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When the summer holidays hit New York City, all of the locals head out of town.

This is when I love my city most.

It’s these weekends where the pace slows down and I can more fully experience what I love about New York.  I can wander through less crowded streets, sidle up to the bar of normally packed restaurants, read outside in my less crowded neighborhood park.

And there’s time to meander through favorite through museums.  I went to the Whitney Museum – one of my favorites in the city – to check out their Biennial exhibit before it closed.

One piece in particular, called Let The Dream Write Itself by Lisa Anne Auerbach, caught my attention.  First, it was made of wool, which is not the usual medium for art found in a museum.  Then, there were sayings on it that rang true to me.  Art should make you think, and it should make you feel. Both happened when I looked at this.

And, I just thought it was cool.

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Yes.

I also love hearing from my friends about their holidays.  In our area, we’ve had the kinds of heavy rainstorms that come with spring, but there is always something beautiful to see afterwards – the glisten of raindrops on flowers, the green hue of tree leaves that seem so much brighter than before, the crystal blue skies that evoke hope.

My friend Sandy sent me this photograph she took on Long Island Sound after one of these storms.

Double Rainbow on Long Island Sound

I like to remember that on the other side of gray storms in our lives, there is often a beautiful, heavenly burst of color.

xo, with goodness and grace.

When I think back on this week, I remember the small, ordinary yet beautiful moments.

If you think about it, isn’t that what makes up a life?  It’s simply a series of small, ordinary moments intertwined with occasional flashes of beauty.  You turn a corner and something memorable happens.

Love showed itself on a red wall in the West Village.  I kept staring at the graffiti, without not knowing why.   It took a full minute for me to realize that it spelled love.

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Signs of love are everywhere.

Walking through Central Park, I saw dandelions had bloomed everywhere.  As I mentioned last week, they were a favorite of mine when I was a child.  These—the lone floral presence in a patch of cool, soft grass—were particularly captivating to me.

Close your eyes and make a wish.

Make a Wish

Because it’s rained so much in the last few weeks, my social media feeds have been full of rainbows my friends see around the city.  I always have a pang of jealousy because nothing is more magical to me than a rainbow.  But, they have been elusive.

When I made another stop to the Conservatory Garden, I wandered around and took in the beauty around me.  (I even witnessed a very sweet wedding!)  As I came upon the fountain, there it was.  A picture does not do its luminescence justice, but I felt those bands of color in the very depth of my soul.

Water Rainbow

Grace may come in an unexpected form, but its goodness is not diminished.

May your week be filled with the spirit of love, wishes and rainbows.

xo, with goodness and grace.

I started a post when I was escaping from the city to the beach this week.  It was about what the beach teaches me.

I’d gone to the beach because I desperately needed a day away from my regular routine so I could hear myself think.  Sometimes when the world gets noisy, I wonder I’m missing out on anything, if any bites of intuition have gone unheard because my life is so full.  The beach brings me back to myself.

As I sat on the bus on my way out east, there was more traffic than is normal this time of year because of construction in a long stretch of the road.  I was comforted by the patches of weeds outside my window whenever we stopped, the very ones that had dotted my childhood landscape.  Back then people told me they were weeds, but to me, they were beautiful, magical flowers.  As an adult, dandelions and “wishing flowers” still evoke sunshine and happiness.

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I arrived at the hotel, an hour and change after we were supposed to arrive.  I walked out and looked at the ocean.  It was cloudy and overcast, but I didn’t care. The sound of the waves lulled me into that place they always do.  That calmness, the sense of home—we drove nearly four hours and there it was.

I spent the next there, walking in the quiet of my thoughts that had finally calmed down.  It was chilly, but I was over prepared as usual, walking all bundled up with my jacket and scarf and gloves.  Even though it was cold, I walked barefoot so my feet could feel the spring of the sand which always feels so good against my leg muscles.

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I ate lunch and I read.  Every now and then I looked up at the waves just to acknowledge them, as if to let them know that I was still there.  I felt calm and content.

And then I felt an overwhelming need to go home, to sleep in my own bed and spend the morning lazily going about my Sunday routine.

So I did.

I came home to my city, stepping off the bus to warm spring air.  I walked in my front door.  I felt relieved.

I’m sitting in the park in my neighborhood admiring the tulips that have bloomed since I was last here. There’s an abundance of them, and they are beautiful.  I’m resisting the urge to photograph them.  What I realized when I was at the beach is that I so often try to hold on to special moments—especially with pictures—sometimes forgetting to actually be in the moment. I took pictures of the fog ahead of me on the beach, so beautiful and theatrical. Sometimes I was more concerned with getting the right angle so the picture could look its best.  Nevertheless, I felt the peace I’d been seeking.

Now I’m sitting here feeling the warmth of today, captivated by the cool breezes that move between the trees.  It is perfect. People keep coming in and out of the park, taking photos of the tulips in all their glory with their camera phones. I wonder if they can really see the beauty, if they can take in the lush fullness of their heads, so open and lusty, and their leaves, such a verdant reminder of spring. I wonder if they really see them, if they’ll remember them when the garden settles down into a normal state.

I’m resisting taking a photo, just so I can experience them fully, so I can say that I was part of this day, that I felt the glory of it.

Because life is full of moments and we are meant to be in them, to embody their goodness, to allow them to transport us where we need to go.  Even if where we need to go is right in our own backyard.  Sometimes we need to get away from where we are to know that home is where we needed to be all along.  Sometimes where we are is exactly right.

It’s all about being present.

xo, with goodness and grace.

 

On my way home this evening, I read an email from my friend Rachel.  The subject was “Embrace Life.”  In the note, she wrote of a four-year-old girl in her neighborhood who had drowned a couple of days ago.  It reminded her about the fragility of life and how it can be sad and tragic and that we should embrace the moments that we have.

This made me grateful that I left the office at 6pm, an hour that sometimes gives me pause, as if my work isn’t valid unless I’ve put in a 10, 12, 14 hour day.  But the workaholic in me gave way to the enchantment seeker.  I left with a purpose.

I was chasing magic.

This weekend I went to the Conservatory Garden in Central Park for the first time, and I was charmed by it.  Because I went on a weekend, it was full of people and the hubbub of children.  It was a magical place, but I couldn’t drop into the stillness of it as I know I would on a quiet day.

I decided I would go there, hoping to capture a moment of that stillness before the sun set and the garden closed.

When I arrived, I walked through the magic gates—like Disneyland, only with flowers instead of Mickey—and found myself slightly disappointed.  The center garden had been tented over, probably for an upcoming event.  But I wandered and found the gardens to the right and to the left still open.

I sat on a bench under the tree I now think of as the “love tree” (see the previous post), its limbs all twisted and carved up with sweet sentiments, and noticed that the bench also happened to be under a tree of lilacs.  I closed my eyes, feeling the warm-cool air of the springtime evening, and breathed in.  The scent of lilacs is heavenly, alluring, captivating, perfect.  I’ve smelled them before in floral shops, but not like this.  This air was full of sweet lilac magic.

This, I thought, is joy. 

I sat on the bench for a while alternately taking in the beauty around me and closing my eyes meditatively, until, there it was.  Stillness.  I dropped into that feeling that I’d been searching for.

When it was time to go, I hopped on the bus, ready to go home.  As we ran into some traffic, I realized that we were about to go past the arrivals at the Met Ball in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Everyone who is famous in the world of fashion, design and entertainment attends.  It’s the center achievement and excellence.  At least for the night.

I decided to get off the bus and see if I could catch a glimpse of anyone famous. Onlookers screamed every time someone got out of an SUV.

As I watched, all I could think about were the dreams I had for myself when I moved back to New York almost 20 years ago.  I came to the city with big ambitions to be a mover and a shaker.  Of what, I wasn’t really sure.  I just knew I wanted to matter.

This, though fun, was not the dream.

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This was fun and funny and made me laugh.  (And, I got to see Tom Brady and Gisele.  They were…beautiful.)  But I did not come to this city of dreams to gawk from across the street at people who are living their best lives.  I did not come here to play small.  I didn’t come here to stand it the shadows of other people who get the glory and make the money.  I came here to be the woman I always dreamed of being.

I walked away, towards Park Avenue.

This, too, is why I came to New York, though I didn’t know it.  There is unexpected beauty everywhere.

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I walked over another avenue and got on the next bus towards home.  As I sat down, I eyed a woman talking on her cell phone, a little too loudly.  She was talking in that breathless way that people do when they just need to get the words out again and again and again, as if they are running from something.  She was scolding the person on the other end for not recognizing that, though she loves to garden, she’s getting older and, you know, older people have their limitations and should know when they cannot do things anymore.

As the bus made its way downtown, I kept catching a glimpse of the sun setting on the crosstown streets.  Whoa, I thought.  I don’t think I ever have seen a sunset like that.  There were streams of light the color of the lilacs I’d seen earlier, lavender and magenta and blue all blended together, with some peach thrown in for good measure.  It was what I imagine the heavens would look like.  Exquisite, breathtaking and otherworldly.

I kept seeing the sunset and hearing the woman yammering away, saying nothing really, but reveling in the fact that she was saying something, anything to not pay attention.  Every time I saw the sunset, I kept thinking, she’s missing it.  She’s talking and she’s missing it.

But then I would stop listening to her and think, I’m not going to miss it.  Every time the next block opened up, I paid attention.  I took it in.  I allowed myself to feel awed by the beauty, by the sun showing off proudly.

Look at me, she kept saying.  Just look at how beautiful I am.

And that is life.  There is sadness and tragedy, and there is the rest of it.  There is the perfume of flowers that cannot be spritzed on, rather but must be inhaled and experienced. There are dreams, long stowed away in a drawer somewhere, that are worth being brought out to see the daylight again.  They are valid and real and possible, no matter how old you are or how much other people tell you to it’s time to sit down and forget them.  They matter.

That is life.  It is meant to be embraced.

As happy as I felt last week was as stressed as I felt this week.  Life galloped towards me in all directions.  Each day ended with me feeling knocked down and seeing stars like a cartoon character.

But, joy still arrived.  There was much goodness this week, most completely unexpected.

Saturday was the perfect example.  It was a day of color – colorful conversation, colorful joy, colorful walks.

An old friend who was going to be in town reached out to me and asked if I wanted to meet up.  I was happy I said yes.  Kathryn and I walked along the river and caught up each other on our lives since the last time we’d seen each other, which had been many years.  It was the kind of thoughtful, heartfelt conversation that makes you buzz with a joyful energy.

After our walk, we found a place for an afternoon glass of wine and a bite to eat. As we sat in the bar, my back to the doorway, Kathryn kept seeing people walk by looking like they had paint splattered all over them.  Every time I turned around, I saw nothing.  It was comical.

Fast forward to me on my way home and running into an event, where the joy was palpable.  People were throwing powders of color on each other, and they all looked like living rainbows.  Happiness was in the air, and you could feel the shimmering joyfulness from the souls on the sidewalk.

Turns out it was a festival called Holi Hai, also known as the Festival of Color.  It is a celebration of spring and friendship, and the colors represent happiness, love and the freedom to live vibrantly.

Holi Hai

What a beautiful thought for each day—the freedom to live vibrantly.

Holi Hai Color

Before we left each other, Kathryn asked if I’d ever been to the Conservatory Garden in Central Park.  I hadn’t, though it had been on my list of places visit for years.  When she said, “I don’t know if the tulips will still be in bloom,” I knew I needed to visit before the initial flamboyance of springtime was dialed back down to a more mature beauty.

I was not disappointed.

On seeing the first glimpse of the massive gate that stands guard to the gardens, I felt anticipation in what I was about to see.  Turning the corner took my breath away.

Conservatory Garden

My eyes saw beauty in every corner.  And, the tulips were still in bloom, happily for me.  Masses of them.

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On a normal day, this would have been enough.  But the light yet fragrantly aromatic scent of lilacs transported me away from the middle of New York City to a place far, far away.  It was like being in the middle of a bouquet of magic.

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I wandered around, smiling in awe of such unexpected beauty, and stumbled on a tree that had been carved up with sentiments from lovers who wanted a finite declaration of their passion.

I felt pulled towards an area of the tree I hadn’t yet seen.  And then I laughed.

One word stood out.

Love on a Tree-Conservatory Garden

A tree of love.  Of course it was.

After I left the garden, I took a walk to the reservoir to see if the cherry blossoms were still in bloom.  The variety with white flowers had been blooming for a few weeks, but I had yet to see the fleshy pink ones announce themselves.

They finally arrived.  Happiness.

As I walked, I discovered an area on the southern part of the reservoir that was abundant with cherry blossoms.  I never knew about it and I was enchanted.

I sat under a patch of trees, closed my eyes and breathed in.  When I opened my eyes, it was as if I’d breathed in the vibrance of the color pink.  How could you not be happy sitting among this?

Cherry Blossoms-Central Park

I sat and took it in, grateful that the stress of the week had been melted away such brilliantly beautiful hues.

I hope in the coming week you find things to color your world.  And that you find the freedom to live vibrantly.

xo, with goodness and grace.

 

 

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