I never knew how good it could feel to lay on the grass at Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton until last night. I really had not thought about it to be honest, but I had the chance last night and it was peaceful and beautiful. I didn't decide to just go lay on the lawn and I'm not suggesting you do that.  Last night, Jaya Yoga of Clarks Summit held an event called "Yoga After Dark" on the lawn.  Yoga was led by Kelly O’Brien and Hilary Steinberg from Jaya and Abby Scaramuzzo from Symmetry Studio in Scranton. DJ Brian Langan was spinning the fun tunes that included "Party All the Time" by Eddie Murphy and "Off the Wall" by Michael Jackson! My toes were tapping on their yoga mat before we got started. Once we started I was concentrating on my poses of course - so I wouldn't fall over - so I would get the most of the practice.  And probably the most fun was that everyone who attended received glow sticks to wear as a necklace, bracelet or anklet or whatever accessory depending on what they wanted to glow.

 The event was free with donations being collected for  the SGT Jan Argonish Ride Fund to help area families with people serving in the military and to help the soldiers themselves. SGT Argonish was a Peckville resident who died serving his country in Afghanistan. His memory lives on through the fundraisers held by his loved ones. 

On a day that hit 90 (I'm guessing) I wasn't sure if I would enjoy the yoga because I was feeling pretty sluggish all afternoon but it felt really comfortable on the grass and I even felt a slight breeze or two. I was happy to see the 30 or more people who made the same choice that I did to get out of the house or away from the pool and get outside to share in the practice of yoga. 

As I lay on my mat waiting for the festivities to start I saw the reflection of the Scranton Electric City sign in one of the Courthouse windows. My iPhone camera could not capture the coolness of this image I saw best with my own eyes but that was just one small reason of the many reasons that I was glad I decided to attend. The yoga itself was great. I hadn't taken a class in many months so I was afraid I wouldn't do too well. (As anyone who has ever taken yoga knows, it's a practice that is all about what is right for you and your body. It's not meant to be a competition by any means or about right and wrong - that's just where my mind and ego tend to take me.) I enjoyed the exercises and my legs are feeling them today, which is a nice way for my body to say thank you for choosing to attend Yoga After Dark and thank you to those who organized the event!

Yoga After Dark was one more cool event held in Scranton that I like. So pick up a newspaper or look at your events on Facebook. There are many things for you to like here in the Electric City. 

I was born in Scranton. I lived in State College during 2 1/2 of my four college years at Penn State with my summers spent at home. It seemed like a no-brainer that I would return home after I graduated May of 1993. Throughout the years I have wondered if perhaps I should have ventured elsewhere to gain a new perspective but for the most part, I've been glad that I returned home and stayed. I am close to my family and enjoy spending time with my parents (I know that not everyone likes to be that close to family but we somehow manage to not kill one another). I can remember people at Penn State occasionally (well maybe more than occasionally) mocking Scranton and I, of course, would rush to defend it. It is my home after all. People would make comments about Scranton being the "armpit" of the country or a joke. And in most instances these people formed their well-developed opinion after having stopped for gas on their way to upstate New York or having pulled into a McDonald's at midnight after a concert. I would always become angry when they would say negative things about Scranton. What can I say? It's my home ... and I like it!

For me, what's even harder to hear are negative comments by people who live here, and many who have for some time. (I wonder if they are trapped like genies in a bottle. Why else would a human beings put themselves through what they seem to describe as such hell? Yes I'm being sarcastic but I find it funny in an ironic sense, not a ha ha ha, knee-slapping sense, that they seem to find no value in a place they choose to call home or rather, a city they are not motivated enough to leave.) I used to get really angry about these people and comments too. I am still bothered but I'm working my way away from anger (for so many reasons, as part of my own personal growth). I realize now that I don't have to get angry and defend the city because people who complain chronically or who hate the city in which they live are sending a much louder message about themselves. So I am working at not being angry or defensive but instead, want to remind people (or make them aware for the first time) about the things that I like about the city I choose to live in.  When people say there is nothing to do here it tends to get on my last nerve and I always counter with "Really? Let's see, there's First Friday Art Walk, there are beautiful parks, there are baseball and hockey games, there are concerts, there are wineries, there are talented comedians, actors, artists and so many other performers and artisans who display their talents in so many ways."  I can understand that it's easy to lecture or preach but I'm pretty comfortable spouting off because I practice what I preach. In fact, I like to use myself as an example. When people say there's nothing here for them to do, I ask what it is they want to do. If it doesn't currently exist, make it happen here. And if that seems like to much effort, go follow your dream and let your true light shine so you don't say hanging around here as a dark storm cloud.  I said that I use myself as an example because I do some rather off-beat things. I own a business called Laugh to Live! through which I promote humor and laughter, often using interactive laughter yoga exercises. I perform stand-up comedy. I published a humor book about dating. And in 2005 I worked with the wonderful Jeanne Bovard at the Scranton Area Foundation to develop the non-profit Humor Therapy Fund to promote the healing power of laughter and humor because no such fund or organization existed here in Scranton. So I would respectfully ask again, "What is it that you want to do that does not currently exist or happen here in Scranton? And why aren't you doing it?"

Doesn't it make sense for us to want to promote the city in which we live? And if you own a business, even more so. Wouldn't it do us good if the city is doing well with thriving businesses and visitors and people who actually enjoy living and working here?  Last year I decided to register the domain name "I Like Scranton" because I do like Scranton and I knew that I wanted to do something to help promote the city. The other day I decided that it wouldn't cost me much (or anything with Weebly's basic site builder) to get the website up and start sharing what I like about the city and surrounding area. I'm okay if someone wants to call me a do-gooder. And I'm okay with the fact that there will always be people who choose to hold negative views of the city or dwell on negative aspects of the city (every place has them, even NYC, LA, etc.)  I'm not attempting to transform all of the Debbie Downers and Negative Neds out there. I'd be happy if one of those folks came around and started to appreciate the talent and beauty in their own backyard. Because if one person does then he or she will share his/her new positive attitude and that will surely affect someone else and so on and so on. (There is real power in our words and our attitudes. It's pretty amazing how we affect others - for good or bad - with our actions.)

I hope that this website is a resource for people to find things to do, learn about people and businesses that they might not have known about and ultimately that it will give people at least one new reason to Like Scranton!

I often get on what I call my "soapbox" when people insult my birthplace of Scranton. Scranton is not perfect (no place is) and of course it has its flaws. But what is definitely not true of Scranton is that "there's nothing to do," a phrase I've heard uttered by many who live here. Of course these folks and some others have often muttered much worse about the city through the years. Being more of a defensive person (yes I'm aware and I admit it), I tend to respond to these comments or even the hint of them by saying all of the great things that are going on here.  But why should I play defense when I can be on offense. I can talk about what I enjoy in the city of Scranton any time. I can put it out there and let people decide for themselves. But at least they'll have the information.This light bulb lit this afternoon when I finished a run around Lake Scranton - one of my favorite places to visit in Scranton. I thought why not take pictures and even record the places I think make the city great and then share them by posting them. I didn't photograph today but I will the next time I go there to run. In the mean time I can use words to describe it. The distance around is about 3 1/2 or 3 3/4 miles. I say "or" because, while I believe it is 3 3/4, I'm not positive. There's plenty of shade from beautiful trees to provide shelter from the sun and intense heat on really hot days, which is why I enjoy running there. And in addition to the shade, there are a few spots to stick your hand in refreshing fresh water to cool off as I did today.

I love that the path around the lake has a variety of people enjoying it. There are families, couples, friends and individuals all there to enjoy the beauty in their own way. Some take a slow stroll stopping to look at birds through binoculars or to photograph the water, the geese or the trees, others walk briskly for exercise, families meander with little ones and others run - some times going around twice or more. There are some pesky hills that make it tough to continue conversation with a friend. These are the parts of the run where I choose to be silent. Let's face it, my mouth is going for most of the rest of the run. And that's even when I'm by myself :-)   No, I don't talk to myself at the lake. It's enough that I do it in my car and at my house. I haven't begun doing it in public yet.

A warning to new comers about some waste: beware of the poop left by the geese. It's quite messy but at least it tends to be confined to one area near the large bridge. It becomes a bit of a mine field but I'd like to think of it as a fun obstacle.

Lake Scranton is beautiful in every season. When the leaves begin to change color it truly is beautiful to see the oranges and yellows falling from the trees, probably my favorite time at the lake.  And you can often catch a glimpse of deer crossing the path as well. Years ago when I was a teen-ager there were black bear spottings but I haven't heard of anything lately and I've never seen a bear.  If you like squirrels and chipmunks you're in luck. I won't taint this with my thoughts on squirrels. Let's just say they're not my favorite furry critters - to say the least.

If you haven't been to Lake Scranton, I recommend you visit. It's free and it's beautiful. You can get exercise in an idyllic setting. It sure beats the treadmill.  A couple notes: bikes, scooters, roller blades (any things with wheels) and pets are not permitted (Nay Aug and McDade Parks, which are also beautiful, do allow bikes and pets though so don't get excited).

I hope you enjoy the lake as much as I do. I think we're fortunate to have it!
I remember hearing about places like Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore having an evening once a month in which people would walk around the downtown of the city and look in galleries, enjoy wine and conversation and just have fun. I used to say, "Wow, that sounds really cool. I'd like to do something like that."  Now I do that every First Friday of the month in downtown Scranton. I don't know how many years it has been going on. I can recall attending faithfully for about the last three years or so. When I first went I used to hope that enough people would support it so it would continue as a regular event. Now I'm thrilled to see that now only do people attend, the activities and places for art and other entertainment continue to grow.

The evenings are as colorful and fun as the different works of art on display. In June I went downtown by myself knowing that I would meet up with my friend Jean and her daughter, husband and kids later on. I attended POWER's white out event in front of the great new business Bella Faccias. Kind and talented artists Judith Youschock and Beth Burkhauser were painting T-shirts, hats, sneakers - any white piece of clothing you wanted painted. I wore a long-sleeve T-shirt and being the self-marketer that I am, I asked Judy to paint my business logo "Laugh to Live" on the front of my shirt and later returned to have the frog Wartz from my book "He's Not Prince Charming When..." painted on the back. I'm all about fun self-promotion and getting creative with marketing. I later headed to Lavish, another wonderful shop in downtown Scranton that has that touch of luxury and pampering, to see my dear friend Jack Puhl who does amazing paintings and now has his own line of soaps, lotions and candles at Lavish. As usual Jack was smiling and featured a new series of paintings that I really enjoyed. They made me feel at home. There were so many things going on in June that I didn't get to take them all in - and that's a good thing.

July was just as fabulous. I started off with a visit to two of my favorite women in the city: Kathy and Amanda Fox, the owners of Fanciful Fox - another wonderful local shop with hand made soaps and lotions, vegan products and fair trade items. Oh, and I cannot forget the original jewelry. My favorite item is a necklace made from recycled materials that is a silver apple with a green "seed" in the design. The Foxes have been so supportive of me and so many other people in the city that they deserve nothing but the best that good karma has to offer. After visiting them I walked over to Fidelity Bank on North Washington Avenue to enjoy Music for Models - a talented band with the great singer Tara Michel and Marko Marcinko (keyboardist and jazz drummer) and other members that I apologize for not knowing the names of because they deserve props to!  After enjoying some great tunes I walked down the street to Courthouse where the crowd was treated to the surprise flash mob dance in support of Marley's Mission. This fabulous group did a choreographed dance to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way." It was awesome! I was so excited and wished I knew the dance steps they learned because my feet were moving. It was like a street dance party. The night could not end without visits to two of my favorite places to see art: ArtWorks and Afa Gallery - both on Lackawanna Avenue. There is so much energy in those two places that you can't help but become intoxicated by the positive energy emanating from the crowd. Of course, a glass of Chardonnay doesn't hurt either ( I advise everyone to drink responsibly of course and have a driver if you plan on imbibing a few glasses of wine).

If you've read this far then you probably already knew about this great event and just wanted to read someone else's perspective but if you're  a newbie, then I'm thrilled you read this far and I hope you'll head to downtown Scranton on August 5. Not only is that the First Friday Art Walk but it's also part of Scranton's Jazz Festival. Be sure to check out acts at The Radisson and all of the bars downtown like the Bog, the Banshee and countless others.
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