gooollysandra

Thoughts on thoughts and images of beautiful things

Category Archives: Uncategorized

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV is absolutely a staple of Thanksgiving at my house. This year, since I live in Chicago,  I went to the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade downtown on State Street. I was sad to miss watching the Macy’s parade on TV, but I was also excited about seeing a parade in person. The parade in Chicago is obviously on a much smaller scale than the one in New York, but it still felt very festive.

It was also very different. Rather than big floats and balloons, the Chicago parade focuses on diversity and inclusion by representing various ethnic groups complete with authentic costumes and music from their cultures. I didn’t see the whole parade, but the countries I saw represented were Bolivia, China, Thailand, Mexico, and the Punjab region of India (and I’m sure there were others). I really admired the Bolivian costumes because they wore these interesting wooden clog-type sandals with some kind of bells that made a nice sound.

There were of course many high school marching bands, tap dancers, and cheer squads. There weren’t too many musical performers though, as there are in the Macy’s parade. The one disappointment was how anti-climactic Santa’s arrival was. There wasn’t any music accompanying his sleigh and there just wasn’t a lot of excitement among the crowd when he finally did arrive. I think one thing that makes the Macy’s parade so fun to watch are the commentators from The Today Show with their witty and dynamic narratives. So maybe Santa’s arrival was disappointing because there was no big announcement or tale about his gift-giving to all the boys and girls around the world.

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Love is a beautiful thing when you have it. Chase after it and don’t let it go.

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Gratitude

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I was reading the fall edition of The Magnolia Journal, which is themed “Gratitude” for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, and it came at a very apropos time in my life since I’ve recently received some medical news that has been a bit of a shock and definitely not welcome. When things like this happen it is so easy to fixate our minds on that one facet of our lives and forget about all the things we should actually be grateful for.  So I am mindfully trying to make an effort to appreciate the positives in the face of adversity, with a little help from Joanna Gaines.

I am, of course, a fan of the show, along with the millions of others who have been inspired by the stunning transformations that she, Chip, and their team churn out season after season. And not to mention the effervescent love between Chip and Jo…I mean, will we all be lucky enough to find that kind of love?? One can only hope!

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In her article on gratitude, Joanna outlines some basic everyday activities in which she has found a sense of pleasure, and even comfort, that I can identify with. Cooking for her family is one. While I don’t have a family of my own, I did enjoy cooking for my parents when I lived at home. I also like cooking with/for friends. I even like cooking just for myself, even though it can be hard to sit down and eat by yourself after putting love and energy into crafting a nice meal. There’s something about it that just feels unnatural…a good meal is definitely better when in the company of others. Cooking can feel therapeutic and productive, not to mention its visual and palatal benefits that result from the finished product.

Driving is another thing Joanna mentions as being a source of relaxation for her, and I can absolutely relate to this one. I don’t always love driving around town when I have to deal with traffic and the constant stop and go, but even then it can be nice to just be in my own head space for a while and listen to music. I LOVED driving when I lived in Williamstown, MA in the Berkshires because every view was just so darn beautiful. The Berkshires are not big mountains, in fact I think they may technically be considered hills, but they are majestic nonetheless. I found any excuse to drive to surrounding towns simply for the scenic drive. I remember driving 45 minutes to the nearest Starbucks one fall evening to get my first pumpkin spice latte of the season. When you have just the right tunes going while on a scenic drive, you can be transported to another place. I don’t have a car now that I live in Chicago and I have to say I do miss driving. But I certainly wouldn’t want to drive in Chicago traffic…

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Gardening and laundry, a couple other activities Joanna mentions as bringing her solace, I haven’t quite mastered. I don’t like getting dirty or coming across the unexpected worm, and I find laundry to be quite tedious. BUT, I found her article so helpful in serving as a reminder to look for joy in little things we do every day and to be grateful that we are even able to do them in the first place. Some other things I would add to the list of things to be grateful for (aside from the obvious family & friends), are random encounters we have everyday – like witnessing two strangers on the subway trying to make a genuine connection, or seeing two people on the street laughing together and wondering what’s so funny. These encounters might not directly pertain to us, but they remind us of the connectedness between people and the importance of these connections, because we are all linked in some way. Not only that, these encounters remind us of our place in this web of connections and that our place is so small (which can be both scary and comforting). And that there are far more devastating issues than those we face, which is humbling. I am constantly reminded of this in Chicago where homeless people lining the streets is a sight on practically every corner and L ride; or take the recent weather-related tragedies that have devastated peoples’ lives… We should also be grateful that we were born into privileged circumstances, all things considered. And taking a look back at all that we’ve accomplished and realizing – damn, how did I do all that?? – is a good opportunity to recognize our worth.

We have to try to remind ourselves that somehow everything will be OK even when it’s hard to see any good in a situation. Things have a way of working themselves out that is usually impossible to understand while we’re on the struggle bus. Especially when we’re faced with an impending obstacle, or a potentially life-altering development, we have to try to remember that there are so many things for which to be grateful regardless.

 

Halloween & Autumn decorations

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Fall has traditionally been my favorite season, although, for some reason, this year I just haven’t been quite as excited about it. I really enjoyed this summer and soaking up all the sun I possibly could, so I guess I’m just not excited for what is to come after Fall…that which shall not be named will be here before we know it and we won’t see the sun until the Spring. In an effort to get into the Fall spirit, I decorated our house a bit for the season, including Halloween, which is slowly becoming one of my favorite holidays. It’s the only time when pretending to be someone else is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged. It’s especially fun when it falls on a weekend, or a Friday or a Monday, when Halloweekend becomes a thing, offering multiple opportunities for multiple costumes!

 

Romance Novels for Dummies

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I had the pleasure of seeing Romance Novels for Dummies at the Williasmtown Theater Festival yesterday, featuring the one and only Justin Long! He has performed in several plays at the festival and is basically a regular now. This play was both funny and heartbreaking, to the point where I saw many people in the audience wiping tears from their face. I myself was doing everything I could to stop the tears from coming out. It was about death, starting over, family dynamics, and of course, online dating, which is a whole other topic in itself. Justin Long even sported a man bun (and a Boston accent)! Here’s a little promotional video for the play, in which Justin Long asks local Williamstown folks about their worst dating experiences.

If you care about gender issues at all…

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I think this essay by Jennifer Aniston in the Huffington Post is a great rebuttal to the way that women are portrayed in the media, especially celebrities. It’s definitely worth the read!

On a related note, this is a very interesting documentary about how masculinity is shaped in this country, and it runs parallel to Miss Representation, which is about the very issue that Jennifer Aniston is talking about – the portrayal of women in the media and the expectations placed on women from an early age to measure up to certain ‘beauty standards’.

Laughing for days…

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In light of the fact that Bernie has officially ended his campaign, and as I’m struggling to come to terms with and accept Hillary’s campaign, let’s just take a moment to poke fun at the other side’s candidate…I know this video is from a while back, but in case you missed it, here’s some seriously funny stuff about Trump from John Oliver!

Now let’s juxtapose some of Trump’s idiotic spewings with this very eloquent and heartfelt speech by Obama at the recent memorial in Dallas.

It’s a scary time politically, but a little comedy along with a reminder of our current President’s brilliance may help for the time being.

Converging lines

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When I was little, having just moved to the U.S. from Italy and going from not having a car to spending a lot of time in the car, I was fascinated by the way that power lines appear to move in and out of one another as I looked out the window during car trips. If you can’t visualize what I mean, try to pay attention to it and observe the power lines the next time you’re driving down a country road (as a passenger). The optical illusion is quite fascinating, mesmerizing, and beautiful in some way. It brings to mind ideas of infinity, continuity, convergence, and linearity.

Reflections on an age-old question…is happiness worth it if it’s only temporary?

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One has to wonder if something temporary, while it may bring you extreme joy, is really worth it since it’s only temporary. Most of the time, when we go into things, we don’t know how long they will last. In this case, it seems only logical to enjoy it as  much as possible because for all you know, it will go on indefinitely. But if you go into something and you know it’s going to be temporary, how do you compensate for the fact that you know it will make you happy in the moment, or for a short time, but then have to give it up and live without it?

On the one hand, it seems most logical not to indulge in temporary happiness in order to avoid missing it when it’s gone. But that would be far too easy. On the other hand, what usually ends up happening, is that you indulge in the temporary happiness because you simply cannot resist it. And the fact that you’ll have to give it up and live without it eventually just isn’t something that you can fathom in the moment.

But then what do you do when it’s over? This is what you should have thought about before when you were deciding whether or not temporary happiness was worth it, but couldn’t possibly imagine at the time. The hard part of missing it and wanting it back is definitely there, and what is the cost? Sorrow. Then you have to ask yourself questions like: was it worth it? Yes. Would you have traded the temporary happiness and avoided sorrow? No. So even then, when you wouldn’t trade the temporary happiness for anything, you still have to deal with the sorrow somehow. Yes, this is the hard part. But knowing that you put yourself into something completely and gave yourself to it completely, in spite of the fact that you knew it was temporary, can be very empowering. And that is exhilarating, despite the sorrow.

Changes

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It’s amazing how sometimes we can see things with such clarity, confidence, and excitement, and other times be struck with fear, apprehension, and indecision. If this is sounding a little bit like bipolar disorder, that’s not what I’m getting at. It’s not an extreme fluctuation in mood and emotion, but rather a fluctuation in outlook and attitude towards things. The difference, I think, is that what I’m talking about is dependent on outside factors that infringe upon us, rather than internal insecurities and fears that run rampant, as is the case with bipolar disorder (this is all coming from someone who has never had bipolar disorder – I am simply trying to point out what the difference is, in my humble opinion).

So how do we compensate for this vast difference in outlook, which can affect our lives in such dramatic ways? For example, it can affect how much (or how little) we choose to go after a career, how we choose to approach relationships and people we care about, how we treat others based on how we feel about ourselves, etc. It’s hard to find that middle ground, realize when we’re there, and are at a point where we can make decisions and move forward  from that unbiased position with the most clarity we can hope to have. It truly might be impossible to realize when we’re at that point, so we can’t necessarily wait to reach that point. We might just have to go for it.