thank you

Happy New Year, friendly neighbors!

I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate everyone who reads this blog. Blogging has changed so much in the past few years, and it’s been a challenging adjustment. Although I’m not blogging as much as I used to, please know that all of my important news and fun things to share with you will continue to be posted here in 2014. Thanks to everyone who checks in here now and then, and especially to those of you who take the time to comment. Your kindness means more to me than you will ever know.

WordPress has informed me that this blog had about 43,000 views in 2013. You guys were from a total of 112 countries. I am definitely feeling the global love!

Here are my Top Ten Fave Blog Posts of 2013, in no particular order:

Thank you thank you thank you for making this life possible. You are why I write. You inspire, motivate, and impress me every single day. And your positive energy is beautiful. What can I say? My readers. freaking. RULE.

Here’s to a spectacular 2014!

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serendipity day

December 20 is Serendipity Day! I’m reposting my annual tribute to share the magic of this very special day with you. Here’s to soul mates, the Universe, and always following your heart. May the power of fate be with you.

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Today is Serendipity Day, aka Serendipity Do Da, aka Do Da Day.

You probably want an explanation.

If you didn’t see the movie Serendipity, then not to be bossy? But you really need to go ahead and do that. It’s all about fate and destiny and energy and has some amazing New York City scenes. Even if you did see it, you probably didn’t pick up on the fact that Jonathan and Sara meet on December 20. I’m obsessive about those sorts of details, so I totally did. Then I immediately made a note that December 20 will always and forever be known as Serendipity Day.

When they meet, Jonathan and Sara are in Bloomingdale’s trying to grab the same pair of gloves. You know how sometimes you meet someone and there’s this instant intense connection? That’s what happens to them. So of course they can’t just go their separate ways. They have to go to Serendipity 3 (which is only a few blocks away – love the accuracy) for frozen hot chocolates. And then they go ice skating in Central Park. It’s one of those magical New York nights, filled with excitement and possibility.

Sara Thomas and Jonathan Trager at Serendipity

But then.

When Jonathan writes down his number for Sara, the wind blows it away. She thinks it’s a sign that they’re not meant to be together. Or at least, not right now. She’s all about fate and destiny. So she makes him write his name and number on the back of a five-dollar bill, which she immediately uses to buy mints. Sara’s idea is that if the five-dollar bill makes its way back to her, then they’re meant to be together.

Good, right?

If you’ve read Something Like Fate, you can understand why I love this movie. I love it so much that my friend Joe and I used to celebrate Serendipity Day by reenacting the original Serendipity Day’s events. First, we put our names in at Serendipity. There’s usually a three-hour wait for a table. I’m not exaggerating. Around the holidays, is it a gorgeous winter wonderland in there, all sparkly lights and trees and tinsel. Everyone wants in. But it was perfect because we needed those three hours to reenact scenes from the movie. We would head over to Bloomingdale’s, where we both grabbed a pair of gloves at the same glove counter. That counter doesn’t have gloves anymore so we had to bring the gloves over, but it still counts. Then it’s off to Wollman Rink in Central Park. It was always the Coldest Night Ever when we did this. I don’t know how to ice skate, so we would kind of just stand there and watch the glittery skyline and send positive energy out into the Universe.

Sara Thomas and Jonathan Trager at Wollman Rink in Central Park

Then it was frozen hot chocolate time! In the movie, Jonathan and Sara get red and blue straws in theirs. But we always got regular straws. So I asked about the red and blue ones and found out that they don’t have those anymore. Which is fine because those frozen hot chocolates are the best in the world, regardless of straw color. If Joe and I were each at a point in our lives where we were single, we would take out a five-dollar bill and write our name and number on the back. Then we’d give them to the waiter as part of his tip. Not that anyone ever called us. But that’s not the point. The point is that we put our energy out there. New York City is magic. It makes magical things happen.

Sara Thomas and Jonathan Trager, reunited

So. How can you celebrate Do Da Day if you’re not here in New York? Well, if you’re already with your soul mate, you can make frozen hot chocolates and call it a day. But if you are still searching, send positive energy out into the Universe today. Take some time to write down your goals. Visualize what you want life to be like with your soul mate. Then make a plan to take steps every day towards finding your person. All of these things will help you get closer to turning your big dream into reality.

Oh, and P.S.? Serendipity is also home of the $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae, served in a Baccarat crystal goblet (which you get to take home), made with the world’s most expensive chocolate, and covered in 23K edible gold leaf. Just in case you weren’t sure what to order.

Golden Opulence Sundae at Serendipity

Happy Serendipity Day, friendly neighbors! Let’s make the most of it.

light + love

Raise your hand if you’re over sunset at 4:30. Earlier than 4:30, even. Although February is the worst, I am not feeling this lack of daylight time at all. Pitch black at 5:00 is not okay. But I have good news. There are only 10 more days until daylight time starts increasing! The winter solstice is December 21, which is when we experience the least amount of daylight all year (about nine hours here in New York). Some people refer to the winter solstice as the shortest day of the year. Being a ginormous science nerd prevents me from using this description. All days contain 24 hours, so the term “shortest day” doesn’t really make sense.

But that’s not the point.

The point is that on December 22, we will start experiencing more daylight time by about two minutes per day. The day after the summer solstice in June, daylight time will start decreasing again.

But we’re not going to think about that.

We’re going to focus on 10 days from now. We’re going to welcome the light.

The Countdown to More Daylight reminds me of when I was a science teacher. My kids learned why daylight time fluctuates throughout the year in my Earth Science class. We have seasons for three reasons: the revolution of the Earth around the Sun, the tilt of the Earth on its axis (by 23.5 degrees), and the fact that the Earth’s axis always points in the same direction (parallelism). These three factors result in the Sun rising and setting in the SE and SW around winter. Sunrise and sunset positions gradually shift to the NE and NW around summer. Since the Sun apparently moves through the southern sky (“apparently” because the Sun is not actually moving aside from rotating in place; the Earth’s rotation on its axis throughout the day causes the Sun to appear to be moving), when the Sun rises in the SE and sets in the SW it apparently travels shorter distances. This results in shorter daylight time.

But back to what this reminded me of.

When I was a teacher, one of the most challenging concepts for my kids to grasp was the dome diagram. A dome diagram shows the Sun’s apparent path for any day of the year at any latitude (seasons, daylight time, and noon altitude of the Sun are all dependent on latitude). One of my old students (aka vintage noodles), Tatyana, recently came across her Sun’s Path quiz and posted it on FB:

Sun's Apparent Path quiz

Throwback moment circa 2003, son! Sorry you can’t see the sticker Taty earned. Everyone who scored over 85 on a quiz or test got a sticker. And yes, I taught high school juniors and seniors. You are never too old to enjoy a sticker! In Taty’s diagram, you can see that the Sun’s path near the bottom left of the dome (for December 21) is much shorter than the other paths. Each day the Sun’s path changes a little bit, fluctuating between the shortest path (December 21) and the longest path (June 21).

But that’s not all Taty posted.

She posted such a sweet comment to my wall with this photo that I had to include it here. This blog has been a sort of journal for the past six years. I started it right after I resigned from teaching in 2007 to write full-time. What a sweet full-circle moment to add Taty’s words here:

People come and go, but some leave a mark and influence your life forever. I was looking through some of my old documents and belongings and I noticed two huge binders that had “Earth Science” written all over them with a Sharpie marker. I already knew what this hidden treasure was. I always said that I would NEVER ever dispose of my High School Earth Science notes, handouts, lab experiments, tests etc. I’ve never had a teacher inspire and motivate me more than Susane Colasanti. She was so dedicated and genuine. Her passion for teaching, and making students smile was indeed rare. She filled the school with a sense of hope. The kind of hope that thick skinned teens from the South Bronx yearned for. Ms. Colasanti knew that we came from different backgrounds and struggles, but she always motivated her students to do better and dream bigger. She wasn’t only teaching she was molding futures. I would like to thank her for all that she has done and continues to do. May the Universe bless her with unlimited amounts of peace, love, and success.

That’s pretty much the sparkliest warm fuzzy ever. It made me really happy to see that one of my students remembers me and feels that she benefitted from her time in my classroom. I had much love for my students. I worried about those kids like they were my own. My job as an author is the best job in the world, a dream job that I love and appreciate every single day. At the same time, I do miss my people (aka teens). True, I am reaching more of my people through my books. But it makes me smile to remember the 10 years I had with them. It makes me smile to read a warm fuzzy inspired by a quiz from 10 years ago. And of course I’m smiling that we’ll start basking in more sunlight 10 days from now.

Let’s all welcome the light and keep spreading the love!