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