Happy tummy, happy memories

What is it about food and the memories they evoke? I don’t know about you, but my elephant of a memory tends to connect occasions I celebrate with food or the places where I went to remember them by.

I remember “firsts” and count their “anniversaries” with the restaurants I went to and the food I ordered. Happy tummy, happy memories, indeed.

I happily remember the last meal I enjoyed with my family when I left Manila last July. A hearty meal at Corazon over at the East Wing of Shangrila Plaza mall. It was a family luncheon of gourmet Filipino food before I hopped on the plane taking me back home to New York.

Family meal last year at Corazon Restaurant in Shangrila Plaza
CIUDED REAL: Lechon Kawali with Laing by Corazon

I can cook but can’t really indulge in Filipino food here in the big apple, primarily because most Filipino dishes are best enjoyed with rice, a staple I gave up more than 2 decades ago. Then there’s the fact that it’s just myself and my not so little guy anymore — so that’s two people eating viands for a family of 4, and that’s if my super picky dining partner here will even dig into the likes of “Laing” (pictured above) or “sisig” (below). But when I’m in Manila, there’s no dieting for me!

Family meal last year at Corazon Restaurant in Shangrila Plaza
PACO: Pork Sisig, sautéed with onions, chili’s and secret spices

I look back to first meetings or being reunited with friends over brunch.. and while I remember the place we had originally wanted to visit then turned out to have closed already, we landed somewhere else where I had one of the best ever French toasts I’ve had.

My memories of that place and the food and that occasion so many years ago, bring me back to happy thoughts and feelings. The type that having a French toast breakfast brings me back to.

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So to celebrate one of those happy memories this week, I did one of my favorite versions of a crispy French toast I picked up many years ago at one of the hotels I had visited with family. Not exactly the same version I was remembering, but it brought me back to the happy place I am grateful for.

Simple enough.. dip the bread in beaten egg slightly thinned with milk, then coat the slice in Frosted Flakes that have been crushed to smaller pieces. (I like crushing the cereal by hand while in their original plastic container, when the cereal bag has probably a cup or so left.). Toast on a nonstick skillet in butter. No healthy detours — butter or it won’t be French toast!

I like my French toast with some sliced strawberry or banana, slathered with syrup, then bathed with heavy cream. Even just writing that makes me smile — more so when I go back to the memories they bring me.

I am grateful. Those memories come with wave after wave of happy thoughts. And I find myself comforted knowing that I have made some good choices that have brought me to this happy place I am in today. I haven’t always agreed with the choices the universe made for me, but this one steadied me and made me a wiser and better person. French toast at this time of the year will always be a reminder to me of how I have been lucky in many respects. There were a lot of things that worked out and which proved me right, time and again. I am a stronger, better and happier person now, thanks to a bit of French toast one chilly morning years ago.

Monday Musings: Summer

Monday musings in paper and inkThis was really meant to be last week’s Monday post but I got busy working on my new section avatar. I am actually trying to work on it still, but why postpone the post for the graphic?

I usually try to begin the week with a post listing a set of blurbs which are like snippets of what’s running through my head at the start of the week, instead of writing a full blown post. Sometimes one or two actually get written as a full entry later on, but I like the mental exercise of putting shorter paragraphs together without the pressure of developing the idea running through my head. It’s like a mini-workout..

I don’t remember now what I had hoped to write so let’s try to pull this Monday’s mini headlines forming in my head.

Weekend work around. I don’t normally work on weekends unless I have to or am requested to, but yesterday, I purposely set aside time to get started on a document I hope to work on some more today. In my mind, I wanted to manage my stress levels by not having to start from scratch on what are usually hectic Mondays. I set a time limit of sorts and told myself I will only do this task and only this. And I stuck with it. As soon as the task was done, I didn’t linger and shut down. I resumed my weekend. And in more ways than one, I think that helped. I’m on the bus and just got to the city and while I already got some emails that means it’ll be me grabbing coffee and then working away, I have one less source of stress. I’m at east a half hour ahead with the work I completed– and that gives me some breathing room. The important thing is, I didn’t spend the weekend working. I just completed a task.

Sometimes you just need to go with the flow. This Monday was busier than busy but I tried to just go with it and not fight it. I was writing stickies in my head . Reminder(s) to self.

Choosing to be nice. Salad line. You walk towards the end of the line where an acquaintance is waiting her turn. Now I try not to be presumptuous when in a social/work environ such as the cafeteria. So I don’t say hello figuring she was busy on her iPhone. She gets her turn and I get mine and between the two helpers trying to pull our orders together, I know she knew it was me. Still no hello. I go about my business and I walk to the dressing where we were practically face to face. I respect her choice not to be sociable and to pretend like we don’t know each other. Sometime it’s better that way. I’m not mad at her but she just became a statistic in my “not nice” list of people. Wouldn’t it have been just easier to be nice instead of putting so much effort into not being?

Former bestie at work now totally avoids me even when his work means I’m one of his clients. Friendship and professionalism are not the same. You may lose the friendship but you always have to maintain a certain work ethic where you work. I don’t like everyone I work with but I always try and do my job as best I can, no matter who is on the receiving end. I choose to be nice.

I treasure the happy times. Last week, I afforded myself an indulgence and went for a coffee break treat and a lunch adventure. It was a very busy week but I had much to be grateful for. So even when some things didn’t quite pan out the way I had hoped they would, I just kept replaying the “happy ” in my mind, and the truth of the matter is, it was way more than whatever negative moments came my way. I had a warm big hug to the heart and I hold that close and just bask in the warm and fuzzy.

I’m exhausted but I’m smiling at the thought of the warm and fuzzy.. and I know I’m probably making sense only to myself, but that’s why I write.
57th Avenue. Looking towards the west side


HappySo August is here. Another month just rolled away and now we are officially on the tail end of the third quarter of 2019. How time has flown.

I try to start my Mondays on a positive note, no matter how busy or chaotic things shape up to be when I glance at my calendar. I’m not a runner but I liken it to what I would be doing if I were psyching myself up for a sprint or a jog. There’s that visual of brightness and energy.

I’ve come to rely on whatever resources I can find to put me on that positive track. While I haven’t meditated much of late, I know that it’s a helpful tool. I work on imbibing positive energy through external stimuli and my own workings. I visualize. I reach deep down inside me to pull the positivity to the surface. I find my “happy”.

Don’t you just love it when a thought or a memory brings you there? More so when there are days when you need those short bursts of “good” and “happy” — be it in the form of laughter, a smile or a snapshot in your mind. Those are the real moments that matter. Why else do we have photographs and souvenirs to remember things by. We want to bring ourselves back through the memories those pieces trigger.

It seems that life has gotten busier and busier as the years have gone by. It takes a more determined effort to carve out moments to bask in a bit of happy in your mind, but the truth of the matter is, those moments don’t always have to be all that grand or big.

Have you ever tried to search for #happy on Instagram or Twitter? On IG alone, there are 535 million posts tagged with that single word. So you should have inspiration aplenty with what makes others happy. You shouldn’t have such a difficult time finding a #happy worthy moment.

Just close your eyes, take a deep breath, muster a smile, and picture the word “happy” and see what comes to mind. Then let that vision linger for 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 seconds. If it’s a memory, let that clip roll in your mind and loop it if you want or just be there in the moment again.

Just be.

Don’t even go to how that feeling was from so long ago, or is of a different place and time, or is no longer real. It was when it happened and that is what you hang on to.

Stay with the happy. No if’s, no buts. Just be.

Just Fab

This blog post has been in my draft folder for over two weeks now, and is still a work in progress.   It hasn’t been for lack of trying because I have been working on it all this time.  I guess it’s just that my thoughts (and my world) are in flux and I’m just riding it out.

I haven’t been here because I’ve been preoccupied by life in general.  I’m not too happy that I’ve slacked off writing here yet again, but not even having access to posting on just about every handheld or hardware I have has helped. I had been planning on writing about half a dozen topics before, on and after hitting my 49th birthday, but sometimes things just don’t go as planned.  Maybe it’s the age — but when that happens, I simply let go.  (It’s just a blog — I’ll live if I don’t get to document what has happened in my otherwise staid existence.  Ha!)

For one thing, I have been in Manila (and other parts of the Philippines) the last two weeks.  I have been active on Instagram, and even Twitter, so I have not been completely absent.  My art journal / altered book has likewise suffered from making do with weekly snippets (which doesn’t make for much journaling), but I’m trying to keep up.  On the whole, life has just been fabulous the last couple of weeks, even if it has not been without its challenges.  I think I’ve been luckier than most in many respects and I couldn’t be happier.
#JeepneyStories: #GothamChickinCebu #sightseeinginCebu #publictransportation #cebu #jeepney #kingoftheroad #itsGoodToBeHome #itsalwaysfuninthePhilippines
The trip home, as always, was too short.  It was even shorter this time because I couldn’t do the usual three week vacation.  I had come home for a wedding and planned family outings around it in the two weeks and two days I managed to carve out for this trip.  I tried to focus on enjoying my immediate family instead of going out everyday.  We did a lot of firsts which made it even more memorable.

But before that, I turned 49.  (Cue balloons and confetti falling from the ceiling..).  My little guy and I had a birthday dinner and I got the most precious gift ever with a series of posters, starting with something taped to our front door, all the way to the top of the stairs and finally, a poster which said:
@angelogon2004 : Best birthday greeting Ever! #motherhood #Angelo #birthdaygreeting #priceless #asonslove #forever #mothersandson #YouMakeItAllWorthIt #grateful #myworld
Speechless.   While most people dread the coming of birthdays after the big four-oh, I’ve never been more comfortable in my own skin than I am now.  I like how I look and feel and I know that I am in transition to something better.  I find myself looking forward to doing more and accomplishing even more in the immediate future.  Instead of looking at advancing in age as an impediment or obstacle, I have come to see it as a means to spring forward with a renewed sense of purpose.

I think I have arrived at this point with a self-assurance that has helped me to  handle life’s surprises a little better.  The last year or two have been very challenging but even I have surprised myself at how I had managed to stay afloat in the fray.  I have learned many lessons along the way, and have found myself being humbled over and over again.  Yet looking back from where I am right now, I have to say I have been truly blessed.

Good things do come out of the bad that come into our lives.  Perhaps it was just the old headstrong, outspoken me — but I may have offended someone I thanked for messing things up, for the good that experience later brought into my life. I guess there was no tactful way of saying it that wouldn’t have made that person take offense, but that was a heartfelt thanks despite the fact that it may have seemed sarcastic.

There are many good things in my life right now which I wouldn’t have even bothered to consider had things not gotten so terribly wrong in the recent past.  I know it might seem like a hard sell of the cliches that allude to how there is always something good in everything, no matter how bad things may get.  And yet at the end of the day, after the dust has settled, I choose to look on the positive despite the pain.  It actually has helped me to deal with the loss and the hurt better. It helped me to let go of the bitterness.  It helped me to move forward.  And that wouldn’t have been possible without the preceding bad turns that came my way — and I have to recognize that for what it truly is.

Fabulous is a good word to describe the way I look at life these days.  I am still on that journey to happy, but I know I’m getting there.  I try to find the things that are worth remembering — zeroing in on the happy thoughts.  I try to focus on the positive instead of the bad things, the reasons to smile instead of worry or feel hurt.

There are many people who have come into and gone out of my life and there seems to be a constant stream of that these days.  I have gotten past hanging on and chasing people — so I have found a comfortable space where I am and I just sit and welcome those who decide to say hello, and say a non-bitter goodbye to those who have to go.  Again, it must be age.  I relish those who choose to share their lives with me in whatever shape or form.  And with the same token, I let go of those who find themselves walking past, or leaving after sitting down for a chat.

Even those who I wish would stay, I no longer try to hold back.  If they choose to stay a while, I will be grateful.  But if they find that they need to move on or if they change their minds, then I thank them for what time and part of themselves they had shared with me and I let go.

I’ve come to believe that everyone we encounter has a reason for having walked into our lives.  It’s up to us to recognize that for what it is.  And as much as we would want things to turn out the way we want them to, there are things beyond our control.

So I stick with the “fab”.

Coming up for Air

Blog graphicsI had a whirl of a morning today. The afternoon doesn’t seem to be any different. I’m taking a moment to look at the fog descending on downtown thinking about the cold spell we’re in for, the next couple of days. I wish my head wasn’t spinning like it is. I’m trying to think of happy thoughts, and hopefully it’ll give me the air I so badly need.

This morning, I came up for air. It was brief.. I kicked in the water and started to feel myself rising to the surface. I let the water carry me up… I look up towards the surface and I could see the sun gleaming above the water. Brighter and brighter. 

Finally, the sun seemed to be within reach.  I raise my hand as if the sun would reach down and pull me up.  I broke the surface and took a big gulp of air… And another .. And another. I looked up at the blue sky above me and I breathed in deeply, the tongues of the waves teasing my skin.  And after the struggle up, I close my eyes and smile.

“That was fun,” I whispered to no one in particular. And I heard the ocean whisper back, “That was fun, indeed.”

I don’t like feeling this way because it makes me seek comfort food. Thankfully, my sugar tolerance seems to be waning in recent months. Where I could gorge on bar after bar of the treat before, now my tastebuds find the usual sweetness too much after a modest helping.  Maybe I’m losing my choco-tolerance.  Is that supposed to be good?  (And I am amused by that thought.. I have a lifetime love affair with chocolate… NEVER!)

Again, I go back to happy thoughts..

… Angelo’s giggly laughter — the one that’s deep and totally amused and innocent..


… freshwater pearls, rose quartz and labradorite.

… going home to Manila in April.

… Ireland in June.  (I have just been told I’m going with the team heading there.. can’t wait!)

… Banana pudding.

… Mom’s macapuno or leche flan.

… Bailey’s on the rocks.

… Being with Fe.. Donna.. Gina.. Ces.. Jonathan.. Dino.. not at the same time please.

… Parrots… Chelsea… Summa… coming up for air.

… butter pecan ice cream.

… Freedoooooommmm.

Let’s stop there or I will be on an artificial high that might just make it all the more impossible for me to get any work done.

Isn’t it amazing how thinking happy and pleasant thoughts can actually lift your spirits up?  Now, if only the same things could get rid of all the things or people who bring us unhappy or negative vibes — that would be perfect.  But life isn’t perfect, is it?  Unfortunately, it is not.

But we can always choose to come up for air.  I did.  And that was fun, indeed.

A Happy Place Apart

Sunset over Manhattan - Can't ever grow tired of this view.  The Empire State Building as the setting sun illuminates it in the colors of fall. #sunset #nyc #Manhattan #mynyc #autumninnewyork #theempirestatebuilding #sunsetovermanhattanI am finally back on Instagram and back to snapping shots of my home city!  Although it’s a tad bit disappointing that I wasn’t upgraded to the coveted iPhone 6 just yet — there’s a company freeze on the upgrades — I suppose, at least until the big bosses get theirs.  I’m not complaining.  I’m just glad to have my main cell phone number back on line, although arranging the apps and icons on my various screens is still in progress and keeping me on the verge of a vertigo attack.

Sometimes, I get lucky.  The shot above was actually just one of those I took after walking to the other side of my floor, and I discovered a new trick to prevent the reflection of the interior lights from bouncing off of the glass window.  I simply stuck the phone to the glass, as in on top of it, as if it were a filter in front of the actual phone camera.  Voila!

Posted on my Instagram feed 2 weeks ago before the other iPhone changed hands, this picture was reposted by the official @empirestatebldg Instagram account and was liked more than 2400+ times on that page and garnered me at least a dozen additional “followers”.  Of course, I was honored.  Again, sometimes, I get lucky.

Yet another reason to smile.  Another little note to tuck into that bucket of “happy”.

My sister wrote me a rather pointed inquiry on my state of heart with a single sentence e-mail.  (“Are you okay, sis?,” she wrote.)  She has a knack for emphasis by decluttering her message and going straight to the point.  I’d usually just call her back but it was late last night and I thought I’d give her something to read.

Yes, I’m okay.  I’ve just been very busy of late, but I am doing okay and trying to concentrate on “happy” thoughts and bits and pieces that bring me to that happy place.  I’ve come to discover that there are actually a lot of things to tuck into my little virtual scrapbook in my heart — the one I go to when I feel the need to try and lift my spirits up.  It’s where all the reminders of “good” and “okay” are — in simple thoughts, lines, memories and snapshots.

You know how you would often remember bits and pieces of a conversation, or scenes framed by a certain event or moment in your mind.  It could be words you read somewhere — perhaps a magazine, an e-mail or a written message handed to you.  It might be the taste of something you had, a movie you keep wanting to watch over and over again, or a line in a song.  And even in this place of “happy” thoughts there are buckets for the different things that bring you there, from the ordinary to those special ones that bring you to a happy place apart.

Four words that have stuck with me through most of the past week and a half — “A Happy Place Apart”.   You want to keep going there but then you want to save it for when you need it most so that you can savor the smile, the warmth of that thought, of remembering things, or laughing over something you laughed about not too long ago.  And it actually works.  It brings me to that happy place apart from all the other happy places I have tucked in my heart.

It is that happy place apart that makes me say, yes, I’m okay.  Because in the midst of it all, I have a lot to be thankful for.  I have a lot to smile about.  I have a lot to remain hopeful for.  I’d be hard pressed to justify sulking or moping, or even asking “Why me?”.

It might be knowing I got featured by THE @empirestatebldg account, and I got congratulated by people I don’t even know from Adam.  Or the thought of indulging in a piece of my chocolate treat from Lilac at Grand Central Market, the uber sinful milk chocolate caramel nut bar.  (Seriously thinking of stopping by this morning despite the fact it will mean a major detour in the commute into the city, and a major dent on the diet, at that!)  It might be about happily anticipating some books I ordered in connection with an online History course I enrolled in recently.  (That’s another blog post altogether.)  It might be simply writing or pinging one of my three siblings across the oceans for a conversation.

And sometimes you hear something random like the latest news and it reminds you of something connected.  Even that can bring you to that happy place.

Another weekend for all of us — another weekend for more happy thoughts — and in case there’s a shortage of that, there will be that happy place apart tucked somewhere in my heart.

As random as it gets

I was sitting here ready to write anything that comes to mind — yes, after waking up again at 4:30am — but then I got pinged on Facebook by an old, old, old friend from more than 20 years ago.  (Kristhel, it HAS been that long.)

Back then, she was interning at the advertising agency I was working at while I was in law school, and we had developed a special bond and I took her under my wing.  I am always blown away by how some people who have slipped out of our lives suddenly pop back up from out of the blue, thanks to all the technology and social media today.  For that, I am happy.

I try not to troll FB too much these days.  I’m usually online to upload something, respond to a message (rarely) or to send one.  The friend list needs to be trimmed, but how do you choose who to follow or unfollow?  So I miss most of the updates except when they come up on my feed just as I log on.  (Millet, did my pony get there yet? LOL)  There are only a number of people whose feeds I actually seek out apart from my siblings who usually tag me to alert me to what’s newly uploaded.  But when a message from friends like Kristhel pop up, I find myself grateful that there’s Facebook.  (Don’t forget to click on those “other” messages from people not on your friend list!)

Even on Instagram, Flickr and Pinterest, I rarely click the “Follow” button.  I’m not being a snob… my presence online, more so here, is for very selfish reasons.  I’m keeping an online journal for my own benefit. =)

Someone I met yesterday asked me what I blog about.. myself, I said. LOL.. some might term that as being “self-absorbed” but that’s the whole truth.  Some people write for an audience. I write for me, myself and I.  And maybe someone stumbling into my corner of the web might find something amusing or entertaining, or maybe once in a blue moon, even helpful.

For Kristhel, read up and get caught up on what’s been happening in my life.. but please, please drop the “Ma’am.”  Your son is older than mine!

We were both so excited to have found each other — and I am grateful to the universe for bringing her my way again.  These days, I’m grateful for every reason the world gives me to smile.  And I do smile — happy thoughts are supposed to be indulged in and savored and relived over and over again, given the heartbreak and the disenchantment around us.  It doesn’t have to be a giddy-happy smile — even an ever so slight curve of the lip will do.

So Kristhel is this morning’s happy thought.  I’m so glad I went online on FB to send BFF Fe a message.  (My iPhone is still on order so no viber, just yet.)  She goes into that bucket in my heart that has my happy thoughts about elevators, my red nails, my favorite pair of heels, my little tyke, and all those things that bring me to a happy place.



On with the happiness journal

My Altered Book: Work in Progress - Happy and Hysterically Happy

One of the problems I’ve had with the altered book is that I cannot drench it in too much water so watercolor has to be applied sparingly from here on, and not without protecting the spine by adding a layer of masking tape.  But I like working with watercolor.  So here’s the work around.

Last night I experimented on painting watercolor on some adhesive labels, printing the outline of letters and cutting them out.  (Yes, letter by letter.)  I actually liked how it came out.

It takes some effort to cut each letter but it was worth the effort.  I also plastered them onto the page without any lined guides or anything.  I like the casual “feel” of the piece.

I am actually thinking I’ll be journaling soon.  Up to this point, I’ve been creating journaling pages and journal prompts by plastering happiness quotes on the various layouts in the book.  The idea is for me to have a book to write about happy thoughts, memories and occasions.  This book is supposed to serve as an anchor during those times when challenges come my way, and I need a ‘reminder’ of the good and all that I’ve been blessed with.

Writing in a journal used to be a means for me to air out my mood or thought of the moment, but this journal is special because it focuses on the positive.  Working on its pages has actually afforded me a daily exercise of browsing for quotes on happiness, which in turn have brought a smile to my face and to my heart.

In the every day struggle of life, we often forget that we have been so blessed, and I am only human to admit that I need a reminder every now and again.

My Altered Book: Work in Progress Cut Out Letters - HAPPINESS

Meanwhile, my multi-page layout is “getting there”.  I’m still “repairing some pages, but I’m actually seeing the word “pop out”.  I’ve sort of stopped a layout or two after this and have concentrated on sprucing up the pages before it.

Another day ended, and another week ALMOST ended. Friday. (That made me smile.) I just wish this headache that’s crowding my head would go away. I’m glad I have a ride home — although it means a stop at the Filipino restaurant for dinner and maybe some supplies from the Filipino store — the car as against a nap on the express bus when I’m feeling like I’m feeling is a welcome respite.

Back to my altered book. I am going to do some “repairs” on the pages I’ve been working on. I completed another multi-page layout today (the set with the tags) by putting a quotation on each spread. They came out rather nicely and made the pages “journal entry ready”. (Pictures tomorrow.) I also love the set of quotes I grabbed from my now favorite quotations webside, The Quote Garden.

My swaps have been put on hold for the moment, but I will be busy writing a few postcards tonight. The Artist Trading Cards will have to wait until the weekend.

The only thing I don’t like about the evenings is that I usually get the urge to work on the altered book as I wind down closer to midnight. So sometimes when I start painting at 11:30pm perhaps, I don’t finish until a few minutes after midnight. I usually just let the layout dry anyway until the next morning.

Working on the altered book has really helped me to focus on the positive. There are moments at the start of the day when negative or heavy thoughts threaten to crowd my heart, and all I have to do is reach out for the book and open to the page of quotes and read two or three of them for a nudge to think about upbeat thoughts. It’s like an extra shot of espresso on the morning commute or anytime during the day.

Just a little extra effort please

(Post drafted while on the bus home the previous night.)

I’m on my way home quite a bit before I usually do.  Parent-Teacher welcome tonight.

I rushed to the bus stop and actually caught a bus that had just closed its door but was still waiting for the light to go from red to green.  I knew he saw me running to his side, and I gently tapped on the door, but he ignored me.  I took a deep breath, stepped back and decided not to get all upset by it.  No sense in getting all riled up over something I couldn’t do anything about.  It’s just sad that sometimes, people don’t want to make nice.  So I waited for the next bus.

(Unbelievably, the heat is on in the bus.. airconditioning please!… looks like the driver heard me — cool air… finally!)

I have to admit I’m not always successful in going the extra mile when needed.  You know how sometimes you just don’t have the energy to expend the effort to wait a second more?  Or to bend down and pick up something?  Or when you rush past by when you could’ve slowed down a little… more so in years past.  These days, I try to give it a little more effort.  It’s often the little things that count in the course of your day.  And we find ourselves simply shrugging our shoulders and smiling when others don’t make the effort themselves.  I’d like to think that my giving it the effort will create some ripple effect.  Somewhere along the way, I’d like to believe I would’ve helped to make this world a kinder and better place.

Again, I am not always that successful.  Sometimes I give in to some evil thoughts lurking in my head about spreading chaos and cursing my (perceived) enemies or going on a monologue in my head just unloading what’s in my heart.  I try to stop myself when that happens because sometimes, it really gets to me.  It makes my heart tighten up and I get “distracted” and “derailed”.  And the feeling of my anger at myself creeps up from nowhere — and that makes me want to reach for my “happiness journal” for relief.

“Focus on the happy.”  I repeat that to myself over and over and over again.  And there are many things to be happy about. =)  (That thought literally made me smile.)

It just takes a little extra effort.  It doesn’t cost anything.