Sunday, July 31, 2022

A Parking Lot Story

“Please, Sir, please help me!” cried an old lady as we passed her by while we look for a parking spot near the supermarket earlier today. She was standing in the middle of the parking lot with a pushcart and a bag of groceries inside it. My husband stopped the car and she came nearer. 

“Please, can you bring me to my house? I live at **** street. Please!” she begged us. Hubby and I looked at each other before I stepped out of the car. Hubby asked her if she’s with anyone and the old lady said she lives alone and the bus hasn’t come by in the past hour. Because it’s a Sunday, bus schedules do tend to be erratic on weekends when there aren’t students and a lot of workers needing a ride.

Without being prompted, she hurriedly took the passenger seat I vacated. Probably because she was afraid we’d change our minds. I told hubby I’d go ahead and buy the groceries while he brings the old lady home. 

“Mag-ingat ka ha!” (Take care of yourself!) I said in Tagalog, a bit apprehensive at the thought that there’s a possibility of scamming and that our vehicle might end up being carjacked or something. In my defense, it’s hard to trust people nowadays given all the bad elements being reported in the news daily!

Anyhow, off they went as I entered the grocery store. Every now and then, I'd check hubby’s location in Google Maps while praying he’s okay. Long story short, he arrived just as I finished paying at the cash register.

On our way home, he told me what he and the old lady talked about during the ride. He found out that she’s a widow and is renting a small room. 

“Are you Filipino?” she wanted to know. “Yes,” said my hubby. 

“Oh, I know other Filipinos. They’re very nice, too!” 

The old lady then inquired if he has drinking water in the car because she’s already dehydrated and was afraid she might pass out while waiting for the bus. Unfortunately, we’ve already drank all the beverages we brought earlier. 

Asked about her kids, she said they live a few cities away and she only gets to see them when she asks if she can visit her grandkids. When they invite her over, she takes the bus to go there. They don’t fetch her with their cars.

“Why don’t you just live with them so they can take care of you?” asked hubby.

“Oh no, no! They have their own lives now. And I’m fine where I am,” she replied.    

I felt really sad upon hearing that part because she definitely wasn’t fine when we met her and it seems like her kids do not even check up on her often enough to make sure she’s doing all right.

I am thankful though that we were able to help her get home safely. I pray that if she experiences the same thing in the future, she’ll encounter other people whose desire to help would also win over any apprehensions. 

With so many bad things happening all around us, it’s so easy to say NO to a stranger’s request for personal safety’s sake. But, I hope that after reading this, you may also be led to listen to that inner voice telling you to go ahead and let God take care of the rest.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Full Transcript of Taylor Swift's NYU 2022 Commencement Speech

So I listened several times to Taylor Swift's speech when she accepted her Honorary Doctorate Degree earlier today from New York University at Yankee Stadium and ended up transcribing it so I can just read it whenever I need some encouragement. In case you'd like more information why she received the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts Honoris Causa, please read my previous blog post.

As someone who also loves to write, one of the first things that made me a Certified Swiftie was the way Taylor cleverly weaves words into things of beauty. Many times, after listening to her songs and interviews, I am left amazed and inspired.

In this blog post, I would just like to honor this woman who keeps motivating me and millions of others with her insightful takes about life. I hope you who are reading this would also appreciate the many nuggets of wisdom she shared ...

Hi, I’m Taylor.

Last time I was in a stadium this size, I was dancing in heels and wearing a glittery leotard. This outfit is much more comfortable. 

I would like to say a huge thank you to NYU‘s Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Bill Berkeley and all the trustees and members of the board, NYU’s President Andrew Hamilton, Provost Katherine Fleming, and the faculty and alumni here today who have made this day possible. 

I feel so proud to share this day with my fellow honorees Susan Hockfield and Felix Matos Rodriguez, who humble me with the ways they improve our world with their work. As for me, I’m 90% sure the main reason I’m here is because I have a song called "22". And let me just say, I am elated to be here with you today as we celebrate and graduate New York University’s Class of 2022.

Not a single one of us here today has done it alone. We are each a patchwork quilt of those who have loved us, those who have believed in our futures, those who showed us empathy and kindness or told us the truth even when it wasn’t easy to hear. Those who told us we could do it when there was absolutely no proof of that. 

Someone read stories to you and taught you to dream and offered up some moral code of right and wrong for you to try and live by. Someone tried their best to explain every concept in this insanely complex world to the child that was you as you asked a bazillion questions like, “How does the moon work?” and “Why can we eat salad but not grass?" 

And maybe they didn’t do it perfectly. No one ever can. Maybe they aren’t with us anymore, and in that case I hope you’ll remember them today. If they are here in this stadium, I hope you’ll find your own way to express your gratitude for all the steps and missteps that have led us to this common destination.  

I know that words are supposed to be my “thing,” but I will never be able to find the words to thank my mom and dad, my brother Austin, for the sacrifices they made every day so that I could go from singing in coffee houses to standing up here with you all today because no words would ever be enough. 

To all the incredible parents, family members, mentors, teachers, allies, friends, and loved ones here today who have supported these students in their pursuit of educational enrichment, let me say to you now — Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you.  

I’d like to thank NYU for making me, technically on paper at least, a doctor. Not the type of doctor you would want around in the case of an emergency; unless your specific emergency was that you desperately needed to hear a song with a catchy hook and an intensely cathartic bridge section. Or, if your emergency was that you needed a person who can name over 50 breeds of cats in one minute.

I never got to have the normal college experience, per se. I went to public high school until tenth grade and then finished my education doing homeschool work on the floors of airport terminals. Then I went out on the road for radio tour, which sounds incredibly glamorous but, in reality, it consisted of a rental car, motels, and my mom and I pretending to have loud mother-daughter fights with each other during boarding so no one would want the empty seat between us on Southwest. 

As a kid, I always thought I would go away to college, imagining the posters I’d hang on the wall of my freshmen dorm. I even set the ending of my music video for my song Love Story at my fantasy imaginary college, where I meet a male model reading a book on the grass and with one single glance, we realize we had been in love in our past lives. Which is exactly what you guys all experienced at some point in the last four years, right? 

But I really can’t complain about not having a normal college experience to you because you went to NYU during a global pandemic; being essentially locked into your dorms and having to do classes over Zoom. Everyone in college during normal times stresses about test scores, but on top of that, you also had to pass like a thousand COVID tests

I imagine the idea of a normal college experience was all you wanted, too. But in this case, you and I both learned that you don’t always get all the things in the bag that you selected from the menu in the delivery service that is life. You get what you get. And as I would like to say to you, wholeheartedly, you should be very proud of what you’ve done with it. Today, you leave New York University and then you go out into the world searching what’s next.  And so will I.

So as a rule, I try not to give anyone unsolicited advice unless they ask for it. I’ll go into this more later. I guess I have been officially solicited in this situation to impart whatever wisdom I might have, to tell you things that has helped me so far in my life. Please bear in mind that I, in no way, feel qualified to tell you what to do. You’ve worked and struggled and sacrificed and studied and dreamed your way here today and so, you know what you’re doing. You’ll do things differently than I did them and for different reasons. 

So I won’t tell you what to do ‘coz no one likes that. I will, however, give you some life hacks I wish I knew when I was starting out my dreams of a career and navigating life, love, pressure, choices, shame, hope, and friendship.

The first of which is — life can be heavy, especially if you try to carry it all at once. Part of growing up and moving into new chapters of your life is about catch and release. What I mean by that is knowing what things to keep and what things to release. You can’t carry all things, all grudges, all updates on your ex, all enviable promotions your school bully got at the hedge fund his uncle started. Decide what is yours to hold and let the rest go. Oftentimes, the good things in your life are lighter anyway, so there’s more room for them. One toxic relationship can outweigh so many wonderful, simple joys. You get to pick what your life has time and room for. Be discerning. 

Secondly, learn to live alongside cringe. No matter how hard you try to avoid being cringe, you will look back on your life and cringe retrospectively. Cringe is unavoidable over a lifetime. Even the term “cringe” might someday be deemed “cringe.” I promise you, you’re probably doing or wearing something right now that you will look back on later and find revolting and hilarious. You can’t avoid it, so don’t try to. 

For example, I had a phase where, for the entirety of 2012, I dressed like a 1950s housewife. But you know what? I was having fun. Trends and phases are fun. Looking back and laughing is fun. And while we’re talking about things that make us squirm but really shouldn’t, I’d like to say that I’m a big advocate for not hiding your enthusiasm for things. 

It seems to me that there is a false stigma around eagerness in our culture of unbothered ambivalence. This outlook perpetuates the idea that it’s not cool to “want it.” That people who don’t try are fundamentally more chic than people who do. And I wouldn’t know because I’ve been a lot of things but I’ve never been an expert on chic. But I’m the one who’s up here so you have to listen to me when I say this -- Never be ashamed of trying. Effortlessness is a myth! The people who wanted it the least were the ones I wanted to date and be friends with in high school. The people who want it most are the people I now hire to work for my company. 

I started writing songs when I was 12 and since then, it’s been the compass guiding my life and, in turn, my life guided my writing. Everything I do is just an extension of my writing, whether it’s directing videos or a short film, creating the visuals for a tour, or standing on a stage performing. Everything is connected by my love of the craft, the thrill of working through ideas and narrowing them down, and polishing it all up in the end; editing, waking up in the middle of the night, and throwing out the old idea because you just thought of a newer, better one or a plot device that ties the whole thing together. There’s a reason they call it a hook. Sometimes a string of words just ensnares me and I can’t focus on anything until it’s been recorded or written down. 

As a songwriter, I’ve never been able to sit still, or stay in one creative place for too long. I’ve made and released 11 albums and in the process, I’ve switched genres from country to pop to alternative to folk. And this might sound like a very songwriter-centric line of discussion but in a way, I really do think we are all writers. And most of us write in a different voice for different situations. 

You write differently in your Instagram stories than you do your senior thesis. You send a different type of email to your boss than you do your best friend from home. We are all literary chameleons and I think it’s fascinating. It’s just a continuation of the idea that we are so many things all the time. And I know it can be really overwhelming figuring out who to be and when, who you are now, and how to act in order to get where you want to go. 

I have some good news — it’s totally up to you. 

I have some terrifying news — it’s totally up to you! 

I said to you earlier that I don’t ever offer advice unless someone asks me for it and now I’ll tell you why. As a person who started my very public career at the age of 15, it came with a price. And that price was years of unsolicited advice. Being the youngest person in every room for over a decade meant that I was constantly being issued warnings from older members of the music industry, media, interviewers, executives. And this advice often presented itself as thinly veiled warnings. See, I was a teenager, at a time when our society was absolutely obsessed with the idea of having perfect young female role models. It felt like every interview I did included slight barbs by the interviewer about me one day “running off the rails.”And that meant a different thing to every one person who said it to me. 

So I became a young adult while being fed the message that if I didn’t make any mistakes, all the children of America would grow up to be perfect angels. However, if I did slip up, the entire earth would fall off its axis and it would be entirely my fault and I would go to pop star jail forever and ever. 

It was all centered around the idea that mistakes equal failure and ultimately, the loss of any chance at a happy or rewarding life. This has not been my experience. My experience has been that my mistakes led to the best things in my life. And being embarrassed when you mess up is part of the human experience. Getting back up, dusting yourself off, and seeing who still wants to hang out with you afterward and laugh about it? That’s a gift.

The times I was told “no” or wasn’t included, wasn’t chosen, didn’t win, didn’t make the cut — looking back, it really feels like those moments were as important, if not more crucial, than the moments I was told “yes.” 

Not being invited to the parties and sleepovers in my hometown made me feel hopelessly lonely. But because I felt alone, I would sit in my room and write the songs that would get me a ticket somewhere else. Having label executives in Nashville tell me that only 35-year-old housewives listen to country music and there was no place for a 13-year-old on their roster made me cry in the car on the way home. But then I’d post my songs on my MySpace — yes, MySpace — and I would message with other teenagers like me who loved country music but just didn’t have anyone singing from their perspective. 

Having journalists write in-depth, oftentimes critical, pieces about who they perceive me to be made me feel like I was living in some weird simulation. But it also made me look inward to learn about who I actually am. Having the world treat my love life like a spectator sport in which I lose every single game was not a great way to date in my teens and twenties! But it taught me to protect my private life fiercely. 

Being publicly humiliated over and over again at a young age was excruciatingly painful but it forced me to devalue the ridiculous notion of minute by minute, ever-fluctuating social relevance and likability. Getting canceled on the internet and nearly losing my career gave me an excellent knowledge of all the types of wine. 

I know I sound like a consummate optimist, but I’m really not. I lose perspective all the time. Sometimes everything just feels completely pointless. I know the pressure of living your life through the lens of perfectionism. And I know that I’m talking to a group of perfectionists because you are here today graduating from NYU. So this might be hard for you to hear. 

In your life, you will inevitably misspeak, trust the wrong person, under-react, overreact, hurt the people who didn’t deserve it, overthink, not think at all, self-sabotage, create a reality where only your experience exists, ruin perfectly good moments for yourself and others, deny any wrongdoing, not take the steps to make it right, feel very guilty, let the guilt eat at you, hit rock bottom, finally address the pain you caused, try to do better next time. Rinse. Repeat.  

And I’m not gonna lie. These mistakes will cause you to lose things. I’m trying to tell you that losing things doesn’t just mean losing. A lot of the time, when we lose things, we gain things too.  

Now you leave the structure and framework of school and chart your own path. Every choice you make leads to the next choice which leads to the next, and I know it’s hard to know which path to take. There will be times in life where you need to stand up for yourself; times when the right thing is actually to back down and apologize, times when the right thing is to fight, times when the right thing is to turn and run, times to hold on with all you have, and times to let go with grace. 

Sometimes the right thing to do is to throw out the old schools of thought in the name of progress and reform. Sometimes the right thing to do is to sit and listen to the wisdom of those who have come before us. How will you know what the right choice is in these crucial moments? You won’t. How do I give advice to this many people about their life choices? I won’t.

The scary news is — you’re on your own now.

But the cool news is — You’re on your own now!

I leave you with this. We are led by our gut instincts, our intuition, our desires and fears, our scars, and our dreams. And you will screw it up sometimes. So will I. And when I do, you will most likely read about it on the internet! 

Anyway, hard things will happen to us. We will recover. We will learn from it. We will grow more resilient because of it. As long as we are fortunate enough to be breathing, we will breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out. And I’m a doctor now, so I know how breathing works. 

I hope you know how proud I am to share this day with you. We’re doing this together. So let’s just keep dancing like we’re — The Class of ’22!

* Photos are screenshots from NYU's YouTube video. No copyright infringement intended. 


Why Taylor Swift Got an Honorary Doctorate Degree from New York University

Earlier today, Taylor Swift received an honorary doctorate degree at the NYU 2022 All-University Commencement ceremonies. 

Here's the complete transcription of what Jason King, Chair and Associate Professor of the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, Tisch School of the Arts, said:

“Taylor Swift — blazing, sing-songwriter, producer, actress, pioneering and influential advocate for artists’ rights, and philanthropist. You have brought joy and resolve to your hundreds of millions of fans throughout the world. One of the bestselling music artists in history, you have crossed genres, demographics, age groups, and borders of all kinds to touch lives around the globe.

With nine original studio albums, two re-recorded studio albums, five extended plays, three live albums, and 14 compilations; you have sold well over 100 million album units, earning awards and honors in every category. 

Taylor's reaction when her re-recorded albums were mentioned :)

You have used the remarkable platform you earned to galvanize support for the equality act, to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. And you have spoken out and you have supported initiatives to protect women and girls from harassment and sexual assault.

You have donated significantly to victims of floods and tornados, for cancer research, literacy programs for children and public education. You have fearlessly challenged the exploitation of music artists and successfully championed their right to be compensated for their work.”

Andrew Hamilton, NYU President: "Taylor Swift, you are a role model across the world for your unprecedented talent and accomplishment. Your fierce advocacy for protection of those facing discrimination and your commitment to speaking out forcefully, eloquently, and effectively on behalf of all artists. By virtue of the authority vested in me, I am pleased to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts Honoris Causa!"

* photos are screenshots from NYU's YouTube video of the graduation, no copyright infringement intended

In case you're still curious, here are articles referencing some of the things Jason King talked about:

A Timeline of Taylor Swift's Generosity

Why Taylor Swift Sued a Man for $1 - And What We Can Learn From It

Taylor Swift Fought Spotify For a Huge Win for All Musicians

Taylor Swift Literally Plays "The Man" in New Video

Read the full transcript of Taylor Swift's NYU 2022 Commencement Speech, HERE.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Exploring California: What’s There to See in the Charming Town of Harmony?

Population 18 says the green sign along Highway 1. Wait, what?! I had to do a double take the first time I saw it. Three years later, I still feel that sense of wonder each time we pass by that sign during our summer trips to California’s Central Coast.   

In 2019, my family and I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to explore the Town of Harmony. Early last year, as I was watching a South Korean TV Series entitled The Heirs (also known as The Inheritors), I found myself squinting at the television screen trying to read a building’s name which turned out to be Harmony Valley Creamery Assn.

Who remembers this white building from 
The Inheritors starring Lee Min Ho?

“I think I know where that is!” was my first thought and verified through online search that the scene was indeed filmed in Harmony. It made me more curious to see the town for myself. So, when we went to Cambria a few months later, I made it a point to finally check out the place.

Harmony IS a tiny town where visitors can buy handmade pottery, handblown glass items, other souvenir pieces, and craft ice cream available in various flavors. It has a lot of pretty spots for lovely impromptu shots and also features a small church (see what it looks like inside by watching this video) that offers wedding ceremonies and reception as well as an elopement package! Oh, and yeah, there’s even an option to rent the whole town!

The Town of Harmony, according to a painted wall, grew up around a dairy founded in 1869. Until 1907, the creamery changed hands several times and in those early days, rivalries and feuding among the dairy farmers caused chaos in the valley. When someone got shot dead, a truce was finally called and all residents agreed henceforth to live in harmony, thus the town’s name.

When the dairy business eventually shifted to San Luis Obispo, Harmony Dairy was closed in the late 1950’s. For years, the town was abandoned except for the post office which remained open. In 1972, restoration began to bring back the beauty and vitality of the original Harmony from many years ago.

Sometime last month, my husband and I went back to visit Harmony and brought our sons with us. Like before, we had a nice time strolling around the area and just soaking in the artistic vibe that the pottery and glassworks stores evoke. 

If you happen to be traveling along Highway 1 in the future, you may want to stop by, too, and spend at least half an hour or more there. After all, when would be the next time you’d come across an interesting and historic place with an 18-count population? :)

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Exploring California: A Stopover at Santa Barbara's Chromatic Gate

I love rainbows and have always been fascinated with the fable that there's gold at the end of it. While I find it hard to believe in finding treasure at the bottom of a rainbow, there's something precious about standing next to one ... or a likeness of it!

Last weekend, as we took a road trip to California's Central Coast, I asked my husband to do a pit stop at Santa Barbara so we can visit the Chromatic Gate at the Arco Circle. This historical landmark was designed by artist Herbert Bayer (b.1900 - d.1985) and was installed in 1991, six years after his passing. It is 21 feet high and weighs 12.5 tons.

According to, the structure's completion and existence was made possible by art visionary Paul Mills (among others), the longest-serving art director at Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

This lovely rainbow arch has a small park behind it where we saw some people having picnics. It is also located just across a wide stretch of beach and very near the Santa Barbara Zoo. I hope we'd have more time to explore the next time we come visit.  

In case you're wondering, we were there around noon on a Sunday and the foot traffic was light. There were other groups of tourists who also took pictures at the site but it wasn't crowded. People were very respectful of others' personal space so it was easy to have the area to ourselves for several minutes. Parking at the side of the road was also not a problem.

Santa Barbara's Chromatic Gate
is located at Cabrillo Park, 633 East Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara, CA 93103.  See more California travel tips and photos by following @CaliTravelDiary on Instagram.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

How Does a 3-D Mirascope Work?

Okay, geek mode on!  I found this fascinating science toy recently and set it up on the dining table before my youngest son got home. When I showed him how the frog wasn't actually on top of the mirascope, he had the same surprised reaction I had the first time I tried it. The image looked so real but when you try and touch it, you can't!  Watch the video, here.

So, how does this instant illusion maker work? According to the box, the 3-D Mirascope consists of two parabolic mirrors that are facing each other. The top mirror has a hole in the center where the hologram effect takes place. By setting an object in the bottom parabolic mirror, it is suddenly projected as a solid object in the opening of the top mirror.

Super cool, right? If you also want to buy one, you can find it here: Enjoy! 

Please leave a comment below to share how your family and friends reacted. It would be a nice party trick don't you think? Also, aside from the frog, what other small stuff were you able to project as a hologram? I'm still looking around our house for another tiny item to try!   

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Exploring California: 5 Good Reasons to Visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad + 5 Tips to Make Your Trip Even More Worthwhile

"I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want." ~ Andy Warhol

I am such a softie when it comes to flowers — not much of the cut ones you have to put in vases but more of the the living and growing kinds that can be found in parks and gardens, on the sidewalks, along hiking trails, and even on sandy beaches! 

These past three years since moving to California, I’d often “drag” members of my family during springtime to places near and far where we can fully appreciate nature and admire beautiful flowers while they are still in bloom. 

Last month, I came across a post on Instagram about The Flower Fields in Carlsbad and we finally made it there this past weekend. Here’s sharing 5 good reasons why you should also consider visiting:

1. Seeing the flowers up close is NOT the same as seeing them in photos. Sure, I could have simply scrolled through hundreds of IG posts by other people and save us two hours of travel but the experience wouldn’t be as exciting or as delightful as actually being there.

2. Strolling beside acres of ranunculus flowers is an unforgettable experience. I’ve had my share of being in many parks and gardens before where flowers grow abundantly but this place is on a much higher level of WOW! Plus, the fresh air, cool breeze, and sunshine will definitely perk you up! 

3. There are official areas strategically placed all over the fields for photo shoots. You WILL have great pictures! You just have to line up and wait for your turn. In general, most of our fellow visitors were very respectful of others and the rules of the place. It was just disappointing to see a few groups who were stepping over the green tapes, purposely placed there to protect the flowers, just to get their photos taken nearer the middle of the fields. 

4. Besides the flower fields, there are a lot of pretty spots with other flower varieties where you can take additional awesome photos. There are gazebos, arches, a giant chair, a sweet pea maze, and more.  

5. You can take a wagon tour if you don’t want to walk far. There’s 50 acres to cover after all!

So, have I convinced you to pack your bags yet? If yes, here are 5 tips that may help as you plan your own trip to The Flower Fields.

1. Wear comfortable shoes and pack a jacket in case you get cold. The place is HUGE so expect to be walking more than 10,000 steps if you plan on covering a large area of the fields. We spent around two hours there and still weren’t able to see everything there was to see. As much as we’d like to explore some more, pushing a wheelchair on upward sloping ground can be quite challenging.

2. Keep your mask on when not taking photos and please be mindful of the place’s regulations. If you are not one of the farm workers who are authorized to step over the green tapes, DON’T be like the selfish morons who think they’re special enough to break the rules. 

3. Arrive early if you’re visiting on a weekend. I bought us tickets for 2:00PM and we arrived about 10 minutes early. Unfortunately, it took us quite a while to find a place (even the handicapped spots were full) at the overcrowded parking lot.

4. Bring a good camera or a mobile phone that takes sharp pictures. And make sure to charge your batteries beforehand! You wouldn’t want to miss capturing many nice shots what with all the gorgeous backgrounds you’ll find all over the place. 

5. Consider being at Carlsbad for more than a day. The city has a lot to offer and it’s just a 30-minute drive away from San Diego. By staying for two nights, we got to visit Balboa Park and the South Carlsbad State Beach but unfortunately didn’t have enough time to check out the U-pick strawberry farm nearby nor go to the Oceanside Pier as originally planned. Still, we had a grand time and have more reasons to come back another time! :)

Saturday, January 02, 2021

How Auld Lang Syne Sounds When Played on a Tongue Drum

Happy New Year, everyone! Since most of us preferred to usher in 2021 at home, I'm sure that like us, you also found various ways to keep yourselves entertained. 

Sometime in May 2019, I bought a tongue drum online to make music with. I originally wanted to have a hang drum that sounds so much better but found the prices way out of my budget. So I settled for this one and it's been nice playing it for fun. It has even become a conversation piece whenever we had (pre-pandemic) guests over. 

Anyhow, here's sharing a simple, non-professional rendition of Auld Lang Syne on a 10-inch 11-note tongue drum that my non-verbal son with special needs found entertaining. 

Whether it was simple or grand, I hope your New Year's celebration with the people you love was a joyous one :)