50 years of AWESOME

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2014 marks the 50th anniversary of much more than the birth of… well… ME.  Of course you can’t mention 1964 without starting  with The Beatles and their first appearance on both American soil and The Ed Sullivan Show. But it seems with each passing day I am faced with the number 50 staring me in the face.  Finally however, I am beginning to embrace the fabulousness that was 1964.

1964 was pretty awesome. It saw the First Ford Mustang roll off the line as well as the Pontiac GTO, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, Voting rights, and the Food Stamp program. Believe it or not, 1964 was the year the Surgeon General released the report on Smoking and Health! General Mills debuted Lucky Charms and Underdog hit the airwaves! [Speed of Lightning, roar of thunder, fighting all who rob or plunder—Underdog!] The first time we meet the Island of Misfit Toys is the 1964 airing of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  Sports Illustrated had their very first swimsuit issue—crazy, huh? This same year saw Martin Luther King presented the Nobel Peace Prize and Cassius Clay, (Later to become Mohammad Ali), TKO Sonny Liston for the World Heavyweight Title. This is one fabulously amazing year.

Though I was clearly too young to enjoy it, the remains of the 1964 New York’s World’s Fair are still right there to enjoy in Queens—and equally important—for all to see in Men in Black.  So much of my childhood is rooted in the year of my birth. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—later to be an awesome movie as Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory—is published. One of my Dad’s favorite movies—It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World—is released.  Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady  and 007 in Goldfinger also hit the big screen.  I think the longevity of ALL of these films and who I became speaks volumes, but perhaps I will delve into that in my 51st year. 🙂

Though I first recall the Sony VCR some 12 years later, it was introduced in 1964 along with the creation and introduction of the 8 Track–one of the short lived breakouts of 1964.  But a perennial favorite of mine…BUBBLE WRAP is still cushioning and entertaining us today.  What I think is most impressive about this year is its endurance, longevity and popularity.  Hasbro introduced GI Joe and  we saw those God awful trolls in 1964. Hess introduced the Hess Truck, still popular today!  AND, where would we all have been on Super Bowl Sunday without a little something invented at Anchor Bar in Buffalo those 50 years ago.  (God bless Buffalo wings.)

Television saw the premier of Bewitched and Jeopardy–took me a while to start getting that final Jeopardy question right but I could wiggle my nose so that seemed a fair trade-off.  Broadway saw Fiddler on the Roof, Funny Girl, and Hello Dolly.  (I am proud to have a lifelong love of Broadway.)

Musically—beyond the Beatles—music is forever changed.  The Rolling Stones release THEIR debut album, The Jackson Five is formed, Bob Dylan releases “The Times They are a-Changin” and The Kinks, “You Really Got Me. THIS was the year that saw Daltry, Townsend, Entwistle and Moon form THE WHO! The Moody Blues was formed.  1964 saw the collaboration of what would later become Lynyrd  Skynyrd when Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins and Gary Rossington got together. Three Dog Night and Lou Reed’s The Velvet Underground… my goodness, who knew so much could be attributed to ONE single year.

Then there is Food… glorious food.  3 High School friends from Hoboken open the first Blimpie Sub Shop and the fresh sliced Roast Beef Sandwiches of Arby’s opened the same year. And 1964 NOT ONLY saw the first box of Lucky Charms, it saw the first box of Pop Tarts, first box of Bugles, first time Coca Cola came in cans, first can of Ruffles, first Carnation Instant Breakfast.  And one can’t leave out a little something called “Supercrema gianduja” which eventually was renamed NUTELLA in 1964. In a food related birth, there is Bobby Flay.  I am a little jealous of 1965 that saw Shake and Bake and Cool Whip, but I guess we half century folk got to enjoy it anyway. 🙂

When it comes to people—aside from my friends born in the same year—we are in some pretty cool company. In fact, so many amazing people were born in 1964, I couldn’t possibly mention them all. But, in referencing my own personal life, I will mention the ones that I recall making some sort of an impact.

For the women—in no particular order—Sandra Bullock, Teri Hatcher, Courtney Cox, Mariska Hargitay, Marisa Tomei, Elle Macphereson, Melissa Gilbert. (Lori Loughlin—only because she went to Hauppauge High School.) And that’s just a few!

For the men—again in no particular order—Rob Lowe, Keanu Reeves, Russell Crowe, Clive Owen, Don Cheadle, David Spade, Nicholas Cage, Stephen Colbert, Hank Azaria, and a favorite if you are an Avengers fan, Joss Whedon!

These are JUST some of the people who in some small way impacted my world in MY 50 years on earth.  And, let’s be honest, it’s been an interesting time SINCE 1964.  The world has changed, technology has gone further than some science fiction could have imagined 50 years ago. People have changed and thankfully, continue to do so for the better.

When you think about a person’s lifetime think of this, the year I was born the computer mouse was invented, and it will likely be obsolete in my lifetime.  50 years is both an enormous amount of time, and yet a blip on the radar.  But for me and anyone else born 50 years ago, I think 1964 will always be pretty magical.

xoxo DDJ

** How’s it going so far, Tig? **

I’ll wait till Groundhog Day

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I have often wondered if New Year’s resolutions are merely an American cultural compulsion or a worldwide phenomenon. Personally, I think by labeling some grandiose idea you have a resolution, you are setting it up for failure without even requiring a new year.

What if—and I know this is crazy—we just set some goals that can literally start on ANY given day of the year, and just—gosh, I don’t know—tried really hard. I had my annual “Resolutions pie chart” ready and waiting for the chime of 2014 in my hand when I realized—who am I kidding?  The likelihood of any of these coming to fruition are less likely than my winning the lottery. Oh, were you wondering about my “Resolutions pie chart”?  Of course you were. About 20 years ago, I fell madly in love with pie charts.  Not having a real use for them, I decided I would incorporate them into my life by being my visual reminder of the many things I wished to change with the coming year.  Each piece of the pie would represent the importance to me by percentage. For example, wanting to change my eating habits—60%.  Wanting to have more self-control of my online shopping habit—15%.  And so forth and so on with the myriad of changes I wish to make, but inevitably won’t.

The truth is, for myself at least, that I fear in the back of my mind I allow resolutions to fail because no one really expects them to succeed anyway. It is almost a joke when you say… “yep, already broke THAT resolution”.  I don’t want the changes I wish to make to be THAT easy to walk away from. So this year will be DIFFERENT.

This year’s pie chart is a solid cobalt. 100%. I will, on a date known only to me, set forth and make the changes in my life that I wish to genuinely accomplish. With NOT participating in the rote perfunctory habits of a culture, I feel that I might actually be able to proceed and succeed with my goals.

Since the word resolution has become practically inconsequential in reality, I think everyone should jump off that supercilious bandwagon. Make the changes you want, live the life you want, and be the person you wish to see in the mirror every day… in a way that WORKS—in your own timeframe. That is my plan.

So, HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone.  May the coming year be filled with good health and happiness.  May you—and I—bask in our sense of self and be overjoyed.

A SAFE AND HAPPY 2014 TO EVERYONE

Xoxo  DDJ and Clancy

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A suburban New York girls guide to nature and the great outdoors

BK PA Bear

I love the outdoors, in that I love fresh air.  I love the indoors in that I love indoor plumbing and a big comfy bed.  So it might not come as a huge surprise that my idea of “camping” involves both of the aforementioned. Planning is paramount if you’re a suburban girl like me who has that twinge of wanting to experience nature first hand, and it NOT being at the Bronx Zoo.  First, and possibly foremost, when choosing your locale, you will want to be acutely aware of the proximity of said nature to a fine resort, preferably—no definitely—with a spa and a pool—maybe even a gym if you are one of THOSE people.

BK PA Pool LONG

Research will involve making sure that your nature excursion isn’t so far from your fabulously fluffy bed, duly appointed robe and slippers, along with a fine dining restaurant for the end of your exhausting oneness with nature.  My choice required the following criteria: distance from home, spa amenities, restaurant menus and… of course, proximity to the nature I have been craving. A mere 2 ½ hours from my personal insanity is Bushkill Falls in Pennsylvania. This first decision had me on my way to a brave new world.  This suburban chick was going out to find NATURE!

 BK PA spa                               BK PA drinks and snacks

Nature and resort being established there is more planning to be had, at least for me there was. I needed to move on to attire.  Don’t laugh, this is important stuff! Be sure to bring the appropriate clothing for your hikes and nature jaunts.  (I had to laugh when I saw people trying to navigate the rocky, wooded trails along streams and waterfalls in FLIP FLOP’s). So, being as how this typical New York suburban girl doesn’t have these items, a little shopping was necessary.  By the way a great trick when you purchase your awesome new designer hiking shoes is to scuff the bottoms for that OH SO AUTHENTIC LOOK.   Make sure you bring a bathing suit, as your fabulous resort has a pool or 2.  As I was in Pennsylvania, dressing up was not necessary.  In fact, you would look pretty silly.  I still managed to rock some kick ass casual.

BK PA me

You are almost ready to step outside the confines of your amazing resort. It sounds silly even now as I write this… Why ON EARTH would I leave these fabulous amenities?  BECAUSE, dammit… you came to see nature…. And you darned well are going to–Just as soon as you douse yourself in whatever carcinogen swears to ward off mosquitos, ticks, creepy crawly things, flying God knows what AND bears.  Ok… Turns out OFF doesn’t ward off bears.  However, I have on relatively good authority… ok some guy in a bar at the resort, but still… put your arms out straight to your sides, and somehow, without really moving, make sure mama bears babies are not behind you.  If they are, and Mama bear can not see her cubs, you are screwed and I hope you have a will.  I, being a seasoned NYer, travel with pepper spray, enough snacks to keep a family of bears busy and the ability to talk to the animals. Or, so it would seem, as they don’t seem to run away as quickly when I start talking as most people do.  In any case, my last resort would be the bad attitude I was born and raised with as a lifelong New Yorker.  Surely that has to work for something with the bears.   OK, Bears check.  Now, there are well… People.  I am not nearly as confident in dealing with them.  I’d go back to the pepper spray if need be.

I was ready to go.  Backpack filled with the appropriate bug repellent, water, Band-Aids—ya never know—and trail mix, since I never used TRAIL MIX  for its appropriate use before.  It all seemed to be going swimmingly until I made the mistake of hiking mid-day on my first foray into the “woods”.  I would have preferred bears.  People are not my cup of tea.  The signs are quite explicit.  “Hikers only”, “very long walk, rocky terrain”, “I’d turn back if I were you.”   I mean really!  The weather was 90 degrees, there are people dressed in jeans, flip flops, some people from India I am guessing, by their Saris that dragged on the ground behind them.  Oh, and of course the Einstein’s who thought flip flops on the most difficult trail would be wise, which worked out great as 2 of them sprained ankles. I should have told her that someone died just 2 years ago after slipping and falling 150 feet to their death, but I was feeling magnanimous for a change. This Zen thing was working its magic.

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 For the next day I went VERY early in the morning.  WOW, what a difference.  I barely—or is it bearly—saw any people on this excursion.  A couple of people walking dogs on one of the trails, and best of all REAL nature.  Deer with their little white tails whipping around as they put their little deer lips down to the cool clear water….  Oh wait, that doesn’t end well.  For me, however, it was breathtaking.  The early morning sun through the enormous trees, the way the sun glistened on the falls, and streams almost blinded me while it had me stopped in my tracks in awe.  Now I know, for a great deal of you this is old hat.  “Sure, yeah, whatever…. See that all the time.”  But for this suburban chick, I felt as though I was the first person on the moon.  And a feeling of serenity I had not known since my massage.  No, this was a different sensation altogether.  I literally didn’t want it to end.  Covered in sweat and drenched clear through my awesome outfit, I didn’t care.  THIS was amazing!

BK PA falls

BK PA beauty

BK PA TreesBK PA Rocks

My “Dora the Explorer” adventures didn’t stop there.  What good is heading out into what may or may not be the sequel to Deliverance, if you don’t take a few chances? So, even though I was on my own, I found a few “authentic” middle of nowhere establishments for the drinks and snacks that are obligatory.  I have to say, the food was great—for not being in NY—and the people were as friendly as can be.  I made friends wherever I sat my happy butt on a stool.  Again, serenity ensued.  I had crawled outside the box of my apprehension of doing things on my own, and had CONQUERED it—BIG TIME.

When not playing explorer I took full advantage of my resort.  The amazing staff befriended me immediately.  Turns out people like me.  The people there could not have been kinder or more helpful. They made me feel like family from the get-go.  I have to thank my best friend, whose generous gift allowed me to take advantage of the spectacular spa. It was amazing; massage, facial, manicure.  Now tell me what campground has that kind of service?  And a special thanks to a woman named Patty, who was able to hone in on my insatiable appetite. She made suggestion after suggestion and did not steer me wrong even once.  Every morsel of food I had at the resort was fantastic. I could go on and on about my Zen trip into the deep dark woods of a park in Pennsylvania, and the thoroughly relaxing nearby resort, but that would be silly.  I think my gushing about it has been sufficient.

Suffice it to say, this suburban chick has seen the beauty and serenity that lies 2 ½ hours from home and LOVES it. I found I am whole without needing someone to tag along with me.  There is NO stigma in actually WANTING to get away alone. I wanted this, I got it, and it was perfect.  I learned that the serenity lies within me—it’s just often interrupted by reality.

One last note about my literal and spiritual exploration, as I would be remiss to not mention the new friends I made at Bushkill Falls Inn:  Jen O., Patty, Crystal, and my tiny Bulgarian friend Donka who made me feel like family.  I hope when Donka returns to Bulgaria she takes with her the knowledge that she made my birthday vacation amazing.

I learned on my 49th birthday that I can do anything.  This was just the beginning.  🙂

DDJ

Bushkill Falls Inn, PA

Update 2014: Facebook for all of its good or bad has allowed me to maintain a friendships with some of my PA girls. And for that I am quite grateful.  I WILL BE BACK… And you can all warn ROGER.  😉

Tails of Hope

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Today I streamed the anxious, terror filled news from my desk at work—my mind wandering. My heart is aching for Boston, for Massachusetts and for America as a whole.  At the end of the day, terror doesn’t just affect a city or a region. It affects us all, and changes us, irrevocably.

I hear I grew up while the Vietnam War was still going on. I say it like that because I was young, sheltered, and even if I knew; I was too busy being a kid to notice or care. And besides, the bad guys were FAR, FAR AWAY—not here. I would ride my bicycle for hours, for miles… no cell phone to track, or call me. Nothing… Just be home by dinner or dark.  My biggest fear was crossing a major road to get to Barricini’s candy store.

Those days have been gone a long time… but the reality is it changed in a generation. It feels as if today’s world is truly a bad science fiction movie. There is judgment, fear, NO trust, just danger lurking almost anywhere. I know this because I feel it.

I walked out of my office today with the Boston Manhunt still going on.  I walked through midtown past an inordinate amount of police presence, (to make me feel safe, while making me sad at the same time).

Then it happened.  Two strangers walking their dogs stopped on the street as their respective pooches did the “sniff, circle, and wag” routine that I love.  All of a sudden, these 2 people with no ties, perhaps nothing in common but having a dog, were chatting and laughing.  I couldn’t help but feel a smile widen across my face.  I couldn’t help but wonder in my idealistic and insanely improbable world, what it would be like if everyone had a dog. If every dog did the “sniff-circle-wag”, and every one of their respective persons got along, even if that was their ONLY commonality.

What I witnessed should get me through today. I will wake up tomorrow back in reality.  But a girl can dream, and sometimes it helps to have those small moments that warm your heart to get you through the toughest days.

Everyone with a soul is thinking about and praying for anyone affected by terror—anywhere.

Xoxo-  DDJ