The Struggle To Be Happy

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I was a child, my mom would stress how fortunate we were to having washing machines.

“What do you mean, mommy?” I would naively inquire.

“When I was a child, my mom would go down to the canal with the other women and wash the clothes in the canal.” My mom was born and raised in France.

“They didn’t have washing machines?”

“No, they would clean the clothes by beating them against the rocks.”

At that moment, I gained a new appreciation for the washing machine. I had no desire to go to the river and bang clothes against the rocks, plus that would be an awful long walk.

The world we live in is full of technology that is supposed to improve our lives. With all these innovations, you would think we would be happier then ever. Instead, most of us fight depression to some degree.

I have an optimistic nature, however, this optimism has been tested a number of times. As I struggle to cope with an advanced cancer diagnosis, I also struggle to maintain my optimistic nature.

Here are some simple steps that I have taken that have helped me.

Take a walk in the park. Being out in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of your daily life can give you a different perspective.

Read a book. It sounds old fashioned, but it can be so comforting. I still have books from junior high that I enjoy reading. The characters feels like old friends and there’s  always a happy ending.

Volunteer to read to kids. If you have the time, some of you may barely have the time to breathe, then volunteer in your community to read to kids.

I’ve collected dolls all my life and enjoy displaying them all over the house. I rotate them according to the seasons. There have been times when I will spend hours in the closet rearranging my dolls. Some of us never grow up.

If reading is not your thing, play a sport. Any sport will do. In our area, I signed up to take Tai Chi at the local community center. While getting some exercise, I’ve also made new friends.

Whatever activity makes you happy, whether it’s playing video games, binging on shows, knitting (do people still knit?), coloring, or cleaning out your closet (which can also be very therapeutic and maybe financially viable if you sell on Poshmark), try engaging in activities that will make you happy.

Life is too short to be miserable. Last, if you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to get help.

 

 

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Feeling’ Fenty

About a month ago, I received a trial size of Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation of Fenty Beauty by Rihanna. I have to admit, I didn’t have high hopes for this foundation. Over the years, I have tried all types of foundation. Some made me feel like I was wearing a mask, while others caused my skin to break out. Orange seems to be a popular shade for most foundations which is great if you aspire to be an Oompa Loompa.

A couple of years ago, I found the holy grail in Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation. It literally feels like the softest silk when I apply it. My daughter tried it, but wasn’t crazy about it, because the coverage is so light.

The little trial size of Fenty’s foundation that was sitting on my bathroom counter kept calling to me. One day, on a Saturday morning, I finally broke down and applied it to my face. Surprise! It actually blended in with my skin tone. That was certainly a first. Also, it actually felt good, not like a parched out mask. I went on Sephora’s website and read more about the foundation.

First of all, the foundation comes in 40 shades and provides medium to full coverage which is perfect for those days when your skin is being rebellious. It’s formulated without Parabens and Phthalates. I honestly have no idea what this means, but it sounds good. Most important for me is how is looks and feels on my skin.

Giorgio Armani’s foundation is still my go to foundation, however, I always like a strong back up foundation. If you’re not sure if the foundation is for you, go to Sephora and request a sample of a couple of colors. Trying to apply foundation in a store can be misleading because of the lighting. On numerous occasions, I’ve tried a shade in a department store, bought it, and hated it because the shade wasn’t even close to my skin tone. As I mentioned, the foundation comes in 40 colors, so you should be able to find your perfect shade.

 

 

 

Escaping the Heat

squirrelLast week, we visited the Dallas Arboretum. Since the forecast predicted temperatures soaring into the upper 90’s with almost 60% humidity, we scheduled our visit for early morning. If you’re a member, access to the park begins at 7am., the earliest part of the day. My family and I are not that ambitious, so we straggled into the park at 10am.

Yes, it was hot and humid, as the squirrel trying to cool itself above will attest. A special treat on the day of our visit was beautiful ladies attired in sparkling quinceneara dresses. They appeared to be there for some type of shoot for a catalog/store? The secret is how they managed to appear perfectly cool and poised as they modeled in the unrelenting rays of the sun. We attempted to seek refuge from the heat by scrambling from tree to tree.

By 11am we decided luncheon at the Restaurant DeGolyer was an excellent idea. The restaurant is open from 11-3. Upon entering the refreshingly cool restaurant, we gave it a 10 just for the air conditioning, we were promptly seated and offered refreshments. The menu primarily consists of sandwiches, salads, and three to four main dish entrees and is inspired by the recipes of James Sparks, the executive chef at Gil’s.

My daughter and I ordered the Salad Trio while my son had the Monterey Chicken Sandwich (he said it was the best he ever had and wouldn’t share). We enjoyed the lunch and will gladly return, maybe next time for tea.

The interior is quaint, small and relaxing. If a member of your party is under the age of 12, your party will be seated on the outdoor patio. The waiter highly recommended that we return on a Sunday and enjoy their brunch offerings.

After we refreshed and hydrated ourselves, we enjoyed the Wind Sculptures in Motion: The Kinetic Art of Lyman Whitaker which will be on display until July 31. The Dallas Arboretum is lovely to visit any time of the year. There are special events offered from music to tastings to summer camps, etc. If you have a chance to visit the garden during the summer, arrive early and stay hydrated.

I’m sorry to say that the last time we visited the Dallas Arboretum was in December. At that time, the life-size depictions of the 12 Days of Christmas was featured in lovely gazebos sprinkled throughout the park. Festive drinks were available for purchase.

We are looking forward to the fall when we can visit the Pumpkin Village which is  recognized by Fodor’s as one of the best Pumpkin Festivals. Regardless of when you visit, there is plenty to see and do. I highly recommend purchasing a membership if you are in the area. Membership allows you access to special events and also reciprocal admission to over 300 botanical gardens and arboretums worldwide. Check out dallasarboretum.org for more info.

 

 

Egyptian Wonders

These pictures were taken a number of years ago. I fell in love with Egypt when I was in seventh grade and visited the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, California. As the years passed, I became more and more determined to be an Egyptologist. When I graduated from college with a degree in Anthropology, my treat to myself was a trip to Egypt.

Initially, I wanted to make the trip, alone. It was pointed out to me, by a number of individuals, that this might not be in my best interest. A young, blond, relatively attractive young woman might run into difficulties traveling in the Middle East. I used my powers of persuasion to convince two of my male friends to accompany me.

My usual method of “winging it” on a trip was also strongly discouraged. As a result, we booked a tour with a well known travel agency. If you travel to this exotic location, I definitely recommend booking with a reputable travel tour group.

We scheduled the trip in July. Not the preferred time of year to visit this area, due to the extreme heat. If you have the option, visit this country in the fall/winter.

The trip was 2 1/2 weeks in duration and exceeded all my expectations. The pyramids, the ruins, the Nile (we were told not to touch the water) and the history that surrounded us made Europe seem infantile.

A cruise on the Nile is a must to fully experience this enigmatic country. Without the Nile, the civilization that produced the pyramids would not have existed.

Due to the political situation in the world, notably the Middle East, visiting this country has always been challenging. If you decide to visit Egypt, check with a travel agency that has experience booking tours in this area of the world. I would recommend meeting with the agent face-to-face instead of trying to book a tour online.

In the meantime, enjoy a few pictures of a memorable trip.

Light It Up!

There are three makeup essentials that I carry in my purse, Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Radiance Perfecting Pen, Marc Jacobs Lip Laquer and Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon.

I initially purchased the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Radiance Perfecting Pen several years ago. I realized the potential of this pen when I was traveling and had a 24 hour layover, sans suitcase. After a meager 3 hours sleep in the airport hotel, I gasped when I looked into the mirror.

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I resembled a sick, sleepy raccoon. Definitely not a raccoon you would coo over, but the one you run away from because you are fearful it has some rare, contagious disease. I frantically looked around and remembered the Touche Eclat pen.  A couple swipes with the pen and no more sick raccoon.

Hm, next I tried a couple dabs on my face. The sallow look I was sporting, instantly disappeared. Okay, I was getting the hang of this. I tried a dab under my brows and I was suddenly more alert without the caffeine high I normally crave.

After a few more swipes, I resembled a human being again. Yay!

Since then, I learned never to leave home without this pen. If I need an afternoon pick me up, a couple of swipes and I appear refreshed and ready to face the rest of the day.

This pen is also great because you can achieve a luminous glow without the use of shimmer or glimmer. That morning in the hotel, I used the pen as concealer, highlighter and eyeshadow. This multi use pen can save the day.

We Don’t Talk Anymore…

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The image of a deserted island can be appealing. With the digital age, I wonder if we are creating our own deserted island where the art of conversation is non existent. Human interaction is diminishing as technology handles everything from ordering, to paying, to communicating with friends and family.

I would love to see a class offered in Elementary schools that fosters communication both written and orally. How many times have you seen celebrities make awkward/unforgiving statements? There are ways to express yourself without demeaning others. This doesn’t mean that these comments will be eradicated, however, they might be greatly diminished.

My mom’s side of the family excels at communication. They encourage each family member to communicate even if they have “nothing” to say. Sometimes, everyone is communicating so loudly that it is difficult to ascertain what others are saying. The fact that they are communicating face-to-face is commendable.

Human beings are social creatures. We are meant to socialize, although some people might disagree with this statement.

I am guilty of communicating via technology, as well. I resolved, a while back, to keep tech messages short. Anything important, I call or talk to the person face-to-face.

The next time you have something to say, try picking up the phone (I know, it’s so old fashioned) or better yet, try talking to the other person one-on-one.

Captivating Capri

 

Capri is an island in Italy’s Bay of Naples. It is known for its rugged landscape, high end fashion boutiques and upscale hotels. I first visited this island when I was 19 and I was also fortunate enough to visit the Blue Grotto. The Blue Grotto is a dark cavern where the sea glows electric blue.

My last visit to this enchanting island included my husband and son. When we arrived, via ferry, with a group of locals and the usual group of tourists, instead of opting for the funicular (tram) to ferry us up the mountain, we decided to walk. Not one of my stellar ideas since the day was quite warm and we neglected to bring enough water. That being said, we determined to reach the La Piazzetta. La Piazzetta is a great place to people watch. Everyone from North European royalty, to Italian actors, to the fellow tourist who fell asleep next to you on the ferry, might be spied at a neighboring table. It took us approximately one hour to make the climb. If you’re not that ambitious, you can take the funicular or bus

Once we reached the top, we admired the view from the top. Even my husband, who is not easily impressed, fell in love with the charm of this quaint island. As we walked along the streets, noting the exclusive boutiques and quaint outdoor restaurants, we found a little cafe off the beaten path. We enjoyed some delicious pasta, pizza and unobstructed views of the marina below. We even ate our pizza like the locals with fork and knife.

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After a relaxing lunch, we explored the Chiesa San Michele. The church was built during the 17th century and is known for its statue of San Michele and splendid antique ceramic floor.

After an aperitif to fortify ourselves for the trek back to the marina, I was determined to find a boat that would take us into the Blue Grotto, Grotta Azurra. Imagine my distress when I discovered that no boat would be entering the Blue Grotto that day due to high winds. I attempted to convey the beauty of this sight to my husband and son. The cavern is considered the most famous site on the island. Pictures alone, do not do it justice.

Weather permitting, to enter the Blue Grotto, first you climb into a wooden rowboat. The rowboat typically holds four individuals. To pass through the opening, the skipper has everyone lay back in the boat because the stone portal opening is typically only a meter high. As he pulls the boat through the opening by a metal chain attached to the cave walls, you feel as if you are entering another world.

Sunlight passing through an underwater cavity and shining through the sea water creates a blue reflection that illuminates the entire cavern. As I mentioned, the water appears to be electric blue in color. Objects placed in the water appear silver. The time I visited the cavern, the skippers of the boats started singing. I longed to jump into the magical warm water and never leave.

Since we weren’t able to explore the cavern, I decided we would take a boat tour around the island. Traveling around the island gives you a better appreciation of the beauty of this location that the locals love to visit on the weekend. As we passed yacht after yacht, I mentioned to my husband the proximity of a small cruise ship. He informed me that it wasn’t a cruise ship, but a yacht. The night before, the pilot of the boat gleefully informed us that Dolce & Gabbana rented out the two most expensive hotels on the island for an exclusive party. After that, I kept a sharp lookout for celebrities on the water.

 

I wish we had more than a few hours to spend on the island. Better yet, I would love to have one of the floating palaces I saw, I would even settle for one of the small yachts. I would love to return and explore more of the island, I especially wanted to visit the Villa San Michele which is considered the pearl of Capri. It was built around the turn of the 19th century. Some people have described it as paradise on earth with its beautiful garden.

If you have the opportunity, explore this beautiful island. Ciao.