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Happiness

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“If you want to view paradise–simply look around and view it
anything you want to–do it!
want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.
There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination.”

The Willy Wonka words echo off my computer as I awake on Saturday morning. However, in my head, I am changing the words–I am swapping out paradise, and slotting in Happiness. Because if you want to view happiness–I believe we can all look around and view it.

And Saturday, I was going to make sure of it.

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As I wake up, on Saturday, I say to myself, “Today–is an important day. Today, I am completing my 52nd hobby.” For anyone who has been following along, you’ll know that my original goal for this project turned lifestyle was to try 52 new hobbies in 52 weeks. About two months ago that goal changed–My new plan is to finish at least one hobby a week for 52 weeks, ending with a road trip across the country in February. But that doesn’t mean my 52nd hobby isn’t a significant one. In fact, it’s one of the ones that means the most to me–because it’s a sign of achievement–even if my new goal is to exceed it.

“Anything you want to, do it” plays through my speakers, and I smile.

“Today I am going to complete my 52nd hobby,” I breathe of relief.

***Never doubt a dream, always move forward…Like the song says…
Anything you want to do…Do it.***

But though my excitement for hobby 52 is high on Saturday, my will to go out and do it is quickly hampered as I wake up and see that it’s cold–and gray–but not just cold and gray–it’s pretty much a frigid apocalypse outside with gusting winds up to 50mph and snow flurries pleasantly beginning to fall. I struggle. It would be the perfect day to stay in bed–all day, to get dressed at 5pm and eat cereal for all three meals in my pajamas. But I had made a plan–and that plan included to complete my 52nd hobby, by traveling to each of the five boroughs and chalking the word happiness. I groggily got out of bed and decided that this was better than chalking happiness when the weather is perfect–because in the case of clear skies, people are likely to already feel happier. This was my time to spread happiness–even if the weather was threatening otherwise.

It took me no more than 7 hours to complete my trip to each borough and tattoo the word happiness into the sidewalk of each.

It took me no more than 7 hours to etch happiness right outside my doorstep in Brooklyn. It took me no more than 7 hours to experience the excitement of families going on the Staten Island Ferry and having an amazing view of Manhattan. It took me no more than 7 hours to witness the wealth of joy outside the doorstep of my favorite chocolate shop in Manhattan, as a homeless man approached me and thanked me for the happiness.It took me no more than 7 hours to clear my negative image of the Bronx and leave a positive message behind. And it took me no more than 7 hours to make my way to Queens and chalk happiness into a park that I once danced happiness into–just two years ago.

The truth was–that in each borough– It took me no more than moments to see that even though I was physically spreading the word happiness–it was all around me. It was in the faces of children who’d never been on a boat. It was in the faces of those who told me they had nothing but still felt joy. It was in the faces of those walking through streets of the Bronx—and it was in the faceof the child who stood up on the subway seat and peered out the window on an above ground train heading to Queens. It was in the taxi driver who got me from downtown Manhattan to Grand Central. It was in the cappuccino that I drank mid-morning. It was in the face of the man with his child who strolled past me on Fordham Road. It was in the skateboarders who skated through the park while I finished my last borough tattoo. Happiness was truly–everywhere.

And what I learned most about happiness–aside from where to find it (ahem, again, everywhere): was that much like my chalked out versions of the word: Happiness doesn’t always come in a straight line–in one swoop–or even in one size–but it always, always feels good.

Here’s to 52 hobbies–and many, many more. and here is to happiness. Cheers.

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The Sweet Life

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“It’s great that you’re doing more than one hobby a week–it means it’s a lifestyle,” – Kimberly Manley 

When I was growing up, my mom told me I was allergic to chocolate–okay, not necessarily chocolate–but caffeine. I spent birthday parties on the sidelines with the gold Diet Coke can, as opposed to the red regular Coke can. I sat on the sidelines, desperately, as children dove into ice cream cakes that had chocolate crumbles, and I indulged in Swedish Fish–instead of Hershey bars. Even still, I watched Willy Wonka religiously, dreaming that I might, one day, swim, like Augustus in a pool of delicious melted chocolate.

By the time I was 10, I had gone through my fair share of red bumpy breakouts from cheating on my caffeine allergy. I was concerned that I’d never be able to indulge in the sweet satisfaction of a Snickers–but as I now understand, we can outgrow our childhood allergies–and somehow and some way I broke free from my sad, unsweetened childhood, and right into a sweet lifelong addiction–of chocolate.

Someone once asked me if there was a type of chocolate I didn’t like–and I said, “Are you crazy? I don’t discriminate against chocolate. That would be silly. You can set me  up on a blind date with whichever, and I’ll be quite content. Add peanut butter to any of it–and I’ll be in heaven.”

It’s amazing that I reached the age of 24, without ever having made chocolate myself. Post half-marathon 2012, my friends all came over, melted chocolate and covered an assortment of goodies for me as a treat for completing my half-marathon–as well as for having gone three months without chocolate to aid in my training. While they took care of the chocolateering, I went off and bought everyone coffee. I’m not much of a baker, so  I left it to my friends, who seemed much more capable of not burning down the house.

But then, as the hobby year continued, I decided it was time I learned to make chocolate–besides I had learned to brew beer this year–and I don’t even drink…so it was probably time I learned the process of chocolate-making. A couple months back, my co-worker sent me a link to a New York Times article that featured a chocolate shop in the Lower East Side. I forwarded the piece along to my other co-workers, and we planned to organize a time to visit.

But on a rainy day in New York City, I had no other choice but to dig into my emails of hobby suggestions, for something fun to do–regardless of already having two other hobbies scheduled for the week.

A good friend had asked me if I wanted to hang out and told me she was really excited for whatever adventure we found!

Originally, I had planned to just pick out a museum or a movie, but my insides growled at me, and my heart seemed to be trying to make out words between each beat. “Don’t be ridiculous-beat-Libby. You know you’d rather-beat-try something new-beat-than-beat-go-beat-back-beat-to-beat-the MOMA.” And my heart was right–I’d rather try something new than see the same exhibits I’d seen before, so I visited the chocolate shop’s website, listed in the article, and booked a lesson for two.  (Don’t worry my co-worker friends–I am still in to return and make more chocolate!!!)

By 3:45pm, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, my friend and I found ourselves hands deep in melted chocolate. I could smell the sweet scents of white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate all around us. As Aditi Malhotra, our knowledgeable instructor, and the owner of Tache Chocolate,  took us on a quick tour of her own Chocolate Factory, she showed us one of the machines that continues to produce melted chocolate all day and night long, I could feel my taste-buds jumping. Suddenly, my dreams of swimming in a pool of chocolate seemed more realistic.

We then started making everything from chocolate covered Rice Krispy bundles to sparkling milk chocolate sea shells.

“If I don’t walk out of here with chocolate all over my face, I want my money back,” I joked. But not before long I had chocolate smudges on my hands, my arms, and even a tiny part of my sweater. –And at the end of the day, I had a pound of chocolate to take home–and plenty of new chocolate loving friends.

And while I’m not quite sure that I am ready to open my own chocolate business yet, I am pretty sure it’s now officially the time that I can promote my project as a lifestyle–rather than just a project.

And that’s what I call a sweet, sweet success.

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Tache Chocolate
http://www.tachechocolate.com

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