Saturday, September 17, 2016

How many people will smile today because of you?

photo courtesy of

A challenge

In our busy, fast-paced world, I'd like to offer you this challenge: Make a conscious effort to make the people you come across during your day smile. 

My husband is a natural smile-maker, and a champion of making people feel good about themselves. He has a smile, a greeting, and kind words for everyone he meets during his day — the clerk at the deli, the men and women he sees briefly, who sign work orders — and he's liable to break into song and dance at any given time, around perfect strangers. Because of this, many, many people enjoy his company.

I find the more I smile, the more uplifted and positive I feel at the end of the day. It's such a good feeling, I wish everyone could experience it. The truth is, a smile is such a simple, easy thing to share.

In case you need a few suggestions, try these:
  • Smile and say good morning, hello, or have a great day!
  • Not only hold the door for someone, but step back and let them go first.
  • Say something nice about someone's clothes or hair style
  • Tell them a funny story or a joke
  • Make eye contact and smile!
You don't need to be a clown, or break into song like my husband, but have some fun with it, or just smile. I bet you'll be surprised with the overall positive responses you get. And notice, too, how making someone smile has the bonus effect of making you feel pretty darn good! 

Monday, July 25, 2016

When a special pet dies: A Eulogy for Scout

I pause, mop and bucket of soapy water in hand, to look one last time at the tiny clay paw prints that crisscross my wood floors.

I hesitate to wash them away and consider taking a photograph as a keepsake—the last evidence that he was here, but my logical, sensible side argues, "It was just a cat." I take a few breaths, attempting to keep the tears at bay. You see, I believe, a pet is a just pet... at least in theory, and until you throw a sweet, one-eye orange tabby kitten into the picture.

Scout was an abandoned kitten, rescued and taken care of by the wonderful local feral cat organization, PAWS of Sayville. He was sickly when he and his littermates were found, and as a result, lost his left eye. On adoption day, unlike the other mewing kittens who clung to us with their razor sharp claws, when the PAWS volunteer placed that slinky yellow kitten in my 14-year old daughter's arms, he was placid and content to be held, and even started to purr. We hadn't considered adopting a physically disadvantaged pet, and at home, getting used to his new surroundings, he ran into table and chair legs. We cringed and then laughed when we realized he was fine. The sweet nature of that kitten made him a good choice with my young children.

My kids agreed on the name Scout. As they didn't agree on much those days, that was a big deal. Scout was supposed to be my daughter's cat. Not mine. I was a young mother with more than enough responsibilities. I didn't want another charge to take care of, but when my children weren't home, our new kitten followed me around, room to room, making games out of my everyday tasks, like bed-making, where he'd run under the sheets and try to catch my hands as I tucked and smoothed bed corners. I found I didn't mind my new shadow companion. The packed out eye-socket caused some health issues in those first weeks home. When I took him to the veterinarian's office, I remember placing him on the examining table, so small and defenseless, but still so trusting, and my heart expanded with love and admiration for that brave yellow kitten.

Scout and Jazmin
Professed dog-lovers, both my husband and son expected to feel indifferent to our new pet. But Scout wasn't going to sit idly by and accept that. He pushed his way into every moment, watching television with us, lying nearby at dinnertime, curling up next to us while we read and slept. It wasn't just those quiet moments, though. Scout endured the kids playing with him, loving him, and handling him in the way energetic kids do, all without biting and scratching them. He domineered the dog's bed, looking kingly in the center of the oversized cushion, was an unexpected mouser, befriended our two dogs, and if a cat could have a sense of humor, Scout had one. He loved to play and was always up for a little fun. A kitty arm would suddenly appear from behind furniture, or upon his perch on a chair, he would swat at one of the dogs passing by, instigating a little good-natured interaction. He was proudly introduced to all who entered our home.
And even the cat-haters who spent time at our house could be found petting our cool, one-eyed cat. Scout was always around, and such an easy presence, visitors could neither ignore nor resist liking him.

Scout and Luna
The years brought a lot of changes to our family. My daughter grew up, went away to school, and took a job out of town; our two dogs aged and their lives ended; and new pets entered our lives. Scout was with me through it all. Several years ago, we brought home a kitten to keep him company. Unfortunately, she came with a case of ringworm. The kitten didn't suffer from the fungus, but she passed it onto Scout. Treatment called for frequent baths and topical medication. Scout, like any cat, had a strong distain for water, but true to his nature, he endured the baths and daily medications and barely gave me the stink eye afterwards. At an advanced age of 11, when most animals are intolerant of changes, Scout made allies with our new, giant, not-so-gentle Greater Swiss Mountain puppy. Their interactions, highlighted by their extreme physical dissimilarities, brought about a new energy to the house and many laughs.

Scout and Winston
Illness came swiftly and without notice. The average housecat can live 15 years, some as long as 18, and at 12, Scout had grown into a fairly large, healthy male cat. We fully expected to have him around for several more years. We attributed his less active behavior to growing older, but when his fur became rumpled and dull, we took a trip to the veterinarian. We were shocked when blood and urine results revealed kidney issues. We thought we could manage the condition with a special diet and medications. The first week, everything went to the wayside as I catered to Scout's condition. I had to administer fluid under his skin via a needle. As usual, Scout was a champ, letting me stick him daily without much fuss. That first week he seemed fine, but two days later, the bottom fell out. He went into complete kidney failure, and Scout's health rapidly declined. The veterinarian suspected it was cancer, and his once strong body became like a twisted towel, wrung of moisture, weak and bony thin. His once insatiable hunger, the one that our family often joked about, was gone. Uremic ulcers in his mouth made it too painful to chew. He spent his days in a new hiding spot, under the entertainment center, and when he left it, it was only to drink, which he did almost every hour, a futile effort to make up for what his kidneys could no longer do. He swayed like a leaf in the wind on his way to the water bowl, putting his feet in the water as if trying to absorb the liquid through his skin and flush his body. The combination of constant wet feet and need to use the litter box created that crisscross pattern of clay paw prints across my floors.

It's a terrible choice to have to make to put a pet down; even when you know it's merciful to do so. The vet administered the sedative and put him in my arms. He tucked his little face into my chest and went to sleep. That gentle soul purred right up until the end.

It's my inclination to try and be logical about the loss of yet another family pet. I grieved the loss of the others, but I am truly brokenhearted over losing Scout. He was extraordinary and stands alone in my mind and heart. As I mop away the paw prints, the last visible traces of Scout's presence, I am flooded with memories of little moments of laughter and comfort he brought to my family and me on a daily basis. Those moments are as countless as they are precious. His little kitty shoes will be hard to fill and his absence will be felt a very long time.

Rest in peace little buddy...
Scout 2004-2016


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Friday, April 8, 2016

Author Fair

On Saturday April 9, I'll be taking part in the South Huntington Library Local Author Fair. Stop by and say hello. Authors will be chatting with readers and signing books from 1-4 p.m.

Who knows, maybe you'll find your next favorite book!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What I'm Reading


by Caroline Kepnes

Bookstore clerk Joe Goldberg is in love, but the object of his passion, Guinevere Beck (Beck to her friends) has no idea how obsessed with her he really is …

Throughout the story, Joe refers to Beck as You, as if he’s speaking directly to her, though actual conversation between them happens infrequently at best.

Joe is smart, well-read and likable, but he's also a delusional psychopath with a superiority complex. The entire story takes place inside his head, and we get to see the inner workings of his obsession. Sometimes, his obsession doesn’t seem so crazy. Sometimes Joe seems like a sweet, deserving guy who only hungers desperately for that special someone in his life.

Beck is a sloppy, penniless, self-centered, grad student living alone in New York City. She has a sexual addiction and daddy issues. Joe knows all this because he follows her around, spies on her in her apartment from across the street, and steals things from her. He hacks into her email, follows her on social media, and keeps a box of her items in his apartment. Joe accepts and understands her, probably better than she understands herself.

Beck is charismatic, but also a terrible flirt, a tease, and quite an accomplished liar. She plays head games with everyone, including Joe. They have a relationship, and it seems to be the best times of their lives. For all intents and purposes Joe appears to have Beck's best interests at heart. According to him, he is the perfect guy for her.

But for Beck, being happily in love isn't possible—it's too stationary.

The conundrum of this story is, who will you empathize with? Joe or Beck?

Despite the shocking things Joe does to gain Beck's favor, I hoped the two of them would have their happily-dysfunctional-ever-after. (I pictured them a milder version of psycho soulmates Mickey and Mallory Knox of "Natural Born Killers") Knowing Joe's insanity and violent nature, wanting a happy ending seems to defy logic, and not to mention my own sanity, but Joe is so cleverly written, I never knew if there was a line he wouldn’t cross. Each time Beck flakes out on him, I felt for Joe. Unfortunately, he will do the unimaginable to keep her.

In one scene, Joe is annoyed at finding out Beck took one of his books without asking his permission. Oh the irony!

For me, this was an engaging, riveting read. If you don’t mind some dark, perverse dysfunction in your fiction, I highly recommend.

I can't wait to read the sequel, Hidden Bodies!

Find it on Amazon YOU

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Goals and resolutions time

Goals and resolutions time for this shiny 2016 New Year. 

Today I tackled a long dreaded task—cleaning out my clothes closet. On I found this helpful advice:

As you scrutinize each piece [item in your closet], ask yourself the 7 following questions:

  • Does it fit?
  • Have I worn it this past year?
  • Will I actually wear it again?
  • Is it in style, and/or does this still represent my style?
  • Is it damaged in any way (ex: stains, missing buttons, broken zippers, fading, etc.)? If so, will I make the effort to get it repaired?
  • If I saw it in the store today, would I buy it?
  • And most importantly: Do I feel confident when I wear it?
If you answer a firm "no" to any of the above, it’s time to say sayonara and decide whether to sell, donate, swap, or toss the item.
I mulled over these tips as I went through my things, and I realized I have a lot of basically unwanted, and likely never-to-be-worn clothes clogging up my closet space. I also have several new, 'old' items—items I bought years ago, but still have price tags attached.
These tips made it easy to say sayonara to several things, but for me, the last one was most enlightening.
             Do I feel confident when I wear it?

If I'm holding onto something, a shirt, pants etc, that doesn't make me feel particularly confident about myself, price tag attached or not, why hold on to it? What value does it offer to hold onto it? In the words of Disney's Frozen song, "Let it go." 
Make room for something new, something you'll love.

My donations are already scheduled to be picked up by United War Veterans Council next week. It was a small task, but and I feel comforted in having done it, less cluttered, and somewhat liberated. And, now I won't feel guilty about taking advantage of some after-the-holidays sales!

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