Self Defense

Years ago when I and two other female black belts ran a karate school together, we not only taught people to learn karate but also self defense. Self defense is largely all about being aware of where you are and who is around you. I wince whenever I see people so involved in their cell phones or ear buds that they don’t hear or see what or who is around them. And believe me, the bad folks who want to steal from us or hurt us are well aware of this.

This is not to say that everyone you see is a bad person; it’s just about being aware. For example, when you are out and about on your own, walking, running, biking, etc., DO NOT WEAR HEADPHONES OR EAR BUDS! I know you think that you can listen to your music and stay alert, but the fact is that you actually can’t. If you are plugged in to your device, then you are not plugged into the world around you.

Also (and this is very important), be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you are out jogging alone, be aware of where you are; are there houses around, are there people around, etc. You may want to keep a canister of pepper spray with you just in case. If you choose to run or walk in a area where there are no houses or stores or other people, be aware at all times. If you are running on the side of a road, be sure that you are facing traffic. Why? Because if you are running with traffic, it is incredibly easy for someone to slow down, open a door and pull you in.

Whether or not you are a martial artist, it is imperative that you stay aware at all times. I was a martial artist for years, and I taught what I called “Common Sense Self Defense” for years. But you don’t have to be a martial artist to protect yourself. I still observe the rules I learned a long time ago to keep safe. The ultimate best weapon truly is your head. Keep it in the game, be aware of where you are, who is around you, and don’t think for a second that something can’t happen to you. I understand: bad things can happen to the most prepared and aware person. But you stand a far better chance of staying safe if you stay AWARE. 

And one more tip: whenever you’re in your vehicle, LOCK THE DOORS. This also goes for when you get out to pump gas. Take your keys, your credit card/cash and lock up the vehicle while you pump gas. It is incredibly easy for someone to sneak around the side of your vehicle, open the door a crack and grab your purse, wallet, the cake you just picked up at the bakery (and wouldn’t THAT ruin your day?), whatever. Play it safe and make it a habit.

Be prepared, not scared!

Cat Entitlement

I have loved cats all my life, and have lived with many; currently we have five indoor cats and a small herd of outdoor cats (we feed and shelter them all). As has been said many times before, cats know that they were once revered as gods, and they have never forgotten it. They have more entitlement issues than your average spoiled brat movie star.

They have no problem hogging the bed at night (the Crankee Yankee always wakes up with at least one cat sleeping on his pillow and most of his head). Also, they can’t read, but they do know when it’s time to eat; which means they always let us know—loudly.

It’s been said that pets do wonders for us humans; just petting an animal helps to lower blood pressure and gives us comfort and calm. During the day, it’s not surprising to see at least three of the five cats snoozing on the bed. Pookie, our most shy cat, likes to burrow under the blankets on the bed. I can always tell when he’s under there; he makes soft little kitty snores.

As they are all indoor cats, we make sure that they have plenty of toys (usually the ones stuffed with catnip) to whack around the house. I always buy them “kicking sticks” (these are long cloth tubes filled with cotton and catnip); the cats adore them. It’s hilarous to watch them grab onto one, flop over on one side and bite and kick the crap out of them.

Most of our cats are “lap cats,” and love to sit in our laps and snooze. Of course, they aren’t fooling us for a minute; we are just big heating pads for them to enjoy. But we still appreciate it.

So yes; cats are definitely entitled, and boy, don’t they know it.

Men and TV

When it comes to watching TV (together in one room), there is a definite difference between men and women when it comes to who has the controller. Usually the Crankee Yankee has it, and he decides what is “good TV” vs. what he calls “bad/useless/not my thing” TV. He will land on something that looks interesting to me, and then click-click-click and we’re off again.

It’s the old story; men hunt, women nest. I’ll see something that looks pretty good, and I’ll want to know more about it, and then the dial sagain. The Crankee Yankee knows that I don’t care for watching sports of any kind, or most of the news. We have been married for 18 years, and he still doesn’t get that all that clicking around drives me nuts.

It comes down to this: men don’t necessarily want to know what’s on TV; they want to know what else is on TV. I think it’s just in men’s DNA; I really don’t think that they can help it.

So I always keep books in the living room; when I know that I’m just not going to enjoy anything the Crankee Yankee wants to see, I read. It’s my universal sign that says “I give up.”

To be fair, the Crankee Yankee understands that on some evenings there are a few programs I really like to watch; then he reads the paper or gets on the computer. Fair enough.

So why does this whole TV thing get out of hand? I think it’s just a man-thing. Also, in the Crankee Yankee’s mind, he feels that if we have seen something before, we don’t need to see it again. However, there are some programs (and books) that I like to see or read over again. The Crankee Yankee doesn’t share that opinion; he feels that if you see something once, you don’t need to see it again.

Ah well, this whole TV issue isn’t a huge deal, and he admits that he has a different take on things than I do. Besides, in the general scheme of things, it’s pretty small potatoes. I now call him the Mighty Hunter and he thinks that’s pretty funny. Sometimes humor can be the best medicine.



No Fear, No Worry

Isn’t it weird how our brains work? We can get spooked by the simplest things and our minds go into all that “what if this happens?” “what if that happens?” mode. But how about this: what if nothing by bad comes our way at all?

What if lots of good things come our way, but we are too busy worrying about all those “what ifs” to see them? For example, last February I flew to Hawaii by myself. I hadn’t been on an airplane since 2001, and of course my mind went to all the horrific plane crashes, etc. Also, I’d never been to Hawaii before, and I was on my own.

But here’s what happened: my seat in the plane was quite comfortable, and there were free movies! I had brought snacks with me, and had my bottle of water. I was comfortable and entertained. I had forgotten how much fun it was to fly.

The flight from Boston to San Francisco was a long one. But I was comfortable, entertained and best of all, I was living my dream; to go Hawaii. From San Francisco I flew to Honolulu, and when I got there I realized that my long dream of visiting Hawaii was really happening.

I chose Oahu for many reasons, one of which was that I wanted to see the *Iolani Palace, where the magnificent statue of King Kameamea stands. I also wanted to see where King Kalakaua and his sister, Queen Liliuokalani lived.

It was a wonderful experience, and absolutely nothing terrible happened in the two weeks I was in Oahu. On my way back home, I felt as though a major shift had happened for me: my fear of flying was gone. My fear of being on my own was gone as well.

Here;s the thing: we don’t know what is in store for us. All we can do is take chances now and then, and be mindful of what we wish for. Of course anything can happen anywhere, but that doesn’t mean that we have to live in fear or worry.

*”Iolani Palace represents a time in Hawaiian history when King Kalakaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani, walked the halls and ruled the Hawaiian Kingdom. The Palace complex contains beautiful memories of grand balls and hula performances, as well as painful ones of Liliuokalani’s overthrow and imprisonment. Since the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy, the Palace has undergone many changes as it once served as the Capitol for almost 80 years and was later vacated and restored to its original grandeur in the 1970s.”

A Palace for Royalty


I once befriended a young girl from the church I was going to in Texas. She was pregnant and her boyfriend had left her. She was doing her best to live well and to prepare for her baby. Her mother lived several states away, and wasn’t able to be there for the baby’s birth. So she asked me if I would go with her to the expectant mothers classes with her. She also asked if I could be with her when the baby was born, and I said that I would.

I was at home getting ready for bed one night when she called me; the baby was coming. So I threw on my clothes and drove over to her house. We got to the hospital in good time, and the nurses made my friend comfortable. They asked me if I was the mother, and I told them that I was just a friend. Then they asked if I wanted to be with her when the baby was born, and I said that I would.

My young friend was getting comfortable and she even brought a book to read. I was relieved that she was doing so well; then one of the nurses took me aside and asked if I had had a baby myself, and I said that no, I didn’t. She asked if I had ever been present when a baby was born, and I said that I hadn’t. So she kindly told me what to expect, and it was about that time that my friend went into labor.

So I gowned up and went into the delivery room with her, hoping that I could help her get through everything. Surprisingly, she was just about ready to give birth. Now here’s the thing: I had never seen a baby being born. I remember hoping that I could keep my friend calm and be a help and not a hindrance.

And then the baby was born; a beautiful and very loud baby girl. The doctor passed her to me and I all I remember was this: I, who had never had a baby, was now holding a brand new child. Her mother named her Sophie, and Sophie was squirmy and loud and completely healthy.

Years have gone by, and my friend is now happily married and has a little boy as well as Sophie. I have never forgotten what it was like to see a baby being born. It’s hard work, but the payoff is amazing.



What’s So Funny?

There are some people who are born being funny; others become funny as they grow up. I’m not just talking about comedians, either; just people who are truly funny. It isn’t so much that they tell great jokes, either. They are just born funny, and they make the people around them laugh. This is a great gift; we NEED laughter.

Some of the best comedians I’ve ever heard are these:

  • Jerry Steinfeld
  • Jim Gaffigan
  • Bill Hicks
  • Steven Wright
  • Steve Martin
  • George Carlin
  • Lenny Clark

If you haven’t seen or heard of any of these amazing comics, check them out; you will laugh your head off. A really good comedian can make you laugh like there is no tomorrow.

Considering all the bombast, mean spiritedness and downright ugly nastiness in the wind these days, comedians can make light of things in a way that makes us laugh. Believe it or not, laughter is a good thing. Laughter can help lift us out of the ‘woe is me’ feeling we get when surrounded by all the sturm and drang we hear every day.

This is not to say that very serious things are going on around us that are absolutely not funny. However, it’s amazing how a little bit of funny can give us, as the Monty Python guys would say; “*a look on the bright side of life.”

It is also a proven fact that laughter can actually make you feel better in body, mind and soul—and how bad could that be? All that said, if you have never heard of or seen or listened to any of the above comedians, check them out; I dare you not to laugh.

Note: you should probably pee first; some of these guys are that funny.

*From “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”