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Here’s the thing about a vacation—your thinking mind turns to mush.  Fortunately, I think, for me.  I crossed paths with a psychic this week who confirmed this when she told me I think too much; I worry too much; I’m in my head too much.  Truer words have never been spoken.

She also told me my independent spirit is like much like a man, but that’s another blog for another time.

On my yearly staycation this week, I had a very welcome chance to decompress and turn down the volume in my head.  So what did I do?

I ate.  I mean, duh?

I love a restaurant that allows its patrons to take lunch at their own pace, and the lovely people at Buvette have it down to a science.  It was my regular spot throughout the week for long and delicious lunches at the most leisurely pace.  I want to move in there.

This Salade Nicoise will always make me linger just a little longer.

Buvette Salade Nicoise

I spent time with friends.  An evening spent with one of my dear friends meant cocktails, food and a thousand laughs.  A fun night always ends with the question, “Will you be a bridesmaid when I get married???” (Never mind that I’m not seriously dating anyone….or actually want to get married.)  Good friends are necessary.

I took long meandering walks through my city.  On the hottest day, I sat under a big tree, looked out on New York Harbor, and just enjoyed the breezes.

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I went to the beach. Nothing restores my sanity as quickly as sand underneath me.

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I also took the time to do something crazy that I’ve wanted to do for decades, but never quite mustered the courage: get a tattoo.  It’s a nod to all the signs of love I see everywhere—a small heart.  Actually it’s an outline of a one, so I can always remember the importance of walking through the world with an open heart.

It wasn’t until later that I realized how completely perfect the universe is and that it has a pretty cool sense of humor.  My tattoo artist’s name?  Beau.

Signs of love are everywhere.

May you find the space to turn down the volume in your head and savor these summer days.

xo, with goodness and grace.

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I decided this week would be good.

This was a week where I intended to see the good in everything.  And the week delivered.  These were days full of friends, flowers and food, with a little basketball thrown in for good measure.

Day 20:  Those of you who have followed this blog for some time know that I see signs of love everywhere.  I started seeing them last summer, though I do wonder if perhaps they were always there and I only recently opened my eyes—and my heart—to them.

One thing I’ve learned is that love is contagious.  My friends send me emails and texts with the signs of love they have seen.

I love this.  Sometimes self care is about letting other people show you the love.

Like this breakfast heart of coffee, from my friend Erica…

Erica's Coffee Heart

…and this wall of love from Corey.

Corey's Heart Wall

Signs of love are everywhere.

Day 21:  A bouquet of flowers is a beautiful way to brighten up a room.  For me, bouquet of flowers is pure happiness.

So I bought one.

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Day 22:  Meeting up with a couple of my friends after work, we ate dinner at BondSt, an old standby for them though I’d never been.  We caught up…and laughed, and laughed.

Laughter is self care.

And the food was clean and delicious, like this hamachi dish.

Bond St's Hamachi

After dinner, we made our way to the art studio of an artist we all love, which happens to be in the basement of a wine store/event space in Tribeca.  We walked into the middle of a dinner party and passed by this chef—with the most adorable dimples—who was finishing off some Baked Alaskas with a blowtorch.

New York Vinters Party Baked Alaska

How cool is that?  One of the reasons why I love New York is that you never know where you are going to end up or what you are going to see.

Day 23:  Some nights, you just want some comfort food.  This was the day I needed a burger and fries.  (Okay, so I took off the bun, but it still did the trick.)

The Shake Shack, and their new fresh-cut french fries, never fails to comfort when the need for it comes calling.

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Day 24: Two words always make me a little giddy with anticipation—March Madness.  I’ve loved college basketball ever since I fell in deep love with my team when I was a freshman. We were terrible, but I loved going to the games anyway.

Ending the work week with some of the most exciting games I’ve seen in the last couple of years was perfect and exciting.  Doing what you love is self care.

Day 25:  Oh, the weather.  The East Coast, along with much of the country, suffered through a long cold and snowy winter.  Now spring has been ushered in with its unpredictable temperatures and lots of rain.

I’m doing my best to embrace the day, no matter what the weather forecast.  On this day, it rained steadily and turned out to be colder than forecast.  So I Mary Poppins’d it, pulled out a winter hat and gloves out of my bag, then bundled up and took myself on a very long walk.  The streets were fairly quiet, so I had the chance to walk and clear my head in solitude.

It was awesome.

Day in the Rain

Day 26:  March Madness continues—it was a weekend of nail-biting games—along with a lot of cooking, which is probably my favorite thing to do even though I don’t always make the time for it.   I’d planned to clean out my closet, but self care beckoned and it send me to the kitchen instead.  Cooking brings me back to myself.

More than halfway through my 40 Days of Self Care, I’m developing an appreciation for the act of deliberately doing something good for myself every day. Some days that good is as simple as a point of view, but that can be as filled with grace as any dinner out.

I hope you find the good for yourself in the coming week.

xo, with goodness and grace.

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting at my desk, overwhelmed and exhausted, when the email popped up.  The subject was, “Busy today???”

It was my friend Judy.  I’ve known her for nine years, since she filled in as a temp in my office.  At the time she was fresh out of college, her spirit enthusiastic and infectious.

I clicked open the email.

“Want to go find Banksy????”

Banksy is a famous graffiti street artist—identity unknown—who has taken residence in New York for the month of October.  I’ve been following him on Instagram, and I get a little giddy whenever he posts his latest work of street art.

But by the time Judy’s email made its way into my inbox, I was tired.  Besides, I’d already RSVP’d to attend a party for a friend’s store opening that evening.  Because I like to keep my word, I only planned to stop by, say hello, and then go home and go to bed.

Instead, I spontaneously and enthusiastically said yes. I rationalized that I could stop by the party once we saw the art.

As I made my way down to Tribeca, the breezy city air gently cupped my face, and I felt freed from my daily routine.

I arrived before she did.  There was a small crowd gathered, quietly taking pictures, with an almost reverential hush in the air.

The art was a diminutive, but moving, tribute to the old World Trade Center towers. An orange flower was place strategically where the airplane hit on that fateful day in 2001.

Banksy Tribeca

We took our pictures and then left the scene, feeling happy that we’d seen a hidden gem.

Judy turned to me and said that her friend told her about a similar piece of art that had popped up in Brooklyn.  It was suspected to be a Banksy as well, but it hadn’t been confirmed.

“Let’s go see it.”  I said it with such certainty I surprised myself.

“Really?”

So we hopped on the subway and went to Brooklyn.

We walked through the streets to the upper level of the Brooklyn Promenade, where I’d never been.  Even in the dark of the evening, it was charming.  Easily, we found the tiny mural alongside a wall, painted directly in front of the skyline where the towers once stood.

Banksy Brooklyn

I felt oddly happy.  Two friends enjoying each other’s company in the cool fall air, with a backdrop of quiet that I rarely know in my city.  We laughed at our spontaneity, rare in our worlds of deadlines and challenging clients.

“YOLO!” Judy exclaimed.  It made me laugh.  You only live once, indeed.

Sitting down on a park bench, just talking, we looked out at the beautiful Manhattan skyline.

I knew I would miss the party.

I looked up at the sky, the stars visible in between the billowy clouds and the moon high above us.  I closed my eyes and I inhaled.

As I exhaled, I said, “Let’s remember tonight and how lucky we are.”

She giggled.  “Yes.  Let’s.”

I’m a New Yorker through and through.  But though I’m native to the Big Apple, I grew up in California.

While it never felt like home, I’m proud that I’ve managed to maintain friendships with a few people from my adolescence in the City of Angels.  We may never see each other in person, but each of them holds a special place in my heart.

There’s Stuart, with whom I bonded immediately in Mrs. Stern’s 10th grade English class because we had the same dictionary.  Decades later, I still have it and think of him every time I look at it.  I also have all of the letters he wrote me when we were in college and he was studying abroad in Spain.  It’s fun to read those letters now, all full of dreams and so wide-eyed at the world.  Now married with three kids, our letters have morphed into emails we send each other on birthday and holiday milestones during the year.  They always make me happy.

Then there’s Melanie, with whom I reconnected on Facebook.  She was my friend throughout my junior high school years, from 7th to 9th grade.  I remember her as vivacious, kind, and a free spirit.  She was a theater kid, always performing and lighting up whenever she talked about it.  I love knowing that she is still a singer as an adult, affirming that childhood dreams can carry over to adulthood.   We sometimes comment on our social media posts, and I love knowing that my sweet tween-age friend is still in my life.  Seeing her pictures always reminds me of the girl I used to be.

My 7th grade self was in love with her brother, two years older than us.  I would type Melanie notes in typing class, and I would always end them with, “P.S. – Say hi to Greg!”  I remember the first time he said hello to me I thought, “Well, my life is now complete.”  I laugh when I think of how boy crazy I was back then.

And there’s Floriza, who I met in high school.  Like Stuart, we also studied in the same English class.  I just remember her as a constant presence, calm and funny and very smart.  She still is.  I moved away when I was 16, but in those days before the internet, we stayed in touch with long letters about our lives.  To this day, she’ll send me a postcard from wherever she’s traveling in the world.  I love getting messages from Peru, New Zealand and other far reaches of the globe.  As she moved into adulthood, her new friends began to call her Riza, but I, much like an immigrant mother, still call her the name is knew her as when we were girls.

After I moved away, she sent me a gift she made in wood shop – and how can you not love a girl who held her own in wood shop class? Whenever I need a little inspiration, I just look at this.

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What beautiful grace there is in having people in my life who knew me before any of us were fully formed, when we were innocent and wise enough to believe that dreams can come true.  These are the people who remind me, just by their presence, that we still have our whole lives ahead of us.

I am grateful for them.

A relaxing weekend turned into an insanely hectic Monday.

Happily, that morphed into a lively night out in celebration of a friend’s birthday.

Like life, it was layered with an abundance of sentiments.

The wonder of grown people with serious professions enjoying playing dress up as much as preschoolers.  Wistfulness for a friend going through a hard time. The giddiness of riotous laughter that can only come from a group of people who know each other well.  The surprise of an unexpected deep conversation with a new friend I’m just getting to know that culminated with the kind of full-bodied hug that you didn’t know you needed until you received it.

It was the kind of evening that ended with my face hurting from so much laughter.

And when two Elmos join in, it was the sort of amusement that even they would be grateful for.

Elmos

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