Sunday, February 26, 2017

#459 Have Pizza In Mystic

Mystic Pizza
Mystic Pizza
If you are an 80's kid, then you probably know of the movie Mystic Pizza. Mystic Pizza was definitely not the best movie ever made but it did become a cult classic. A very young Julia Roberts starred in the movie along with Annabeth Gish and Lili Taylor. Delicious looking pizza also starred in the movie and it made me hungry. Not gonna lie.

Mystic Pizza still holds a special place in my heart and I am sure other 80's gals feel the same. It also was the beginning of my yearning to try some of the famous pizza the gals served up in the movie. I figured one day, while traveling the world, I would make my way to Mystic Pizza.

Fast forward to June of 2007. My cousin Mick was getting married. He and his fiancee lived in the Hartford, Connecticut area. Mystic Pizza was also in Connecticut.  They were planning to hold their wedding there. My parents and I decided to make a family vacation out of the trip since we had never been to the area before. The stars were aligning.

I told my parents about the movie Mystic Pizza and how I had always wanted to try their pizza. Neither of them had ever heard of the movie or the pizza. They weren't intrigued. Sighs. I had to go to plan B. There was another movie I knew they had both seen. You see, we are a bunch of Jaws junkies in my family. We are constantly quoting the movie, discussing the movie, and reminiscing about how many times we have seen the movie. It's a little disturbing how fascinated we all are with Bruce but every family has their weirdo things they do. Mine was no different.

Martha's Vineyard was in New England. It was only 5 hours from Mystic. I suggested we could also visit the island since that is where so many of the scenes from Jaws were filmed. I had visited the Vineyard a year prior and had loved it. It is a wicked cool place and so laid back. My parents told me they were totally down for a Mystic and Martha's Vineyard adventure. Well, they didn't say it that way, they don't speak like that but who cares. I was just thrilled they were on board. Let the fun begin!

A few weeks later, we all piled into my parents mini van and headed towards New England. Along the way, I reminded them that we had to eat at the famous Mystic Pizza. We HAD too! It was supposed to be the best pizza ever. We all deserved to try a little slice of heaven right? My parents assured me we could eat there. I made them promise. They promised. Then I made them pinky swear that we we going to Mystic Pizza.

Just kidding, I didn't make them pinky swear. My dad was driving and my mom was holding the map. I didn't want to cause a distraction with the elders. Besides, I had no problem being a nagging pain in the ass when I really wanted or needed something. If I had to go to the mattresses to make sure we ate there, well then I would wrap a dead fish in newspaper and deliver the Sicilian message to my parents in person. You gotta do what you gotta do right? I wanted and needed Mystic Pizza. And I would get it. But first, let me tell you about Mystic.

Mystic Bascule Bridge
Mystic is a quaint little fishing village. The main road has a functioning, yellow bascule bridge that is raised many, many times per day. It was one of the coolest looking bridges I had ever seen. It had these gigantic weights on the side of the bridge that raises. There were also these huge wheels in the middle of the bridge. They almost reminded me of the water wheels on a mill.

Obviously I have no idea what I am talking about because I have about as much knowledge on bridges as I do quantum physics. I just don't know how else to describe this bridge. Anyone that has a knowledge of bridges will probably scratch their head or laugh their ass off if they read this and I apologize for that bridge people. Not trying to be offensive or anything.

Anyway, of course we had to walk across the yellow bascule bridge. Why wouldn't we? It was too awesome to not walk across. The bridge itself was only 218 feet long but it was magical nonetheless. We stopped along the walkway on the bridge and gazed down the Mystic River, checking out all the boats bobbing around in the waters. I couldn't get enough of it. We walked it several times on our trip.

On one of our evenings in Mystic, we decided to dine at the S&P Oyster Company. S&P sits right along the Mystic River across from the weighted part of the bridge. Their food was excellent with lots of great seafood dishes on the menu. It was a little pricey to dine there but definitely worth it. My dad enjoyed the oysters very much. And who could argue with such a beautiful view of the Mystic River and the Bascule bridge.

We were fortunate to have good weather that evening so we dined outside on the patio. As we ate our dinners, we watched the bridge begin it's ascent from horizontal to vertical several times, allowing sailboats to float on through to the other side of town. One sailboat made me real nervous though. I thought he was going to crash right into the bridge before it was fully lifted. My family and I stared at this scene intently, holding our breath, wondering if the white, billowy sails on the boat would get caught in the bridge, flipping the boat over.

I was in the midst of eating a french fry when this all went down. It was hanging out of my mouth while ketchup was running down my chin. I just let it roll on down, that's how intense this moment was. I had napkins. I was going to be just fine. Thankfully, the boat made the pass without incident. It's safe to say the bridge operators and local boaters had this timing thing down when it came to the bridge. If I were operating the bridge, that sailboat would have so much been doomed

S&P Oyster Co. Nice view of the Mystic River & Bridge
As for downtown Mystic, it was very quaint and cute. My family and I strolled around Main Street and the surrounding areas of downtown Mystic, window shopping and breathing in the fresh air. There was a nice variety of little specialty shops and cafes lining the sidewalks for us to enjoy.

We sampled ice cream from the Drawbridge Ice Cream Shop. We perused all the sweets on display in the sweet shops. We admired colorful and unique crafts and paintings from local artists. Some of the specialty shops were crazy expensive but I must say, everything was also very nice. I loved that there were no chain stores or chain restaurants in the village. Everything was locally owned.

Downtown Mystic CT
Downtown Mystic

The Harp and Hound
The Harp and Hound Irish Pub
We also took some time to visit the famous Mystic Aquarium and the historic Mystic Seaport. The seaport was once one of the main ports of New England in colonial times. It housed a huge, beautiful wooden sailing ship with enormous masts as well as many smaller boats from colonial times. The boats were so antiquated yet so pristine.

I must say, I am truly fascinated with old boats for some reason. I often wondered what it would be like to sail on an old wooden ship. I don't need to go out into the ocean or anything. That would intimidate me too much I think but, I'd be happy with a little whirl around a harbor or something.

The Mystic Seaport was very enjoyable and rich with history but the Aquarium was my most favorite part of our adventure in Mystic. The bridge was definitely a close second but the bridge did not have Beluga whales. The Mystic Aquarium had Beluga whales. I was none too excited to witness the exotic beauty of these snow white mammals

The aquarium, while not huge, was well designed and very pretty. I was so impressed with how this aquarium catered to their visitors by providing great viewing platforms and accessibility to all of it's features. Even if it was a crowded day at the aquarium, there was plenty of room for everyone to take in the sights and exhibits.

One of the first exhibits we visited was the outdoor Penguin Pavilion. I'm telling you, you could pretty much walk right up the edge of the pool and witness the penguins up close and personal without any glass barrier between you and them. They were literally a few feet away from you. Naturally you couldn't touch them or anything, but it was really amazing to see them that close.

Mystic Seaport

Mystic Aquarium Ticket 2007
Tickets to see the Belugas 2007

The penguins were total characters too. We stood there forever just watching them swim and frolic. Each little avian had their own quirky personality. One penguin in particular really liked my daughter. He swam right over to her, following her as she walked along the edge. We so much wanted to pet them but of course we did not. We also got to observe them eating a snack of raw fish. That was so much fun. They were hilarious, clumsy and cute. We got quite a few laughs from our little penguin buddies.

The Penguins. Too Cute!
After spending ample time with our penguin friends, we made our way to the Beluga whales. I am not gonna lie, I had no idea what to expect. I had seen pictures of Beluga whales but let's just say, the pictures are nothing compared to seeing them in person.

My kids and I walked over to the most beautiful tank setting I have ever seen in an aquarium. This one acre tank looked like a scene taken from the coastal area of the Beaufort Sea. It actually felt like you were standing in this picturesque yet frigid, arctic wilderness.

Along one side of the tank was a long glass observation wall perfect for whale sightseeing. Patiently, the kids and I stood facing the glass, staring intently into the dark blue waters. There were no whales to be seen. We waited and waited and waited. Nothing. Saddened and despondent, we decided to make our way to another exhibit. Maybe if we came back later, a Beluga would make an appearance.

As soon as the words left my lips, that is when she appeared out of nowhere to say hello.

Borrowed Picture. The Mystic Arctic Coast in Winter.

I turned and laid my eyes upon this fabulously unusual creature floating by the glass. I fell completely speechless. We all gasped at the sight, our eyes wide with surprise and amazement. Be still my beating heart. I remember saying, "Hello Gorgeous." Slowly, we walked towards the glass to get a closer look at this precious creature. We stared at her with sheer wonderment. (I later came to find it was the Beluga named Naku.) This aquatic beauty was swimming back and forth in front of the glass, spinning and turning, hamming it up for us.

Stunning yet odd.

She was observing us as much as we were observing her. She was an odd and silly looking thing but that is what made her so incredibly beautiful. Her shape and proportion were just so unquestionably bizarre. It was both weird and wonderful. She was pure white against the dark blue water and appeared to be smiling at us.

We were so captivated by her. As she was swimming and diving and showing off for us, we noticed another Beluga appear by the glass. This one was much smaller, almost like a baby. He was giving us what seemed to be kisses behind the glass. ( This whale was named Juno. He was a baby Beluga. He was only 4 or 5 years old at the time of our visit. Naku was 25 or 26. )

My heart was so happy and the smile on my face was so big. The world and the distinctive creatures living in it are nothing short of miraculous.We are all miracles and we need to remember that. We need to appreciate how special we are. The kids and I could have stayed there all day long watching the beautiful Belugas flaunting their swimming skills but, it was our last day in Mystic before heading down to Hartford for the wedding.


And by last day I meant, we were leaving the next morning and we still had not dined at Mystic Pizza. I was hoping not to get medieval on my parents but if I had too I would. We reluctantly said goodbye to the enchanting creatures of the Mystic Aquarium. It was time to go. It was time for pizza dammit!

We piled into the Mini Van and made our way through downtown. The bascule bridge was being raised as we came upon it. We had front row seats one last time before saying goodbye to this amazing bridge. Mystic Pizza was waiting on the other side.

We pulled up to the pizzeria, grabbing a spot very close to the building. The exterior of the pizzeria reminded me of the many back home. A giant sign hung above the door welcoming everyone to a slice of heaven. Luckily, as we walked into the restaurant, it was not very crowded. The interior was wall to wall hunter green wainscoting. I loved it. Booths and tables lined the little restaurant while a big neon sign advertising " A slice of heaven" hung above the pizza counter.

A giant movie poster from" Mystic Pizza" was framed on the wall along with other movie photos, memorabilia and metal street signs. It was a very quaint little pizzeria. I was digging the atmosphere. Mystic Pizza the movie was playing on one of the TVs in the restaurant. I pointed it out to my parents. I don't think they really cared.

We were seated at a table and given menus by a very nice and hospitable server. As we perused the menu, we definitely decided on a large plain pizza but also ordered some other dishes from the menu. I don't remember what we ordered because all I had was pizza vision. I could not wait to try this pizza. I was giddy with anticipation. As a lover of pizza, my palette is very distinguished I must say. The eagerness to add Mystic Pizza to my repertoire was unbearable.

We placed our order. We were all starting to get sleepy too. We had a fun, adventurous past few days but it was catching up to us. We were exhausted. The day before, we had in fact, visited Martha's Vineyard to check out all the places where scenes from Jaws were filmed. My dad loved it. I loved it! I was so thrilled my family got to see Menemshaw, Aquinnah, Edgarton and Oak Bluffs.We talked about Jaws and our day at the Vineyard as we waited for our food to arrive.

Mystic Pizza
Getting ready to try Mystic Pizza
Thankfully, our food arrived pretty fast. As the server placed the pizza on the table I couldn't help but take in a big whiff of the delicious pizza aroma steaming from the pan. It really did smell fantastic. It looked yummy, gooey and saucy too. So far Mystic Pizza earned an A+ for hospitality, speed of service, aromatics, and presentation.

I gave them a B- for the size of their large pizza. It cost $11.99 for a large cheese pizza. I was a little disappointed in the portion, not gonna lie. Mystic's large pizza would have been considered a small or personal sized pizza back home.

Size doesn't always matter though I reminded myself. If the flavor is amazing, that is all that matters in the end and I could not wait to grade the flavor.  We all placed a slice on our little pizza plates. It seemed like an eternity for the pizza to cool enough for us to not suffer third degree burns on the roofs of our mouths. I could wait no longer. As I grasped the still very hot pizza with my hands and brought it slowly to my mouth, I took one more big whiff. Heaven for sure I thought.

As the first bite touched my lips, I immediately felt my heart sink. Slowly, I chewed the pizza. I decided I needed one more bite to be sure. Maybe the first bite was just a fluke. I took another bite of pizza. My heart sank even deeper. I'm not saying the pizza tasted bad because it didn't, but it was not at all a slice of heaven to my taste buds. The sauce was very...... bland. It had a tomato soup flavor to it which was just weird. The cheese was rubbery too.

Mystic Pizza Menu 2007
Maybe I am spoiled because growing up in Hazleton and NEPA, the pizzerias we had were just so damned good. I have also had NY pizza and absolutely nothing compares to it. Nothing! But, Hazleton and Northeast PA had pizzerias that made pizza so close to the styles and recipes you would find NYC that they were still quite delicious.

In fact, many of the pizza shop owners in NEPA hailed from NYC. Some of them even had dough and breads brought in from Brooklyn daily. I don't know what it is but you can tell the difference. I think it is the NYC water. It has to be.

Anyway, I am not out to bash any place of business. The other food we ordered everyone seemed to enjoy. And, my parents and kids did like the pizza. They also agreed it was not nearly as good as the pizza back home though.

I, personally, had to grade the flavor of the pizza as a C-. Nothing can score lower than mass produced chain pizza in my book. I usually grade them a D for flavor. La Famiglia is the only chain pizzeria I have tried that I could seriously give a grade A for flavor. I was so bummed that I did not believe Mystic Pizza was a slice of heaven.

I did finish a few slices of pizza because I was starving and I would still highly recommend visiting Mystic Pizza because it is a really cool, friendly place. Just because I was not impressed with the flavor of the pizza does not mean it is horrible pizza. It's one person's opinion. Everyone has different taste buds. As for Mystic, CT, it is a cute little town with a lot of things to see and do. I would highly recommend taking a day or two to visit.

Things To Do In Mystic, CT


Sunday, February 19, 2017

#13 Grow My Hair Long

When I was little, my mother used to chop off all my hair. She said I looked like a Dutch boy with long hair. What she didn't realize was that by chopping off my hair, I actually did look like a boy. We would be out as a family and people would say, "Awwww. You have two boys and a girl." Ummmm....What??  I did not realize my sister Alicia was the only girl child. That was news to me. Maybe I should just accept my role as first born son. NOT! I did not accept my role as first born son. My brother was the only son. I was a girl!

Arguments to the point of tears always occurred when my mother would make that awful announcement that I was due for a hair cut. It got to the point where even at 6 and 7 years old, I knew if my hair was sticking out more than two inches from my scalp, she was going to make me get a haircut. I'd be sobbing, begging her to allow me to grow my hair longer. All she handed me was sugar coated bullshit. "Oh, It's the Dorothy Hamill look. It's very popular with girls right now." Or, "You look like Princess Diana with your hair short." No I don't mom! I look like a BOY!

Yes. I was a tom boy. I was a little wild woman. I played in the dirt. I climbed trees. I rode my red, white and blue Big Wheel around the block. I hid birds and animals in the garage. I made mud pools for my barbies and dirt roads for my matchboxes. I drank from the garden hose. I collected rocks and leaves and other crap that was lying around the sidewalk and streets. I fought with the boys in the neighborhood but also played wiffle ball with them. I was always dirty and bruised and disheveled. My hair would get filled with knots because she would not put my hair in a pony tail or pig tails and I did not know how to do it myself. I could refill my cap gun but I did not know how to put my hair in a pony tail. LOL!

Maybe I never knew how to do that because I never had any HAIR!  Maybe if my mother would have helped a sister out.....

Anyways, when I took my third grade school picture, I swear to god the only reason you could tell I was not a little, freckle faced, red headed boy was because I was wearing a Strawberry Shortcake turtleneck. If I did not wear that shirt, I was so much a dude in that picture. I think it dawned on her too when she saw my third grade pictures, because in fourth grade, I was allowed to have chin length hair. By junior high we had made it to shoulder length hair but never much longer.
Once it went too far past my shoulders, it was hair cut time. It was also in junior high that I developed a serious mistrust with hair dressers. They would tell me they were only taking an inch or two off my length. Yea okay. I walked in with my hair falling past my shoulders. Why is my hair suddenly chin length? I have a ruler. I know what an inch looks like! I swear to god I think my mother was telling the hair dressers to lie to me. That is not very nice. Pants on fire!

By high school my mother was gone. She took off. Won't get into it. Needless to say, my hair was now all mine and I was going to grow it nice and long. And I did. I have had long hair since the tenth grade and I absolutely adore it. Yes, there are times when I think about chopping it off completely, especially in the summer. But, I know I would totally regret it. When it gets on my nerves, I throw it up in a clip or a ponytail. In the winter, my hair keeps my neck warm. That is a bonus because I don't do scarves well. I practically strangle myself just trying to tie a scarf in a basic knot. My long hair is my scarf in the winter.

Part of my obsession with having long hair is psychological, I know that, but part of it is that I just love it, and not necessarily in a vain way either. If I was that vain about my hair, I would be a lot more concerned with how I style it. Most days my hair is a complete mess. I'm always thrilled when the "just rolled out bed hair" comes back in style because that is my hair almost every single day.

Truth is, I don't know how to style my hair very well at all. I see so many women walking around with perfectly coiffed hair dos, all gorgeous and neat. There are times I wish I knew how to do that stuff too but I also like to sleep until the last moment every morning. I'm a boss at hitting that snooze button so I just don't have the time to invest in styling my hair like that. I straighten my hair but I am not even good at that. I always miss a few chunks in the back. I always have kinks and waves sticking out from the top layer of my straightened hair.

I like having bangs but am not good at making them look neat. Sometimes I throw a little braid in my hair but it's a messy, straight braid. Sometimes I clip some of my hair back in those little dollar store barrette snaps. Once in awhile I will try to flip the ends of my hair with a curling iron but unless I use a ton of hairspray, and I am not a fan of hairspray, the little flippies don't hold very long.

I tend to wear my hair natural a lot more now but I don't even know what to do with my curls and waves. Sometimes I walk into work with a full blown afro going on but I honestly don't even care. I kind of like the afro. This is me and yes, sometimes I have an afro. It's all good. When I let my hair dry naturally, without using a hair dryer to help it along, it's less afro and more curls. In the winter I can't do that as much though. Doesn't matter. I love and accept whatever mood my long hair is in. I used to fuss over it more but all I was really doing was wasting my time because my hair, like it's owner, is just going to do what it wants anyway. It's better to just go with the flow.

In closing, I must say, I admire all hair. I love the short styles, the bobs, the long layers, the curls, the afros, the wild woman look, the IDGAF look, all of it. I am a huge fan of hair. I even enjoy some of the funky colors out there. Recently when I was in Wal-Mart, I saw this beautiful, light pink, temporary dye you can apply to chunks of your hair. For a moment, I debated buying it. I still might. The color reminded me of a delicate pink rose. It was stunning.

Yes, I realize I am a 43 year old woman and that the funky colors should "technically" be left to the younger generations but acting my age gets so boring. I'm a youngster at heart. Always will be. Besides, us Generation X women are re-inventing what a woman's 40's and 50's should like. We feel it should look exactly how you want it to look and not what society expects it to look like. Plain and Simple. If it makes you feel good, if it makes you feel comfortable, if it boosts your self confidence, then own it. Own it with class though, not arrogance. Arrogance makes everything ugly.

Now I'm off to look at recipes to nourish and protect my long hair from the dry heat and cold brittle air that winter always brings. I just ordered an entire product line by Redken to try. I decided to splurge because #1 I work hard and I'm worth it and #2 I need to revive my dry, damaged, color treated, winter hair. I am experiencing some serious breakage unfortunately. I am very excited to give Redken a go.

Below I am sharing some of my favorite hair care tips, recipes and products. I can't afford to go to a salon so I do everything on my own. Maybe some of these links can help some of my fellow DIY hair divas. Get on with your bad self girl.

Sea Salt Hair Detox

Hair Detox
I have always had very dry, temperamental hair. I use a lot of product in my hair ranging from smoothing oils, conditioning creams and keratin treatments to styling gels, mousses and thermal protection sprays. These products work wonders but they also leave residue behind even after shampooing. As the residue builds, the products applied not only become less effective but they can also start damaging your hair rather than help it. This detox removes the buildup from my tresses allowing my products to do their thing. I detox 1-2X per month.

Baking Soda Scalp Detox

Not only does product build up on your hair, it also builds up on your scalp. The more build up on your scalp, the slower your hair grows. Build up and residue on your scalp also can damage new hair growth. it's important to remove any build up and residue on your scalp. This treatment works very well for me. I make sure to massage it deep into my roots and scalp and allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing. I do this once a month 

The Tangle Teezer

Tangle Teezer
I will not use any other brush on my hair anymore. This brush is worth it's weight in gold. Not only does it get through my knots and tangles after washing my hair very gently and easily, but there is way less breakage.  A bonus little tip I will let you in on, as I mentioned above, scalp build up is not good. I use this brush to gently massage my scalp when my hair is wet. Not only does it loosen scalp build up, but it increases blood circulation to my scalp. Blood circulation to your scalp helps promote hair growth. I love this brush and will be ordering more shortly not only for me, but for gifts as well. This is how much I love this brush. 

Herbal Essence Tousle Me Softly Gel And Mousse

Herbal Essence
I just love these two products. They smell incredible and they give me a little more control over my hair without being too sticky or heavy. Bonus, they are cheap! 

Joico K-Pak Split End Mender

Joico Split End MenderThis product is a little pricey but it does work. You have to use it every time you wash your hair because while it does mend somewhat, it is more of a split end glue. No, it does not feel like glue at all, but it mends split ends like glue. It helps you keep your length while you grow your hair out a little to trim the ends and prevents further damage. 

Hair Skin and Nail Vitamins

Nature's Bounty Hair Skin and Nails
I take these 2-3 times a day. One when I first wake up, one right before I got to sleep and usually one midday, when I remember. I have taken these vitamins for the last 5-6 years. They really do work. My hair breaks a lot in the winter and I never really lose length because I take these. Now, if I could only gain some length. I process my hair so much so it is hard. We are working on that though. I won't ever go with out these vitamins. Nature's Bounty is definitely my favorite brand so far. I try to buy them when they are BOGO. 


Sunday, February 12, 2017

#349 See A Burlesque Show

Burlesque derives from the Italian word burlesco which derives from the Italian word burla. Burla is a joke or mockery. Back in the day, like in the 1600-1700s,  Burlesque shows were exaggerated performances that ridiculed serious works, events and day to day activities. Their purpose was to make people laugh. Eventually they evolved into risque variety shows that often included musical numbers, vaudeville acts and women stripping. The stripping wasn't "bare all" nudity, but close enough. In America, Burlesque was really popular from the mid 1800's until around the 1940's-1950's.

Recently though, Burlesque is beginning to make a comeback. I always love when old fashioned things make a comeback. I feel it is a really cool way to experience a period of time you may have found interesting or intriguing but were not able to witness live and in person. Plus, I miss some of the more simple ways of the world gone by.  So, when my friend Caryn planned a girls night including a Burlesque show for February, we were so down for it. I had never gone to a Burlesque show but they seemed like they would be fun. My curiosity would soon be satiated.

We started girls night at the Susquehanna Brewing Company. I'm not much of a beer fan really, but I do enjoy going to breweries and sampling. The SBC has a tasting room where you can buy all the beers they brew, on tap. I stood in line studying the beer menu with Meghan. I genuinely had no idea what I would even like. The menu did have a Wild Blueberry Hill beer listed. Maybe I will try that that since I love the flavor of blueberries. Then I noticed they had a small variety of wine. I figured I would just get wine until my friend Nadalie offered me a sip of her Blueberry beer. It was actually really good.

Susquehanna Brewing Company
Blueberry Beer
Blueberry beer it shall be. I was glad too because I try to experience as much about a place as possible. This was a brewery not a winery so it was cool that there was a beer I would actually enjoy. I also found it quite hilarious that Caryn ordered pizzas to be delivered to the brewery for us. They took forever to arrive unfortunately, so we only had 20 minutes to eat. Showtime was at 8:00 pm. We chowed down on the pizza immediately. It was tasty.

Hanging at the brewery and chatting with all the gals was the perfect start to the night. When it was time to leave, Becky rounded up all 9 of us. Yes. I said 9. Let the Chinese Fire Drills begin. All 9 of us piled into what I think was an Expedition but I could be wrong. It had three rows of seats and it was white. That is all I know. We were a little snug in there but it was a riot. Total props to Becky for driving like a boss because honestly, it was like driving a school bus full of unruly children. She not only had a lot of patience but she also had us to the theater in Duryea on time.

My kitten Caryn!
Once parked, we all climbed out of the clown car. The gals started grabbing coolers and bags of booze from the back of the SUV. "This is BYOB?" I exclaimed. Becky said it was. That was way cool! I have never been to a BYOB show before. Well, okay, maybe I have. "Technically" having some cocktails and dancing around my kitchen does count as a BYOB show which in turn means that I have been to at least 500 BYOB shows. Yes, they were one woman, no audience shows but some of my performances were pretty epic if I say so myself. They totally count. However, for the purpose of this blog, I'll pretend I don't do stuff like that.

Anyways, we made our way to the theater. Just like most little theaters in NEPA, this one was old and a little run down. I absolutely love that though. It adds to the charm and kitsch of theatrical art. Some of the best shows and performances occur in these little dive theaters. No, they are not fancy productions with elaborate sets but the performances are genuine and from the heart. By attending these shows and venues, you are contributing to your local artists. You are supporting something positive in a small community. You are allowing these dancers, actors and performers to do something they love. It's a very good thing. I should know. I was in theater when I was a kid.

Straight away I noticed a face painter in the lobby. Both Becky and Maggie strongly suggested that I needed to get my face painted. They were right. I did need that in my life. I would so do it at intermission. For now though, I began exploring the lobby of the theater. The walls were covered with all these framed posters and playbills from famous shows and movies. Fascinated, I studied them intently. So many of these plays had once graced the NYC Theater district. I wish I could have seen them all. I'm still bummed I never saw Starlight Express.

Theater art!
Colleen let me know that it was almost time to take our seats. I headed into the stage room and laughed. Our party took up the entire back row. I took my place by Maggie and Becks. One of the members of the theater came out to talk to us while the performers finished preparing. She asked us to yell out the dirtiest word we could think of. Say what? Oh kids, this was fantastic! I was really digging this show already and it technically didn't even start yet. After the curse words it was dirty jokes time. Our host started telling us dirty jokes. She then asked us to share ours. Meghan took this opportunity to proudly shared one of her dirty jokes.

"How do you stump an archeologist?"
"Give them a tampon and ask them to identify what period it came from."

SHOWTIME! The stunning Emcee and Burlesque dance instructor Jezabelle von Jane took the stage. She was a natural at comedy, sarcasm and wit. Did I mention she was stunning? She was beautiful and sparkly and dressed like a sexy ring master. I so much wanted her black top hat spilling with feather plumes. She introduced the first performers of the night as they took the stage. They did a cute little number in lingerie. I loved all of their sparkly make up. They had glittery red lips, stunning false eyelashes and shimmers all over their bodies. I could walk around like that all the time but I don't. Maybe I should add more sparkle and long eyelashes to my life. Why not?

The second act was a performance of the song Cabaret. The guy performing it wore a trench coat at the beginning of the song but ended it wearing pasties and aqua blue underwear. Our first male strip tease of the night people. I found the pasties hilarious. He did a great job though. It was now time for the first appearance by the star of the show. I believe her name is Vivi Noir and she is a professional Burlesque dancer with years of experience under her belt. She was also the producer of the show.

Our Emcee/Burlesque teacher and that Mime!!
Vivi started her number in a long, body hugging, gold lame dress reminiscent of something Rita Hayward, Veronica Lake and many of the other screen sirens of the 30's and 40's wore. She proceeded to perform a true burlesque strip tease complete with the seductive removal of her gold, elbow length gloves and nylon stockings. Playful and deliberate, Vivi entranced the entire audience completely. By the end of the number, she was dancing in nothing but gold pasties and a thong. I honestly felt like I was in a 1940's NYC Burlesque club. She was that amazing.

As the night went on, our group became more rowdy, but in a good way. We were dancing along to the music, swaying in our seat. Two other troupe dancers also performed Burlesque strip teases. One girl was dressed like Marie Antoinette. She danced to a mix of Killer Queen by Queen and Rock Me Amadeus by Falco. I forgot how much I loved that song. I found myself dancing in my chair singing along with Falco. I really enjoyed Der Kommissar by Falco. I think Vienna was calling me. Alright. Enough 80's flashbacks. There is a show to watch!

The next girl had big purple feather fans incorporated into her striptease. My eyes grew big and my mouth dropped. I loved them so much. I exclaimed that I needed those fans in my life. Maggie asked me when my birthday was. I told her August. She told me in August she would get them for me. Maggie is such a riot. There was also a mime dude in the play. Becky asked me if I was okay and if I was scared of the mime. I told her I was okay because I didn't look directly at his face. He wasn't a scary or creepy mime though. He was sweeping the stage and picking up all the girls' clothing after each of their performances. I found that weirdly attractive. A man that cleans? How fantastic!

They closed the first half of the show with one of the Jezabelle's newer Burlesque students. She was an older woman that had always wanted to learn to dance but did not have much confidence. After putting her son through college she decided she needed to live a little. She got up the courage to start taking burlesque lessons. As "Black Velvet" by Alana Miles started thumping through the sound system, this woman performed her very first live burlesque dance for us. It was so great. The entire audience was screaming along to the song, clapping and cheering her on. She did great!

The Rowdy Gals!

She left the stage after her performance and Jezabelle came back on, all proud of her student. The crowd was clapping like mad. I believe it was Caryn that stood up and yelled for them to bring her back on stage. The mime went and fetched her. As this woman walked back on stage, we all gave her a standing ovation. She started bawling. Her teacher was sobbing. I know tears were running down my face. I think we were all crying, even the manly men in the audience. The balls it took for this woman to come up on stage, own her body and perform a beautiful striptease was so inspiring and awesome to witness. This was one of her dreams and she made it come true. I was so happy to witness that.

After we all dabbed our eyes with some Kleenex, it was time for intermission. Dancers started walking around selling pasties and flower clips. Meghan paid the face painter $10 to give our tipsy Caryn some eyebrows. Instead the girl started painting Caryn's face. Meghan did not realize the girl was there to paint faces not do make up. Oh how I love these ladies. They crack me up so much. After Caryn was done, Becky and Maggie reminded me that I needed some face painting in my life. Heck yes I did! I pulled my $10 out of my purse but Caryn insisted on paying for my painting. All of these gals are so sweet to me. Becky told me to use my ticket money for gas to go see my son. I am seriously blessed. And....Caryn did not tell the girl to give me eyebrows. LMAO!!

Getting my face painted.

The face painting girl asked me what my favorite color was. I informed her that blue was my favorite color. She asked me if I liked sparkles. Of course. She was so sweet, taking care not to get my Betsy Johnson beanie full of face paint. I could not believe it only took her two minutes to do such a beautiful design on my face. She gave me blue and purple flower petals with sparkles. It was very detailed too. I told Becky and Maggie I never wanted to wash it off. I loved it that much. I snapped a few selfies, bought some orange rhinestone pasties because when in Rome and got a cute little white flower clip for my hair complete with purple sparklies.

I wear it better than Tyson. I think.

We all made our way back to our seats for the second act. Our friend has been dying to go on stage all night. She bought $20 worth of raffle tickets for a chance to win a free burlesque lesson. She even came up with her own stage name: "Jelly Bean West Academy". ( The name of her first pet and the street she grew up on.) I thought it was a fabulous name and hoped there would be an opportunity for her to go on stage. She was so passionate about making it happen. Bless her heart. In the meantime our gorgeous emcee and teacher took the stage again. She started telling us about the previous two Burlesque shows they had for Halloween and Christmas.

She explained that she made her producer wear tassels and assels for a Christmas performance. We were all a little confused by that statement, not gonna lie. WTF are assels? No worries though, our question would soon be answered. Before we go any farther, let me just say, I will never be able to listen to Christmas Eve In Sarajevo by TSO again without thinking about this next performance. Once again, Vivi Noir took the stage. This time she was dressed in red and took no time stripping off her brassiere. She was wearing red tassles on her breasts. Shit was about to get real!

Good times at Burlesque.
As the guitars got heavier and faster in the song, she made both tassles on her breasts swing around doing mach 10 in perfect unison to the beat of the music. My jaw dropped. But wait, it gets better. For the second half of the song, she proceeded to remove her skirt to reveal a tassle on each butt cheek. She began swirling them around doing mach 10 in perfect unison to the guitars as well. But it doesn't stop there. She did a back bend while swirling her boobie tassels then she flipped over and was swirling the ones on her butt. She did a back bend again, all the time swirling those tassles to the beat. She kept flipping and bending and swirling.

Christmas Eve in Sarajevo/Carol of the Bells by TSO is not a slow song by any means. I was exhausted just watching her. The things this woman was doing with tassles was mind blowing. She had us completed captivated. We also discovered what assels were. Nice. I will definitely have to use that word in a sentence soon. Back to Vivi though, she was absolutely outstanding. True talent right here folks. We were all a little sad when the song was over. Granted that had to be tiring. She did not stop the entire song. She needed a break.

Nope. Vivi was right back on stage with the girls performing a number to "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody" from Gatsby. After that, we watched a ballet striptease performance of Swan Lake/Black Swan by a drag queen. It was pretty good. He ended the performance in a black tutu with black matching pasties. I was beginning to think pasties are a big part of Burlesque. It only took me 10 performances to come to this conclusion.

The mime came on next. He was talking and singing this time. I was confused. The girls on stage with him were dressed like french maids. He was giving them jewelry and money. Becks, Maggie and I look over at Caryn. She is stripped down to her tank top, dancing and swinging her arms to the music. She was miming the mime. We were rolling. They were definitely popping bottles like a G6 on that side of the row. I turn my eyes back to the stage. WTF? The mime's clothes were gone. He was now dancing on the stage in pasties and a thong. I decided to call total bullshit on this performance. He wasn't fooling me. There was no way he was a real mime. Mimes don't speak. Yea, nice try buddy.

Finally, it was time for audience participation. Now was our girl's chance to get up there and show us what she got. Vivi said they needed three people to come on stage. We were all screaming at the girls to pick our friend. They did pick her mostly because they were shocked that someone was actually volunteering. Usually they had to coax people to come up. Not Jelly Bean Hazle Academy. She was ready to go. The girls also convinced a guy and another girl to go on stage. We had our three.

Bebe taught them the three basic dance steps of Burlesque.
1. Shake your boobs.
2. Grind your hips.
3. Jiggle your ass.

We then had to vote on the best performer. All three of them followed the steps. Our group was going nuts, yelling and screaming and cheering. We cheered on all of them because why wouldn't we. Of course we cheered the hardest for our girl. She was too funny. Vivi finally decided that they all deserved to win prizes. I thought that was an awesome idea. I also found it funny that the guy choose pasties as his prize. I am pretty sure they were for his woman but it was hilarious nonetheless. Our girl picked out a big red flower clip for her hair which she did not take off  for the rest of the night. Why should she? She won a major award. She deserved to show it off proudly.

Jezabelle von Jane took the stage next. She was in an orange and turquoise number and did a Latin Burlesque strip tease complete with palm tree fans. For the finale they brought a bath tub on stage. Hmmmm. Wonder what they are going to do with that? The emcee said Vivi was a dirty girl and needed a bath. Vivi proceeded to do a high energy striptease complete with acrobatics on the bathtub, in the bath tub, on the side of the bath tub, then back in the bath tub. That bath tub got a lot of love that night.

Vivi Noir. Just wow!!

Again, Vivi was absolutely fabulous. The girl definitely had moves. You could tell she loved what she was doing and took pride in putting on a good show. She had the brightest smile in every performance she did. Her smile made her even more beautiful. All in all, the troupe put on one hell of a show for us. We all enjoyed it very much and were very sad to see it end. As we made our way out of the stage room and into the lobby, the emcee/teacher was out there, thanking everyone for attending which I thought was great.

In closing, I must say that I will most certainly go to more Burlesque shows. They are funny, exciting and very tasteful. I loved how they portrayed the striptease as it should be. A true striptease is the slow and deliberate art of seduction. Sometimes it can be a little silly and playful. Sometimes it can be a little kittenish and bashful. Nonetheless, it is always very sensual.

What I think I respected most about the show was that these were real people of all shapes and sizes doing their thing on the stage. There were no flat stomachs and six pack abs on that stage. There were no fake breasts on that stage. Each performer owned their entire body with confidence. I found that to be very sexy and inspiring. They were all attractive in their own fabulous way. No one in the audience looked away in horror and disgust. We were all completely engaged and entranced through the entire show. Perfection does not exist and those that seek it are missing out on all the beautiful imperfections in life. Don't let life you pass you by in your quest for perfection people! Enjoy all the scenery and bask in the glow of your own perfectly imperfect, imperfections.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

#311 Watch The Sun Set On A Beach

The beach.....oh how I long for it. There is something so cathartic about a visit to the beach. It heals me. It restores me. It puts my life in perspective. Granted I am not your typical beach goer. I only go on the beach in the morning or the evening. I am not a fan of crowded beaches. I am not a fan of sitting on the scorching sand as the big ball of fire in the sky turns me into a boiled crustacean creature. The Irish part of my ancestral lineage does not enjoy it one bit. So, I try to avoid the beach between 11am and 4 pm.

Sunset on the beach
My view for the evening. Serenity now!
Besides, the real magic that the beach beholds, in my opinion is during dusk and dawn. For this particular blog, I am going to talk about the beach at dusk. I've been on the beach many times at dusk, but this particular time, I was by myself. My kids and I were spending an early June weekend in Wildwood, NJ. I had booked an ocean front hotel in the Crest. It wasn't the fanciest or most modern hotel but the price was right and the view was gorgeous.

We had spent the day walking the plank, enjoying the world famous boardwalk food and shops. It was a surprisingly hot day, so we were drained. I grabbed a pizza to bring back to the hotel. The kids turned on the AC and started watching their goofy TV shows, which are actually quite funny. I ate my pizza and stared out of the big picture window towards the crashing waves rolling along the shore. The sand looked so soft and cushy. The sky was a stunning shade of blue. A voice was talking to me. It was the beach.

"You look so pretty in your sun dress but I know your legs are tired from walking along all those rickety wooden boards. You're exhausted, mentally, emotionally and physically. Come sit with me. Breath me in. Take in my beauty. Relax. Unwind. I will remove the weight of the world from your shoulder's for a little while. I will tousle your long, beautiful hair gently in my breeze. I will soothe the lines on your face with my mineral rich, salty caress. I long for your company on this beautiful evening. You should not spend it alone."

"Oh and fill your water bottle with some of that awesome Red, White and Blue wine you purchased earlier in the day. You deserve a nightcap."

OMG The beach really was talking to me. In fact, I think it was totally flirting with me. It was good too, real good. I found myself all blushing and bashful, hiding my face behind my slice of pizza, giggling like a school girl. And the whole bring some wine in a water bottle line.... genius! I was so much going on this date. How could a girl say no to such poetry? I gobbled a few more bites of pizza and started getting ready for my big night.

God Bless America!
I dumped out the little bit of water left in my water bottle from the drive down. I started pouring the wine into the empty bottle while getting some serious side eye from my son. He just shook his head with disapproval and went back to watching TV. My other water bottle was filled with ice tea. Perfect. I had my beverages. I decided to keep my sundress on since I was sure I would want to wade in the waves. It would eventually get chilly though, I reminded myself. The wind on the beach can be very gusty. I grabbed my hoodie and zipped it over my sundress.

I shoved everything I needed for my date into the pockets of my hoodie. I turned to my kids and informed that I would be sitting on the beach in case they needed me. They both nodded but my son also threw in some serious stink eye with his nod. Before heading down for my date, I stopped at the car to grab one of the canvas bucket chairs stored in the back. They had built in cup holders which would be perfect for my beverages. I hoisted one of the chairs on my shoulder by the strap and headed down the wooden walkway towards the great, vast Atlantic.

Once I hit the sand, I kicked off my sandals, scooping them up with my fingers. Walking through the deep, soft sand isn't the the easiest thing to do, especially if you are a bonafide clumsy person like myself. Somehow though, I managed to not walk like a dinosaur too much. The sand was definitely working my leg muscles but not in a painful way. It was more therapeutic in nature. My bare little feet gripped onto the slippery grains below them with each step I made. It felt soooooooo good. I was careful to look for broken shells, glass and some of the other crap you find on Jersey beaches. The Crest always keeps the beach pretty clean so there weren't too many things I came across that could pierce my foot.

As I neared the coastline, I noticed that with the exception of a few people here and there, I pretty much had the beach to myself. Oh kids! How wonderful! The sand under my feet was now firm and wet. I assessed the waterline. I decided to set up my chair several feet away from the tide line. I dropped my beverages into the cup holders then covered them with my hoodie. Pretty sure it is illegal to have wine in a water bottle on the beach so I wasn't going to advertise my shady activities.

I turned and smiled at the waves. Hello lovelies! Allow me to come wade in your frothy angst. Slowly, I worked my way into the salty water. It was cold for about thirty seconds but my feet adjusted to the water temperature almost immediately. And if feet could smile, mine would be grinning from toe to toe. It felt very soothing on my sore tootsies. This was nice. I gazed up into the evening sky. The blue hues were growing deeper.

The clouds were glowing pink as the sun began it's slow decent into the ocean. I stepped further into the salty waters. I started kicking water up into the air with my feet, splashing around like a child. I inhaled deeply, my lungs loving the spring time ocean air. I glimpsed some bigger waves a little further in. I smirked. I was holding my sundress up as far as I could without risking a citation for public indecency. The hemline was completely soaked but I didn't mind one bit. In fact, I wanted those waves to rock my world.

Dusk on the Crest.

As each wave approached me, I turned my back to it, allowing it splash up over me. I was laughing hysterically, screaming as each wave crashed into me. A father and son walking past me laughed and waved. "Look at the crazy lady!" they were probably thinking. Or maybe they were thinking, "Look at her living in the moment." Who knows. It doesn't matter. I waved back to them just as a huge wave snuck up on me, almost knocking me over. I have no idea how I managed to keep my balance but I did. I was now completely drenched from the waist down. I glanced towards my chair and noticed the tide making it's way closer to it. I began waddling my way towards the sand.

I won't go any further than waist deep into the ocean anyways because Jaws will get me. Seriously, I can't see what's in the water. A shark can totally come up and bite me. I'm not taking that chance. I looked down the line at some boys who were not afraid of Jaws. They were way out in the water. Sighs. To be young and brave again I thought. Not me. As much as I love frolicking in the waves, I will only go so far. Bruce aka Jaw's first victim was a girl named Chrissy. I take that shit for real. He wasn't getting this Chrissy.

As I was making my way out of the water, a couple walked by. The woman asked me if the water was cold. I told her at first it was, but it didn't take very long to get used to it. She smiled, thanking me. They made their way over to the life guard chair and climbed up to the seat while I made my way to my chair to push it back. I also wrung out the bottom of my dress. It was a light material so while it was soaked, it wasn't heavy or uncomfortable.

I sat in the sun and started sipping at my shady water bottle filled with red "water". The woman had climbed down from the chair and was now frolicking in the waves as her man watched, laughing. I smiled. The beach surely does bring out the kid in many of us. A gust of wind suddenly whipped against my skin making me shudder. The temperature was definitely dropping so I wrapped my hoodie around me. The couple had begun making their way further down the beach.

I turned my attention to the endless water and allowed my thoughts drift. The morning drive through Philly was very stressful. I was hoping we would have missed the morning rush of traffic but we did not. We spent an hour in it. I felt that lingering tension slip away. I let a lot of built up tension and stress that I had been carrying slip away with each wave that ceded back into the ocean. Eventually all of it was swept away. I knew it would only be temporary but I was glad it was gone, even if for a little while.

My chair began to sink further into the sand. I looked down at my feet. The tide was rolling further onto the beach. I was surrounded by water. I decided I was not going to move my chair just yet. I wanted to be surrounded by the water. I pulled out my phone and snapped a few pictures, adding some selfies to the mix. I examined my face in the pictures. My thoughts were mapped all over it. My face was tired but calm. There was a touch of melancholy in my eyes, but there was also this serenity and peace in them. My smile was relaxed, relieved even. I could even see how much better my breathing was by looking at my face. There wasn't a trace of anxiety in this moment.

Wildwood Crest
Sailing ships floating by.
I took another swig of "water" and began scanning the ocean for dolphins. Last year in Cape May, my daughter and I had spotted dolphins from the shoreline. Unfortunately there were no dolphins bobbing out of the water this time but there were some boats cruising around on the horizon. I tilted my head back in my chair and closed my eyes. The sound of the crashing waves became crystal clear. I sat there for twenty minutes, eyes closed, breathing deeply, just listening. The water was embracing my ankles as my chair sank a little deeper into the sand.

This is the closest I get to actual mediation. Yes, I can make myself zone out for a few minutes. And sometimes I get so absorbed in what I am doing that I no longer notice anything around me. I believe it's called focus but I honestly don't know much about that anymore. I used to be able to command myself to focus but now a days it's a futile effort. I'm just happy if I can zone out some of the background noise now. I am so attuned to everything going on around me. It has a price though.

It has been recommended to me more than once by friends, medical professionals, and even complete strangers that I learn how to meditate. Thus far, I have been an epic failure in that art. I can slack off like nobody's business now, but even in my slackerdom, my thoughts are in several places. My mind is a repeat gold medalist in racing thoughts. I cope with it. I accept it. I am thankful for the moments when I do zone out completely. It is what it is.

Anyways, I digress. When I opened my eyes, it was definitely dusk. The sun had begun kissing the water. It was so unbelievably peaceful and that is magic to me. I finished my bottle of "water" while savoring every single moment that my head was completely void of any thought. I found myself grinning at this pure bliss I seldom experience. All but the very top of the sun had disappeared into the dark water. My sunset was now complete and boy was it an amazing experience.

I rose from my chair, being careful not to drop my phone into the calf deep water. It took a few tries to remove my chair from the suction of sand and water but I managed to free it without falling over into the water. I started my walk back towards the hotel. The lights were now shining bright in the dark grey sky. I rinsed the sand off my feet in the little foot shower by the steps from the beach onto the the hotel patio.

So at peace with the world this evening.

When I entered the room, both kiddos were still watching TV but they were also definitely half asleep. I went into the bathroom to change. I decided not to change into my pajamas though. The huge $400 a night hotel across the way had a band playing outside on their deck. It's was classic rock band and they were really good. My hotel had lounge chairs lined up at the edge of the patio facing the beach. I decided to go outside and lounge in one of those chairs to enjoy the free entertainment. It was also a perfect night for star gazing.

I refilled my water bottle, grabbed my blanket and headed out to the patio. For how cloudy it was earlier, the sky was crystal clear now. I laid down on a lounger, covered myself with the blanket and looked up into the pitch black sky. Mars was in orbit very close to earth. I can't remember the last time it was this close to Earth, but it had definitely been awhile. I spotted the red planet immediately although it's faint glow looked more pink than red. My eyes shifted to the right of Mars. Jupiter was also glowing brightly in the night sky. How wonderful this night has been, I smiled to myself.

The band next door started playing "Simple Man". I saw Lynyrd Skynyrd perform this song live a few years back. I'll never forget it either. The whole crowd had tears running down their faces. It is such an emotional song. At the concert, the band played a montage of all the band and crew members they have lost over the years above the stage. Johnny Van Zant's emotional vocals reflected the still lingering pain of the brother he lost in a plane crash. The entire band played with their whole heart through the entire concert. If you have never seen Skynyrd play live, it's a must. They are true musicians who give their concert goers an amazing, genuine, from the heart, rock show.

I began reflecting on my life. When we reflect on ourselves we think of many things. We recognize the choices we shouldn't have made. We ponder the choices we should have made. We remember the opportunities we allowed to slip away. Would I call them regrets? Not necessarily. The phrase directional misguidance seems more appropriate. Many factors play into making decisions and depending on your personality type and how much influence you allow into each decision you make, sometimes we inadvertently make the wrong decision.

Hazy beach
These were taken Sunday morning. Hazy, beautiful beach and waves.

We realize that perhaps some of the goals we wanted to achieve, we did not pursue wholeheartedly.  I do believe hard work and persistence pays off. But when you find yourself working very hard at multiple things and life is hitting you with unexpected challenges, sometimes the last thing you need is something else in which you have to work hard for. We only have so much time and energy to dispense. Do we do a bunch of things half assed and accomplish very little to nothing? Or, do we make a choice to focus on the goals most vital to us?

We are all different. Some people can handle an overflowing plate just fine while others, like myself, need to remove a few items from our plates. There is no guilt in removing items from your already full plate, yet many of us succumb to a feeling of guilt anyway. We need to get a better grip on how much we allow guilt to affect us because in all honesty, if given the power, guilt can cripple us completely. We also need to not compare ourselves to others so much. Why do we do that to ourselves when in reality, none of us are exactly the same?

There is nothing more impossible than being exactly like someone else. And competing with someone else is the perfect recipe for total self destruction. I'm not talking about sporting competitions or friendly wagers or other contests. I am speaking of competing against other people in a day to day aspect. We are all born with our own unique talents and gifts and attributes. Why do we spend so much time wishing we had someone else's? Yes, we are also born with our own set of flaws and limitations. We need to ask ourselves why we focus so much more on them instead of our gifts? I was so guilty of that for a long time. Not anymore.

If someone feels they need to compete against me, that is their problem. I have no interest anymore in that shit. If someone makes me feel like I have to compete, well I don't have time for that shit either. The only person I am interesting in competing with is the person I was yesterday. Is it okay to admire a quality about someone? Yes. Is it okay to be influenced by certain characteristics another person may have? Of course. Sometimes we become better versions of ourselves by taking example from the positive traits of others and utilizing them within ourselves. That is always a positive thing. Trying to become someone else entirely is a negative thing.

Foggy beach
I think this was the first time I ever saw the beach like this. It was stunning.

As for your life, sure, you can map out it out. You can set goals. You can have dreams. That is good stuff. You should have some goals and dreams. And sometimes things will go according to plan. But sometimes it will not. You may not achieve all the goals you set out to achieve but instead, you may achieve something completely different yet equally rewarding. Sometimes better. You may eventually achieve a goal only to realize that you no longer want it. Sometimes we grow out of things. Sometimes we grow past things. That is okay. Evolution wears many hats.

I know this blog is long and I have delved a little deep, but it supposed to be this way. This is part of the magic. This is part of the calm and clarity I find in my mornings and evenings spent on the beach, or in nature in general. I used to find this very serenity and clarity sitting on my back porch on spring and summer nights when I lived in my old house. I could sit there for hours, a glass of wine or ice tea in my hand, watching the little animals and birds playing. I would take in the smell of the grass and the flowers. I would watch the birds flying from tree to tree. I once witnessed a Chikadee brawl go down.

Sometimes I played music in the background. Sometimes I would eat my dinner on the porch. I barely turned on the TV. My TV was the view outside. When I had to move, I lost that ability to give myself peace and calm and clarity. Since then, I have been searching for a way to find calm and clarity in my day to day life. Something that will work for me. This is a goal I need to pursue more fervently. But, let's get back to the beach.

I thought about my life. Not much went according to plan. Many of the paths I found myself on were rocky and steep. Some of them were impassable. Sometimes I found myself doing a 180 and climbing back down to the bottom, seeking another path. Not all were bad though. In my travels through life thus far, there have been many unexpected paths. Some of these paths had beautiful vistas and incredible scenery. Paths that have changed me for the better. Paths that have made me stronger, thankful and resilient. Paths that have given me a new point of view. Paths that have changed my life completely, beneficially.

Writing in the sand
Our Wildwood Crest Adventure

The path I was on tonite was one that changed my perspective. I had been feeling like I was stuck in this huge engulfing cloud of negativity. I was certainly surrounded by a lot of negative energy on a daily basis. I asked myself, what part of this could I control? The answer was simple. I could control my reaction to it. I could control how much energy I spent thinking about the negativity. I knew it was definitely going to take some time to learn this behavior but I also knew it had come to a point where I had to change for my own well being.

Yes, there were going to be missteps and painful days. That was okay. As long as I fought through those days, and practiced resiliency, it would become easier to digest these moments. Now that my game plan was set, I shifted my thought to the all the happy stuff. I sat in that lounge chair reminiscing on so many unexpected good times I have had in my life. I didn't even notice the band stopped playing until my ears tuned in the sound of the ocean. I loved that sound. I thought of all the good I have in my life. I thought about all the opportunities I have been able to take advantage of. I thought about how incredibly strong I have been. My weak moments did not define me, my strong ones did. I looked forward to making more memories, enjoying new experiences and surviving another day.

Sitting there, on that gorgeous night, I was so happy to be me. I realized that I wouldn't trade any part of my life for anyone else's for one second. That is what the sunset on the beach did for me. That is what real magic feels like. As I write this, nearly 8 months later, I have been able to keep this magic in me. I've tripped. I've fallen. I've found myself at a complete standstill. But, I have not gone backwards either. All I have to do is think of that night on the beach and how at peace I was with life and it brings me calm and serenity. Eventually I will find other ways to bring calm and serenity to myself as well.

And that my peeps, is the story of a sunset on the beach.


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