A “Heart-Warming, Feel-Good, Finding Happiness in the Ordinary” Love Story

So, it’s February and the month of “all things love,” right?  With these current times being what they are, most of us could really use something that warms the heart.  A “feel good” something.   I

So, it’s February and the month of “all things love,” right?  With these current times being what they are, most of us could really use something that warms the heart.  A “feel good” something.   I re-discovered mine recently and am counting it as one of those simple and somewhat ordinary things in life that just brings a smile to my face and a smidgen of happiness amidst all else going on in this ever-changing world of ours.  My own “love story” of sorts.  What is this amazing feel-good-something that makes my eyes light up and my heart skip a beat?  Chocolate! And not just any chocolate, but something special to me. Chocolate with a story.

 

My story isn’t the typical heart-warming love story one might expect to hear about an amazingly romantic relationship, a beloved family member, or a treasured BFF, though I do have stories about all the above. This is about a story likely meaningful only to me, but one that I hope will encourage others to look for their own bit of happiness and pleasure in the ordinary – something that warms the heart in a world that can at times be cold.

 

So, what is this simple, ordinary, feel-good something of mine? Well, it involves a small piece of chocolate.  I told you it was simple and ordinary!  This chocolate, simple as it is, has the power to make my day.   And some days I NEED my day to be made.  And it has a story, making it all the better.

 

I discovered these amazing chocolate hedgehogs – yes, you read that right, chocolate hedgehogs.  An unexpected find from many years ago while on a Caribbean cruise with my parents and siblings in my younger years, these candies are simply amazing.  Browsing through all the incredible shops on the cruise ship, I came across the most decadent, chocolate hazelnuts candies that even 30+ years later still have my heart. Made by Purdy’s Chocolate, a Canadian chocolatier, these little cuties were introduced in the early 1990’s – about the time we were on our cruise – and feature a smooth, hazelnut gianduja filling nestled inside THE cutest milk chocolate hedgehog shell.   Since learning of Purdy’s, I have tried some of their other products and they are all exceptionally good, though the hedgehogs are definitely my favorite.  I decided to place a mail order and found that when ordered seasonally, they arrived fresh and in excellent condition. I have placed many orders since the cruise in the 1990’s, and received many boxes of happiness over the years.

 

I remember having lots of laughs on the cruise ship about these hedgehogs.  With the midnight buffets that included decadent desserts and appetizers along with other late-night indulgences, the on-deck grills and bars, and the formal dining room gourmet meals, I still found a way to work in at least a couple of the hedgehogs into my daily menu.  My family would ask me every day if I had my hedgehog yet, and at the time of no internet, whatever I walked off the ship with is all that I would have, so I ‘stocked up’ and had quite the full luggage when we disembarked from the ship.  I also faintly remember almost missing a shuttle standing in line trying to make my last purchase.  I also remember the waiter bringing me a hedgehog, encased under a silver dome, as a joke (my family had evidently confiscated my “inventory” and made an under-handed deal with the waiter for dessert time).  What great memories I have of this trip and these special treats.  Anytime I eat one of the candies, it takes me back to a laughing, family of four much like the family I have now, and a time where my own parents were in their prime, enjoying life and family, and me and my siblings being young adults at the age where we weren’t yet jaded about some of the difficult parts of life’s journey.   It’s bittersweet – the chocolate and the memories. I’m not sure which brings me more joy and that heart-warming feeling. Perhaps it is a bit of both.

 

Here’s to the simple and ordinary, and an unexpected, heart-warming “love story” that each of us can find from our own lives if we seek it.

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Cindy Chafin
Cindy Chafin, M.Ed., MCHES® serves as editor-in-chief of Unconditionally Her. Through her many years as a masters-level certified health educator and 18-year employment in a higher education setting – as well as several years as a graduate and doctoral student – she has written countless articles, essays, publications, grant applications, proposals, reports, and other technical and creative writing documents. In addition to her training and professional work experience, she spent four years as volunteer editor of New Focus Daily, a publication of the Women Survivors Alliance, a national women cancer survivors-focused organization based in Nashville, Tennessee.

While serving as editor of Unconditionally Her, a women-focused magazine which provides content on anything from recipes, travel, books, and everything in between, she has a special interest in fitness, health, and well-being. She is certified by the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) and was part of the first cohort to receive master's level designation. NCHEC certifies health education specialists, promotes professional development, and strengthens professional preparation and practice. She is proud to be a CHES® and has been a public health professional for many years after receiving her graduate degree in health promotion and education from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She was a personal trainer and group fitness instructor for many years and looks forward to re-engaging with women one-on-one as a health coach pending completion of her certification and doctoral degree to supplement her public health and academic work.

She currently is the Associate Director for Community Programs for the Center for Health and Human Services at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, located just outside of Nashville, where she has been a project director of multiple grants since 2002 and served as interim director from 2015-2018. Cindy offers her consulting services and volunteer hours under the umbrella of Community Health Collaboratives, LLC which she founded in 2002 for organizations such as Unconditionally Her and other non-profit and charity organizations. She is pleased to promote empowerment and confidence of women readers across the globe, and to provide inspiration, motivation, and voice for social change through her role as editor-in-chief of Unconditionally Her.