Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy New Year Late ... My 100 Point Happy List for 2012

2012 is finally becoming a reality.  For the first three weeks, I survived in a coughing-my- head-off time warp.  Now that I am fully functional, I am on a one-woman quest to make every moment happy. 
So what is happiness anyway?  A state of mind?  A place? An experience?  A meal?  A person?   My self-defined “happy place” usually involves friends and family.  I like to share.  And I’m going to try harder to be true to myself.  It’s that simple.  So without further contemplation, here’s my happiness list for 2012:
  1. Visiting my son in New York City
  2. Sharing Sunday breakfasts with my daughter and her dog, Daisy
  3. Watching children play
  4. Shopping for bargains with my girlfriends
  5. Writing comment-generating blog posts
  6. Taking fabulous photographs
  7. Creating online posters and prints
  8. Visiting my parents
  9. Talking on the phone to my parents
  10. Exploring and analyzing astrology for me and my friends
  11. Listening and dancing to Celtic music
  12. Writing poetry
  13. Drinking cranberry and pomegranate tea
  14. Rock climbing and hiking
  15. Laughing with my friends
  16. Hot stone massages
  17. Making yummy, healthy dinners
  18. Teaching Junior Achievement
  19. Meditating
  20. Getting and staying organized at home
  21. Having dinner parties
  22. Learning about social media
  23. Having a quiet day
  24. Latin, country, contra, and rock ‘n roll dancing
  25. Expressing joy at the happiness of others
  26. Doing volunteer work in my community
  27. Reading books on my Kindle Fire
  28. Attending ladies night
  29. Lighting candles
  30. Playing the stock market
  31. Being completely myself
  32. Doing yoga
  33. Figuring out new ways to cook spinach
  34. Wearing sundresses
  35. Repinning pretty pictures on Pinterest
  36. Being thankful for my amazing life
  37. Standing stage front at the State Room and the Depot
  38. Honesty
  39. Wearing my German socks
  40. Mud Rang facials
  41. Saying thank you
  42. Watching the tulips peek out of the earth in the spring
  43. Making homemade bread
  44. Listening to world music
  45. Heart-to-heart talks with my besties
  46. Being in awe at the creation of the mountains
  47. A warm mug of hot cocoa
  48. World music on a slow Sunday afternoon
  49. Going to Zumba class
  50. Getting all dressed up, even for work
  51. Running on the beach
  52. Realizing life is too short to waste even a moment
  53. Urban hiking
  54. Helping friends solve problems
  55. Playing my flute
  56. Making tacos for my friends
  57. Wearing black lace stockings
  58. People watching
  59. Listening to a friend
  60. Thinking and speaking in French
  61. Being understood
  62. French cooking
  63. Looking at colors
  64. Recycling
  65. Reading and occasionally saying big words
  66. Sunflowers reaching for the sun
  67. Feeling my muscles
  68. Luxuriating in raspberry body wash
  69. Playing practical jokes
  70. Knowing that life is always more than fair, in the end
  71. Long, passionate kisses
  72. Having just a little bit more courage than I realized
  73. Making earrings and then wearing them
  74. Sharing homemade veggie soup and a long conversation with a friend
  75. Sitting in front of a cozy fire
  76. Forgiving myself and others for what happened in the past
  77. Going to the zoo
  78. Using my day spa Groupons
  79. Making people laugh
  80. Seeing eclectic movies
  81. Releasing my concerns
  82. Ringing bells
  83. Exploring foreign lands
  84. Pondering the meaning of life
  85. Smiling
  86. Wearing soft t-shirts
  87. Point and counterpoint
  88. Giving more than my fair share
  89. Perusing the Urban Dictionary
  90. Earning respect
  91. Wearing my heart on my sleeve
  92. Sipping limeade
  93. Jogging
  94. Sitting on my patio in my pj’s on a warm summer morning
  95. Staring at the moon and stars above my house
  96. Sledding and skiing
  97. Speaking and living my truth
  98. Taking long, luxurious baths
  99. Red roses in a vase in my dining room
  100. Watching snowflakes fall
This is a long list, and, incidentally, it wasn’t generated by my fears of the Mayan forecast Galactic Alignment on December 21, 2012.  I merely want 2012 to be a smidge happier.  Some activities and places have been jettisoned from my life in order to make room for happiness.  Waiting, wondering, and worrying did not make the cut ... so 2011.  It’s time to re-embrace life with a renewed sense of, well, RAWR.  Starting now. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Excellent Christmas Adventure to the Big Apple

I nearly forgot to mention about my trip to the Big Apple last week to visit my son for Christmas.  Let me tell you all about it ... in a New York minute. 

After arrival via the Santa express at 6 am on Christmas morning, I rode the comfortable and safe MTA to the Upper West Side.  As is the case with every trip, the subway ticket machine sold me tickets, then the little monitor said I didn't have money on my subway card, but the kindly gentleman provided me a special envelope and form so I can reclaim my $25 by mail.  I've been home a week and haven't taken care of it yet. 

My son greeted me at his apartment across on the Upper West Side about 8 am or so.  Present opening and a light Christmas breakfast of orange juice and cinnamon bread freshly baked by my daughter were first on the agenda.  Coffee helped to compensate for me getting but three hours sleep on the plane.  My son is the only other human on the planet who really "gets" how I like my coffee prepared, ie a dash of coffee with my milk.  In the afternoon, we took a walk through the entire expanse of the wintry but still lush and beautiful Central Park from Cathedral Parkway to Columbus Circle, had drinks at the Russian Tea Room, indugled in some window shopping on Fifth Avenue, celebrated Christmas evening mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, wove through thick crowds watching skaters at the foot of the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, and capped off the evening with a Christmas dinner of Boeuf Bourginon at Cafe du Soleil on the Upper West Side.

Boxing Day, or the day after Christmas, we engaged in casual after Christmas (mostly window) shopping in Soho, Union Square, and Herald Square, home of the world's largest department store - Macy's.  Among the finds: shining armor (knight sold separately), ostrich eggs, and halfway-to-heaven-yes-this-is-fashion platform shoes. There was a lunch detour for "street meat" (a gyro) for me and a salmon and cream cheese bagel sandwich from Russ and Daughters for my son.  I had a bite of that scrumptuous creation and bagels will ne'er be the same again!  I insisted on going past my ever favorite Flatiron Building with its window display of coffee cups.  I love that building!  The day ended at Times Square for some views from an eighth floor bar at the Marriott Marquis and a birds eye viewing of all the lights and commotion yet again. 

The next morning, we rode the bus to Costco in Spanish Harlem for some gift exchanging.  The samples and food court are the same, but the cheese section beats the one in Murray, Utah where I shop hands down.  After a walking and taxi detour, we continued to Jackson Heights in Queens to a predominantly Indian neighborhood where we ate an Indian buffet.  I tried on elegant saris in several stores.  I still cannot figure out why Indian women pay hundreds of dollars for beautiful sequinned fabric that ultimately has to be tailored into the sari, but so (or sew) it is.  We sauntered on the tiny street of retail shops: a velour Spiderman blanket was tempting, not to be trumped by the green jackfruit. 

Sleeping late became habit forming and it was noon by the time we took the subway to the Village for lunch a long-awaited $17 hamburger and fries (yes!) at the Spotted Pig.  Boutique window shopping in the Village and Soho gave way to a trip down Canal Street through Chinatown to the South Street Seaport (by where the mezzanine of the South Tower of the World Trade Center used to be) in search of a shorter theater ticket line (impossible).  We settled for picture taking of Brooklyn and New Jersey skylines at sunset, and then made another attempt at walking through Macy's to see if there really were any after Christmas bargains (nope). 

We walked to Harlem the next day and happend on a glimpse of the famed Cotton Club! We had fried green tomatoes at Dinosaur BBQ.  We walked ALL the way down Broadway for several hours.  A cadence ensued as we marched the blocks from 125th Street to 59th Street.  We landed at Columbus Circle in time for happy hour at Nougatine in the Trump International Hotel.  Did I say how much I LOVE the Tuna Tartare?  Well so much that the ladies next to me at the bar ordered it upon my recommendation, and yes, they were eternally grateful for my suggestion.  When my son graduated from Columbia, I gave him no choice as to where his graduation celebration would be held.  Nougatine or bust, because every time in NYC, I have to have my Tuna Tartare fix.  Why doesn't Market Street make this stuff?  Don't answer that.  We even went to the uptown TJ Maxx in search of crepe pans and evening dresses.  The selection wasn't much better than at home, but by then my cold had seized control of my body and brain so shopping was the last thing on my wish list. 

My week of fun came to a dramatic close.  I'll spare the details here, but I was incredibly ill.  I had to travel home, but not before a visit to the lively Hells Kitchen for lunch at a Balkan eatery.  Hells Kitchen looks really intriguing and I want to explore more of it on my next visit.  I headed on the E train to the Air Train to Terminal 3 at JFK Airport. 

I LOVE you, New York!  I think the Big Apple is one of the world's greatest cities to engage in my beloved sport of urban hiking, in my case up to ten miles a day.  My son is such a great host because he knows the city quite well and I got the insider's scoop.  I'm lucky to be able to visit often with a free place to stay and immerse myself in this American treasure of art, fashion, architecture, history, culture, and cuisine where even the hot dogs are a treat (hint: if you go, eat your hot dogs at Gray's Papaya for best enjoyment at a low budget price).