Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers (3/29/13)

Happy.  Five reasons why.

1.  Being able to feel all my emotions, even when they don’t feel so good.

2.  This drawing of me hanging in a New York museum.  Okay maybe it’s not me, but grandson Daniel said it looked like me.

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3.  Plantains

4.  Seeing both a perfect sunrise and a perfect sunset this week.

5.  The Promise of Easter

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Posted in Where Happiness Finds You

Neal’s Neverending New York PhotoNotes Post

[Warning:  If you’re going to read this one, you might want to go get a snack.  And maybe a cushion.  Wear loose-fitting clothes, comfortable shoes.]

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I traveled with daughter Amy, son-in-law Orte and grandsons Daniel and Gabriel to Manhattan last Thursday, returning yesterday.  This trip has become our annual spring rite of passage.  Except spring didn’t cooperate this year–cold!  Brrr!  Even a little snow.  But what a Grand Time as our Vagabond Shoes left Savannah and headed to the Big Apple.

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Easy, FUN flight, even with five- and three-year-olds.  No, BECAUSE of five- and three-year-olds.

Cool suite on Park Avenue:

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And of course, the first thing the boys want to do upon our arrival in New York?   Watch Gravity Falls on TV.

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(Okay, maybe it was pretty interesting, all about Dipper’s sister Mabel having a crazy-about-boys summer–at one point she sees a young fella holding a turtle, runs up to him and exclaims, “You like turtles?!  I LIKE TURTLES!  What’s happening here?!” as she moves her hands back and forth between her and the boy.  Finally Mabel sorta falls for a trenchcoated pyramid of Gnomes who want to marry her and make her their Gnome Queen.  I had no idea Gnomes could be so pushy.)

Gabriel looking out on the NY skyline from our 27th floor:

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The Children’s Museum of Manhattan (on the Upper West Side):

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A walk in Central Park, playing with dirty snow.  (But we’re from the south–we’ll take what we can get.)

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Delicious Waldorf Salad lunch for me–at the Waldorf:

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Touring = Tiring:

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Dinner at Victor’s, our favorite Cuban restaurant in Manhattan:

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Neat day, after Gabriel’s “breakfast” …

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… we taxied to another great museum: the Children’s Museum of the Arts in SoHo.  What an interactive place!

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My work:

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(Now do you see why I teach part-time at an art school?!  I call it Morning Glory and Green-Haired Cory.  Bids start in the upper thousands.  Thank you.)

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Daniel’s Dragon:

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(Those aren’t my blue fingernails.)

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First of two Broadway plays: Newsies.  Just incredible energy!  Google it.

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Newsies ticket

And here’s a pic of the stage/curtain thingy, right before I got yelled at for taking pictures inside the theatre.  (I’m sure they didn’t realize they were talking to a world-famous blogger and all.)

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I’m thinking about becoming a Broadway star.  All that’s holding me back is that you have to sing and dance and memorize lines and get up in front of people and not stutter because you’re so nervous.  AND not fall off the stage when you have to walk close to the edge.  That part TERRIFIES me.  But still.

The most incredible coincidence happened next.  Walking back to our hotel to join the fam, I saw Andaz.  No not a person, a very cool hotel.  We have an Andaz on Ellis Square in Savannah where they give you the MOST delicious Candied Bacon I’ve ever tasted.  (Okay, it’s the only candied bacon I’ve ever tasted but SO good.)  Of course I had to shashay in to compare Andazes’ (plural possessive?).  This sign greeted me when I walked into the lobby:

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Hooting Hyenas!  SCAD is where I teach as an adjunct.  So I hopped on the elevator to the second floor!  Wouldn’t you?  Why?  Well, duh, a reception, and receptions mean one thing … free food.  The first person I saw was Joseph; he’s in a writer’s group I sometimes attend:

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(I’m not sure why I look so huge and bloated in that picture.)

(Does anyone know how to Photoshop me standing about two feet behind Joseph so I don’t look so very big?)

I chatted with other SCAD folks and even a few newly accepted students and their parents.  A fun NY surprise.

Next morning, Grand Central Terminal …

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… and waiting for Kidding Around (a very cool toy store) to open–we did F. A. O. Schwarz the day before:

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Street vendor hot dogs, of course:

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Second Broadway play: Cinderella (with a new spin, including lots of humor and an evil stepsister who turns good).

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Orchestra pit (we had second-row seats!):

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Afterwards off to Ellen’s Stardust Diner where the wait staff … SINGS!.  So cool:

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Snack on the walk back to the hotel:

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The Apple Store in Grand Central Terminal for a new case for my iPhone:

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Last morning.  Daniel and Gabriel reennacting the final scene from Gravity Falls (we watched the same episode three times over our stay) when Dipper rescues Mabel from the Gnomes, and the brother/sister engage in an “awkward sibling hug” with “pat, pat.”  (Hulu it.  I think the episode is called “Tourist Trap.”)

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Blustery/snowy/rainy weather on the way to LaGuardia.

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For some reason, less-than-ideal weather always makes me feel better when it comes at the end of a trip.  (Reminder to self: therapist talking point.)

While we were waiting at the gate for our flight, a Big Red Heart sauntered up.  No clue why.  But D is never one to miss a photo op.

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Oh, if you were that Big Red Heart, looking where he seems to be looking, you would see this:

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It’s an iPad cafe–you order your food right from the iPad.  (“Hip” should be my middle name.)

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A wonderfully joyful New York trip.

As we waited on the runway, while an animal-like machine de-iced the wings, Daniel looked at me fiddling with my phone and yelled (loud enough for his dad and the rather stern flight attendant to hear), “Abu is not turning off his electronic device!”

Great memories to think about.

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Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers (3/22/13)

It’s Friday again, and I’m in New York City with daughter Amy, son-in-law Orte, and grandsons Daniel and Gabriel. That in itself is reason enough to be HAPPY. But here are FIVE more reasons:

1.. Still filled with memories of last weekend’s beautifully fun St. Patrick’s Day.

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2.. Finding this cool driftwood-and-found-objects ship sculpture at Habersham Antiques and Collectibles in Savannah.

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3.. Realizing that so much about being joyful in life is a result of CHOICE.

4.. Flying to New York with a five- and three-year-old.

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5.. It’s freezing here in Manhattan, but here I am last week down on Amelia Island

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Have a great weekend and take care of business while I’m away.

Posted in Holiday Joy, Savannah Joy

A Savannah Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration

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Anyone who has been to Savannah on or around March 17 knows that Saint Patrick’s Day is a pretty …

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… in this city!  From the Greening of the Fountain and Tara Feis onward, Savannah embraces its Irishness, shamrocks growing and showing up everywhere, an already diverse and fesitval-driven city photosynthetically converting excited energy into green Gaelic joy.  And since 2013 St. Paddy Day was Sunday, Savannah opted to hold its primary celebration on Saturday with the parade (the nation’s second largest), River Street revelry and other merrymaking events.

Since Yours Truly lives DIRECTLY on the parade route along Abercorn Street, and since some green Irish blood flows through my veins (Saye =”one who lives by the sea”), I decided to host a little parade-viewing party.

Party Prep Notes For some reason I will never fully grasp, I decided to make Cabbage and Ham in the Crock Pot (or as I call it, Beverly Hillbilly-ishly, “the Slow-Cooking Pot”).   

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Now cabbage sounds fine, and even a bit Irish, until you understand that my place is a little under 800 square feet, positioned at the front of a beautiful old building completed in the 1800’s.  Well, the slow-cooking cabbage produced a Rather Strong Aroma (try not to imagine it), first in my apartment, then wafting across the hall to my next door neighbor and fellow party hostess Audrey’s place, then throughout the entire old building, and probably up and down the parade route and on to the South Carolina border across the river.  People were so nice and pretended that the smell made the party more “Irish authentic.”  But a bunch of folks had drinks in their hands, so I’m not at all certain their sensory perception was on target.  AND I noticed they would get a bowlful of steaming, fragrant cabbage and then quickly run out the door to see the next band or float they “had been waiting on.”

Here’s me helping to set up the area for guests to sit and watch the parade outside my building (my windows have the St. Patty tacky shamrock cutouts and green garlands).

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Before the parade started, I made a quick tour of the squares close to me.  A few sights:

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I met some cool green-clad new friends:

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And then quickly back to my place where the crowd had grown during my foray.

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I found this pretty lady pirouetting in front of my apt, so of course I had to get my pic with her:

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Here’s across-the-hall stylish neighbor Audrey:

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And here’s party guest/good buddy Ellie and her brother encouraging the crowd:

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I wish I was brave enough to dance in the street!

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Hip green-haired son/father duo Ethan and Kevin:

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And Kevin with very significant other Olivia:

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Former Everyday Creative Writing Student Jaymes stopped by for a while.  (He knows what’s rocking in Savannah.)

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Buddies Rich and Edward (who brought party-hit basil lemonade):

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Cool St. Patty Baby:

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Made great new friends with some folks visiting from Maryland and staying in the vacation rentals in my building (so of course they were party guests too)–Kathy and Karen with their husbands.  And don’t they look SO Saint Patricky?

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Preparing to kiss the parade marching men:

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(Public Service Announcement:  I think I will rent out my place next year for St. Paddy Day.  Is $2000 for the holiday too much?  I plan to include a HUGE bowl of frozen-but-on-the-table-in-a-jiffy Authentic Irish Cabbage and Ham.)

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New kayaking friend Tom with Edward, Rich and me:

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Church buddy Diane with Rich, Edward, Robert, Jaymes and me:

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Good friend Zach and brother Josh marching in the parade (marching, that is, before I ran out into the street and made them stop).  Their Irish family has been in the parade for something like 1000 years.

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What a wonderfully fun Savannah Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration!

But sitting here after the parade, I started to worry:  “What if my Crock Pot Cabbage Smell keeps those hundreds of thousands of visitors from coming back to Savannah next year?  Can they trace it all back to me?”

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St Pat pic

Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers (3/15/13)

Top of the Friday morning, to you. Here are Five Friday Bringers of Happiness:

1. This cool pic of blooming almond trees in California sent by my new buddy Don Simmons. Don is good friends with Rick and Linda, the couple who moved to Savannah from Wisconsin. One fabulous day they gave me the tour of the “Joy in their own back yard”.  Here’s what Don said in his accompanying email:  “Since you mentioned almonds in one of your post, as something that brings you joy–I wanted to send you one of the great views that I have here in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where most of the world’s almonds are grown–it’s time for our ‘blossom trail’ and the almonds are certainly giving us a beautiful show–as well as the Sierras!” 

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2.   Finishing up a great Winter Quarter at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design).  My two classes:

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3.  Savannah azaleas (near Forsyth Park):

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4.  The promise of SPRINGTIME:

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5.  Fresh pineapple.

Have a Lucky St. Patrick’s Day Weekend!

Posted in Savannah Joy

The Greening, a Feis, a Friend and Bach: A Pre-St. Patty Day Weekend in Savannah

A few reflections on the weekend BEFORE St. Patrick’s Day weekend here in Savannah.

THE GREENING  ****

One of Savannah’s coolest St. Patrick’s Day traditions has to be the greening of the fountains.  In a week, we will welcome the city’s most popular holiday.  And at noon Friday the beautiful fountain in Forsyth Park, surrounded by several hundred people, morphed into a bright green explosion of water color.  Soon thereafter the other fountains in Savannah followed suit.

Tangent Ahead:  Okay, I know this is a Happiness Blog and all, but let me vent a second, okay?  Please?  But first, a little background:  While I taught up the road at Georgia Southern, I heard this refrain from time to time:  “GSU?  Oh, what a party school!”  That got on my last nerve.  My very last.  (Similar to the Kardashians’ dilemma over what to do after “reality” TV.)  Why did the comment irk me?  Simple.  GSU (or UGA or Emory or Harvard) is a party school if students choose to party there.  But GSU (etc.) is a great place to get a wonderful education for those students who choose to do so (which, by the way, are the vast majority).

In a similar vein, what do many people associate with our city’s incredibly popular March holiday?  Drinking on River Street, of course.  But that aspect of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration is only one part of the wonderful holiday, albeit a decidedly profitable one, and the one that often gets the most press.  However, so much more, SO MUCH MORE captures the attention and interest of most Savannahians.  Which brings me back to the greening of the fountains.  End of Tangent.

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Thinking I would just mosey up to the fountain and watch somebody toss in a bit of green dye, I was shocked at the size of the gathering and the palpable excitement of the event.

Before the greening:

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After the greening:

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Here’s James A. Ray, the Grand Marshal of the 2013 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

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And here’s his sister, Nancy Ray Johnson, who is the second female in Savannah St. Patrick’s Day history to be the Aid to the Grand Marshal.

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TARA FEIS  ****

And then on Saturday at Emmet Park near the river, Tara Feis (feis= festival, pronounced “fesh”) burst on the holiday scene with Irish music, dancers, food and fun.  This annual celebration of Erin Go Bragh–Ireland the Beautiful is completely family friendly and alcohol-free.

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Here’s a bit of the Glor Na Daire Irish dance school performance:

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And perennially popular local singer/songwriter Harry O’Donoghue‘s closing song, “All the Best”:

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Saints & Shamrocks  ****

After enjoying the festival for a couple of hours, I went in search of the official St. Patrick’s Day Parade Magazine, and finally found it at the beautifully delightful Saints & Shamrocks boutique …

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… specializing in religious gifts, Irish imports and fair trade gifts.  There I met the welcoming, helpful owner and new friend Hope (I love that name) Ebberwein …

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… who gave me a copy of the magazine.

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[Should I dye my facial hair green for the parade viewing?  Now be honest.  (Some of you weren’t when I asked if I was too old to wear skinny jeans.  See item#4 in the skinny jeans hyperlink.)]

Bach Music Marathon ****

Still not finished with the day, I walked into the Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church on Calhoun Square, where organist Christopher Jacobson from South Carolina sat at the incredible pipe organ performing a two-day marathon of the COMPLETE organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach (257 individual pieces!).

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Beautiful.

I get tired just trying to hum through Abba’s three most popular #1 hits.

What a tremendously festive weekend!  A greening.  A feis.  A new friend.  And a concert.  I wonder what the actual Saint Patrick’s Day Twenty-Thirteen will hold.  I’ll let you know.  I’m hosting a little parade viewing party, since my place lies directly on the parade route.

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Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers (3/8/13)

It’s Friday All Day Long! Here’s what I am happy about:

1. My SCAD ENGL 193 (Composition for International Students) classes and I holding an informal drop-in Visual Essay Exhibition on Wednesday. A rousing success! I was/am SO proud of my students: artists showing off their work!

Here’s the blurb about the exhibition which I printed out on little programs:

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VISUAL ESSAYS:

A Classroom Exhibition  Habersham Hall 3/6/13 SCAD

For this project, students in Neal Saye’s ENG 193, Composition for International Students, both think “essay” and forget “essay.” They can do that—they’re smart! How is the project like an essay? Well, they compose, they have a focus and thesis, they have structure, they have support. But it does not evolve in traditional essay format. It births as a sculpture, a collage, a scrapbook, a video, a painting, a mobile, a form, a food, fashion, theatrical presentation, etc.

In The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho presents various themes about life and dream following. After reading the incredible text, students choose a theme, a symbol, a character, an idea, etc. and then create.

The visual essay project, then, is a visual representation of one topic narrowed into a clear thesis/point/perspective/idea. The students’ challenge: how to “show” their thesis.

This exhibition reveals their interpretations.

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And some photos from the exhibition:

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And some pics of the visual essays themselves:

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2.  My iPhone (and sense enough to minimally operate it).  Can anybody else remember when a phone was this device you used to call people … and … like, talk?

3.  The expectant thought of fresh, fat, orange-red, Vine-Ripened Tomatoes this summer.  I nearly cried at lunch yesterday at Panera when this pinkish thing pretending to be a tomato slice fell out of my tuna sandwich.  I was so embarrassed I put a napkin over it.

4.  Raw almonds

5.  Our incredible sense of hearing.  It’s so amazing.  (Well, except when, for some reason, I came across the band Screeching Weasel’s song “Bark Like a Dog.”)

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That does it.  I’m going to start a band, Neal and the Bansheeing TurtlePins.  I’m working on our first really big hit, “Knead Like Julia, Martha and Paula (Before the Weight Loss).”

Have a Beautiful Weekend.  You HEAR me?

Posted in Encouragement, Savannah Joy

Y Happiness. Y Happiness? Ask Richard the Joyful-Hearted

Several years ago, after my underground (!) gym (really, it was underneath Broughton Street) closed in the historic district of Savannah where I live, I joined the nearby Habersham YMCA.  I had never belonged to a YMCA before–but I had danced to the song.

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From the very first day I have been SO impressed with the folks who work at the Habersham Y.   They are without exception welcoming, encouraging and fun to see each time I waddle in.

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ALWAYS smiling, the MOST encouraging, MOST positive, FRIENDLIEST Habersham employee has to be RICHARD JOHNSON.

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I’ve never seen Richard without a smile on his face and a cheerful word to share.  He most definitely meets the criteria of a Balcony Person (Balcony Post Link One, Link Two).  Balcony people are those folks you come in contact with who encourage you, bless you, inspire you, give of themselves in some way.  They climb the steps up into your balcony, so to speak, lean over the railing and yell, “You’re doing fine!  Keep going!  You look great!  You’re almost there!”

So it is with Richard.  As he wheels through the busy gym, his voice can be heard above the whir of elliptical machines and the clang of free weights, greeting every person he sees:  “Hey, Neal”  “How you doing, Carl?”  “Come on now, Janice, you can do more than that!”  “Alright now!”  Richard is the very definition of a Balcony Person.  He infuses the Habersham YMCA with encouragement and joy.

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I asked Richard a few questions about himself and his views about happiness.

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Thanks to Richard and folks like him who help make ho-hum days into Occasions of Happiness.