What a year for a new year

One of my favorite holiday songs is Dan Wilson's "What a Year For a New Year" The song says that, even when times are rough, the new year or even the new day is a welcome restart.

I wish for you the chance to start fresh, make new dreams, new friends, and new opportunities in the new year. I wish for you the determination, strength and courage to let go of what's not working for you and reach out for something better and more meaningful.

I wish you all the best in 2010. You deserve it!

What a year for a new year
We need it like we needed life I guess
Last one left us lying in a mess
What a year for a new year

What a night for a sunrise
And we thought the dark would never end
Reaching out to try to find a friend
What a night for a sunrise

What a day for new day
And our star shines like a miracle
And our world is almost beautiful again
What a day for a new day
New day

What a year for a new year

What a night for a sunrise
And we thought the dark would never end
Reaching out to try to find a friend
What a night for a sunrise

Soon we’ll be lying in our beds
And new dreams will fill our heads
And the old ones will be ended
Hope we’ll forget about this place
Let it go without a trace
Wipe the teardrops from our faces
Oh! What a year for a new year!


Age is good for the ego

I used to have a flat stomach. I didn't even have to try. Now, there's a little roll of flab there, even when I'm in good shape.

I used to have a round bum. When I was younger, I hated it. Now that gravity has taken its toll, I wish I could get the old one back.

I was flat in places I wanted to be round, round in places I wanted to be flat. Now the formerly flat places are round and the formerly round places are flat. Who knew?

When we're young, we're so obsessed with our appearance. Maybe it's biological... we're looking for a mate and the better we look the better chance we have?

As a feminist, I cringe at my own self-critiques. I'm not supposed to care so much about what I look like. And for the most part, I'm happy with what I've got.

Getting older makes me realize that, no matter how hard I work out, I have the body I have. I'm never going to have that 22-year-old body again. Would I want it? No way!

I was skinny then. I have muscles now! I was scrawny then, I'm strong now. And I've gotten comfortable in my skin. I don't like it when my pants get tight, but that's an issue we all have as we age, isn't it? And we all know we can do something about it (and I don't mean plastic surgery or liposuction).

Aging has forced me to pay better attention to my health. I can't eat whatever I want any more without my cholesterol jumping 50 points. I've been a vegetarian for 20 years, so sometimes it doesn't seem fair that I should have the same health problems as someone who downs McDonald's burgers three times a week, but there you go.

Instead of being obsessed with my body, I can enjoy life. I can enjoy my family, my friends, my cats, my hobbies, my business. I can enjoy my workouts because they make me feel good and keep me strong and healthy. And yes, I can even enjoy food, and I do! In moderation, of course.


Running the stadium

I ran up seven stadium aisles in a row yesterday, the ones in the picture at the left.

There are about 84 steps going up, and for some reason, they get even steeper at the top. Actually, four of the aisles have the top twelve steps blocked for construction, so I completed *almost* seven stadium aisles. It was a milestone for me.

Read this blog post from April '09 to see how long it's taken me to get to this point! I didn't even try running the stadium until sometime in June, and I didn't take my stadium workout to five days a week until around September. Knees are a little sore, but nothing I can't handle.

I can do it!


Gratitude through the hard times

A few weeks ago, I was greeted by the bartender at a local restaurant, who remembered me from when I worked in the battered women's shelter in the 90s. At the time, she was a teenager with a couple of sisters and, even though her mother had left their father, she struggled with the years of abuse that were behind them. I ran the children's program at the time and spent many hours with the kids and teens in support groups, playing games and just hanging out.

It was lovely to talk to this -- now -- woman and see how happy she is in her life. She told me that I was the best thing about having to stay in the shelter. She remembered the activities we did together and how I made it fun for them to be there.

One of the sad things about working in the shelter is not knowing what happened to your clients after they left. If I see a woman on the street who I knew at the shelter, I do not approach her, as a confidentiality issue (if she's with others) and out of respect for the possibility that she doesn't want to acknowledge that time in her life. It's up to her to decide if she wants to approach me.

It means so much to me to know I helped people. Every couple of years I'll run into a former shelter client, a woman or one of the now-grown children. I love knowing that I was a part of such a transformational change in their lives, even if only for that short time.

Today I'm thankful for everyone who's been there for me during the hard times in my life. And I'm also thankful to have had the opportunity to be there for someone else.

Happy Thanksgiving!

New book: What to Do When You Are Fired or Laid Off

This book is a how-to guide for getting back on your feet after losing your job. I was interviewed and my "case study" appears on pages 26-27.

I was laid off three times in four years, so I have learned a thing or two about bouncing back! Find it on Amazon here.


Falling behind

I'm sorry I've fallen behind lately on this blog. I find that, while I'm still noticing and enjoying the little things, I sometimes forget to acknowledge them when I'm busy and rushing around. The whole point of this blog was to make me bring those little happy moments to the forefront. So let's try this again!

My friend, the hummingbird. I wish I could say I had taken this photo, but the little guys are too quick for my slow reflexes with the camera phone.

On my way to the stadium, there's a stand of agapanthus plants where the hummingbirds like to hang out. I love just standing and watching them for a couple of minutes.

Image by Maria Corcacas



Look at that pink tongue sticking out and that fluffy foot. Need I say more?

Read my tribute to Baby here.



Okay, here's what I DON'T do:

Unplug electronics when not in use
Not watch TV
Take 3-minute showers
Walk or ride a bike everywhere
Make my own cleaning products
Save the water from my showers to water plants and to flush the toilet
Fill the sink with water when I do dishes
Use rags instead of paper towels

Here's what I DO do:

Eat 90% organic
Recycle everything (and in Santa Barbara, I mean everything)
Eat a vegetarian diet (no, that doesn't include the occasional burger or fish taco -- then I wouldn't be vegetarian, would I?)
Shop at thrift stores
Trade books at PaperbackSwap.com instead of buying new ones
Avoid fast food
Carry a Sigg bottle instead of buying bottled water
Wash and reuse plastic bags as many times as possible
Use the same cup all day (and sometimes the same plate, too)
Use reusable shopping bags
Turn off the water when brushing my teeth

Just to give you an idea of where I started from this week...

I joined the No Impact Experiment last Sunday to see if I could be influenced to change some of my earth-impacting ways. The week's not over yet, and I can hardly say I had no impact. But I did learn some great lessons about myself and made a little progress in my awareness.

Day one was "Consumption" day, and I think this is the area in which I have the most trouble. As I posted in the No Impact Project forum:

"If I need or want something, I buy it mostly without a second thought, even if it's from the thrift store. It's been good for me to question my buying habits this week, even down to food shopping.

Hubby works at a specialty foods market and I e-mail him a list just about every day of items I want him to bring home. This week, I've been really conscious about cooking with what I already have. Even though I need peanut oil, can I get by with olive oil for a few more days? Even though I 'need' waffles, can I get by with the other breakfast foods already in stock? Do I really need to buy more food when I already have a bulging freezer and cupboards?"

So on Sunday, I challenged myself. I've been wanting to buy a "banana hanger," both to free up space on my tiny kitchen counters and to keep my bananas from getting bruised in the fruit pile. I was planning to go look for one, but decided to try to make one in order to avoid buying something. I used a coat hanger and bent it in a way that I could hang it on a hook in my kitchen. One less thing to buy!

I mailed a package to a Speak Schmeak reader wrapped in one of my already-printed handouts instead of using a new envelope or other wrap.

I downloaded the application Evernote to my computer and Palm Pre so that I can stop using scraps of paper for my lists, travel directions and to-dos. So far, I love it!

Every time I left a room, I was conscious of the lights. Every time I thought of picking up a newspaper, I realized I could read it online. Overall, I was more conscious of my consumption, my waste, my water and power usage, my driving and other areas of eco-impact.

Even though I didn't make huge changes this week that I can sing from the rooftops, I am proud of my conscious efforts and I believe that this will be the beginning of change for me. Check out the No Impact Project page, and download the How-To Manual for the No Impact Experiment.

It's all about baby steps. What are you taking baby steps to change?


The ubiquitous agapanthus

I've taken a liking to the agapanthus. Also called the Lily of the Nile, the agapanthus is about as ubiquitous as greenery can be. Planted in front of every bank, doctor's office and corporate headquarters, it's a hardy plant that looks good even when not flowering.

In Santa Barbara, agapanthus is everywhere, in shades from deep blue to violet to white, and from tiny varieties to giant ones. I imagine that no one even looks twice at the agapanthus any more (except the hummingbirds I've seen drinking from it); it's meant not to stand out but to fill a space without much thought or concern for its care.

Well, at least I'm a fan of the agapanthus. Its giant flower cluster, hiding in plain sight, is beautiful to me. The individual flowers are delicate, while the flower cluster itself is powerful. I love spotting a row of dwarf agapanthus planted in front of a row of full-size ones. When hubby and I are driving around town, we've been known to shout out "Agapanthus!" at the sight of a patch. Here's an informative page from South Africa that talks about this "magical and medicinal plant."

What have you noticed that's hiding in plain sight?


Second chances

You don't have to come back from the dead to have a second chance at life, but that's exactly what happened to my mom a week ago.

My mom had a heart attack and then went into cardiac arrest, was worked on for several minutes (we don't know how long yet, but the estimate is 15) by EMTs and was pronounced dead at the ER. Miraculously, she started breathing on her own and revived.

At the age of 69, this is amazing enough, but today she is being released from the hospital into a skilled nursing facility for rehab. During her ordeal over the past week she experienced some damage to her lungs, small fractures to her sternum from CPR, breathing on a ventilator, and an infection which made her confused and disoriented for several days.

But the doctors believe that, in about a week, her lungs will be healed, her pain will lessen, and she will be able to benefit from the physical and occupational therapy she'll receive in rehab. She should soon be standing and walking on her own again, and back living the independent life she was living before.

Last month, I wrote about my own experience being in a car accident that changed my life in many ways. But I can only guess at how facing death changes one's life.

Have you been given a second chance at life by facing your own death? Maybe you haven't, but that's no reason not to reassess your life anyway.

How's your diet? Do you exercise? Do you get enough sleep? Are you happy in your relationships, in your job, where you live? Is there something about your life that you would like to change, but haven't been motivated?

"Life is short," as people say. Too short not to live the life you want to live. You don't have to face death to give yourself a second chance. Or a third or fourth, for that matter.

As long as you're alive, you have the option to make your life what you want it to be. Will you?


Happy birthday, Jack LaLanne!

Jack LaLanne turned 95 on Saturday, September 26. I wrote about him two years ago after I learned he was uncomfortable with public speaking.

Jack LaLanne has inspired millions of people to exercise, lift weights and eat healthfully... and he was talking about these issues long before they were mainstream!

He has a message to share and no matter how shy he is, he'll be onstage, sharing his message. Because he's so passionate, so committed to his beliefs and so committed to helping people, he gets up on the stage over and over again.

Check out my original blog post here and the related links. Is there something that inspires you that you can share with others? Is there something you're passionate about that you can teach others?


Happy to be alive

I complain a lot about the heatwaves we've been experiencing here in Santa Barbara. I'm a big baby about heat; I just can't tolerate it any more, even though as a teenager, I used to lie on the beach for hours day after day, soaking up the sun. I complain, but the truth is, I'm happy to be alive to complain about the heat.

Almost 20 years ago, I was hit by a car while driving a scooter. I had a helmet, but as this was before helmet laws, I wasn't wearing it. I collided with the car head-first.

That car accident has become a defining factor in who I am today. The head injury led to panic attacks which, while under control now, still dictate where I sit in a movie theater or how crowded an elevator I'll ride in.

I have arthritis in places I probably never would have, but for the injuries I received in that crash. I have a visible scar on my face that permanently changed my appearance, and other scars that, amazingly, remain hidden, but I know they're there. One of the more annoying remainders of the accident is damage to my wrist that prevents me from doing pushups. Imagine -- a workout with no pushups!

So this accident changed me and added a dimension to my life that didn't exist beforehand. But here I am to talk about it, and I'm grateful every day for surviving it.

Today I'm walking with my husband and his co-workers in the Santa Barbara Heart Walk. They've participated in the event for several years, but this year it has taken on a new level of meaning.

A friend and co-worker, Rob Davis, suffered a stroke just four days ago. He's a young man in his forties; this is his second bout with stroke, but this one has proven to be more dangerous. Since Tuesday, he's been in ICU in critical condition. There is a blood clot in his brain which cannot be fully removed. He's gone through two surgeries so far, one to relieve the pressure from his swelling brain. He's under induced paralysis, to keep his brain activity low.

Rob is like the "house mother" to the employees of Lazy Acres. When someone needs a place to stay, Rob takes them in. Rob gives everything and more to his friends. He cooks huge meals, invites everyone over, and then sends us home with entire pans of lasagna -- there's always a veggie one for me and Rudy. If it's your birthday, you can be assured that Rob will throw a party for you, sometimes going to elaborate lengths to celebrate.

Even if Rob were not the generous, caring person that he is, we would still be supporting him, of course. But we all owe Rob for what he's given us. And now, knowing that when Rob comes out of this, he will likely be unable to work, and possibly unable to care for himself for months or years, we want to help with the support he's going to need.

Note the widget on the sidebar of this blog, which I'm using to raise funds to help Rob. I'm going to leave it there until Rob no longer needs our support. We have an ambitious goal of raising $25,000 in the next year to help with his rent and other living expenses. If you feel so inclined, please help to whatever degree you can.

I'm so lucky I got to survive my accident and that I have the luxury of complaining about whatever I want, whenever I want, including the weather. I may complain, but I'm happy to be alive, aware of my surroundings and able to appreciate my life. I hope for the same outcome for Rob.

Go here for information on identifying stroke symptoms.


Kitty taking a shower

Some kitty silliness for you today. If you haven't seen this water-loving tabby (and supposedly this is true of all tabbies -- we used to have one that would stand on the side of the tub while we were taking showers), take a look and enjoy!



Over the weekend, I participated in a ceremony to celebrate a friend's impending childbirth. What was special about the event was that it didn't focus on the baby; it focused on the mom-to-be.

There was a part of the ceremony where we each wrapped a portion of a long red ribbon around our left wrists, as a way to connect all of us to each other and to our pregnant friend. We tied the ribbon onto our wrists as we expressed our wishes for the baby, and we will cut them off when the baby is born. We also each received a candle that we will light when we hear our friend has gone into labor, as a way to support her from afar.

We painted heart-shaped rocks (an old collection that happened to fit perfectly with the theme!) with symbolic words and images for the mother to have around her during labor.

The ceremony was brief but lovely. The majority of the day was spent eating, catching up with girlfriends, and being present and encouraging for the mother-to-be.

We've lost touch with a lot of life-affirming and life-stage rituals that used to be traditional in our lives. The Mother Blessing or Blessingway is a tradition that I hope will become more widespread.


Mystery music

Driving home from dinner last week, on a balmy evening with the windows down, we heard music as we passed an empty storefront. Looking in, we noticed a man sitting in the back corner of the space playing a keyboard, with a flourish like he was in front of an audience!

We turned the corner and went back around the block to see if we could catch him again. As we passed the storefront again, he was just leaving, locking the front door and walking away.

An empty storefront with a mysterious keyboard player... just another summer evening in Santa Barbara!


Secret to a long, healthy life?

We were having dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant last week, when I overheard the conversation of the people sitting behind me. One woman was talking about running into an old friend who said he had been at her 90th birthday party. He asked her how old she was now. At the time of the story, last year, she told him she'd be 102 in January.

I couldn't contain myself. I was dying to turn around and look at this woman! I told my husband what I had heard of the story. He could see her. He said, "She looks great. She has her own teeth!"

When they got up to leave, I managed to sneak a peek. She was slightly hunched over, but not using a cane or walker.

The server told me that they've asked her her secret of longevity, and she says she doesn't know; she eats what she wants and drinks alcohol occasionally.

I bet she loves life, too!


It's a new day, it's a new life...

Feeling Good

(See player at the bottom -- click here to play the full song, Adam Lambert version)

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Reeds driftin' on by you know how I feel

It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good

Fish in the sea you know how I feel
River running free you know how I feel
Blossom in the tree you know how I feel

It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good

Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don't you
Butterflies all havin' fun you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when the day is done
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For me

Stars when you shine you know how I feel
Scent of the pine you know how I feel
Freedom is mine
You know how I feel

It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good

Click here to hear the whole song: Feeling Good (American Idol Studio Version) - Adam Lambert


Baby marigolds

We picked up these tiny plant packs at Target in the dollar section a few months ago, and promptly forgot to plant them.

We've got tomatoes, strawberries, marigolds, oregano, basil and chives. I don't know how viable these seeds are or what will come of the plants, but right now it's fun to have some baby plants on the kitchen windowsill. I'll do my best not to kill them.


Dragonfly chasing its shadow

There are always several shimmery dragonflies to keep me company on my walks around the track. It's almost like they greet me when I arrive on their side of the field.

As I stood in the stadium doing stretches after my workout, a dragonfly came flitting by, suddenly making eye contact with its shadow.

The dragonfly followed the shadow for a while, looked wary, then finally decided it wasn't a threat -- and it wasn't food -- and flew off.


20 years later...

Today I'll be off with Bub, doing this...

and this...

Because 20 years ago today, we were doing this...

and this...

See you soon!


How can a bike ride be even more fun?

I drove past two people this week who seemed to be having more fun than the typical bike rider.

The first was a guy in his mid-20s riding a pink girls' bike with a banana seat. The second was an older woman riding her bike in a red plastic fire helmet!

Have you done something silly on your bike?


Hot shower on a chilly morning

Is there anything better?


Cheap entertainment

As I was sitting at a stoplight, I noticed a mom and her two young children waiting for a bus. The kids were engrossed in playing together, and their toys? A piece of paper and a quarter!

I'd love to know what stories their imaginations were creating for these two simple objects.


A challenge about making choices

Check out Rich Hopkins' Champion of Choice blog, where he takes us on a 91-day journey through the ups and downs, good and bad choices for success.

Rich is a speaker, coach and author who, like many of us, hasn't given as much focus as he would like to several areas of his life and business that he wants to improve. This challenge is about putting the focus where it needs to be for 91 days and achieving the goals he sets forth on day one.

What do you want to change? What goals do you want to set for yourself? Watch Rich's videos and read his blog posts about what he's going through and think about whether a challenge like this might be the kick in the pants you need for yourself!

Here's day one:


Favorite videos: Food Court Musical

Happy Friday!


Share your good customer service stories

I'd like to share some positive customer service experiences I've had lately, as a reminder that blanket statements about bad service are never true! There really are employees out there who like to help people and enjoy the opportunity to do so through their jobs.

Example #1: We received an invoice from Santa Barbara Radiology, a year after our house fire, for Bub's chest X-rays.

We had given all of our insurance information at the time in the emergency room, and since then have changed insurance companies.

I've been on the phone to both SB Radiology and Cigna, our former insurer, and both have been extremely helpful in trying to figure out the problem and resolve it, all the while assuring me that we have no responsibility for this bill. I just got a message the other day that the medical group (who should have paid in the first place) is being re-billed, and everything should clear up soon.

Everyone I've spoken to has been responsive, helpful, friendly and lighthearted. Just what a person needs who really doesn't want to keep reliving a traumatic night in the ER.

Example #2: Last year I changed my phone because after two Razrs that were both defective, I decided it was time to move on to a different model. Unfortunately, my contract wasn't over, so I had to pay for the phone and add another two years to my contract. That's life, right?

Now I'm ready to move on to a smart phone... yes, I'm a little behind. I called Sprint to find out how I might go about getting a new phone even though my contract isn't up for another year. After explaining that the only reason I ended my contract early was due to defective phones, the service rep for Sprint made every effort to figure out a loophole for me to get the new phone with minimal expense.

After getting some good tips on Twitter about being a premier customer with Sprint (apparently I am one), I called back and learned that I would be able to get my new phone a year early. Thanks to two very helpful customer service reps at Sprint who got creative about helping me the best they could with the tools they have!

Example #3:
Last week I attempted to refill a prescription online through CVS' new interface. I received a message that it was too soon to refill my prescription. Well, of course this wasn't true and I had the nearly empty container to show for it.

I got on the phone with CVS and it turns out that, even though this prescription had been filled properly for several years, it must have been entered incorrectly with the last refill request from my doctor. The person on the phone immediately resolved the issue by contacting my doctor's office to get the error fixed, and my prescription was filled on time.

This young man not only understood where the error had come from, but didn't waste any time questioning me or arguing with me about my own prescription. He jumped right in and fixed it. Completely painless on my part.

On a side note: Remember that customer service representatives are people, too! My mom is one of the nicest, most generous people you'll meet, and she would never in a million years be rude or nasty on the phone. Last week, she spoke to someone who really upset her, and she's been doing this a long time, so I know the person must have been really bad. In my mom's words:

"Just spoke with a very unkind lady.....please remember when you are speaking with somebody in customer service remember that they are people too, and, that they are not magicians who can just do anything you want them to do. 99% of the customer service reps you deal with are trying hard to serve you and it really ruins a perfectly fine day and makes it difficult to stay calm when the next call comes in."

And this:

"Another day, starting off hopeful and enthusiastic. I pray that I can keep my cool and be compassionate to all my callers, off the wall or not."

Please share your GOOD customer service stories in the comments!

Bonus: One more! Having my 75,000 mile service on my car a few months ago, I received an estimate and had them go ahead and do what needed to be done. During the work, my battery died. Instead of revising the estimate and having me pay more, they kept the estimate the same and added the battery for free!


Mother and son football Sunday

While out at the track practicing discus on a Sunday afternoon, I noticed a woman and her pre-teen son at the other end of the track. As Bub and I got closer, we discovered that she was teaching the boy how to kick a football.

I've never seen a mom practicing football with her son, and I wonder if I'll ever see it again!


One blue flower

Walking along the meadow at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, I noticed this little blue guy sprouting up amidst a sea of yellow. Pretty!


Best wedding dances ever

If you haven't seen this yet, please enjoy one of my favorite wedding videos ever. I laughed so hard I cried. What a way to start a new life together.

And if you're so inclined, make a donation to domestic violence prevention at their website.

And while we're at it, here's another of my favorite wedding videos, based on one of my favorite movie dance scenes.

If you want to idle away the time on YouTube, just search for "Dirty Dancing wedding" and you'll find a whole bunch of these! I believe this was the first, though, and still my favorite.


Falconer neighbor

As I drove home one afternoon, I passed a man walking down my street with a beautiful falcon on his arm. I can't imagine where he was coming from or where he was going in our neighborhood. Fascinating!

Photo by Fons Reijsbergen


There's always time for a treat

Yesterday, during a long string of afternoon errands, I took a break and got my car washed. While I waited, I treated myself to a Häagen-Dazs coffee and almond crunch ice cream bar.

Probably not the kind of snack I should be eating when I'm trying to stay in shape and eat well, but at the same time, if there are never any treats, life is no fun!

I left with a shiny clean car and a belly full of ice cream. Truly heaven!


Long life and vitality

As Bub and I shopped the dairy case at Trader Joe's, I spotted an elderly woman in a wheelchair who seemed to be waving at me. I walked toward her, looking for some familiarity in her face, but didn't recognize her. However, she was indeed waving me over, so I approached her.

She said to me, "You have a wonderful young man. Take care of him." I replied, "I know!" She continued, "Give him back rubs!" I smiled and told her I would, and she gave him the same instruction. We said goodbye and walked on.

I later discovered that this woman is 95 years old. Her aide apparently leaves her in a spot where she can see and interact with lots of people during the shopping trip. What a sweet and positive woman. I can only hope I'm that vital when I'm 95!


Free soup!

Met a friend at a local cafe for coffee and catching up. The manager approached us and asked if we would like some vegetable soup, as they were getting ready to dump it for the day. I, of course, asked if it was vegetarian. And it was!

He brought me a beautiful pint of colorful veggie soup, which Bub and I had for dinner that evening with marinated feta spread on whole grain toasts, and a glass of wine. Tasty, and what a special treat!


Sparrow breakfast

Waiting for my gas tank to fill up, I noticed some tiny sparrows off to the side, scooting around some plants looking for snacks.

As I watched, I realized that they were eating the leaves of the plant, almost the same size as the birds. No tiny bugs or seeds for these guys! They munched away until the leaves were gone.

Photo by Magda S.


Busy bee

This magnolia tree is only head-high, so I was able to look right into this flower at eye level and watch the bees going about their business.

What's the last thing you observed up close?


Kitty nicknames

Allow me to introduce Sister. She was a feral kitten who came to live with us sixteen years ago with her sisters (hence the name) Smudge and Red. She's a character who, for the first ten years of her life, ran away from us if we came too close, spoke in a loud voice, or tried to talk to her.

Fast forward another six years, and she's the sweetest lap cat ever! She sleeps right between us or on top of one of us. If one of us is on the couch, she's right there on lap, chest, leg, arm or whatever she can balance on. She's got amazing balance.

Anyway, here's the deal with Sister. She attracts nicknames like no other pet I've ever had. Here's the evolution of her main nicknames:

Sister > Thither > Thirthy > Nernie > Noonie (this is her base nickname)

Noonie became Noonevah, Noonster, Noonalicious, Noonacious, Noonie-Loo, Noonska, Noonskaya and Noonskayavich. (Also Lula, Lulabelle, Loolie, Loolicious, etc.)

Also, when we watch the Tour de France, she picks up nicknames of international teams and riders. In the past, we've called her Banesto, Once and Fofanov. This year, her newest nickname is Noonskaltel Noonskadi.

You might hear us call her Luigi Jr. or Ira P. Quadafo (a nickname my niece made up many years ago and had nothing to do with Noonie). The nicknames keep coming and there are always more to be invented.

What are your favorite pet nicknames?


Touching the sky

As I caught my breath at the top of the stadium steps, two seagulls flew by, just feet away, and just below eye level.

Watching seagulls fly from above -- not something you see every day!

What's the last thing that surprised you when it came into view?


About Yay Life!

I love life. I take great pleasure in the little details of life that reveal themselves to me every day.

I started this blog when I was going through one of the hardest times in my life, which I wrote about here. I needed to remind myself of the happy joyous things all around me while I struggled with severe panic attacks and anxiety.

Focusing on the sweet, colorful, surprising, charming, energizing, tasty or calming moments got me out of my head, out of my worries, aches, pains and dramas, and allowed me to just "be" for those few minutes or seconds. Even the challenges are worthwhile experiences, teaching me something different every time.

And I felt like sharing these moments with you.

They may or may not resonate, but I didn't want to keep them to myself if someone else could find enjoyment in these little details. I especially enjoy food, hence the subtitle of this blog.

Most of all, I'm an optimist, and no matter what's going on in the world, or just in my little corner of it, I can't help but see the "yay" in life!