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A very good friend of mine is undergoing major surgery (read: 14 hours) tomorrow morning, and so I shall sweat my prayers for her.

May the long time sun
Shine upon you,
All love surround you,
And the pure light within you
Guide your way on.

May you wake up on Friday morning filled with love, light, and happiness!

I feel like a bit of a hypocrite.

Just a few days after writing this post about chaos and how to ease into it with flow and grace, I had a rather miserable day at work that left me and all of my colleagues a pig away from turning our office upside-down into a scene out of Lord of the Flies. It was chaotic to say the least, and as desperately as I was trying to remember my very own words about not getting caught up in the madness, I felt my chest tighten, my head pound, and my mind race with negative thoughts.

What saved me from smearing my face with war paint and using my pencil as a spear, however, was the gift of laughter.

I am very fortunate to have a manager who is incredibly professional but also knows when to insert a good chuckle when the going gets tough. It’s a bit backward, because I’m the one who does all the yoga and tai chi and 5Rhythms and pranayama and insert-a-mind/body/spirit-thing-here, and yet at the end of the day, I’m the one sweating bullets and she’s the one reassuring me that everything is going to be OK, and then usually e-mails me a funny picture that gives us both the giggles.

Throughout the day, every time I used the restroom, I faced myself in the mirror and forced a laugh from my belly, feeling the wave of sound rise through my gut and chest, escaping through my mouth and causing my eyes to crinkle. It was a trick I learned from Bob Pileggi, whose Laughter Yoga classes always remind students that if you have to react to a situation, why not laugh instead of expending all that energy frowning and stomping and creating tension? It’s not making light of the situation; it’s just physically expelling your emotions in a more positive manner that’s not going to cause heart attacks and intestinal disorders somewhere down the line.

It is so appropriate, then, that just this week I stumbled across this video from the site Everynone.com, which features a small collection of some of the most intellectually pleasing videos I’ve ever seen.

The above video is only 2 minutes long, and I guarantee by the end you will either be laughing or, at the very least, smiling. It’s a simple compilation of people laughing, starting with babies and eventually ending at the opposite end of the age spectrum with older adults. It’s authentic, infectious, and a reminder that we are all human. What a gift it is to lose ourselves so much in joy.

The next video is my own. I had the pleasure of visiting dear friends Emma and Peter and their 2.5-year-old daughter last weekend. We were all gathered at Peter’s parents’ house, sitting around the living room, when an impromptu balloon war broke out. Despite little Gabriella being a cutie patootie, Peter’s mom is the real star of this video. Her laughter is so genuine and uninhibited; it just exudes pure, simple, and natural joy.

It’s hard to be a grump when you’re with this family, and I’m so glad I caught this moment of spirited spontaneity on video. It’s a 1.5-minute reminder that it is indeed possible to laugh during chaos.

Aahh, so the first work week of 2012 is over! It was only four days long but it still felt like an eternity. There’s just something about coming back to the office in January that is so blah. Kids are back in school again so the commute is slower (I live two blocks from an elementary school…think crossing guards, buses, cars stacked on either side of the street), colorful Christmas decorations are gradually being removed from people’s porches, and Starbucks has said goodbye to the red cups and returned to its default, ho-hum white and green (Is it just me, or do gingerbread lattes taste more gingerbready when served in a red cup?!).

I couldn’t have asked for a better New Year’s, though. My friends from high school, Emma and Peter, re-instituted their annual New Year’s get-together (read: a laid back dinner, moderate drinking, male shenanigans [2008: cat versus laser pointer; 2011: coffee table football], Scattergories) after a two-year hiatus. This was the reason for the hiatus:

Hi, I’m Gabriella!

I love this little bugger. When I entered the house, she came scampering over to me, arms outstretched, for a hug. Then I gave her a fake pizza kit, and she named all the toppings for me, even the mushrooms and olives! When I went to pretend eat the pretend pizza, she wrinkled her nose and reminded me, “That’s not real! You can’t eat that.” She was fascinated with my handbag and kept creeping up to it to look inside. I finally let her take out my camera, and we made silly faces.

Then she insisted she be the photographer. I showed her the safe way to hold the camera, and she diligently followed my instructions.

Not bad for a 2-year-old!

Shortly thereafter, as the adults were all gathered in the kitchen–and things were eerily quiet in the living room–I surmised, “I betcha she’s going through my handbag.” We sneaked up on her and caught her red-handed; her guilty-as-charged expression was priceless. In return, I made her show me her handbag.

Our hosts served us the most delicious dinner: butternut squash lasagna, bread, and salad–all homemade, of course, even the lasagna noodles. Homemade cookies and gourmet cupcakes followed, plus some snazzy gingersnap liquor to spice up our coffee. Gabriella went to bed around 9, crying as Emma scooped her up to take her upstairs. “Aww, it’s OK honey,” she said. “Say ‘night-night’ to Bryan.” And through her sniffles and tears and pouty lips, Gabriella leaned over to him and whimpered the cutest-ever “night-night,” giving him a little kiss on the cheek.

Hands-down, cutest moment of the evening.

The adults stayed up an excruciating five hours longer. As mentioned earlier, there was dancing.

As I padded down the steps at 8 the next morning, I heard Gabriella inquire, “Who’s that?” and run to the stairs. She was excited to see me, I to see her, and we nestled on the living room floor for morning storytime.


She attempted to join me in my morning yoga stretches but gave up after 20 seconds. “OK, I’m done,” she said and stood up from tabletop pose.

After everyone showered and dressed, we headed to our traditional New Year’s Day breakfast hangout: Cracker Barrel. It was the first time in two years we needed to request a high-chair! Gabriella reminded us that a little experimentation is needed to make food interesting.

Cherry pancakes, minutes before she added the ketchup.

Somewhere between the sobbing “night-night” and pajama storytime in the morning, I got a bit misty-eyed myself as I grew into this pseudo-Aunt Jen role. I was reminded of my own childhood, when I was the little one in the footie pajamas and a curiosity about others’ handbags, and the person I ran to with excitement was my Aunt Adzia.

Adzia was my “cool aunt,” the one who understood my obsession with Barbie dolls, coloring books, and, well, more Barbie dolls. For a moment that New Year’s morning, the first day of 2012, I finally understood how rewarding it must have been to be in that aunt role, when a child shows you complete attention and engagement in a mutual activity, the overwhelming warmth in your heart when the child’s eyes light up after realizing that you slept over and are still here the next morning to play with; heading out of the house to go to Cracker Barrel and hearing a hopeful, “Is Jen coming with?”

It reminded me of weekends when Adzia would spend the night at my grandparents’ house, and, like, the coolest thing ever was when she’d go out to breakfast with us, sometimes even the mall, and then maybe even out to lunch! The “Adzia” component made everything 10 times more exciting as a kid; it was like having your BFF with you at all times, only this adult BFF bought you candy and toys.

It reminded me of when I was 8 years old and was out of school for a month with pneumonia. Adzia had come to live with us for a week to take care of me during the day when my parents were at work, and one day we spent the entire afternoon dressing my 50-some Barbie dolls in new outfits and displaying them along my bedroom wall. I remember the moment because at the time it was SO COOL to have a GROWN-UP show such interest in my Barbie obsession for hours on end; now, 23 years later with Gabriella at my side, I see the adult perspective: the heart-bursting, soul-nourishing sense of love and connection of having a child completely engaged with you in a single act, whether it’s dressing Barbie dolls, making fake pizzas, or sitting in storytime. The child isn’t playing with you just to fill time, and the adult isn’t following along just to be nice. It’s done with intention and 100% devotion.

The instant when the need for each other becomes equal–when the scales are balanced so that you need the child as much as she needs you–the heart fills with love.

If the saying about how you ring in the new year is indicative of how you’ll spend the rest of the year, then it looks like I’ll be dancing for another 364 days.

 

Sounds good to me!

 

***
(This video and photo contain a special guest appearance by Emma, whose resolution for 2012 is to bring her blog back to life! :-))

One would think that having 4 days off from work would lend itself to large chunks of time devoted solely to blogging, but I seem to have been too busy eating my weight in various forms of carbohydrates to sit down and commit myself to the keyboard. I’ve had blog post ideas stored in my brain for the past week (things I’m thankful for! 5Rhythms recap! yoga weekend!), and now they are all just melding together like the sweet potatoes, corn, and stuffing on my holiday dinner plate. That said, consider this my “Thanksgiving plate” post–a whole bunch of everything, all mashed together (and hopefully you’re not one of those people who can’t stand their food touching).

Four Days of Consumption: 2 pumpkin spice lattes, 1 hot chocolate, 2 green juices, 1 full Thanksgiving dinner, 2 mini cupcakes, 1/2 giant chocolate peanut butter cupcake, 1 full diner breakfast + 1 full homemade breakfast, 2 glasses red wine, 1 margarita, 1 mimosa, pumpkin pie, plus a burrito thrown in to make it an international weekend. A random slice of pizza, too. And several Tums.

Looking Forward To: going back to eating soup for lunch. And not feeling like I have to walk 3 miles after every meal to keep my pants from popping.

I’m Thankful For ___: the random stranger who pulled over as I was walking to inform me that I dropped my glove a few yards back; road-widening projects that require the cutting-down of the PITA sycamore tree outside our house whose roots back up our sewer and whose gangly limbs scare me ever since one fell through my car window; not being in college (a thought that crossed my mind as I watched Felicity via Netflix); the New Guy at work, because as much as I loved working with eager-to-learn interns, their impermanence in our office was a bit tiring; closely reading our new car insurance paperwork, during which I discovered that instead of taking Bryan’s old/dead car off our policy, they took off MY car, you know, the one I had been driving every single day (all fixed now–whew!); choosing to skip swimming in a crowded gym pool on Tuesday and going on Wednesday instead, because Evening Before Holiday = Empty Pool.

One Geeky Thing I’m Totally Not Doing Right Now: Tracking PHL arrivals via FlightStats.com as airplanes fly over our house.

Before Setting Up FlightStats, I Totally Wasn’t: Planning out a hypothetical 2-day solo getaway to Disney World at Christmastime for next weekend.

Living Room Conversation Piece: This guy:

Buddhst dharmapala, whose terrifying appearance is actually meant to frighten forces of evil.

I Fear: that my cellphone is dying. I hate getting new phones, especially because they’re all smartphones now, and I’m 80 so that scares me.

TV Series Recently Completed on Netflix: Twin Peaks.

TV Series That Will Forever Give Me Backward-Talking Nightmares: Twin Peaks.

Appropriate decor for a Halloween party

Non-Edible Products That Smell So Good I Kinda Want to Eat Them: pumpkin-scented soy candle from the farmers market (seriously, it makes the living room smell like a bakery for two days after it’s extinguished); gingerbread-scented Method countertop cleaner.

Approximate Weight of the Newspapers + Black Friday Circulars Sitting on the Kitchen Table: 3 pounds.

Gatherings and Meet-Ups This Weekend: Thanksgiving dinner with Bryan’s family; breakfast meetup at the diner with 3 high school friends; holiday tree lighting with my favorite toddler ever and her parents; burritos and margaritas with our favorite double-date couple; and Thanksgiving weekend breakfast with my family.

Silly Photos From Said Meet-Ups:

Silliest Emma picture EVER.

Sisterhood is serious. Or we’re just super-bloated from four straight days of non-stop eating.

Nonsensical Notes From Last Friday’s 5Rhythms With Some Explanation in Parentheses: synchronicity (I asked the universe for a certain dancer to attend class, and the universe obliged); traveling amoeba (we all huddled as a group, back-to-back/side-to-side and just allowed our little jumble to move around the room on its own accord, like a traveling amoeba); tipping point from subtle to full-blown run-around-the-room Chaos, unleashing! (because sometimes I start Chaos with very small and subtle movements and then out of nowhere, there’s a tipping point of energy, and I go from standing in place to leaping across the studio as though I’ve been thrown over the edge of a cliff).

One Day I Will Totally Write About: the yoga workshop I took last week with Rudy Peirce.

This past week has been a little dizzying, and Bryan and I have been trying to ho-ho-ha-ha-ha our way through a testy George Foreman Grill, a cracked kitchen sink and the installation of a new one (shout-out to my dad, who spent about 2.5 hours squeezed into the bowels of our kitchen cabinetry), and the demise of Bryan’s 10-year-old Hyundai and subsequent purchase of a new (used) car, complete with test-driving vehicles on a windy, rainy Wednesday night in rush-hour traffic.

Whee!

As such, I’ve neglected to pay tribute to the honest-to-gosh things that have recently put a smile on my face. Of note:

Late-Season Tomatoes

As usual, our tomato plants showed promise at the beginning of the season, produced a few good ones (the rest were devoured by squirrels and rabbits), and then withered into nothingness somewhere around late August. We went on vacation in early September, completely neglecting the plants and never once looking back. Yet abandonment makes the vines grow stronger (or perhaps it was the 279 gallons of rain we got this summer), because earlier this month these guys made an appearance on the sagging, droopy plants:

And they were amazing! Firm, red, with very few seeds, and not the least bit watery. Bonus: We got to them before those darn squirrels.

Toddler Time

As I’ve already mentioned, I am in love with my friends Emma and Peter’s daughter, Bella. She is a one-person show, and she is so entertaining that I could see people paying to witness her side-splitting expressions, silly dances, and toddler babble. I recently got to hang out with her all afternoon during her 2nd birthday party, which featured almost zen-like gift unwrapping (surely to turn into monster shreddage-unwrapping by next year), train rides on Thomas the Tank Engine, and the requisite cake time!

(Not pictured: Bella’s grandfather leaning a little too far back in his chair and falling to the garage floor in slow-mo. We all held our breath…and then busted up laughing as he gave the thumbs-up from the ground.) 🙂

Our gift to Bella was Disney related, of course: a baby doll version of Ariel. I brainwashed Bella into acknowledging that it was her most favorite present of the bunch, and it was a success.

Two-year-olds don't quite grasp the concept of "Say Cheese!"

My impression of Bella

She played with the doll all evening, much better than the time as a newborn she broke out into tears when her momma placed the Mickey Mouse plush I purchased in her arms.

She even crafted a seasonally appropriate thank-you card for us:

Indian Summer

The same weekend as Bella’s birthday, Bryan and I went down the shore for the day. The forecast called for temps in the mid-80s at home, so we took the opportunity to experience Ocean City in October. It was surprisingly warm (what ocean breeze?!), so much that Bryan had to buy a pair of shorts on the boardwalk and ditch his jeans.

I was excited to walk on the sand without a beach tag and, since lifeguard season is over, pose contemplatively on the algae-covered jetty.

We intentionally parked several blocks away from the main boardwalk so we could get in plenty of walking time, making us feel a little less guilty for indulging in super-huge slices of pizza and frozen desserts. (It also balanced out all the time we spent sitting in traffic on the drive home, since the rest of the world had the same idea about going to the shore.)

Where one slice is enough!

We played a round of miniature golf and took note of all the migrating monarch butterflies fluttering over the boardwalk wildflowers. I wish I had a picture of the butterflies—they were all over the place!

Ego Boosters

I don’t toot my own horn much, but two personal accomplishments last week really made me beam: (a) I found out that I passed a super-hard exam I took last month that officially makes me an Editor in the Life Sciences (complete with credentials that no one but our little circle of nerdy editors will understand), and (b) a triathlon coach at my gym praised my swimming skills. I told her that I was interested in taking her freestyle swim lessons (intended to improve your technique), and she looked at me and said, “Nah, you don’t need that.” I went on to explain that other than childhood lessons at the Y, I’ve had no other training and was looking to improve my form. Again, she said, “I’ve seen you swim. You’re fine.” Maybe it’s because I feel like my hip slows me down and that it compromises my kick, but few times when I swim do I feel confident about how I’m putting it all (kick, arms, breathing) together. My little pseuo-panic attack back in June wasn’t really boosting my self-esteem either.

But apparently I’m just a smidge above OK when it comes to editing and swimming. It feels awkward, but I guess I’ll give my ego horn a little ::toot toot::

Nature Walks

Every morning during my walks through the park, I see the changing leaves, curious deer, and sometimes even a wild turkey or four. This will be a separate post to come, though. Too much excitement to cover in this already overloaded post!

Although my birthday was just about a month ago, I have not forgotten about one of the best cards to enter my mailbox, and I think it’s only fair to publicly thank its sender.

Back in July, I posted about this year being the first without receiving a birthday card from my aunt, who died earlier this year. She was meticulous about addressing and signing the card, using a ruler to pencil in straight lines on the envelope. My friend Emma commented:

As much as I love Emma, I really didn’t expect her to follow through on her words. But, lo and behold:

Ruler and everything! Nice handwriting, too, which I imagine was a PITA for Emma, who works as a pharmacist and has most likely unconsciously adopted the scribbly scrawl of the doctor’s prescription pad. (The card itself was a Shoebox one involving jokes of laughter and pee and overall fun, juvenile humor.)

Along a similar note, I received a card on my desk the other day from a woman in my office. Her father had just died, and I had no idea why I would be the recipient of a card. Inside the little “just a note” card, she had thanked me for passing along the news of her father’s death to a former colleague, who in turn attended the viewing:

“Having [former colleague] at my father’s viewing meant so very much to me. It wouldn’t have been possible if you hadn’t shared the news with her.”

She could have easily told me this in person or shot me an e-mail expressing her thanks, but the added touch of paper and handwriting–especially during such a tough time–made the gesture so much more profound. I was touched that she was touched enough to go the extra step.

If reviving the lost art of letter writing and 3-D, tactile cards and paper is of interest to you, you should check out my YTT classmate Stephanie’s blog, My Year of Letters. She’s making a commitment “to write one letter a day as a way to practice mindfulness, to reconnect with friends and family, to spread a little joy and love around the world.” I think it’s ever-so-pertinent during a time when the government is studying the possibility of closing 3,700 post offices across the nation.

I used to carry around a set of small 2 x 2 cards in my handbag, to write quick little thank-yous or just-a-notes if the occasion arose, like if a cashier or salesperson was particularly helpful or kind. I remember writing out one to my manager when she took on some of my work assignments during a busy time, but I honestly don’t remember using them elsewhere. I think I’ve been inspired to refill my handbag–and actually put the idea into action this time.

I had an amazing time last weekend just being a kid again.

Two of my favorite people in the world, Emma and Peter, were in town with their 22-month-old daughter Gabriella. She is the textbook definition of “cute kid,” and I’m pretty sure if encyclopedias still existed (remember those things?), you could look up “ideal toddler,” and her picture would be pasted all over the pages.

It was a hot summer afternoon, and Bryan and I spent most of the day soaking up the cuteness that Gabriella had to offer. Of course we spent time chatting with our adult friends, but baby-watching was so much more entertaining than anything on TV.

It was hard for me to keep up with Gabriella’s endless imagination. Who knew that pouring invisible tea and eating plastic crumpets was so fascinating?

At the same time, watching a child’s mind run wild is so humbling. Remember those days when playing with a pot, a wooden spoon, and an old shoebox could last for hours? During our time with Gabriella, we watched her:
• Cook imaginary pancakes and eggs–and if you tried to eat them before blowing on the spoon, her eyes would widen and she’d wave her hands, crying “HOT!”
• Admire a blade of grass and handle it as delicately as a baby praying mantis.
• Contently dig her wet feet deep in a pile of dirt.
• Splash around in a baby pool, completely unaware of the chill of the hose water.
• Discover countless ways to play with plastic cups: throwing them in the pool, wearing them as shoes, filling them up with water and showering herself, tossing plastic ducks into them, wearing a cup as a hat…
• Stop doing whatever she was doing outside to look up at the sky and shout, “PLANE!”

…Which is a perfect segue into how Bryan and I spent the following day–Plane watching!

Even though I have a mortgage and pay taxes, I still like to think of myself as a kid at heart. Gabriella does the happy dance when an airplane engine roars overhead–and so do I!

Bryan, fully aware of my childlike obsession with big, loud flying things, drove me last Sunday over the bridge to Pennsylvania for some real plane watching. I’ve written here before about watching planes land from Red Bank Battlefield, but that is nothing compared to being right next to the airport.

Our first stop was Fort Mifflin, an historic site from the Revolutionary War era, that just so happens to be located right next to Philadelphia International Airport.

I nearly peed myself when we first drove up to the place. I get so excited when I see planes close up! As we were driving, a jet flew right over our car, and I scrambled like a starstruck fan trying to snap a picture of a celebrity. It reminded me of being in Los Angeles, when Bryan and I were driving in LAX territory and planes zoomed directly over the highway.

We hung around Fort Mifflin for a while, snapping fun photos of plane after plane descending into the airport. We didn’t bother paying admission and actually going inside the Fort; just because we’re adults doesn’t mean we have to pretend to be interested in historical stuff. We were there for the planes!

Flapjacks, the fearless flying lobster.

Things got even better when Bryan told me that if we drove to the other side of the airport, we could see planes taking off. I had no idea the public could get so close to the airport and that a magical access road surrounded the entire place. Him telling me this reminded me of when my parents would say, “Hey, let’s go to Clementon Lake Amusement Park tonight!” REALLY?!?!?!

Turns out we weren’t the only ones parked next to the airport. We saw several other people there for fishing, biking, (illegal) motorbike racing, and some older guy driving his convertible around the loop, over and over again.

I plastered myself against the chain-link fence and watched planes race down the runway. I swear, no matter how technologically advanced our society gets, there is still something jaw-dropping and amazing about metal tubes with wings flying through the sky, transporting 100, 200+ people across the ocean. (As Louis CK says, “You’re sitting in a chair…in the sky.”)

Moments like this remind me that age really is just a number. I may not be able to occupy myself for 20 minutes with invisible eggs and a child-size frying pan, but I can stare up at the sky for hours, pointing at the metal birds above, shouting, “PLANE!”

I don’t know about everyone else, but I always feel like I do a bajillion more things in the summer than I ever do any other time of year. In the winter, my calendar will experience weeks of nothingness; on the contrary, ever since Independence Day, my weekends have been full of here-there-and-everywhere, punctuated by a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

I already wrote about the emotional afternoon I spent saying farewell to my family’s Philly rowhome; well, right before I danced in the living room, I was actually dancing across the city in West Philadelphia, at an afternoon 5Rhythms class.

Dancing the 5 Rhythms right before embarking on an emotionally taxing adventure was a good decision. It got me past the junky layer of my mind to a place of stillness and mindfulness. I really needed that, especially because I had to drive across the city to get to my aunt’s place. I am not the most experienced out-of-state driver and get really nervous when I have to take new and unfamiliar roads. That afternoon I had to take three of my most dreaded highways; it was the great Nervous Driving Trifecta. Thankfully, 2.5 hours of 5Rhythms beforehand stripped away my outer terror, and I made it just fine.

That same evening, I met up with my former coworker Sara for a summer evening dinner of Cuban food at Casona. I was touched when she agreed to order a guacamole appetizer whose cilantro status was uncertain. Sara hates cilantro but loves guac, and she totally put her taste buds on the line. It was such a bold move! Our entrees were both awesome, as was the milky cake dessert (tres leches) we shared afterward.

Sara's just happy the iffy cilantro experience is over.

Vegetable paella, which I managed to split into four separate meals.

We strolled the main drag for a while and ended up having to stop at my parents’ house to use the bathroom. Weird! Then Sara gave me some corn from her family farm because she knows I love corn.

Saluting a corn statue in the Magic Kingdom

As everyone else headed to the beach for the holiday, Bryan and I spent July 3 at our fake shore, Red Bank Battlefield Park, which borders the Delaware River. Not exactly the Atlantic Ocean, but it’s relaxing, peaceful, and a place where shellfish don’t feel threatened.

On Independence Day, Bryan pretended he didn’t know me during joined me for a walk around Cooper River. I was wearing my new weighted vest from Reebok, which pretty much looks like a bulletproof Kevlar vest. It looks silly, but Cooper River Park is home to work-out weirdos. A weighted vest is nothing next to a 200-pound dude walking around on a 90-degree day in one those trashbag-like sweatsuits.

Of course, the evening ended with fireworks. It was a ridiculously long show of nearly 30 minutes, but it was nice to see a fireworks display that didn’t reduce me to tears like Wishes at the Magic Kingdom does.

Post-Wishes "I'm-so-sad-it's-over" face

Speaking of pyrotechnics, one of the games I like to play during the summer is the “Thunder or Fireworks?” game (and actually, with our house being so close to the airport, some nights it’s the “Thunder, Fireworks, or Descending Airplane?” game). Well, this past Friday night, it was definitely THUNDER. I usually like summer t-storms, but Friday’s felt like the apocalypse, and it wreaked havoc on the area. The onslaught of rain closed down my only two routes home from work, and I ended up being stuck at the office until 7:30.

By the time Saturday rolled around, (aside from tree limbs scattered all over the neighborhood) you’d never know there was a problem. I set out on a long and sweaty walk to the farmer’s market and was blasted with sun and humidity. And then I took the long way home, because I get overambitious like that.

That’s why when Bryan and I hit the road to go down to Atlantic City for the night, Starbucks was one of our first stops on the boardwalk. We had tickets for a 9 p.m. comedy show, and there was no way I could stay awake without the help of the green siren.

Caffeine queen!

We don’t gamble or anything, but I love the energetic atmosphere of Atlantic City. I am oddly fascinated with casinos and the people within, everyone from the gray-haired grandmas in velour tracksuits to, well, young adult hipsters in their velour tracksuits. Greasy, grimy, glamorous, glitzy … AC has it all!

Dolled up weirdo in orthopedic walking sandals, because I respect my feet!

Sculpture of couple playing tag on beach that looks like dancers at the right angle

Mr. and Mrs. Shades

After admiring the ocean for a while, we drove over to the marina area of the city. We were seeing Jim Gaffigan (of Hot Pockets fame) at the Borgata. We were hoping he’d resurrect his manatee bit, but his new sea creature to ridicule was the whale. But at least he ended with a Hot Pockets extended remix.

When we set out to go home, I couldn’t help staring with fascination at the sparkling city behind us. I think it’s so cool that the casinos are always “on”! It’s like a whole separate universe just an hour away from home.

Not my picture, but you get the point. Photo credit: NJ.com

Sunday was all about the walking. I walked about a mile to a local coffee shop to meet up with Old Lady Friend Carrol, then walked 4 miles two towns over for an arts and crafts festival, then walked another 2 miles around the actual show. It was in the 90s, and I was hot, but I like when I can combine outdoor activity and exercise. You don’t get to see guys like this at the gym:

Tater the happy pug

At the festival, I was excited to see that the vendor (At-the-Beach America) from whom Bryan and I bought matching lobster t-shirts last year was now selling the same print on tank tops, and in black. When Bryan saw that I had bought a new color, he insisted on getting the black version, too. 🙂

Wearing our original shirts at a Phillies game. The Kanji symbol means "Happiness."

The weekend wrapped up with a stop at Sprinkles Kiwi, a self-serve frozen yogurt joint. Bryan and I call it “Sprinkles” because that was its original name when it opened, but due to copyright issues it later changed to “Kiwi.” Whatever. For us, it will always and forever be Sprinkles. Our tradition is to take our dessert around the corner and sit on the bench outside Cranky’s handbag boutique. It has become “our” bench, and only a handful of times it has already been taken (which totally throws us off). See those buildings in the reflection? When we first started our Sprinkles visits, those buildings weren’t even there! (And how appropriate that I’m sitting right under the Cranky’s logo? ‘Cause usually that’s what I am before being placated by the sweetness of Sprinkles.)

Bryan's base flavor: cookies 'n' cream; Mine: vanilla & peanut butter. Favorite toppings: Reese's Pieces, mochi (me), sprinkles (duh!)

More to come this summer, including kayaking, more 5Rhythms and yoga, another drum circle of two, and a kundalini workshop!

About the Author

Name: Jennifer

Location: Greater Philadelphia Area

Blog Mission:
SHARE my practice experience in conscious dance and yoga,

EXPAND my network of like-minded individuals,

FULFILL my desire to work with words in a more creative and community-building capacity;

FLOW and GROW with the world around me!

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