2016, My Year in Review

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2016 has certainly had it’s highs and lows. For me and my family, we’ve had a pretty good year. In our little bubble, we’ve been fortunate and I count our blessings daily. Gratitude means a great deal, I’ve learned over the years. Gratitude and hope. On the periphery, 2016 wasn’t as kind to our nation as a whole. It seems more divided than ever before: half the country is left with dropped jaws and the others disgusted by the apparent hypocrisy of it all. In entertainment, we have been robbed of much talent; while I recognize all the people who passed brought smiles to our lives, there remains empty spaces in their loved ones’ hearts and homes, and that leaves me sad.

BUT, life is cyclical and the world keeps on spinning. I remain hopeful as we look ahead because there is no sense in wallowing in what could have been. Strong people move on; I believe, together, we are a strong people.

I am hopeful that my family will remain healthy and prosper in the upcoming year. I hope Ryan’s plans for work fall in place they way he would like for them to. I hope Tyler finds his niche or at least his upcoming internship @ WPLR w/ Chaz & AJ in the Morning points him in the right direction. I hope my daughter takes advantage of a study-in-Italy opportunity over the summer because I know it will shape her in ways she cannot yet conceive of; likewise, I hope she continues to excel at and LOVE her major at school.

I am thankful for so much this year. First and foremost, the health of both my immediate family and that of my extended family. Anthony and I have also been blessed with the opportunity of excessive travel this year. We have taken every kind of transportation you can imagine (the most exciting being driving a car through parts of Italy, including Rome (yes, I am raising the imaginary trophy we earned for getting there safe and sound). We’ve traveled throughout Italy (from Venice to Florence to Tuscany to Pisa to Rome to Sorrento to Capri to Amalfi/Positano) on a 10 day tour; then, we flew to Paris for 3 days, and finally took the Chunnel from Paris to London for another 3 days from June 24th- July 9th. I can’t imagine another trip will top this one. It’s something we have dreamed of for years. The planning took about two years to pull together. We planned every leg of the trip together. It was exciting to experience what we had put into motion, with very few kinks, and a lot of adventure. It was also a turning point in our relationship. I think it marked a transition into a new chapter, one in which we relearn to enjoy each other’s company without the distractions that come with raising a family. Earlier, we took a trip to visit our son Ryan who is a chef @ Dusek’s in Chicago; we also met his girlfriend, Sarah. Just hanging out with him in his element was both relaxing and eye opening. We got to see his world through his eyes. In August, Ryan and Sarah joined the four of us at Cape Cod, our collective happy place. We could only manage to get there for a long weekend, but we made the most quality of our time there. In October, Anthony and I got to Las Vegas for the first time for a long weekend. It was a first for both of us; while I didn’t expect to like it, really, just the opposite was true. I loved it and we both can’t wait to return. It’s akin to a Disney World for adults. So much to do and see, something for everyone, really, a true spectacle.

There is nothing I enjoy more than travel except spending time w/ my family. We had a lot of quality time with family this year. We are learning to approach this time differently than when our children were, in fact, children. It’s an adjustment, I would say Cape Cod was the first reality of that lesson, but we’re working on improving and we’re getting there. Ryan has been home since the week before Thanksgiving (it’s been 6 weeks, now) and it’s been so wonderful. After he’s been gone for technically three years (but really five), it’s sometimes difficult to navigate what’s changed and what’s remained the same. This time with him, home, as helped us all put some things into perspective. It’s been good. The five of us enjoyed a weekend in NYC. We went for the purpose of seeing a Ranger’s game. We stayed overnight, saw some Christmas decorations, we visited the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and ate @ Pellegrino’s in Little Italy and @ The Spotted Pig in SoHo,. Ryan has been cooking for us at home, such that I feel spoiled as if we have our own private chef. But better than anything are the quiet normal moments between/among us. Nothing makes me feel more whole than being together — just the five of us– whether we are doing something new and exciting or just hanging out watching a Ranger’s game.

At work, I have also seen a transition. We experienced a tough several years, and I feel we are on the cusp of something deservedly satisfying and gratifying. I used to say I felt like I found a job in Shangri-la, then there came a very dark period, and with some recent changes, I am hopeful for what’s to come. I feel a positive vibe. And, as always, the silver lining is working with the kids whom I truly enjoy. This year, I have the pleasure of working with one of my former students as she begins her career as a teacher; she’ll be student teaching for me in February which I’m really looking forward to.

Personally, I made the commitment to work on myself. Anthony and I dieted, which it’s true, but I prefer to think of it as making some life changes. I lost 25 lbs and he lost 35. We both feel great, but more so, I think we learned some things about eating and being healthy that was long overdue. I hope we continue this way of eating and living into the future.. Now, this year, I need to work on the exercise. I hope by this time next year, I’ll be reflecting on how glad I am to have put daily exercise into my life. Time will tell.

I don’t know what’s ahead. I hope it’s filled with good, but I’ve lived long enough to know we have to overcome the bad to enjoy the good. We will. I BELIEVE in us. I wish us all health and happiness and love. I wish our nation cohesiveness and tolerance (and more than tolerance, appreciation of one another and acceptance of our differences, all the things that make us individuals). My wish for our controversial leader-elect is to use his intelligence wisely, to practice patience, and to think (and seek counsel) before he reacts (in speaking, writing and, most importantly, in action). I wish all of us world peace.

Welcome, 2017!

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The best of 2016, my year in review:

Moments:

  • Our journey through Italy, Paris & London– too many moments to list/ I loved them all!
  • Spending time w/ friends (Smith/Drakes) in London
  • The triumphant climb to Montmartre
  • Venice gondola under the Bridge of Sighs
  • Driving w/ my husband (all around Tuscany down the coast to Rome, in Rome [thank you, God, for keeping us safe])
  • Amalfi/ Positano Tour w/ Vincenzo including the Green Grotto boat ride & lunch @ Marina Grande & even my surprise visit 😛
  • 9/11 Memorial Museum– such a somber, sobering experience that every American should experience once if not for any other reason than to pay homage to those who perished there– a day that changed us all for always
  • Hanging out @ the White Horse Tavern w/ my family when the reality hits me that I’m drinking with all of my adult children for the very first time. Where does time go? (Waiting for a table @ The Spotted Pig, which was delicious!)
  • Big Star, Wicker Park, Chicago w/ Ryan having drinks & nachos: Anthony and Ryan were sizing up the New York Rangers while I read Tyler Knott poetry
  • Tyler entertaining us on Christmas night by serenading us w/ an original (and the many other occasions of laughter he’s brought us this year and always)
  • Working w/ Alexa as she created a design for a renovation project of my kitchen/dining room (measurements, ideas, sketches, Pinterest… TBC)
  • Being asked to review former (now, adult) students’ film/scripts (2 of them)
  • Receiving a copy of an essay in which the writer credited me for inspiring her to become a teacher– the icing on the cake!
  • My Pixie tattoo (got it w/ my besties AB & DCM @ Lovecraft: my ode to Angelique)
  • Every trip to CC with Diann & Amy (the laughs…simply infinite [What the what!])
  • 1st tasting menu meal (12 courses) in Las Vegas w/ the Baliscianos– such an experience!
  • Losing 25 lbs & feeling great 🙂

Songs:

“Go Now,” Sing Street, Adam Levine

“When We Were Young,” Adele

“Always You,” Jax

“One Call Away,” Charlie Puth

“EXs & OHs” Elle King

Best Artist:

Adele

Jax

Sia

The Lumineers

TV Shows:

Breaking Bad

House of Cards

Downton Abbey (so sad it’s over… I’m missing my friends, but looking forward to a possible movie!)

The OA

Fixer Upper

Best Quotes:

“Happiness is only real when shared” Chris McCandless (a student had this quote tattooed on her after reading Into the Wild in my class)

“Imagination is its own form of courage” Francis Underwood, House of Cards

“Hold your sorrow gently” 9/11 Memorial

“This Google phone is awesome” Ryan Carbone, endorsement 360

And in honor of the late Princess Leia, “I heard someone say once that many of us only seem able to find heaven by backing away from hell. And while the place that I’ve arrived at in my life may not precisely be everyone’s idea of heavenly, I could swear sometimes — I hear angels sing.” ― Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking

Movies:

(This was a sucky year for movies, Hollywood. I’m disappointed)

Suffragette

The Revenant

Me, Earl & the Dying Girl

You & Me

Sing Street

Mr. Church

Books:

Paris Bookshelf, Nina George

Everyday, David Levithan

Miss Bossypants, Tina Fey

Us, David Nicholls

The Wonder of All Things, Jason Mott

Best Food: (not in any particular order)

Gnocchi, Pellegrino’s, Little Italy, NYC

Gnudi w/ black Truffle, Papaveri e Papere, San Miniato, Italy

Squash flower pizza, Mattarello, Rome, Italy

Creme Brulee, Union League, New Haven, CT

Suffriete & burrata, Portofino’s, New Haven, CT

Clam Chowder, (always) The Black Cat, Hyannis, MA

Pumpkin Soup, The Spotted Pig, SoHo, NYC

Everything I ate @L’Atelier, Joel Robuchon, Las Vegas, Nevada

Best Restaurant:

Papaveri e Papere, San Miniato, Italy

L’Atelier, Joel Robuchon, Las Vegas, Nevada

Dusek’s, Chicago, Illinois (which earned their first Michelin star this year. Congrats, Dusek’s and to my son, Ryan, who took part in that distinction; I’m so, so proud of you!)

Best Play:

Chasing Rainbows

Best Social Media Link:

James Corden Carpool Karaoke

Jaw-dropping Moment(s):

Trump running for president.

Trump being endorsed by the GOP.

Trump being elected president of the United States (Wait, what?!)

My Bucket List Adds:

Lose 15 more pounds

Exercise 5 times a week

Go to Bryant Park

See Hamilton & A Bronx Tale

Return to Venice

Visit Sicily

Live in the UK for a summer (Cornwall, maybe…)

Eat @ Ryan’s restaurant

To see Tyler pursue a career where he synergizes his sense of humor, his intellect and his creativity

To implement Alexa’s design in my own home

Visit Amsterdam, Greece, France (beyond Paris), Bora Bora… (the list continues)

Get a family tattoo (symbol of something that represents our bond)

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Thank you, 2016. CHEERS to 2017!!