Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day of the Dead Things

Most of you have heard of Day of the Dead. Yesterday was Day of the Dead Things at our house. My spouse, CB, was rebuilding the outdoor waterfall of our pond and found a dead, desert rat. Periodically critters, like pack rats, try to build nests in our pond. CB tries to flush the varmints out, but very often, they come back. Ironically, this rascal looked like a rodent that had  infiltrated our garage, scratched our door jam, chewed a hole in a container of bunny food and left turds around our camping supplies.

I guess I can’t blame the rodent. He probably scratched the door jam in an attempt to escape, the bunny food was easy pickings – and while I have never been tempted to poop on our camping supplies there have been times I’ve wanted to hide it and opt for a vacation in a resort. But I digress.

CB started the pest-removal process by moving, cleaning and rearranging everything in the garage. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. It was a mountain of work. We have a three-car garage and junk – I mean stuff - lines the walls from floor to ceiling and we can barely squeeze two vehicles into the place. The third bay is a working area for CB’s projects and sports supplies. 

Fueled by irritation, my animal-loving spouse was probably thinking less than charitable thoughts about our new garage dweller.  We started out with a small, no-kill mouse trap and planned on relocating said rodent, but when CB spied the little invader it was obvious we were dealing with a rat, not a mouse. After hours of shuffling things around and trying to harass the varmint out of the garage and back to the wild, it became necessary to employ more drastic maneuvers. We were both opposed to poison and the sticky paper trap would mean a long, painful death for our uninvited guest, so we opted for bigger, faster, rat traps.

However, in an attempt to give the rat a chance to relocate,  CB fashioned a less violent trap out of a bucket in hopes that the rodent could be captured and not killed. I didn’t want any part of it.

Day one. No rat in the trap, but more turds. The rodent was still in the garage.  The next night CB kept going into the garage and trying to flush the little fink out.  Like a bad neighbor, CB was there, making noise, shining a flashlight at the rat when it scurried across the floor and doing whatever could be done to get the little varmint to head for the hills. Still, I could tell CB felt guilty. Neither of us wanted the rat dead. We just wanted it to leave.  

After the traps were set, CB came to me with a hang dog face and confessed guilty feelings about being a rat executioner. Not knowing what else to do, I chanted a Buddhist prayer (Nam Myoho Renge Kyo) for the critter to peacefully vacate the premises.

The next day the traps were empty, but the rat was gone.

It’s been a couple weeks now. I can’t say I’ve thought much about the rodent except I was thankful it didn’t return. But while rebuilding our outdoor waterfall my spouse found a dead rat. It had a wound on its side. CB continued working outside and uncovered another carcass. This time it was a hawk. The bird seemed to have a wounded leg and died while taking cover under our sage bush. After surveying the evidence we assumed the rat died as a result of the hawk dive-bombing it and the hawk hit a rock while in pursuit of its prey. 

And that was our Day of the Dead Things.

Today I was on the NBC Playground twitter site reading the tweets from my fellow applicants for the sitcom competition. You can view my pitch to NBC at

One of the contestants wrote that she had not received an email that the announcement of winners had been postponed until Oct. 31. I replied to her post to see if she ever received an email confirmation that her entry had been received. She had not. It would seem her entry was not successfully received. She was dead in the water.

Even though I want to win this competition, I felt bad knowing this young writer’s entry didn’t even make it to the judge’s panel.  It was no small feat uploading the information for the competition and had my daughter, Alicia, not helped me, I would have suffered the same fate.

A winner will be announced in a few days. Until then, I have hope. If I’m not chosen, I will try again. It’s been a difficult month for me. I lost my biggest client, been rejected for jobs and I have to bide my time another month to see if the NBC Peacock chooses my sitcom or some other ratfink’s (only kidding.) But rejection is part of the process for a professional writer, and losing clients is a reality in business.  

But I have hope. I guess you could say it literally springs eternal in me. I can’t say it doesn’t sting when I don’t receive good news about an article, project, contest or job, but I know as long as I have hope, I will survive.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Starry, Starry Night

I sat in the hot tub and gazed at the stars above me. I smiled to myself as I thought how the celestial globes DID look like diamonds in the sky, just like the lyrics in Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

I savored the water jets as they pummeled my aching neck and shoulders. I relished in the simple pleasure of a quiet evening sitting, soaking and star gazing. “So what is the big deal about that?” you may ask. Certainly I have thought the same thing at times. I’ve had a hot tub in the backyard for several years. The stars have twinkled before my birth and will go on sparkling long after I’m dust. However, what was unusual about this encounter is not that I enjoyed myself, but why I hadn’t regaled in this experience more often?

When my spouse, CB, is home, the hot tub is not an overlooked box of water and heavenly bodies are never taken for granted. However, when my nature-loving spouse is traveling and I’m alone, I generally find something else to do rather than partake in the pleasures that exist in my own backyard. I thought about this odd behavior and decided that I cheat myself out of this available indulgence because ...

1. CB isn’t there to enjoy it with me.

2. My muscles aren’t sore so why bother?

So why did I finally enjoy the tub and stars? Did I have some magical moment of insight? Unfortunately I slipped into the tub because my muscles were sore and I was out of IB Profen. But the bigger question is why do I feel have to wait until I have a good reason to enjoy myself in my backyard haven? Is there some Puritanical edict that declares the hot tub is off limits if my muscles are not bound up in knots, my cupboards are stocked with pain reliever and my spouse is out of town?

Of course not.

However, somewhere in my misguided psyche I felt like I had to earn this luxury out of either medicinal or marital need. However, while I have the misguided notion that I have to “deserve” to sit in the hot tub, I do feel that I am free to enjoy a happy life. This has not always been the case. Just as I rationed my smiles and laughter, in the past I put limits on my happiness as well.

Fortunately, I learned that happiness is something we can all enjoy. There are no stipulations. We may put a few self-imposed restrictions on our happiness, but these are restrictions of our own choosing. There is no law that we have to punish ourselves first in order to experience joy in our daily lives.

That is not to say that you should quit your job, refuse to clean your bathroom and simply do what you want regardless of the consequences. Happiness isn’t about a life of hedonistic pleasure and debauchery. It’s about enjoying what there is to enjoy and reducing the unnecessary attachment to negativity that eats away at our souls.

So to reiterate, the first tip in this article is to debunk the notion you have to do the emotional equivalent of 50 pushups before you can smile, laugh or be happy. You earned the right to happiness when you took your first breath. Happiness is your right.

The second roadblock to a more cheerful existence is immersing ourselves in negativity. That is why my friend and co-author Jackie and I wrote Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. Remember, you wouldn’t cuddle a cactus, why would you want to hang on to negativity for dear life? Let it go. If you must hold onto something, embrace happiness.

For more tips, please visit our website, or buy the book through Amazon. If you can't afford to buy it, ask the library to carry it. You can also enter “erase negativity” and find us on you tube. Here is a link on three tips on how to erase negativity

Also, if you are in the mood for a little laugh, please view (and hopefully "like") my video pitch for my pitch to NBC Playground for my sitcom pilot, Fish out of Water.

But enough happiness tips for now. There are stars and a hot tub calling my name and I’m ready to enjoy a starry, starry night.