them comes back to visit – for a fraternity event, for graduate school, for a Mars Rover design reveal – it makes my day. One of them stopped in today; he was always late to his shifts and wanted to assure me that the alarm clock I suggested he buy was working. He couldn’t stay long because he parked his car illegally, but promised to come back soon. He was also wearing flannel.

A long time ago, someone dubbed Fridays as “Flannel Fridays”. Even with a new team, they’re still keeping the tradition alive. Just like how the Mean Girls wore pink on Wednesdays, we wear flannel on Fridays. Recently, two of my students thought it would be a good idea to rename “Flannel Fridays” to “Flannel Flapjack Fridays”. Last week a young lady brought in homemade pancakes for the entire team. I love pancakes (IHOP is one of my favorite places), but couldn’t eat them because they weren’t vegan. So today a young man brought in homemade vegan pancakes just for me. They were the bomb! And to make it even better, I didn’t have time to eat breakfast so the pancakes were a great surprise.

Instead of eating breakfast I went for a run this morning, 5.03 miles. I haven’t been running for very long, only about two and a half years. The whole reason I started running was so that I could start being active again; weight rooms intimidate me and exercise classes aren’t really my thing. People always ask me how I can just get up and run or make comments like, “I only run if something is chasing me.” That’s fine. I don’t run just because it’s a great way to burn major calories, but because it relaxes me and puts my mind at ease. Shortly after I finished my first half-marathon in April, I started having terrible shin splints which caused me to put my running on hold (the last time I was able to run five miles was on August 6th). For about five months, I no longer had an outlet to help relieve my stress. Not being able to run made me realize the importance of stretching, proper form, and how beneficial physical activity can be to our mental psyche.

It’s been a great day; nothing spectacular happened, just the little things. Don’t underestimate the influence of little things. Take time to reflect on them. Those little things can make for big days.

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