Gratitude for 2014

It’s been an annual tradition of mine to take note of the previous year’s blessings and feel abundance and bliss, hoping it will bring a hokey-new age cleansing to a new year. But as you may note, we’re nearly into March and I haven’t written last year’s list. Because 2014, for all its adventures and occasional fun moments, is not a year I will ever hold near and dear to my heart. Even with all the repetitive mantras that we are told during times of strife, like: “you’re building character” or “these are the seeds that grow into big, brilliant flowers and suffocate you with their beauty on some undecided day in perhaps the near or perhaps the very far off future.” Well, not that 2015 has been a great start if only from a weather standpoint (it’s nearly one of the coldest Februarys recorded), I do have a feeling that it will only get better (because it cannot stay 1 degree above zero forever). A friend of mine recently touted that she doesn’t notice things that she doesn’t like when she’s happy and so she is not bothered by the cold. All the joy in the world isn’t going to prevent hypothermia when I’m walking my dog near the Hudson River at eleven at night.

But, before this gratitude list become a verbose rant about what didn’t suffice to satisfy my 2014, I’ll start now and focus on the positive. Because it was there, breaching through the waves of challenges that otherwise clouded a stormy year.

1. Costa Rica

I made it to Costa Rica! Each year, I do try to add a new country to my travels and Costa Rica has been on my top three list of international destinations for years. On a slight whim, thanks to my abundance of points and miles from Chase, I booked a trip to Costa Rica. What started as a planned escape for my brother and myself eventually added my dad to our adventure (which was very welcome because he essentially drove us across the rugged terrain of the country with a fickle stick shift rental). A few nights in Tamarindo were followed by an escape to the Arenal region followed by a night in San Jose. My father joked that the country was in a stage of development that the US had been in at one point, which was both interesting to watch and also sad to acknowledge that one day it could become overdeveloped and plagued with the chaotic fervor suffered in our “developed” country. Costa Rica lived up to it’s “Pura Vida!” slogan and did not disappoint.

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2. “Sex At Dawn” Music Video Shoot with Spiral Jetty Club

In my heart, I tried to make 2014 the year of saying “yes.” So when the founding member of Spiral Jetty Club requested that I appear in her music video, requiring me to run around the city in winter in a wedding dress, with a little trepidation I said, “Yes.” Immediately after committing, I went online and ordered my “sleeping bag” coat; the first ever purchased full-body down coat in magenta because I hate being cold that much (and given the winters of late, it was my best purchase of 2014). The shoot was one of most enjoyable and well planned productions that I have ever been a part of. I have a soft spot for small teams of visionaries, where the budget is low but the passion is high. Soon after, the video was part of the Coney Island Film festival. It was truly a blessing to portray a woman obsessed with the notion of marriage to the point of doing anything to win over her beau.

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3. Sault Ste Marie, Michigan

I made it to the Soo! Thanks to my Delta points I booked a flight to this little airport to visit my dear friend, Kishe, and her family (note, this was my second big trip that I booked for FREE in 2014). The last time I crashed at her place was in 2008 in Hawaii, where she welcomed me after a rather sad break-off with a sad guy. The Soo is the kind of place I’d probably only consider visiting in the summer because I hate the cold so much. That said, my August trip was a bit chilly with some days in the low 50’s! It warmed up the last day just enough so I could give it a try at paddleboarding for the first time. This really was a great year for me to catch up with friends I have not seen in a very long time. And her kids are so divine!

Summer 2014,  Sault Ste. Marie

Summer 2014, Sault Ste. Marie

4. Another Wedding! Camden, ME

At the start of every year I cross my fingers that I can have a break from weddings. Sure, the free flowing booze and chance to travel have great appeal, but sometimes (or most of the time) weddings feel like a whole lot of work. But the beauty of this wedding was that there was no wedding party, keeping it informal and easy. My best friend from high school agreed to take the long drive to Camden, ME with me where I had rented a picturesque little cabin within a mile walk of downtown. My terror of driving has become well documented in the past few years and it caused the most anxiety in preparing for the trip, but my dear friend actually drove us all the way there. She and I had driven across the country when we were 19 (prior to my decade-plus existence in Manhattan without a car) and at the time I was the one most confident in leading the way. I eventually took over driving home, which was a little accomplishment for me in overcoming this weird and late onset phobia of driving. The wedding was beautiful, as was Maine, and it was really the most rewarding to see my dear friend from the days of “Bette or Bust” find such a great match. This was one of the first weddings that really made me feel happy all over because it just felt right. It also felt cold. September in Maine can certainly be nippy, especially for the bride’s family who had travelled from the Californian desert.

Camden, Maine

Camden, Maine

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Pitstop in Hampton Beach, NH 2014

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Rockport, Maine 2014

5. Yoga

I touched on this is 2013 and yet again in 2014 some of my most joyous, peaceful, and appreciated moments were on a yoga mat, bringing me a year or so closer to my goal of finally getting certified.

6. The Beach!

Whenever work is slow or plans fall through and the temperature is over 70 degrees, I find my way to the beach. Sometimes there’s a bit of guilt that hangs over my head but I do declare that on my deathbed I most likely will not be concerned about having more money in the bank (unless, of course my deathbed is a wet and trash-filled alley resulting from not having enough cash in my retirement). However, no matter how many days in this lifetime I have spent in the sun,  I will still be wishing I had more time at the beach. It is my happy place. Tamarindo, Coney Island, Atlantic City, the Rockaways, Fire Island, Lake Superior, Rockport, Salisbury Beach, Hampton Beach… just a few of the sandy beaches that welcomed me in 2014. Every year of my life I will maintain my humble gratitude for the beach.

Coney Island, 2014

Coney Island, 2014

7. I Won A Friggin’ Vitamix!

I live a few blocks from ABC Studios, where shows including “Kelly and Michael,” “The View,” and “The Chew” are taped. This year I strategically planned to get tickets to these shows as close to their holiday hiatus in December as I could. Anyone who is sucked into daytime programming during the Christmas season is well aware of the gifts bestowed upon the lucky audience members. Prior to attending “The Chew,” I had participated in a month-long cooking study and one of the questions that stuck with me is “If money were no object, what kitchen gadget would you most want?” At the time, I really couldn’t think of anything. I’m a minimalist. At one point I cooked in a one-pot kitchen using the same dull knife I used to chop carrots to also carve out the bottom of my bathroom’s wooden door that was always catching on the moulding (and I bought that bad boy from a dollar store during my first year in college). Yet not a few hours after the cooking study ended did I know my truest answer. I wanted a Vitamix with all my heart. That said, you would never see me shelling out $500 for a kitchen appliance no matter how much money I had. Luckily, I’m now a Vitamix owner and didn’t pay a penny for it.  My attendance at “The Chew” was met with an appearance of the Rockettes, who would come out during every segment to announce a new giveaway for the audience. From gift cards to wine and beer to electronic devices, it felt like I was in a dream. I’m no stranger the chore of being an audience member for these shows. They make you laugh and clap your hands until your face and palms are red and numb. But when you are the recipient of so many giveaways at once, even your brain goes numb. I really had no idea how to internalize all this Christmas bliss and when the Chew hosts announced that we were going home with a Vitamix, let’s just say that I could not stop from smiling and feeling warm all over. A friggin’ Vitamix! Merry Christmas to me! Most of the other gifts I would share with family and friends and the gift cards helped enormously with Christmas shopping. But the Vitamix…oh that beauteous machine… found a home in my cupboard and made me feel like I won the lottery. This year, my hope is to manifest a Taylor guitar… an instrument I have pined for since I last played one a former beau had purchased in New Hampshire. Let’s see how 2015 works it’s magic for that manifestation.

Me and My Vitamix  (Thanks to The Chew!)

Me and My Vitamix (Thanks to The Chew!)

8. We Made It to Year 5!

Well it was a challenging year, all right. Hardest so far… but we are still together and laughing and having fun. It isn’t always easy. Maybe I should be grateful for that, as the bitter parts do make the sweet moments seem sweeter. And as always, what a great guy in encouraging me to take off and see the world while he mans the homefront. 2014 was a year for me to fully recognize that even as a part of a couple, I can only be responsible for my own destiny and decisions. And sometimes it’s quite important to just let your significant other learn the lessons he needs to take on in his own journey. We had some fun adventures, and caught some amazing music in the park, not to mention seeing the Alabama Shakes and James Taylor. And we certainly ate well in 2014. And did I mention our cute furry mutt? I can feel gratitude for that pup every second of every day.

Alabama Shakes, 2014

Alabama Shakes, 2014

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