What’s Making Me Happy: June 2017

June was a weird month. It was busy for the usual reasons (work, writing, two weekend trips to Cape Cod), but nothing out of the ordinary happened, either. Which is fine, actually. It’s nice to have extended downtime between busy spells, and since I’m heading back to NYC in August, I’m taking advantage of it as much as I can.Β Oh, and I finally finished my GoFundMe photo album of my Iceland trip!

The only downside to June? The increasing heat and humidity. Ugh. I like summer, but not when it’s 90+ and muggy. Makes me ever more grateful that my condo has air conditioning… and now I feel like I’m rambling. (*blushes*)

So, yes, it’s happiness-celebrating time again. I’m linking up once again with blogger / writer friend Leanne Sowul to share my joys during the month of June. (Her post is scheduled for Friday, but you can still check out her blog here.) As always, feel free to share the things that brought a smile to your face in your comments on this post!

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I Visited Heritage Museum & Gardens Again

On my most recent trip to Cape Cod, I visited the Heritage Museum & Gardens again with my parents. This was my third trip to Heritage in as many years (click here for a Field Trip post of one of my earlier visits); and apart from the sultry weather (it was actually better than expected, but gosh was it humid!), we had a lovely time. Dogwoods, mountain laurel, foxglove, and roses were the most abundant blooms. and hydrangeas and daylilies weren’t too far behind. Plus, we were lucky enough to find a family of turtles at the flume pond again! πŸ™‚ The slideshow above shares some of my favorite photos from that day.

Heritage Museums & Gardens also hosts indoor art exhibits and outdoor displays. This year’s visiting exhibit is Painted Landscapes: Contemporary Views,Β a striking and varied collection of American landscape paintings by over 40 contemporary artists. Some paintings were of traditional landscapes like beaches and mountains. Others were renderings of nature close-ups, or of more modern “scapes” such as city views, parks, and busy streets. I didn’t take any photos of that gallery, but you can see some of them at Heritage’s gallery page here.

I’m Watching the Final Season of “Orphan Black”

Now that Season 1 of “American Gods” has ended, my TV time is focused on “Orphan Black.”Β This genre-bending show featuring the magnificently talented (and Emmy winning!) Tatiana Maslany playing a group of cloned women is in its fifth and final season – and holy DNA, the first three episodes have already blown my mind and broken my heart. (If you’ve seen S5E2, Β “Clutch of Greed,” you probably know what I mean by the latter.) This season’s themes so far point to the clones’ final fight for independence from the scientific and corporate powers-that-be while finding answers on how and why they were originally created… and why the daughter of one of the clones appears to have a psychic connection with our beloved “sestras.”

If you live in the U.S., you can catch the final season of “Orphan Black” on BBC America every Saturday through August 12th at 10 PM. And if you’re not too familiar with the show, then check out this post on five reasons why I enjoy “Orphan Black” so much (and why I’m sure I’ll miss it like a dear friend when it’s over *sniffle*).

I Also Watched “The Eagle Huntress” and “Wonder Woman”

I’m sure most everyone has heard about the latter movie, but maybe not the former. Either way, here’s why I enjoyed both of them:

  • The Eagle Huntress: This documentary narrated by British actress Daisy Ridley follows 13-year-old Aisholpan Nurgaiv as she trains to follow in her father’s footsteps and become an eagle hunter, an ancient Kazakh custom typically reserved for men. It’s inspiring as a story of believing in yourself, and eye-opening in its glimpse into life of a nomadic family in Mongolia. The cinematography is incredible, too, with sweeping views of the Mongolian steppe and the Altai Mountains. I love how Aisholpan enjoys being a girl along with her tomboy hobbies, too. She likes wearing bows in her hair and painting her fingernails just as much as she likes horseback riding and eagle-hunting.
  • Wonder Woman: This movie kicks superhero butt. It’s not perfect; the pacing was off at times, and I found the “Big Reveal” a bit confusing (then again, I’m not familar with the original Wonder Woman comics / origin story). But after being disappointed by the past couple superhero films I’ve seen, I was so impressed by Wonder Woman. Diana is refreshing as a character; she’s passionate, fair-minded, intelligent, stubborn, and even a bit naive. I also agree with (and highly recommend) Mei-Mei’s post at Jedi By Knight, where she explains howΒ the movie presents Wonder Woman as a superheroine instead of a “female superhero.”

I’m Listening to Anathema’sΒ The Optimist

I keep saying I love this band, don’t I? πŸ™‚ But really, this British prog rock band has been one of my favorites for a few years now. Their new album,Β The Optimist,Β isΒ different from their past few albums. It’s more electronic (though still very much a rock album) and meditative musically, with lyrics that reflect the concept’s internal darkness and emotional conflict. But it’s a good kind of different – one that has taken some getting used to, but the album has been growing on me.Β “Springfield” (see the YouTube clip above) is my favorite track. “Wildfires,” “Endless Ways,” and “Back to the Start” are also very good.

And now that I’m going to see Anathema in concert this August, I won’t be surprised if I spend most of the summer listening to not just The Optimist, but ALL of the Anathema albums I own. πŸ˜€

I’m Happy for My Parents (and Grateful for Them, Too)

Between Father’s Day and his birthday, June has always been my dad’s big month. But this June has also been special for my mother. She kept her job in mainland Massachusetts after they and my brother moved to Cape Cod last year. So for the past 14 months, she has commuted 3 hours round-trip (1 1/2 hours either way) to work 3 days a week. I can only imagine how exhausting it’s been for her. So I was thrilled for her when she retired a couple weeks ago. And during my most recent visit, I gave them both gifts for all the mentioned occasions and paid for our lovely lunch outing at the Dunbar Tea Room. (Btw, I highly recommend Dunbar for lunch or afternoon tea if you’re ever in the Sandwich, MA area!)

I think what makes me happiest for my parents is that they’ve already made their biggest retirement dream come true by moving to the Cape, and that neither one of them postponed retirement. Now they get to spent more time exploring the Cape, gardening / doing yard work, finishing the house’s interior painting (not exactly a hobby, but it’s their main project for 2017) – and most importantly, being together. And I hope they can savor that togetherness for a long time.

What were some of the things that made you happy in June? Have you had any pleasant surprises lately? Or visited anyplace special?

39 thoughts on “What’s Making Me Happy: June 2017

  1. I love this regular post, Sara – it is such an enjoyable, uplifting and life-affirming article. I’m hoping to write my own version, starting in July. It’s lovely that your mother finally gets a chance to relax – a 3 hour commute to work – yikes! I love the sound of The Eagle Huntress – as for Wonder Woman – I was so fed up when I saw her prancing about in her swimming cossie, complete with vambrances and pointy weapons, while going up against some serious firepower in a clip that I decided to do my blood pressure a favourite and give this one a miss. But I’m delighted you enjoyed it:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’d love to read your own What’s Making You Happy if you decide to do it. πŸ˜€ I’m really glad Leanne’s series inspired me to do my own, just because it’s a great way to express gratitude and joy.

      Yeah, 1 1/2 hours either direction. :S It’s been stressful for her, especially she enjoys doing projects at home and wants to explore Cape Cod more. (Plus, all that sitting isn’t good for you, either…) Now she can concentrate of doing just that, and I already know she’s a lot happier for it.

      With Wonder Woman: As far as I know, her costume and weapons are in line with what her character has worn or wielded in the comics. (Mei-Mei’s article touches on that, too, if I remember correctly.) I also remember hearing that some people were worried that Diana and the other Amazons would be objectified too much. But I didn’t get that impression at all. The male characters in the film clearly respect her for what she brings to the table, rather than ogle at her beauty – and I was very happy about that. So, if that was also one of your concerns… I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for that! I am so pleased that you don’t mind my crashing into your brilliant idea… It’s just such a great idea:).

        Your mother’s stamina is impressive! And you’re right – it won’t be doing her back any favours at all…

        Ah… I feel reassured as I know if there had been any kind of objectifation regarding Wonder Woman, you would have called it out. So we may end up seeing the film after all… Have a great week-end, Sara:)

        Liked by 1 person

      • I can’t take credit for the idea for this series. It was my friend Leanne’s to begin with. πŸ˜‰ That’s one of the reasons why I either link up with her or give her credit at the beginning of each Happy post.

        And no, you’re not crashing into this at all! In fact, I think we could all use a little more positivity in our lives… Or, rather, it’s important to make a concerted effort to reflect on and recognize the positivity that already exists.

        “I feel reassured as I know if there had been any kind of objectifation regarding Wonder Woman, you would have called it out. So we may end up seeing the film after all…”

        (*fist pumps in success*) And I think having a female director for the film helped to avoid that problem, too, if that also helps.

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      • I have to jump in here, because guess what, Sara? “What’s Making Me Happy” wasn’t my idea either, so I don’t deserve the credit! It’s adapted from the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog series. But it’s clearly an idea worth stealing! πŸ™‚ It’s so fun to link up with you. Maybe we can get even more links going. I have a reader on my blog who’s also interested in doing her own “Happy” posts.

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  2. Love the garden pictures–I’m a sucker for turtles.
    Thanks for the shoutout, too. I’m hoping to get to see the WW movie again at some point πŸ™‚ The Eagle Huntress sounds really interesting, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love turtles, too. πŸ™‚ We had seen them in the flume pond when we visited Heritage last year (also late June, I think), so it was a joy to see them again this time.

      You’re welcome! It was a great post, and I figured other people might want to check it out.

      Like

    • I really liked the origin story aspect of it, too. Plus, it left me wondering how safe Themiscyra really is from the outside world… and whether that might come into play during a sequel. Then again, I’m not familiar with the comic storyline, so I have no idea whether it’s a possibility.

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  3. Good news: I finished Sherlock, so now I can return to normal programming. Bad news: I totally wish Sherlock would never end, and I can’t get enough, and now horrible withdrawals from the oh-so-charming sleuth of clever. I do believe that sums up my June!!

    I’m so happy for your parents! What a beautiful tribute you’ve given to them. My father finally retired this year and I couldn’t be happier for him, mostly because I’ve watched his stress levels come down to much more reasonable levels. The older we get, the more our parents’ worries impact us — more than I think we realize, and I’m grateful that your parents are doing well.

    Speaking of visiting anyplace special… on a whim, I looked up plane tickets for Japan… and found them for less than $1k! Needless to say, it’s a now-planted seed in my mind to go there, and I can’t place my finger on why I feel these restless urges to travel as of late. I’ll be 32 this year, and while I’ve traveled in my early 20s (I don’t think I appreciated it as much then as I would now), I’d really love to revisit my homeland again. Perhaps it’s because my brother went there… and he was merely a tourist. What a wash of a trip! No trinkets, no stationery, no mementos, nothing special! Such a dork. So I’d really love to go somewhere interesting someday, even if it’s back to NYC to window shop!

    Liked by 1 person

    • HAHAHAHA! So are you back into the writing swing now? Have you figured out what project you’d like to pursue next? (I think that was part of the dilemma you were having recently, right?)

      Thank you. πŸ™‚ And I agree with you on how our parents’ worries affect us more as we get older. They won’t be around forever, but the most we can hope is that they can enjoy this stage of their lives for as long as they can. I’ve heard one too many examples of people being forced into retirement due to health issues, or passing away before they take that chance… and I’m grateful that neither scenario happened to my parents.

      You really have been bitten by the restless travel bug, haven’t you? πŸ˜‰ And I know how expensive international air travel can be, so yes, that’s an AMAZING price for plane tickets to Japan. Fingers crossed that you can go back there soon(ish)!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Actually, I just recently started an art piece, so no, no writing just yet. Though I did manage to pull up the old fantasy project and start to review the outlines and backstory documents. A friend is going over the latest outline I came up with because to see if I can rework the ending. With an intricate plot, I feel that it’s necessary to know every detail, and in doing that, it has me overwhelmed.

        Actually, I am planning a trip to the city to visit my aunt that lives there! Hopefully I can go sooner rather than later. I’d really like for my mother to come along with me to Japan, but she’s needs a little more convincing at the moment πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a good idea. And your friend might have insights on things that you didn’t notice before, too. Hopefully it will give you the clarity you need to resume working on that story – and to make you feel less overwhelmed!

        And that’s great about the potential trip to Japan! Hopefully your mom will change her mind and consider going… though I know from my own experience that not everyone is crazy about going on an airplane. How long is a flight to Japan, btw?

        Liked by 1 person

      • A flight from the east coast to Japan would be around 18 hours, depending on stops. My mother isn’t budging, but with her, everything takes time! I’m sure the flight alone would overwhelm her. When we used to go, we lived in San Francisco, and that was still a 11 hour flight. Regardless, I think the flight alone would be a great opportunity to read a book — I wouldn’t have a choice, lol!

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      • MEEP. :S I knew it was a long flight, but… Yeah, I can see why your mom might be reluctant to do it for that reason alone. Still, I’d think the destination, and the chance to go back to your roots and hers, would be worth the long rides back and forth.

        “Regardless, I think the flight alone would be a great opportunity to read a book β€” I wouldn’t have a choice, lol!”

        Or maybe two or three, depending on how fast you read. But that’s a great way of looking at it! πŸ™‚ I read half of a book during my flight home from Iceland.

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  4. Glad you’re having some nice downtime. And I agree about summer- love it, but not the humidity. Luckily we’re had a pretty mild June so far, so it hasn’t been too bad (knocks on wood). Nice pics of the gardens! I always love coming across turtles in a natural setting like that. πŸ™‚

    Oh my gosh Orphan Black is killing it so far! I’m going to really miss that show… but in the meantime it’ll be nice to have on Saturday nights all summer long! And Wonder Woman looks great- I’m hoping to catch it at the theater yet.

    That’s awesome about your parents! Congrats to them on their retirement and moving to the Cape. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s good that you had a mild June, Greg. Hopefully July won’t be too much different. We’re expecting a warm but comfortable Fourth of July here tomorrow.

      Glad you liked the pictures! The turtles were there at the flume pond last year, too, so I was thrilled to see them again this year. Apparently there are frogs there, too… But I didn’t see any that day.

      Holy cow, YES. Orphan Black is really outdoing itself this season. I’m starting to wonder how they’re going to wrap up everything and answer all the questions that are left over the next 6 episodes! And I wonder if we’ll see Alison again before the end. (Hopefully I haven’t spoiled anything for you by saying that…)

      Yes. Go see Wonder Woman. I implore you to. πŸ™‚ And thank you for your well wishes for my parents, and for stopping by to visit again.

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  5. Pingback: Sunday Post – 2nd July 2017 | Brainfluff

  6. Aww, I’m so happy for your parents! πŸ™‚ It sounds like they’ll have a great time ahead together.
    Totally agree with you on the Wonder Woman mini-review. Not perfect, but so much fun though! 😁 I’m glad you liked it. πŸ™‚ The Eagle Huntress also sounds like a great movie, but it didn’t release here, so don’t know how I can watch it.
    The pictures here are so beautiful! ❀ I love nature photography a lot and this was so much fun to peruse.
    My commute is going to be much worse than your mom’s, even though it’s in the same city because of the traffic. It’s 1Β½ hours in the morning and 2Β½ in the evening. Gosh, I’m going to be SO tired! I don’t know if I’ll have the time for blogging with all that. Let’s hope I do! πŸ™‚

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    • πŸ˜‰ Thanks, Nandini. It’s funny, because when I asked Mom “How do you feel now that you’re retired?” the week after she did so, she said it hadn’t sunk in yet, that she sort of felt like she was on vacation. And then I talked to my parents on the phone yesterday morning, and she was talking how she was enjoying being on a less regimented schedule and how she can focus on doing what she wants to do. So I think it’s starting to sink in now.

      Yes, well, you were one of the people who convinced me that I should give Wonder Woman a chance. πŸ˜‰ So thank you!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures! Heritage is such a beautiful, peaceful place. The flume pond with the turtles and water lilies is my favorite spot there. We’re actually thinking of going back there in September or early October, so we can see the late summer and early autumn blooms for the first time.

      About the commute: Oh gosh. :S I can’t imagine what that’s going to be like. And with the blogging, it might be wise to just wait and see how your first week goes and see where you have blocks of time for blogging or writing. But don’t overwhelm yourself, either. Starting a new job and adjusting to the commute are big changes, and

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, WP does that to me often too. Such a pain. 😐
        I’m glad to hear your mom is getting adjusted to her new relaxed schedule. πŸ™‚
        You’re welcome (about the Wonder Woman recommendation)! 😁
        I can’t wait to see your pictures from autumn. That season is so beautiful in your region, not so much in mine. The colours are so pretty and striking that time if the year! πŸ™‚
        I’m on my way home now. It’s been tiring, but I think I can get some sleep on my journey back home. I hope to have a post up today. Probably not something too wordy though. πŸ˜› We’ll see how I feel once I reach home.
        Thanks for your advice! πŸ™‚ The first week is only orientation, so it’s not too taxing on my brain. Don’t know how I’ll feel in the coming weeks. I’ll try to schedule my posts in the weekends so I don’t miss the days. But I’m very bad at planning ahead. Let’s see how it goes!

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  7. I still need to see Wonder Woman, maybe this weekend! I love the photos of the gardens, such a peaceful looking place. That’s the sort of place I could spend hours roaming around:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hope you get to see it, Tammy! And yes, Heritage is very peaceful. We’re hoping to go back in late September or early October. I’ve never been there in early autumn, so it’ll be interesting to see how different it looks then, with the changing foliage and fall flowers.

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  8. I need to see Wonder Woman! It’s on my list haha. XD And I’ve heard about that Eagle Huntress. It’s so cool that she got a whole documentary. ^ ^

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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  9. Seems like June was a busy one for many peeps.
    I saw Wonder Woman as well but wasn’t very impressed and I totally didn’t notice the big reveal. I’ll have to go google that now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe “big reveal” wasn’t the right term to use… but it was basically the truth about Diana’s identity, something she didn’t even know herself. It sort of gets lost in the events immediately afterward, which is one of the things I wish they had done differently.

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  10. Pingback: What’s Making Me Happy: July 2017 | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

  11. Pingback: What’s Making Me Happy: August 2017 | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

  12. I love these posts! I’m sure your month had some less cheerful moments, but it’s great to see so much positivity in one place. I’m catching up with posts (though it feels that I’m falling more and more behind…), and I hope to see even more happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gosh, I can’t even remember what happened in June now. XD That’s pretty bad. I know I was continuing to deal with some anxiety in my offline life… but any other less-than-positive specifics are gone from my head.

      Anyway, I’m glad you enjoy the Happiness posts. πŸ™‚ They remind me a little of my nightly gratitude practice. Sure, they hone in on the positives, but sometimes we lose sight of the good or magical things in life when other aspects are stressing us out or not going so well.

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