What’s Making Me Happy: April and May 2018

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

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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!!!)

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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?

30 thoughts on “What’s Making Me Happy: April and May 2018

  1. I love your Salem photos! That’s a place I’d love to visit someday, especially with it’s history of the witch trials, I think it would be fascinating. Welcome back! I know how life can get, hope you can ease back into your old routine😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Tammy. 🙂 Yes, there are several tributes to Salem’s witch history around town. And quite a few psychic and witchcraft-related shops. The tourism industry there isn’t afraid of playing up all angles of its past. *lol*

      And thanks for the well wishes, too. Unfortunately I think the old routine is a thing of the past. I’ll still be around, and posting things when they’re ready. But I’m not going to be around on the blogosphere as general as much as I used to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad to have you back. 🙂 My own internet presence has been patchy lately, again, due to offline life being a bit crazy – so I completely understand the hiatus. 🙂

    The new car sounds fun. I’m hoping to pass my test soon and get my first car. And the last time I was regularly in one was back in the 90s, so cars have really come a long way since then! I hope you’re enjoying the spaceship feeling. 🙂

    Looking forward to the end of my college course is my source of happiness at the moment. And hoping for a good summer. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, VP. 🙂 I hope things in your offline life settle down soon, too.

      Ooooh, good luck on your upcoming driving test! Any idea what kind of car you’d like to get? And how is your college course coming along? What are you taking again? (I know you’ve told me before, but the subject has slipped my mind…)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks. 😊

        I know I want a small one – I’d love a Mini Cooper, but it’s what I can afford. College is okay, I am almost done, just two essays left to write. I’m studying English and history at the moment on an Access course. But going to university in September to do English literature with creative writing! I’m really looking forward to it. 😊

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, I was! I thought it was a really bold move. But it was pretty much the perfect ending for that movie, and I think they did a great job. The scene with Spider-Man and Iron Man really got me.

        The credits scene did not surprise me, but it still got me excited for Captain Marvel. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • How is it that I’m the only one I know so far who wasn’t shocked?! XD Even my brother wasn’t expecting it to end the way it did. But… I don’t know… I just had this feeling based on the tone of the previews, and all the secrecy surrounding the movie leading up to its release… and, well…

        Yeah. That Spidey and Iron Man scene got me, too. And I can’t freakin’ wait for Captain Marvel. Including how it’s going to tie in with Avengers 4. But mostly because it’s Captain Marvel. And that means two female superhero movies are coming out next year, because Wonder Woman 2 is due out in November-ish. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

      • I think I was less surprised about The Snappening than about the fact that it was the end! I thought the Thanos stuff would be resolved in this movie and they’d move on to Secret Wars or something in the next one. I was totally wrong! And I am happy to be wrong, because it was great!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. The Fusion is a very nice car, sold here in Ireland as the Ford Mondeo. In the US it’s descended from the 2 ton 18 foot long 1960s Ford Galaxie. In Ireland it’s descended from the 1 ton 14 foot long 1960s Ford Cortina. So American cars have been shrinking and European cars expanding and they’ve now equalized! Best of luck with it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, John. 🙂 There was something strange about the timing of my car purchase, though. The day before I bought it, Ford announced that they’re going to cease production on all of their sedans (except the Mustang and possibly the compact Focus) to concentrate on trucks and SUVs. I’m not sure if that’s only in the US… but I guess this will be the last Ford car I’ll ever own, since I don’t want a bigger vehicle. So I’m glad I bought Sweetie when I did!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ford will keep making sedans and wagons outside the US. They have too. And they didn’t specifically include small crossovers and any Lincoln in their somewhat vague announcement. We don’t get the big SUVs and trucks here in Ireland, but we do now get the Mustang with right-hand-drive for the first time ever. You won’t be the only customer Ford will eventually lose if they prune their sedan range too much.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Now I know what to get: SpaRoom. It sounds so much easier!

    I need to get myself down to Salem sometime. I should try for next year’s poetry event. I’d love to see the flowers and architecture. Do you know if any place serves gluten free lunches?

    I’m hoping to go on a trip this summer. Not sure where to yet, it all depends on the cost. Traveling keeps getting more expensive! So we’ll see. 🙂

    I understand about the hiatus. I might have to take off for the summer, and that’s okay. Sometimes we just have to give ourselves a break. I’m glad you had a good time. ^_^

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, E. 🙂

      Yes, SpaRoom is very easy to use! Are you using a different kind of oil diffuser at home right now?

      Wow, so you might be on a blogging hiatus for the summer? Is part of it because of any traveling you might be doing? Are you planning to use some of that time for writing, too?

      Liked by 2 people

      • I have the kind that burns with a candle.

        I realized I really needed the time for writing and for enjoying the outdoors, and rethinking things. Honestly, I’m so glad I did! I’ve gotten a lot done because of it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ohhhhh yes those feels. And it’s such an interesting movie to talk about afterwards. I think my brother and I have spent maybe double Infinity Wars’ running time just discussing and analyzing it! XD And now I’m itching to see how Ant-Man & The Wasp and Captain Marvel will lead up to Avengers 4. Both movies, especially Marvel, are going to be really important now.

      Liked by 2 people

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  9. First of all – belated congratulations on your purchase! I hope your Sweetie is doing well!
    I love how your post reminds us to enjoy little things – and how they can help us be happy (a diffuser might seem insignificant, but I can imagine being surrounded by beautiful scents improves your mood a lot!).
    I’ve seen Infinity War as well, and I agree on the gut punching, though – in the end – a certain green piece of jewelry (I don’t want to spoil too much) makes it all less… definitive. All in all, a new year is coming, and with it – Avengers 4. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! Yes, Sweetie has been doing well. She needed an appointment for a recall repair a few weeks ago, but otherwise we’ve been treating each other well. 🙂

      Haha, that certain green piece of jewelry. 😉 I’m trying not to read any of the Avengers 4 speculation that’s come out since then, but I did hear a rumor that the first trailer and a title confirmation might be coming before year’s end!

      “I love how your post reminds us to enjoy little things – and how they can help us be happy….”

      ❤ That's one of the purposes of this series, so I'm really glad other people recognize this… and hopefully apply the same philosophy to their own lives. Thank you, Joanna.

      Liked by 2 people

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