I am a globetrotter and not the basketball kind. There is a saying that in America we live to work and in Europe they work to Live. I live and work to travel. These experiences are imprinted in my mind and have filled my soul and what I call, “This is the Life” moments: Treasure hunting at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. Climbing the Pyramids in Egypt, Eating truffles in Italy. Getting baptized in the Jordan River and floating in the Dead Sea. Biking in Majorca, Spain. Hot Air Ballooning over the temples in Burma. Water-Fall Rappelling in Costa Rica. Strolling the promenade in Cannes. Shopping in Copenhagen. Ginseng Facials in Korea. Skinny dipping in St. Maarten. Seeing turtles hatch in Florida. Watching the Bund light up in Shanghai. Bumping into the Tour de France in Paris. Crewing an America’s Cup Sailboat in the Bahamas. Climbing Anchor Wat in Cambodia. Drinking wine on the Rhine in Germany. White water River Rafting in Alaska. Eating PEI Clams on Prince Edward Island and eating Mussels in Brussels. Many of my friends live vicariously through me as I galavant around the globe.
Next to travel, dining in restaurants and being with family and friends would be right up there with travel. I was born and raised in San Francisco and fortunate to have an aunt that loved food. Some people eat to live. She definitely lived to eat! San Franicsco is a foodie paradise with Dim Sum on Clement, Sushi in Japantown, Mexican on Mission, All American House of Prime Rib on Van Ness, Vietnamese in the Tenderloin, Italian in North Beach, Hamburgers on Sourdough Bread on Washington Square, Calamari at the Cliff House, Crab Louie and Clam Chowder at Scoma’s, and Shabu Shabu in the Richmond. Nothing could be better than reservations at your favorite restaurant with fresh bread on the table. (Growing up in San Francisco makes you an automatic bread snob.) My aunt used to say, you know a good restaurant by the quality of the bread they serve and it better be warm. Calamari is my favorite appetizer to begin a meal with Cioppino and a good bottle of wine. I end the dinner with coffee and desert-usually Tiramisu. It goes without saying we take pictures of the mouthwatering food and the obligatory wide angle toast taken by the waiter. Eating in San Francisco is fun, cultural, magic, and gastronomical all at the same time.
Since my passport was forced to take a sabbatical for my own safety and restaurants were forced to close during COVID I have a new appreciation for what brings me joy. Everyday life’s pleasures that you can find in your own backyard.
- Tennis: I have not played since high school over 40 years ago. I now play 3 times a week and can’t get enough. I also recently started playing Pickleball.
- Writing post dissertation: I started a gratitude journal – and writing is a nice way to clear my head and pontificate life.
- Walking: Like drinking 8 glasses of water a day, I always knew walking was good for you but never made time to do it. I take 3 mile walks and the time just flies by. I never had time to walk or was “too” busy. I love the feel of my body as it glides down a path.
- Peloton: My guilty pleasure. I didn’t realize what a social exerciser I was. I always loved going to the gym. However, all this time I thought it was because I wanted to be healthy and get toned. Nope – I love going tio the gym because of the people and the camaraderie. Now that I have an actual person talking to me as I ride and can high five people – I’m a happy camper.
- Zooming with old friends: I’ve connected with long lost friends from 40, 30, 20, 10, and 5 years ago. It’s crazy, but when we get together it’s like no time has passed. I don’t know why I was so busy that I didn’t take the time to stay more connected to good people I’ve met along my journey.
- Korean Dramas – I have never watched a Korean Drama in my life. My sister told me to watch Crash Landing on You. My mom and I watched the entire series and saw the sun rise the next morning. Our eyes were glued to the tube If you haven’t seen Crash Landing on You, I double dare you to watch one or two episodes and see if you get hooked.
I am one of the lucky or unlucky ones to have a birthday in between two of the most celebrated holidays of the year. Right in between Christmas and New Years. Any December 26th to 30th babies out there? I feel ya! 2020 was my 60th! The big 6-0 where you climb El Capitan, Go Sky Diving, Hit the spa for a girls weekend or go to New York, New York and see some shows.
Here are two highlights of me turning 60 during COVID:
The day I turned 60 my Peloton Screen name went from JoyRider 353 Female 50’s to JoyRider 353 Female 60’s – Damn 10 years in one day. I guess that’s why they call us hustler’s in class.
Next, I went to get my second dental cleaning in before the end of the year and had to fill out a COVID Questionnaire before I entered the office.
- Have you or anyone in your household had any of the following symptoms in the last 21 days: sore throat, cough, chills, shortness of breath, loss of smell, loss of taste? NO
- Have you or anyone in your household traveled in the U.S. or internationally in the past 21 days? NO
- Do you have any reason to believe you or anyone in your household has been exposed to or acquired COVID-19? No
- Are you 60 or over?
What???? Am I over 60?! Where did that number come from? Shouldn’t it be like 70 or 80? My birthday was on the 28th and my dental cleaning was on the 29th so technically I was only one day over 60. When the Dental Hygienist met me at the desk, she said – did you fill out the questionnaire? I said, “yes.” Then she said, did you answer “no” to everything? I said everything but are you over 60!
Suffice to say, the big 6 – 0 was uneventful until……. My nephew made me Tiramisu. OMG – it was so good. The recipe was from Italy and it was heaven on earth. I am a Tiramisu connoisseur and just like Fried Calamari, I try it wherever I go. If I see it on the menu – I don’t ask if anyone wants to share – I just tell the waitress to bring it on.
The same goes with Tiramisu. I can look at a whole dessert menu and say no thanks, “I’m full” with no problem. But when I see TIRAMISU….. I ain’t full till the fat lady sings. I’ve had Tiramisu in Italy, on cruise ships, and five star restaurants. I’ve had Tiramisu in cups, triangles, squares, and fancy plates. You name it, I’ve tried it. Some are good but it’s rare to score a perfect 10 on the Joy scale.
What is a perfect 10 on the Joy scale? It’s Katelyn Ohashi’s perfect 10 floor routine – https://youtu.be/4ic7RNS4Dfo
This routine was 100% pure joy. In fact, she was given an ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) Award for her efforts in 2019.
Katelyn was on track to compete in the Olympics until an injury crushed her dreams. She pivoted to the collegiate level with a new coach who helped her find the joy she lost in the ruthless quest to be an Olympic Champion. Her coach helped her get her confidence back and to compete not for Gold but for herself and the joy of gymnastics.
My nephew’s Tiramisu was a perfect 10 chased with Joy. Time stopped while I savored each bite and couldn’t wait for the next. It was light, smooth and melted in your mouth with a hint of coffee. Each bite put a smile on my face. It was so good, before my mother could put another bite in her mouth, she said, “make me one for my birthday!” It was the best Tiramisu we ever tasted! Who knew – COVID would prevent me from going to a restaurant and ordering my favorite dessert on my 60th birthday only to find – my nephew’s first attempt at Tiramisu was better than anything I’ve tasted before.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make your heart jump. You don’t always need to go from one bucket list to another to experience joy. When you stop looking for the Big Kahuna you open space for joy to find you. As you stop to watch the sunset, take time to talk and be with people – joy comes knocking on your door. Allow joy to find you rather than chasing it down with the Fear of Missing Out. You don’t always have to spend a lot of money and travel the world to have a, “This is the life” moment. The best things in life come from the heart and it might be homemade and taste so good that you lick the spoon and say, Oh what the F_ _ K I’m going to have another piece… it’s my birthday!