I didn’t plan to read for an hour this afternoon from a novel that had been gathering dust on a wrought iron plant stand. But I joyfully immersed myself in another world. The transition from working on a computer to holding a real book while cocooned in warm blankets and bathed in sunlight sparked life even as my body relaxed into softness. The mental vacation to far-off vistas was rare refreshment amidst the mundane tasks occupying so much of each day. The evening was more relaxed and happy because of that break in routine. I even sang a catchy tune while preparing dinner.
A weekday morning at the Yale University Art Gallery with my daughter and granddaughter was a wonderful way to spend a school vacation day. The four-story treasure trove houses ancient Chinese artifacts, 17th century European paintings, and modern art within Gothic architecture at one end and a modern glass entrance on the other. Less than an hour’s drive from Mystic with street parking made the activity easy. It didn’t hurt that there were plenty of delicious lunch choices nearby and admittance to the museum is always free.
One weeknight found me bowling with some girlfriends at Spare Time in Groton. Cheering each other on resulted in wide smiles and relaxed body language. It provided a much-needed break for all who attended. A $5 movie at the Regal Cinema in Pawcatuck was a great way to wrap up a rainy Tuesday. A warm February walk with a friend down River Road in Mystic boosted my hope for an early spring. I don’t know any place more vibrant than Mystic during warm weather when boats reappear alongside countless flowers and birds. The snow has finally melted off my kayak so I’m almost ready to launch my wide-ride personal watercraft.
Each of these activities created an oasis from routine. Even with occasional warm days, enduring winter is challenging. After a rocky stretch of my own, a kind friend wisely advised me to pamper myself. This prompted me to identify and embrace affordable indulgences while often including friends. Planned fun activities are circled on my paper calendar in bright colors and I look forward to attending as many as circumstances permit. Life has a way of whittling down the events I actually attend but I keep trying.
My tiny home isn’t conducive to group dinners but I’ve embraced last-minute invitations to $1 slices at Pizzetta in downtown Mystic. Chatting with friends, both old and new, is enjoyable at this casual spot but particularly lovely in warm weather when we’re sitting outdoors. And I really appreciate friends who host pot luck dinners.
Seeing River Road in Mystic through the eyes of a newcomer gives me a chance to be a tour guide. Special events at the revitalized Mystic Museum of Art expose me to new art forms and local artists. A recent book reading at Bank Square Books included the advice to create a “bucket list” of activities and to DO them without delay.
Two years ago my childhood friend, Alison, passed away at age 51 after more than a decade of cancer. She squeezed more joy into those years than anyone else I know. Her zeal for life, travel, and adventure drew me into more interesting and fun activities than I would ever have experienced without her. The memories created together now prompt both smiles and pain.
She regularly enticed me out of my comfort zone which put more life into my living. It has been difficult to continue without her but I’m determined to create more of everything that makes me happy.
There will always be excuses why we can’t do something but please go ahead and do it anyway. Maybe you can’t travel to Italy but find an Italian neighborhood and eat some good food. Seek out local museums and historic details just as you would do when traveling.
One of my favorite day trips was with a friend to a Polish neighborhood for a wonderful lunch and a visit to a renowned museum. Both had always been within 30 minutes of home but it required a conscious effort to break out of routine. I’ll always be grateful that she chose to share that experience with me.
It helps to live in a vibrant tourist area because friends and family enjoy visiting. Because of visitors, I finally experienced the beautiful Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, and the Lighthouse Museum in Stonington Borough. It was fun to play tourist with friends who wanted to wander slightly off the beaten path after experiencing the Seaport and the Aquarium. For an interesting self-tour of Mystic, check out the book Mystic Seafarer’s Trail. Local author, Lisa Saunders, identifies historical treasures hidden in plain sight; think Titanic and Emelia Earhart. So many locals work or volunteer at Mystic Seaport that there are historians among us and they have great stories to share. Mystic is packed full of artists, authors, adventurers and musicians and has been for decades. Interesting people, places and things surround us.
Warm weather includes time on the water but until the weather cooperates, I’ll watch travel videos and make new friends, especially those who yearn for new experiences. I’m particularly fond of individuals who are willing to share bites of yummy food. 🙂 My love of kayaking and boating developed when a new friend introducing me to floating in a colorful piece of plastic. Paddling down the Mystic River and in Stonington Harbor with Cindy forever changed the way I view this gorgeous place. So I’ll pause to enjoy ocean views and scents, architecture, flowers, and the laughter of children. I’ll peruse old photos and favorite family recipes. I’ll hug often and laugh too loud. There will always be excuses why I shouldn’t but … I’ll do it anyway and I hope you will too. With life’s curveballs, there’s no way of knowing when that last opportunity will be behind us. Carpe diem and love with everything you’ve got.