Um…. Hi everyone. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
The short story is, I had to take about 2 months off from blogging here. It was unexpected, to say the least, and I feel badly that I disappeared unexpectedly like that. But don’t we all go through periods when life offline goes a little… well, nuts, and we have to rearrange our priorities temporarily? And now that things appear to be smoothing out, I think I’m ready to make a comeback.
And what an appropriate post to return with, right? I really do love this What’s Making Me Happy series, and for so many reasons. So let me share some of the things that brought much-needed joy and lightness despite the stress of the past two months. Feel free to share what’s made you happy recently in your comments. 🙂
What Made Me Happy in April 2018
I Bought a New (Used) Car!
Several people have asked me why I’m skipping Writer’s Digest and not traveling much this year. Well, the reason is… I’d been saving up for this! It’s a 2016 Ford Fusion; and while the image above isn’t a photo of the exact car I bought, I did get one in this metallic dark gray color.
So far the transition has gone well, and “Sweetie” (I like to nickname my cars *lol*) has been running smoothly. The biggest change has been ALL the UPGRADES. I had my previous car (a 2008 Ford Fusion I called “Baby”) for almost 10 years, and in that time technology such as navigation / GPS, heated seats / mirrors, rear back-up cameras, and Bluetooth for phones has become standard with the lower-priced models. So when I’m behind the wheel of Sweetie, I feel like I’m driving a spaceship!
I’m Using SpaRoom’s SpaMist® UltraSonic Diffuser
When I started using essential oils last year, I bought a portable fan diffuser to use the oils as fragrance at home. It was great for a beginner, but eventually I got tired of replacing the microfiber pads (which absorb the oil droplets for diffusion) every time I wanted to change the oils. So I recently bought this ultrasonic diffuser from SpaRoom, and I’m already pleased with it.
Ultrasonic diffusers use water and high-frequency vibrations to disperse essential oils through a mist. You fill the diffuser partway with water, add a few drops of oil, plug it in, turn it on, and let it do its magic. This particular diffuser also shuts off automatically when the water runs out (about 3 to 4 hours), works best in small spaces (about 150 to 200 square feet), and has three light modes (rotating colors, freeze color, or no light) to enhance the ambiance. Plus, it’s lightweight, quiet when running, and easy to clean. So far I’ve used the new diffuser in my bedroom before going to bed and when I’m writing at my dining room table. And now that I can use and blend whatever oils I want every time, I don’t miss those disposable microfiber pads at all!
Click here to check out the SpaMist® UltraSonic Diffuser at SpaRoom’s website. You can purchase the diffuser directly from SpaRoom or at stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond (where I bought mine) and Target.
I’m Grateful for My Offline Friendships
This feels like a weird thing to include, since I’ve always been immensely thankful for my friends. But this past April reinforced how much those friendships mean to me. Some of this was through fun activities, like home-cooked dinners, afternoon tea at the Dunbar Tea Room, and sightseeing on Cape Cod. Other moments, like the unexpected death of one friend’s dad and some heart-to-heart conversations about mental health, work, and other subjects, were ones where we needed one another.
So… Yeah. I’m glad that I have such supportive, creative, and genuine people in my corner, and that they know I’ll always be there for them, too. ❤
What Made Me Happy in May 2018
I Spent Two Beautiful Long Weekends in Salem and Cape Cod
I was on vacation from my day job during the first full week of May – and boy did it feel so GOOD in so many ways. During the first weekend, I was in Salem, Massachusetts for the 10th annual Massachusetts Poetry Festival. And… Wow. What an incredible experience, both as a poet and as a tourist. I’ll share more about the festival itself in next month’s Creativity Corner. But in terms of sightseeing, Salem is gorgeous in the spring. The trees and flowers are returning for the spring, and everywhere you look – from the architecture of buildings and houses, to the brick walkways and concrete sidewalks – is a beautiful contrast between history and contemporary. It also doesn’t hurt that downtown Salem is right by the water. ❤
Of course, I took lots of photos! Above you’ll find shots of the House of the Seven Gables (I took a tour of the house where Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote one of his novels), various older homes across town, and the Salem Maritime National Historic Site.
Oh, and the FOOD. If you ever visit Salem, I highly recommend these spots:
- Gulu-Gulu Café (eclectic European-inspired sandwich shop and craft beer bar)
- Mr. Crepe (breakfast crepes, savory crepes, dessert crepes – all YUMMY)
- Red Line Café (quaint spot for breakfast and lunch)
- Maria’s Sweet Somethings (ice cream and candy shop)
- Jolie Tea Company (ZOMG you guys Salem has a TEA SHOP where you can do afternoon tea and buy loose-leaf tea!!!)
After Salem, I relaxed at home for a couple days before heading to Cape Cod to spend the next weekend with my parents. We went out to dinner for Mother’s Day with my brother, and did a day trip to downtown Falmouth and Nobska Lighthouse. The weather was perfect for taking in the views of Vineyard Sound without needing a jacket. And, if you look at some of the photos above, you’ll see the coast of Martha’s Vineyard not too far in the distance.
I Watched Avengers: Infinity War
Well… I can’t say much without spoiling anything. So all I’ll say is… I enjoyed this a LOT more than Avengers: Age of Ultron (though the first Avengers movie is still my favorite of the bunch). And while I wasn’t shocked at how it ended from a big-picture perspective, I still felt gut-punched and heart-wrenched at the end. Plus, some of those character deaths… Man. They still hurt right now.
Just remember, friends: We’ve got a fourth Avengers movie coming out next year. So this ain’t over yet. 😉
I’m Listening to Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports
It’s been over a year since I went to Iceland. Crazy, huh? So I’ve been experiencing a fair amount of nostalgia lately, remembering the lessons I learned at the Iceland Writers Retreat, the sightseeing and cultural immersion, and the music I listened to on the plane rides – including the album that (sort of) “sang me to sleep” on the overnight flight to Iceland. (FYI: IcelandAir has a fantastic in-flight entertainment system that all passengers can use. Yay!)
What is Music for Airports? It’s a four-track album of ambient instrumentals that Brian Eno (who’s also produced albums for U2 and Coldplay) recorded to “induce calm and a space to think” in tense or stressful spaces such as airport terminals. So the music might not interest everyone, but on a night when rest was hard to come by, it was the perfect album to put on repeat for the 4½-hour flight. And now I’m glad I’ve finally added it to my music collection at home.
What’s made you happy recently? Have you gone on any trips recently, or are you planning to go one soon? How have you nurtured your offline friendships recently? What books or music do you associate with places you’ve traveled to?