23 Life Lessons Learned in NYC & New Canaan


~PODCAST LISTENERS: Please note, that the next episode of The Simple Sophisticate will return next Monday. Due to my travels, I wasn’t able to produce the episode I have been working on, and rather than do something too quickly, I will be fine tuning it over the week. It is a topic that is dear to my heart and has struck a cord, and I look forward to sharing it with you next week. Thank you for understanding. 

Every time I travel, even if it is to a familiar destination, if it involves different events, people or sight-seeing destinations, I am overwhelmed with the life lessons. Often what you’ll find me doing during my travels when I have down time, or am eating a meal alone, is whipping out my Moleskine journal or my Notes on my iPhone and listing everything that is dancing around in my mind, trying to catch the thoughts before they disappear or are tossed out because new ones come to fruition. Last year, upon returning from Manhattan, I posted these 25 lessons, and to follow suit, in lieu of the podcast this week, I wanted to share with you what I learned on my recent trip when I returned, as well as my jaunt to New Canaan, Connecticut, for TSLL book signing event on Saturday.

1. Curiosities shouldn’t be ignored. Even if you are shocked with what you discover, they are opening your eyes to something that will bring you closer to your most authentic self.

2. The gift of our travels is often not the places we seek to explore, but the people we meet while we are there. Each time I travel, especially most recently when I toured the United Nations, the 9/11 Memorial Museum, but simply walking around the city and traveling along the subway, is the eye-opening that occurs. Even with all of our external and vocal varieties, we are all much more alike than we are different.


3. There will be some passions that we will outgrow as we progress through our journey, this is okay, and something to be celebrated. Much of our life is a progression, and we need to travel through and experience certain curiosities in order to get to the next one. Each passion that is sincerely, innately something we are drawn to occurred for a reason, to open our eyes, teach us something about ourselves that we didn’t already know, but needed to discover in order to progress toward our true potential.

4. Some museums/exhibits/destination need to be experienced solely with the heart and mind, not with a camera. The one place I didn’t not snap a photo was inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum. As one of my students urged (thank you Marlene), it is an emotional experience, even for those of us who were on the other side of the country when it occurred. In certain places and situations we must simply allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling, let the tears or frustration flow from us and be fully present.

nyc6f ~NYC’s Freedom Tower, located next to the 9/11 Memorial Museum~

5. Paying for comfort whether in your hotel, vacation rental, airline seating, etc. is worth the elimination of unnecessary stress. While I have never purchased first class tickets, I did save up for comfort class on Delta, just those extra perks of loading first, more leg space, knowing there would be headspace above my seat for my luggage and a few extra free snacks and drinks, as well as wi-fi, makes those long coast-to-coast flights far more comfortable.

6. Download the necessary travel apps to ease your mind and save you money and time. I lived by Embark for the subway lines, but MTA Subway Time is one you can use as well. I’m sure there are others, but Embark never steered me wrong (sometimes on the weekends, there will be repairs, but there will be posters on the platform of which lines are temporarily closed and alternate routes).


7. Eating at the bar is a great way to eat out alone at great restaurants. I was quite eager to dine at Donahue’s after this story was printed in The New York Times. And the food, service and decor is exactly as professed in the article. A relic from the 1960s, primarily locals, and a hole-in-the-wall on the Upper East Side you won’t find unless you know what you’re looking for. Seated between a UES couple who I later learned at three adult children, and three gentleman friends getting together after work for a gourmet hamburger, my favorite part was talking with the bartender Tom and watching the New York Yankees play the Astros. Lovely, put it on your true Manhattan haunts to visit.

I also had enjoyed the conversation with John, the bartender at Pearl’s Oyster Bar. Clearly a natural at meeting people and making them feel right at home.


~Pearl’s Oyster Bar serves an amazing Lobster Roll, and eating at the bar is just as magnificent as sitting at the table, especially for lunch when your feet are exhausted.~

8. If you’re running late, as I tend to do because I don’t realize how long it will take me to go from one place to the next, text the person prior to the time you are to meet to give them the heads up. Perhaps they are running late as well and will be able to catch their breath and not rush to make it.

9. Putting yourself out there, not knowing the people you will be surrounded by or how the circumstances will work out, often opens up doors to extraordinary connections and memories you won’t soon want to forget. Autumn, Linda, Melissa, Carla, Carolyn, Sheila and so many of TSLL readers that stopped by on Saturday, thank you for making the journey (some from nearby and some from many states away), to say hello. I will never forget the New Canaan book signing primarily for this reason.

10. When you choose to stretch yourself, you never know who you may have inspired to do the same. Leading by example is a fulfilling way to live.

11. Kindness will never go out of style. The owner at Ginger Bitz was just one of the many lovely interactions I had that involved unexpected over-the-top kindness. And it is in extending this kindness, we inspire others to pay it forward. We personally may not experience the gift that was cultivated, but someone else will, and that is more than enough reason to choose the act of kindness.

nyc2b quichelorraine

~GingerBitz: the most delicious quiche Lorraine I have ever had, and I’ve had many slices over my 36 years.~

12. The best recommendations come from the locals you meet. It requires that we initially step into a new environment without a pre-set plan, but if we have the courage to ask while we’re there, the experience of the destination is usually quite enhanced. And always ask why they recommend what they do which will give you an insight if it indeed will be something you will enjoy.

nyc3c ~Pimlico Interior Designs and Decor~

13. Small, locally owned usually is best when it comes to bookstores. (Stop by later this week as I’ll share images and details on the book signing. Can’t wait? Visit my Instagram page for a handful of pics and posts.)

14. If you have children, take them regularly to bookstores or libraries and let them explore on their own. You may have just given them the key to a brand new world. So many parents brought their children into the bookstore where the signing was held, and it was not a specialized children’s bookstore. I saw many a child with their eyes in awe of books on the shelves.

nyc3333 ~Elm Street Books~

15. You don’t have to love all aspects of your job, so long as the majority of what you spend your time doing is your passion. Writing, exploring, reading and meeting TSLL readers are what I love about blogging and being an author, but there are other expectations as well that must be tended to; thankfully, they are not the majority of the pie, and can easily be tended to as the primary product and journey are each items I couldn’t live without.

16. Local haunts are often the best to dine at to experience the truth of your destination. Often these establishments are more comfortable, personable and feel as close to dining at home as is possible (because the tourists are not swarming). Check out the local newspapers for reviews of such locales. As I mentioned Donahue’s was one such gem, but on my trip a couple of years ago I visited a small Italian restaurant right behind MoMa, Il Gattopardo, and I highly recommend Le Colonial in midtown as well. For more of my first-hand recommendations of all of the cities, be sure to visit my City Guides page.

17. It is only when you put yourself out there for the world to see, your authentic self, that you can attract what you are truly seeking. 

18. Adhere to your exercise and health routine as much as possible. On my first afternoon/evening in the city, I hopped off the five hour flight from Portland and was thrilled to have the opportunity to partake in Bryant Park’s Yoga in the Park that occurs each summer. The experience is free, mats are provided, and you get to have an amazing memory and body stretch. Also, pack a medium-sized water bottle for your travels (especially the plane), to stay hydrated.


~Bryant Park Yoga~

19. Fewer carbs and more protein and vegetables. If you travel often you no doubt notice that for travelers, the carbs are everywhere. Delicious in many places no doubt, and easy to be drawn to, but don’t over-indulge. What will truly satiate your hunger is what you do when you’re on your everyday eating schedule – a balance meal with proteins, fiber and vegetables. Save the indulgencs for extraordinary special restaurants, bakeries, etc. Your waistline will thank you.

20. Experiencing a talent in-person is a rare treat, and when doing so, they surpass expectation with their talent and poise, one cannot help but be inspired to strive further and dig deeper to find our true potential. Helen Mirren on stage in The Audience was another highlight of my trip. Being four rows from the stage, she was magnificent. (And when the corgies ran onto the stage in the second act, I was also quite tickled.)


21. Just because you’re surrounded by new places to see and things to do doesn’t mean you can’t stay in one evening and just savor “living” in your dream destination. On my last night in Manhattan, I was exhausted – tickled pink, but exhausted. So I picked up amazing deli food from a New Canaan grocer (below), brought it home on the train with me and dined at the Upper West Side apartment I had the fortune to stay at. The rain poured (walking, or should I say, running home from the subway left me drenched but smiling), the wind whipped wildly, and I lounged in what I can only say looked and felt like the apartment in You’ve Got Mail


~Garelick & Herbs offered endless deli options, similar to a Whole Foods, but boutique-esque~


22. Sometimes our trips become even more memorable for the historical events that happen while we are visiting, making them all the more special. When the historic news from SCOTUS broke on Friday, I was sitting in the United Nations building waiting for my tour to begin.

 nyc444 ~The Security Council room in the United Nations~


~The United Nations: Did you know that all 193 countries flags are displayed outside in English Alphabetical order? Beginning with Afghanistan and ending with Zimbabwe (tours are only $18, but be sure to reserve your spot weeks in advance).~

23. What we think will make us truly happy and what actually does are often two separate things. Such a revelation is not something to be disappointed by, but rather a lesson to be appreciative to have learned. Too often people continue to seek what others tell them will make them happy rather than trusting that they know genuinely cultivates happiness, making it far easier to say no to the happiness pretenders.

In just three short days, my eyes were opened yet again, and I will forever be changed. While I sure there are many more lessons that I will be able to formulate in the days to come, I wanted to give you a peek into the trip that you, the readers of TSLL, made possible. Thank you for your interest in living simply luxuriously. I hope you have a wonderful week.


~City Guides (first-hand recommendations from all of my past travels)

~While in New York City: Day One (2012)

~While in London (2012)

~While in Paris (2012)

~Paris: Day One (three part series)

Images: All images taken with iPhone 6 by TSLL


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