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Are You a Good Gift Wrapper?

Well, hello holiday season.

I thought, for awhile last weekend, I was (semi) in control of holiday chaos this year.

In the last 24 hours, I realized there’s so much left to do.

I try to space out gift wrapping, in particular, because wrapping is an arm intensive activity.

Arm intensive activities = painful activities.

I used to make an effort to wrap packages nicely with special ribbons and bows.

Now …?

I hurriedly wrap gifts, put tape on them in awkward places, and throw a “stick-em” bow on the top …

If I bother to put a bow on at all.

I fail.

I know people who wrap everything in ONE color of paper, adding beautiful ribbons and bows.

I know others who have a different color wrapping paper for each member in their household.

I know women who collect cute fabric ribbons year-round,

And others who make “handmade” gift tags.

I love the IDEA of all those things.

I have visions of being a Perfect Woman.

Of course, I never come close to living up to my own ideals.

In fact, I doubt if anyone wraps gifts as half-ass as I do.

What are you like?

Do you use beautiful papers and gorgeous fabric ribbons?

Do you have gift wrapping magic?

Or are you more like me?

Filled with good intentions ….

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We had a cold, sometimes rainy, winter-ish, weekend.

Click on photo to purchase, or view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

I saw the movie Hope Springs.

I thought it was really terrible.

(Apparently, it’s received okay reviews from people who are not me.)

Today, my college-aged son arrives home for 4 weeks of Winter Break.

Because of his arrival, my house will be buzzing with a lot more activity than usual.

(His friends all prefer gathering at our house vs. anywhere else.  I love having them here.)

It will be so nice to have my son back home.

Aren’t we all hugging our kids just a little tighter these days?

Click on photo to purchase, or view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

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Shots Fired at Fashion Island

Yesterday afternoon, a man began shooting a gun at Fashion Island in Newport Beach.

Initial reports say more than 50 shots were fired.

(For those of you who are unfamiliar with Orange County, Fashion Island is an upscale mall.  I was there Thursday morning, myself.)

No one was hurt.

The shooter is in custody.

Of course, on Friday there was the incomprehensible slaughter in Newtown, CT.

The week prior, there was the shooting in Clackamas, Oregon.

Our society is broken.

So … so … broken.

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Orange County Winter

We got rain on Wednesday night.

Rain is always a notable event in Orange County.

On Thursday, I took a few photos (very early in the morning!) on my way to physical therapy.

(By the way, early in the morning is a point of view.)

I couldn’t resist early morning photos because we had clouds (!) and sunshine (!) and rain in some places (!) all at the same time.

Corona Del Mar, Newport Beach:  Click on photo to purchase, or view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

I arrived at PT freezing from roaming around stormy beaches in just a tank top.

(I try to wear tank tops on PT days so Paul Newman has easy access.)

How cold was the morning?

My car thermometer read 57F/14C as I drove up the coast.

I was grateful to be wrapped in a blanket and a heating pad as soon as I walked in.

Paul Newman had barely touched me when I said, “Ow!”

“Really?” he said skeptically.

I quieted.

There was no need to tell him how much photography gear I was hauling around prior to my appointment, right?

(Also?  Cold weather never seems to help …!)

It seemed like he had barely tortured touched me, and I was done.

When I walked back outside, I was amazed at how much MORE beautiful the day had become while I was at my appointment.

I didn’t want to stress out my arm …

So, I limited myself to (only) five stops for photos on the way home.

Laguna Beach:  Click on photo to purchase, or view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

After all, who needs to do all those holiday errands when there are CLOUDS in the sky to be photographed?

I absolutely love when we get weather.

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New Year’s Resolution in Mid-December

I decided, in a chaotic moment, to make my first 2013 New Year’s Resolution.

Am I allowed to do that in (barely) mid-December?

Next year, I’m going to DO LESS.

I don’t know what doing less entails (or even how to go about it),

But that’s what I need to do.

It has occurred to me not everyone is doing everything all of the time.

(And none of it very well, I might add.)

After several years of being able to do nothing,

(Except go through surgeries, horrible recoveries, and live at physical therapy),

I seem to have pent up enthusiasm for … well, everything.

Sure, I’ll write that article for YOU,

And take photos (one-armed) for THEM,

And be at an event for THE CAUSE,

And manage a photography community for a SOCIAL NETWORK,

And go to PHYSICAL THERAPY regularly (so I can “manage” my pain while laughing with/at Paul Newman),

And, and, and!

(Let’s throw some TRAVEL in on top of everything else –

Because having a “routine” would be too manageable.)

And guess what?

I love ALL OF IT!

I do.

And I hope to continue doing all of it in 2013,

But, in a slightly-dialed-back fashion.

I’m not quite sure how to slow things down,

But I think I’m going to be forced to step back for awhile anyway, with surgery #9 looming up ahead.

(I haven’t wanted to hear how long I’ll have to put my camera down for, so I haven’t asked.  It’s much less depressing not to know!)

Maybe during Surgery #9 Recovery Period, I’ll figure out how to come back and continue doing it all –


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Things I Like Lately, Part II

As promised, I’m sharing a few more things I like today.

Maybe you’ll find a gift idea for someone you know,

(Or better yet, yourself!)

•  Breaking Bad  –  I can’t stop watching this TV series, and I am NOT a TV watcher.  I admit, I wasn’t so sure I liked it after watching the first episode.  Now?  I’m addicted!  (Just like some of the characters!)


•  Stackable bracelets  –  Stackable bracelets are “in” right now.  It’s fun to have some armor on, isn’t it?

•  Calvin Klein Boxer Briefs for Men  –  Hubba hubba!  They’re SOFT!  (And no, I don’t wear them myself.)

    Please note:  I’ve made this product photo as large as possible.  (Ahem …!)

•  Pretty colored bras  –  They make me happy.  (Sorry, no link provided.  Everybody has their own favorite brand anyway, right?)

Find a color that makes you feel pretty – even if no one’s going to see it.

•  Feed Reversible Bag  –  Funky and cute – and they help feed the hungry too!  I love Feed bags!

•  Clarisonic Pro  –  I’ve been using my Clarisonic, daily, for years now.  I love it as much as ever.  I like the “pro” version because it’s made for both your face AND body.  (It really does make a difference in your skin.)

•  Green Smoothie Revolution:  The Radical Leap Towards Natural Health  –  Some of you sent in questions recently when I mentioned my family drinks a lot of “green” smoothies.  I would not say we’re a green, health-crazed, California-fanatic, family but we do try to eat our vegetables.  (My mom told me I should!)  This book is a good place to find some (good tasting) beginning recipes if you’re new to the green smoothie concept.  Maybe it’s something to consider for yourself?


Okay, that’s it for today!

I hope I gave you a few “starter” ideas for the holidays!

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Your Questions ….

I got a lot of questions on yesterday’s post, titled Aaaand … Surgery #9 Has Been Scheduled.

Some of you have missed posts, here and there, and were confused about what’s going on.

Here’s a quick summary:

•  Surgery #9 is scheduled for Monday, January 14th.

•  The surgery will be to remove my “bionics.”

•  The surgery will involve removing the generator which is in my abdomen.

•  And removing the wires which go from my abdomen, around my hip, and up my entire back.

•  And removing the 24 electrodes in my arm and shoulder.

•  Yes, that DOES mean multiple incisions.  Can you say fun times ahead??

•  Dr. Painless will be doing my surgery.  (He’s a bionic expert.)

•  It’s not considered a difficult surgery.  Dr. Painless will be slicing me open and “yanking” things out.  (His words.)  Sound like fun?

•  I can almost hear the scar tissue ripping ….

•  The neurostimulator (that’s what it’s called) was recalled a few months ago.

•  No, I will not be having replacement bionics put in.  It’s my choice not to do so, for several reasons.  (Inability to have an MRI, possibility of future recalls, and the likelihood of scar tissue interfering with my already limited function.)

•  I’ve known I need to do this for awhile, but I wanted it scheduled after the holidays.

•  I will be continuing PT with Paul Newman before and after this whole process.  (Unless he gives up on me … which he promises he won’t do.)

 I have serious PT abandonment issues ….

•  Having additional surgery ahead of me is making me cranky.

•  I’m trying to not think about it, but it doesn’t seem to be working.

•  I just want it over with.

•  I will be FINE.

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Aaaand … Surgery #9 Has Been Scheduled

I’ve known it was coming,

But, still, it hit me hard.

Surgery #9 (yes, NUMBER NINE),

Has been scheduled for Monday, January 14th.

Last Friday, the scheduling nurse confirmed the details with me over the phone.

(It would have been sooner, but I’ll need some help and Briefcase has stuff to do between now and then.)

The “bionics” in my arm, shoulder, running down my back, and in my abdomen will be removed.

When I hung up,

My heart sank.

It’s no big deal, I told myself.

My heart, however, wouldn’t listen to my brain.

My mood plummeted.

Don’t think about it, I told myself.

Block it out.  Compartmentalize it.  Put it away until it’s The Day.

And then, unable to listen to my own logic, I got in the car and drove to the beach.

It was foggy and overcast.


I parked my car.

I noted the emptiness of the beach, and began walking.

I listened to the waves crash.

I heard the seagulls screech.

I inhaled quickly as two pelicans flew inches from me, unperturbed by my presence on the deserted beach.

I allowed myself some time to feel bad.

One hour, I told myself.  One hour.

I let the sadness, the fear, and all the negative emotions pour over me.

As I walked, I thought …

•  Why me?

•  It isn’t fair.

•  I won’t tell my kids until it’s over.  (Kids shouldn’t have to worry about their parents.)

•  I won’t tell my parents ever.  (It would break their hearts.)

•  I can’t do it.  I just can’t.

•  I have to do it.

•  This will be the last one – ever.

•  I’ve thought every surgery was the last one – and there are always MORE.

•  It’s no big deal.

•  I can’t do it.

•  I have to do it.

•  Don’t think about it.  Block it out.  Compartmentalize it.  Put it away until it’s The Day.

After one hour of walking,

I got in my car and drove home.

Christmas is two weeks away.

I have a lot of things to do.

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A December Swim

Newport Beach, California:  Click on photo to purchase, or view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.