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That’s me doing a princess-style wave in the smooth, crystal-clear water of Magen’s Bay in the stunning Caribbean island of St. Thomas. Yes, we went all out this year. I sort of figured we might as well, since the world was going to end in 2012, spend all our money on a trip of a lifetime. Josh, on the other hand, a firm believer in Science (capital S), knew no such thing would happen, and he treated us to a trip of a lifetime anyway. And I’d say we deserved it.

I can’t even tell you how amazing this trip was. We started in Miami and took a Disney cruise to St. Martin/St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island in the Bahamas) and then back to Miami, where we spent the day at the luxurious Trump Towers with relatives who were staying there.

Due to extreme tiredness — New Year’s Eve last night was late, and we arrived at the Toronto airport at 1:30 a.m. the night before that — I don’t have the energy to go into details except to say we made wonderful friends, saw gorgeous sights, enjoyed great live Disney shows, met lots of Disney characters (Goofy’s my favourite!), ate way too much food, got some much-needed sun, swam, read, danced, relaxed, played, watched Pirates of the Caribbean under the Caribbean stars, SANG KARAOKE (the Monkey and I destroyed Bieber’s “Baby, Baby” — let’s just say, I am no Ludacris!) and more, more, more.

But I thought we’d better start the New Year off right here at Cheaty Monkey. So I am, hereby, officially putting the darkness that characterized a lot of 2012 behind us, and ushering in 2013, the beautiful.

One of the best lessons I learned on this trip — thanks in part to Disney and it’s magical themes — was to look for the beauty. Obviously, you can’t compare grey Toronto to the positively (here’s a word I haven’t used since a grade-eight creative writing assignment) pulchritudinous islands. But why focus on flaws all the time? There is always beauty, and I want, I need, to try to see it in all, or at least more, things.

And by beauty I mean happy thoughts (not anxious ones), glass half full, the good, the yes, the creativity, spirit, shine, art, love, abandon. I guess this is my big resolution for 2013.

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So far, Day 1, I am kind of sucking. But I’m tired today, and this resolution will involve a huge paradigm shift, a transformation of my entire mindset, a sea change. So I’m taking it slow.

And when in doubt, though it’s not close by, I’ll look to the sea. I still feel it enveloping my body (which is now three pounds heavier thanks to too much exquisite food, but who cares — hakuna matata!). Despite it’s clear blue warmth, I feel chills. The beauty so overwhelming. My mind shifts briefly to the dark side, the plastic, pollution, extinction. But I force myself to drop it, donate later, be here now. It’s still as beautiful as it was when I was a kid, still as blue, salty, glassy, utterly awe-inspiring.

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I guess the beauty of living in Toronto is that when you actually see the sea, you revel in it….

I miss you, Rita, Rick, Leena, Rami, Domano, Nadia, Putu, Deniz, Christian, Tina, Gunther (sorry I called you Thumper), Edmund, Gabby, Goofy, Pluto, Micky, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Ariel, Tiana, Peter Pan, Belle, the islands, the sea….

HAPPY, BEAUTIFUL NEW YEAR TO ALL!

As they say on the Disney Wonder cruise ship (c/o Tinker Bell and friends), FAITH… TRUST… and PIXIE DUST!

Love!
xo Haley-O