Smile Though Your Heart Is Aching


Can't believe it's time for a year-end report. I hardly felt Christmas and it's already New Year's Eve. Time to toss the old calendar and hang up a new one, with the realization that I weigh about the same as last year, forcing myself once again to seek out the best diet supplement, or simply crash the treadmill again.

So here's a New Year's postcard I digitally designed using a photo that a friend (a cousin's boyfriend) took of my back while I was photographing one of the "Crown Fountains" in Chicago's Millennium Park. I've always wanted to step inside Millennium Park, and I got to do that on my birthday this year.

A look back at 2009:


  • New York City: A city I never grow tired of visiting. I was able to tour the United Nations headquarters, attended a free lomography workshop at the Lomography Store in Greenwich Village, saw the Statue of Liberty twice, ate at Cafe Lalo (where "You've Got Mail" was filmed), signed the condolence book at the Philippine Consulate for the late President Aquino, met my Croatian friend for Irish beer at Times Square, among others. Surprisingly, I wasn't able to catch a Broadway show this year. Recession much?
  • Myrtle Beach on Easter weekend, with a sidetrip to Savannah, Georgia and the kooky South of the Border. I loved how there's Calabash Seafood Buffet restaurants and Sonic fast food places everywhere in Myrtle Beach.
  • Florida: Finally basked in the sun in the "Sunshine State!" And it's a proud driving moment, too--as I was the substitute driver for an uncle. Drove from South Carolina all the way to Kissimmee, Florida...then visited all four theme parks at Disney World (where I met Capt. Jack Sparrow) and Universal Studios in nearby Orlando. Rode nearly all of the neck-breaking roller coasters they had, except for the Everest ride in Animal Kingdom. Also had photos with Mickey and the gang.
  • Niagara Falls, New York: Rode the Maid of the Mist yet again in America's oldest state park.
  • Ottawa, Canada: The only international trip I've taken this year, and it's by road. Toured the Canadian capital by amphibian bus guided by a French-Canadian monsieur. Feasted on falafel for the first time!
  • Thousand Islands, Ontario: Discovered the origin of the famous condiment by the same name. Climbed their view deck via high-speed elevator. Bought a bottle of the dressing from the duty-free shop before crossing the border.
  • Eastern State Penitentiary: Visited Al Capone's cell in this Philadelphia prison institution that is said to be haunted.
  • Atlantic City: New Jersey's gambling playground by the ocean is still part of the itinerary, primarily because of my grandfather. Little did we know that the week-long stay in September would be his last. Finally saw Absecon Lighthouse. Discovered celebrity handprints on the Boardwalk.
  • Margate, New Jersey: Just minutes away from Atlantic City is the home of Lucy the Elephant, whose belly we invaded and whose back we climbed.
  • Chicago: Totally unplanned, but a last minute invite to an aunt's 50th birthday celebration had us flying there. Actually ended up as two golden birthdays with another uncle in Plainfield, then I celebrated my birthday in downtown Chicago at a Greek restaurant, a walk in Millennium park (and a lightning fast parking ticket), and a birthday dinner in Aurora, Illinois. Also went speedboating down the Three Rivers.



I also realized that some of the disappointments or delays in life have a particular reason that we usually don't understand at first. There is a grand scheme of things, and the events in our life are pieces of that puzzle.

From my snowy neck of the woods to you, I wish you a New Year filled with 2,010 reasons (and more) to SMILE!

14 vandalized my wall:

The Nomadic Pinoy said...

Wishing you a smiling, healthy new year. No more heartaches though:)

pusa said...

happy new year. a brand new day to look forward and start anew :)

Ibyang said...

congratulations on your travels and milestones. cheers to a great 2010.

I too have a lot to be thankful for in 2009.

happy new year!

felice said...

happy new year, wishing you a very happy 2010 with fruitful outcome this year ^^

AVCr8teur said...

Happy New Year! I hope the new year brings you good health, fortune, happiness, and everything else you want out of life!

Anonymous said...

wow that was a full 09. wish you have a great one ahead!

Sinta said...

Wow, your travel list certainly puts me to shame! I really need to rectify this. Sorry to hear about your grandfather's passing. It seems everywhere I look there has been some tragedy this December. Maybe because I lost my grandmother early this December too. It makes one seriously think about life. I hope your 2010 has had a smooth start.

Vlado&Toni said...

hi there, just got here through kayni's blog. i love your year end report.. the travels, the triupmhs and the tragedies which is part of life as well ..sorry to hear about your cats and your grandparent... here's wishing you a 2010 with more travels and more triumphs especially on passing the exam!

Ebie said...

Wow! I am just getting back to blogging, after my traumatic car accident on 12/02. My sincere condolence about the losses, and congratulations to your travels and achievements.
May the New Year bring more travels and triumphs that you can share with us.

kg said...

happy new year!!!

lagal[og] said...

a good attitude and a nice philosophy to leave the old year behind and start the new year with. :D have a blessings-filled 2010!

Kayni said...

i like how you did your year end report. i wanted to do one but don't know where to start. my brain isn't working at the moment.

MsRay said...

Hi, Connell

Sayang di ako natuloy sa NY for the Christmas holidays. I was looking forward sana na magkita tayo nung December.

Btw,I am passing on to you the Kreativ Blogger award :)

Marites said...

looks like you've had a busy year. Happy New Year and wishing you the best for 2010.

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