What is Happiness?

What is happiness? Can it be defined in a word, in a sentence, in a song? Why are we not happy even when things are going right in our lives? Do we know what happiness really is?

Happiness is a feeling….

Did you know that happiness does not depend on what we have? Happiness depends on how we feel about what we have. Did you notice some people are happier with less and miserable with more? Happiness is such a powerful human emotion yet often the least understood. Happy people have more control over their physical health and “happiness” as well. When we are happy we feel more self-worth and confidence. We are often disappointed when we get something we hope for, yet we are still not happy. You can honestly see when someone is happy by they way they carry around some sort of positive brilliance wherever they go.

We can define happiness as having meaning and satisfaction with one’s life. It is not merely about material things. It is experiencing a sense of purpose. It is not simply an external pleasure. It is connecting with others, having meaningful relationships in your life, and feeling a sense of community around you. Many people have learned that money definitely does not buy happiness.

Happiness in Relationships

We are defined often by the people in our lives. We cherish our relationships and they should be the primary source of our happiness. When a major relationship in our life fails to bring happiness, we are reluctant and afraid to make changes in fear of not finding anything better to give us true happiness. People who are happy in their marriage or relationship, happy with their close group of friends and extended family, are often the people who understand the true meaning of happiness. It can’t be bought, it must be felt.

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Happiness in our Career

Whether we choose a career or just a job to get through our lives, what we do every day is a major part of our overall happiness. When you jump out of bed because you love what you do then you are experiencing happiness and fulfillment. When you work too many hours, and not happily, this has an affect directly on the other possible parts of happiness in your life. Most people are afraid to take risks and often stay in a mundane work environment for fear of trying something new that interests them, and also fear of failing.

Happiness with Ourselves

Yes, we are a society that looks at physical appearance and a person’s attractiveness, so many of us feel if we lose weight, buy new clothes, etc., we will become happier people. We will become healthier, but happiness is so much deeper than that. We should never stop trying to eat healthier, increase physical activity and take care of our bodies. However, we need to have a combination of needs met in order for this to add to our happiness.

Breathe in happiness…..

Honestly, I can talk about happiness for pages on end. Right now, each of us has a specific key to find their true happiness. It is usually a combination of many things, but mostly a feeling of self-worth and contentment in many major areas of our lives. Each day is a journey to achieving this happiness. Happiness changes along the journey and we need to notice the changes in our own individual needs.

I hope that you can find a way to make yourself happy, even in these not so normal times. Perhaps this is the best time to evaluate what really makes us happy and to see life for what it really is, when so many people around us are suffering.

Some synonyms for happiness:

jovial, harmonious, ideal, delightful, dazzling, flourishing…..

Can you think of some to add to that list?

A New Year With New Hope

It is the end of December of one of the worst years most of us have lived through and we are counting the days until 2021, with hope in our hearts…. Some people lost loved ones, some people lost jobs and others just survived the consequences and loneliness of isolation and separation because of the pandemic.

We all know that this awful year will not leave us at the stroke of midnight, however, we have hopes that things will only get better, month by month. Yes, they do predict that numbers will rise after the holidays, but hopefully as people start getting vaccinated, this will continue to change for the better. Many people question whether they feel comfortable taking the vaccine, so it will be a wait and see kind of New Year, but one filled with hope…

Look towards the year ahead.

Every new year we compose a list of “promises”, or resolutions, that we have made for the new year such as losing weight, eating healthier, forgiving others, and the list continues. This year all of our lists will be different but one thing that they will all have in common is that we will all enter the new year with hope and with an appreciation of human life and a special appreciation of the little things in life that are really the most important.

So as we enter 2021, leaving awful 2020 behind here are some thoughts of what we are hoping for:

1. The end of the pandemic:

We all are hoping that the new year will bring an end to the pandemic so that people can get back to their lives. Many will have to rebuild their lives with new jobs, new places to live and a new acceptance of what has been taken away through the pandemic.

2. Loving each other again:

Not only did we suffer a pandemic, but the year 2020 also consisted of riots, hatred and a presidential election like no other in history. Our country is divided more so than ever before and we are not sure how to heal. Will we ever get along with someone who believes in the opposite political party? When did your political affiliation make you less of a friend, brother or sister? What happened to the days when people accepted each other for their different opinions, their different upbringings and their life choices. Instead of embracing each other, we have become a nation divided. I am not sure that this will change in 2021 but hopefully it will get better.

Plan for a better year for all of us.

3. Enjoying the small moments:

After being locked up in our homes for months, wearing masks and not hugging our loved ones, hopefully this year will bring us back to some state of normalcy. For example, just going to a movie or concert will be so special after not leaving our homes. Having a family gathering, whether it be a wedding or birthday, without worrying about contact or testing, will be a wonderful change for all of us. As we enter back into our lives, I hope that we all take a step back each time we have a new experience in 2021 and cherish it as it was taken away from us during the pandemic.

4. Continue kindness:

People were humble and kind during the pandemic. Neighborhoods thought of new ways to make celebrating happen, like Zoom parties, drive through holiday displays and drive-in movies even made a comeback. We were kind to let people ahead of us online, to keep our six foot distance and to respect the rules that our government placed on us during the pandemic.

5. Kids can be kids again:

Not only have adults had loss and frustration, but our children had their school lives ripped apart. From playing with their friends and enjoying learning in school, they ended up in front of a laptop that they didn’t know how to navigate and were expected to complete their studies as if nothing had happened. Parents, struggling with their own work changes, became teachers. Teachers became round the clock workers trying to please everyone and prove their worth. We know our children will be behind academically, but what will be the effect on them socially? When life returns to normal (maybe the next school year), we need to treat them with extra kindness and support as they re-enter the normal world of school.

Look at life through a child’s eyes.

6. Families can begin to heal:

Many people died during the pandemic and most were not “celebrated” the way we are accustomed to. There were no wakes, funerals, or memorials. Thankfully, social media did become a way for people to express condolences and love during this very trying period. These families will not get their loved ones back and will have to figure out how to continue without them in 2021. We need to be there for them and for each other.

A new year with new hope….

So let’s take a deep breath and think about what we want for the new year. I know that I want people to be happy, to enjoy life and to be able to be together without fear. I am going to hope for that hug, that kiss, and that sharing with loved ones that I have missed during this long, debilitating pandemic. Of course, I am going to go back on my diet and start my exercise program with enthusiasm, but that will not be my goal for 2021. My hope for 2021 is the end of the pandemic, the restoration of society and our lives as back to normal as they possibly can be.

Happy New Year to all my readers. I hope that this next year finds you healthy, happy and most of all appreciative of all the small moments in our lives.

All I Want for Christmas

This year we will be writing different kinds of Christmas lists. Most of them will not include extravagant gifts but rather necessities that we will get for Christmas after surviving this tumultuous year. When thinking about Christmas this year, there is nothing material that I need and I am very thankful for that.

Spread some Christmas joy.

So I wrote a different kind of Christmas list this year. All I want is:

The end of this pandemic:

After the year we have had with Covid and isolation and people dying, let us all work towards a better year with hopes for those who have been affected by this virus and for our society to slowly return back to normal. The pandemic has made us all realize how important the small stuff is, but now I think we are ready to go back to our everyday lives, looking back in appreciation, and becoming a whole society again.

Unemployment numbers going down:

So many people lost their jobs this year during the pandemic. The biggest rate of job loss was found in the small business market. I hope that 2021 allows these people the opportunity to find their paths again, whether by finding a new job or reestablishing their business. When shopping this Christmas, think of the small business owner who really needs to make up for losses this holiday season. So even if you have to make a trip to the store, versus ordering online, give that extra effort for the small business you enjoy during the year. You want them to make it and continue to grow in your community.

A more peaceful society

Now that the Presidential election is over (whether it is your candidate or not), let us all strive to live in a more peaceful society. Amidst the pandemic, we saw the Black Lives Matter protests because of George Floyd, resistance because of a Supreme Court judge, and finally protesting over vote counting. Let us put this all behind us and work towards a better society in 2021. Haven’t we suffered enough in 2020, people losing lives, families torn apart and the list continues. So let one of our Christmas wishes (and New Year goals) be to live in a more peaceful society.

More people loving each other

Celebrate

After this unusually horrible year, we should dig deep into our hearts and souls and forgive others for petty occurrences that wouldn’t matter in time of disease, death and job loss. As we are recovering our economy let us also recover our relationships. It’s not too late to call that friend or relative that you have lost touch with. We have learned unfortunately that life is way too tough and we should forgive, mend fences and go on with our lives in a loving manner. Also, take more time with family. Instead of rushing back to our crazy days, take a step back each day and remember the parts of lockdown that were wonderful, like spending more time with children and loved ones.

Hopes for the New Year

In thinking ahead to 2021, let’s resurrect our resolutions to be more conducive to what we are living in now. Yes, we all want to eat better, lose weight, etc. but our goals should be a bit different this year after exiting such a whirlwind year we don’t want to repeat. Some thoughts could be:

  1. Take more time to do your daily routine. Relish in every moment.
  2. Make self-care a priority.
  3. Love each other more.
  4. Evaluate your finances and establish new goals.
  5. Be more considerate of others, including strangers.

There is much to think about as we enter this holiday season. Many of us will have to give us seeing family at a distance, having our usual work holiday parties and just entertaining and enjoying each other’s company. It will be a difficult Christmas for many but let us think of the true meaning of Christmas and enjoy the “little things that life has given us.” Watch the Hallmark Channel, bake some cookies, call an old friend and listen to Christmas music to fill your soul. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to all and most of all, I wish all of you a Happy, Healthy 2021.

Merry Christmas from my house to yours……

Preparing For Next Lockdown

It is the middle of November and all the news broadcasts talk about limiting number of guests for Thanksgiving, closing bars and restaurants early, limiting gym and bowling alley times and even potentially schools going back to remote. The numbers are up in most states and people are starting to feel a new frenzy and a new state of worry. Will it be easier this time?

Most of us are tired of the lockdown but have become more comfortable staying at home. Here is a list of ways you can prepare for the next possible lockdown without going into a frenzy.

Be protected.
  1. Write a list of movies and shows you want to catch up on.

Since the beginning of the lockdown, people are exchanging suggestions and sharing their binging activities. With many of our network shows back like The Good Doctor and This Is Us, we see ourselves getting into a routine usually set aside for winter months. Throughout lockdown I tried to only watch TV at night as to not become all consumed or a “couch potato”. So take out a notebook and write down your wish list for TV but make a time recommendation for yourself, such as 7:00-11:00 pm. I always make it that and vow not to watch TV (once in awhile I will sneak in the news) during the day.

Choose your next movie.

2. Make a schedule for your days.

In your schedule include the times you will exercise, eat, take a nap and anything else that is part of your day. This will make you feel less likely bored or out of control. I think most of the time if we stop to ponder what is happening, we will enter a funk and not do anything but get sad. Think of all the projects you never got around to. When this pandemic is over, everyone should be organized in a perfectly clean home.

3. Do your holiday shopping online.

Take your time browsing emails and Black Friday ads. In the past, we have been running to our jobs with barely enough time to wrap a gift. Well, if you can think of this as an advantage, so be it. Start shopping and comparison pricing which we don’t often have time for. Make a list of gifts you need and money you can spend on each. Ask family members what they really want this year because now that you have time you won’t just buy a gift the day before without thinking it through.

Pick out the perfect gift.

4. Make goals for when the pandemic ends.

Look to the future and decide what will make you happy, what you want to accomplish and even where you want to travel to. Now is the time to research what you want, without rushing, and come up with a detailed, yet doable plan.

I just set aside one of my nice journals and am entitling it “After the Pandemic” where I can write my thoughts as they come to me, so I don’t forget when everyone is rushing back to life.

4. Call an old friend you didn’t during Phase 1.

Reach out to an old friend that you perhaps connect with on facebook and always say you miss and want to talk to. Now is the time to make these reconnections because when work is in full gear and life goes back to normal, we get back to having limited time. So take advantage of this “unlimited” time and reach out to others. Reach out to a neighbor who may need help– it will be much appreciated.

Call an old friend.

5. Say “I Love You” every single day.

We don’t know when our last day is so don’t take any chances. Call your aunt, tell your best friend you miss her and love your family every single day. Every day is a gift that we cannot afford to lose. This year we will be even more grateful and thankful as we sit around and enjoy a meal with our loved ones on Thanksgiving, whether virtually or in person.

We got this. We got through the first one so we are pros now. Take one day at a time and always remember there are better days ahead. Wear a mask, use sanitizer and be aware of people around you. Be safe and we will be celebrating together very soon.

Good times ahead.

Election Day Havoc

I don’t know about you but I am looking forward to this election day being over. Aren’t you tired of those political ads that just bash each other? Neither one is saying what they will really do if they become president, rather they are just saying horrible “facts” about the other. We have become a country of arguing liberals who would rather protest, banter or show anger than actually do something about the situation at hand which is simply: We need to fix our country. And we need to fix it NOW!

Our country needs to work together to become better.

We are still in the midst of a pandemic, waiting on a vaccine, and the two candidates just argue about who started the virus, who doesn’t care about the virus and so on and so on. After awhile I just hear blah, blah, blah, blah…..

Before the pandemic we were experiencing a resilient economy, extremely low unemployment and job security. Now we are experiencing one of the highest unemployment rates, people losing jobs, people dying from Covid, and most of all a scared society. Then, in the middle we have George Floyd’s death which inspired riots and looting. Yes, it was not acceptable for him to be brutally killed. But is it acceptable for people in major cities to be afraid for their lives. Streets burned down, stores looted and we are now a society of uncaring individuals who feel the need to protest. The liberals even fought about the choice for Supreme Court judge. They did not care about her vast experience and knowledge but rather her beliefs in abortion and conservatism. Let’s get real people. Let’s pledge allegiance to our flag and be proud Americans once again.

Personally, when all the votes are tallied and this is over I will be enjoying a large drink. I may not be happy with the results but I will be very glad to not hear about this election and hear people bashing each other. Let’s try to fix our society, move on with our lives when the vaccine in developed and learn to be appreciative of what our country represents. Our country needs to return to your heart and you need to regain respect for it. As Americans, we need to cut our party ties and go forward with rebuilding the best country in the world.

Don’t forget to Vote!!

I will be renewing my wine subscription to California Wines. We all need to relax after this and enjoy our families for the holidays.

May the best man win. Or not. Let’s just move forward and hope for a better 2021.

Remember the freedoms we share….

Life Interrupted

Do you remember your mother or grandmother telling you to always make sure your bed is made before you leave the house? Do you tend to clean right before going on a vacation?

Everything in its place….

Many of us have this in our heads that God forbid we have an accident and do not return to our homes, we don’t want people to think we are messy. This unfortunately, gets harder to do when you are older. If you experience a fall or just aren’t feeling well and have to go to the hospital, the last thing you are thinking about is the neatness of your home.

When my mother passed away years ago, I remember cleaning out her apartment. She suffered a stroke so was not prepared to be leaving her things behind. Looking through someone’s life through their house is often eye awakening as well as sad. You find things they treasured and also find unfinished projects that will never be done by them.

After this happened to me, I went home and began the decluttering process. If I don’t want to leave this in my home if I were to die unexpectedly or have to go into a nursing home, then I should get rid of it. Don’t put off using what you buy. Some people will buy new clothes and not wear them, new technology and not try it, and an abundance of other acquisitions that are often left in the packaging.

What’s in your closet?

I have been on a decluttering mission. I read articles, make lists and put goals on my to-do list. I want to be organized so I know what I have, where it is, and if it necessary to keep. Just recently I cleaned out half my work wardrobe as I retired from my full time job and just working from home. In my home, I have dedicated areas for my Virtual Gym classes, my freelance writing, my online teaching and just a reading nook when I want to rest.

Organize those books…..

As my mother-in-law sits in rehab waiting to be placed in Assisted Living, I wonder if she is feeling any regret to leaving so many items to sort through in her home. We look at it as a beautiful tour of her life and we can pick and choose what she brings to her next stage. This experience makes you cherish your parents, what is close to their heart, and treasure what is important to them.

Life interrupted …. it can happen at any time, in any way, and not just to an elderly person. Hence, the don’t go out without clean underwear saying we have heard over and over again. We know it doesn’t make literal sense but it makes sense that we should know what our life represents when someone may walk into our interrupted household. No, it cannot always be clean and tidy. However, we should be diligent in decluttering, donating, and purging as often as necessary.

Organize your drawers….

In fact, I interrupt this post to go declutter that junk drawer that has been annoying for a few weeks now. Just one project, and one day at a time. You will feel so accomplished.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and it made you reflect. Feel free to check out some of my other posts. Also, check out my stories on Vocal Media at:

Https://vocal.media/authors/elaine-gallagher

19 Years Later…… Still Painful

How many of you remember where you were on September 11, 2001? I remember that I was teaching a math lesson and had no idea what was going on in the world around me. It was a typical, beautiful September day without a cloud in the sky and we were getting ready to do our math work in groups. Then, one of my colleagues, an out of classroom teacher, came in and told me that I had to call my husband. I immediately thought that something was wrong with the kids or my mother and said I would call in a moment. She said that the principal insisted that I call right now.

This alarmed me. I left the room and called my husband. It was busy, busy, busy….. What was going on ? At that very moment, my mother called and told me that my husband was safe and that my kids were coming home from school. Needless to say I did not expect to hear the words from her mouth that the twin towers were struck down and they are closing New York City. I froze. What do I do first? At least I knew my family was safe, so my next job was to ensure that my students were safe and not aware of what was going on.

We had an emergency staff meeting where we watched and cried as we saw our beloved towers fall, not knowing who we knew that was in that rubble or who had even started this unforeseen event. We would never be the same, from that moment forward.

We will never forget…..

Slowly the children were picked up. We were told not to say anything to our primary grade students and let their families take them home, hug them and explain what is happening in the world. I can’t even tell you if I remember getting home but I just remember hugging my daughters so tightly that I could not let go. We sat together in awe watching the news until their father arrived safe and sound. We had a quiet but not relaxing family dinner.

After dinner we went to our church to pray for the safe return of Lieutenant Joseph Leavey, our beloved parishioner and friend who was working at his firehouse at the South Street seaport when the towers were hit. We prayed and prayed for his safety. Most of us knew he was not returning but we held onto that hope. We had just had a joyous Church barbeque two days prior and I remember sitting with him talking about school starting and our plans for the fall. Joe would never return home as would not eight other members of our Pelham community. These included two brothers, Joseph and Peter Shea, who were neighbors and their children were friends with mine. It included Month Horde who’s daughter Molly played softball with my daughter. Also, our chief of Police’s son did not return home. The stories continue and we lost 9 people in Pelham, New York where a beautiful memory garden with all their names stands tall.

This year the memory of this day is affecting us differently. We are living in a country that is trying to survive the worst pandemic we have seen in over 100 years. The country is also trying to survive the rioting, looting and horrible treatment of others we witness every day on the news. This coupled with the division of political parties as we near closer to our presidential election. Personally, I feel the pain all over again every September 11. This year I am not teaching and did not get to read the book Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman about the fireboat that went to save some survivors and look for others after that horrific event.

Personally, I hope that everyone takes time to reflect on this horrible memory yet remember the unity we felt as a state and as a country. I only wish that we can feel that unity again. Unfortunately, no matter which way the election turns out, there will be retribution to face and possibly more rioting and lives lost.

Take time today to say a prayer for our heroes we lost on September 11, 2001. We will never forget…….

Sorting It Out After Retirement

My retirement has been far from normal. My original plan was to retire in June after teaching my last class of second grade. The year was off to a great start in September when I met my wonderful class and I was so excited to celebrate all my “lasts” with them. Unfortunately, that only lasted until March and even though I was approaching retirement, I was now starting with my firsts. My first time using Google Classroom and Slides, learning virtual learning programs and teaching my class online. No one knew what to expect and I think we did the best we could. I did not feel the same end of school year feeling and definitely not the bittersweet one I expected. And now as the new school year approaches and I am not involved in it, I have some sorting out to do to figure out what it is I want to do with the rest of my life.

I will always be a teacher in my heart

Before my initial plan to retire, I did some freelance writing on my blogs and also for some clients on Upwork. Since school ended I continue to write for clients on Upwork and I have recently started and shared a series of my articles on Vocal Media. I have written articles on education. Also, I have shared my love of cooking and written articles with my recipes and cooking suggestions. I have broadened my portfolio to include some travel blogs for my travel during Covid.

As the new school year approaches and my colleagues are returning to work without me I plan to “make a plan” for myself. I did not retire because I was too old to work but rather because I wanted to spend more time with my retired husband and also pursue some of my other passions which have been dormant during my crazy, mixed up days as a teacher. Those are days that I will always treasure and because of my pension, I am thankful that I can pursue my other interests.

So what do people want to do when they retire?

Relaxation
  1. Spend time with others – now is the time to get together with friends, go to places you never had time to visit, and really make yourself happy by little indulgences you are now able to enjoy.
  2. Spend time with family – For me having a new grandson (who lives very far away) gives me an opportunity to love him and visit him whenever I can without the restrictions of school holidays.
  3. Spend time on myself – This includes taking time for fitness which was always done in a rush. I can now work around my free time and take a fitness class daily if I want and I don’t have to rush in the door, change in 5 minutes to scamper off to a class while totally exhausted.
  4. Give Back – Once the pandemic eases up, I would like to dedicate part of my retirement to helping others whether it be volunteering at a library to read aloud to children (one of my favorite activities as a teacher) or raise money for a cause I truly believe in. I was always interested in this and because of the time commitment I just never pursued it.
  5. Do nothing – This is the hardest for me. Accepting that it is okay to sometimes do nothing and that it is totally fine. If I just want to sit and read, or take my time checking emails or watch a non-thinking type of program on television, I now can do all that and not feel guilty. Well, I am working on that part.

Well, I am just starting my retirement journey so I will have to take small steps. Small steps to get by all the people that exclaim “oh you’re so lucky” or “now you can do whatever you want” without feeling guilty about it. I always have to remember the endless years of full-time work that took up most of my life. So here it — the beginning of the journey of retirement. Well, I’m tired now so I think I will go take a nap.

Being with others.

If you would like to read some articles about my educational journey, please visit https://ellyelementary.wordpress.com.

The “Unimportance” of Grammar

Elly Elementary

As an educator for over 20 years, the way we teach children to write has changed dramatically.  Before the creation of various online sites that encourage writing, to using social media and researching on the internet, children no longer have to rely on reading a book and taking notes. Or rewriting over and over again when they can simply edit right on the computer.

diligent small girl drawing on paper in light living room at home Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Years ago, grammar was taught faithfully and students were expected to diagram sentences and know and identify the different parts of speech.  Essays were written with introductions, a body of about three paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. Students were prepared to write their research papers, and eventually their college application essays.

So, what has changed?

crop person taking notes in diary during studies Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

With the continuing evolution of technology and the unending changes to the way we communicate on social media and…

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Newport: A Beautiful Retreat in the New Normal

Beautiful bay view….

This was a most unusual year and summer. When we had the opportunity to visit Newport, Rhode Island with friends, we decided to visit with quarantine in mind and enjoy the beauty that Newport offers. Rhode Island seemed to be doing very well during this pandemic, with low numbers and strict enforcements.  With strict rules at every establishment we were able to have a fun-filled week despite Covid.  We opted to skip the beaches and pools which were more populated than our comfort level.  Instead we focused on seeing Newport, a magnificent city set on the Narragansett Bay.  Our hotel was right on the bay and gave us a breathtaking view of the boats and the bay from sunrise to sunset.  We did not feel the excruciating heat because of the cool breezes from the water.

In my phone notes from over three years ago, I made sure to remember to visit the White Horse Tavern, the oldest tavern in America. It was so beautifully, well-kept with furniture and flooring depicting the time it was built. We enjoyed a delicious brunch served in an antique setting.

Oldest tavern in America

We found so many places to visit that were still open with limitations while going on our tours. We opted to try a trolley tour (we were staggered every other row and seat) and enjoyed the sites of Newport as our guide relished us with the history and sites that Newport has to offer.

One day we decided to walk along Bellevue Avenue and visit the shops. We enjoyed visiting the Audrain Automobile Museum. The cars were spectacular, to say the least, and our visit was focused on headlights from original cars to present.

Love the headlights….

We spent many hours visiting the shops on Thames Street and a few restaurants as well, such as Smokehouse and Brick Alley Pub. We read all the customer reviews and tried to diversity our choices within the amount of time we were there. There are so many to choose from that I actually put notes in my phone for a future visit. We enjoyed the lobster specials at the Red Parrot, including the lobster quesadillas, which I normally would be afraid to order. But when in Newport, you think differently about lobster. I was delighted when I saw the huge chunks of lobster in the quesadillas. Just the right amount of cheese was in them so you could enjoy the decadence of the lobster meat.

Lobster chunks in quesadillas

While on Thames Street ,we also visited the Newport History Museum which took you back in time when Newport was first discovered and became a colony. As a history buff, I enjoyed visiting the museum and even watching the retrospective videos.

During our trolley ride, we were able to see all the beautiful mansions that are part of Newport’s history and appeal. We were seated very carefully in alternate seats and rows because of the pandemic. Personally, I was disappointed that the mansion where the Great Gatsby was filmed was not open for visitors There were only two open for viewing, and we actually only toured one – The Breakers. Supposedly, the Breakers is the grandest of the mansions, and I will say, the most ostentatious. It was considered a “summer cottage” by the Vanderbilt family. The family fortune was established by Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt in the steamship business and the New York Central Railroad. When he became president of the railroad, he purchased a wooden house called the Breakers in Newport in 1893.

I think I would enjoy cooking here….
The grand entrance to the Breakers
View from the back of The Breakers

The Vanderbilt’s had seven children.  You could see the amount of wealth when touring the mansion, with gold details everywhere and marble walls and staircases.  For me the best part of the tour was the view of the outside back porch which overlooked the water.  The grounds were immense and beautifully manicured.  The house was immense but decorated in 1900 gaudy décor.  It was interesting to see the servants’ quarters where 32 out of 40 of their servants lived.  Their kitchen alone was a dream for anyone who loves extensive cooking. A definite point of interest on your trip to Newport. And hopefully when we get back to normal you can visit some of the others.  We drove by mansions owned by many famous families including Judge Judy, Jay Leno and the owners of Alex and Ani.

One day we were lucky to take a ferry ride to ports in Fort Adams and Jamestown. We visited Fort Adams which was a historic park located in the harbor. In Newport, the fort was active from 1841 through World War II. It was certainly authentic as we found areas to be completely unkept and unattended to.

Our view as we ate in Jamestown

Another stop on our ferry tour was the town of Jamestown, with its New England style mansions and docks for fishing, kayaking and enjoying the beautiful scenery. We ate lobster rolls at Spinnakers Café, right on the dock, enjoying the beautiful Jamestown community and bay in front. I must say that I did try lobster in many places we visited, including lobster quesadillas at the Red Parrot, lobster roll at the Wharf Pub, and seafood chowder along the way. A great breakfast place right near our hotel was Gary’s Handy Lunch Diner – a little retro and with many daily specials to choose from.

Lobster roll

If you decide to do a local vacation this summer, Rhode Island is a good choice and Newport is the place to go. We were very impressed with the restrictions placed on touring and even eating in restaurants that we felt safe being out and about and enjoying the sites. Newport is a fun place to explore, full of history and just beautiful and serene. While New Yorkers were suffering with humidity, we could feel the breeze from the water throughout our stay. A beautiful getaway that I want to visit again.

A breathtaking sunset.