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Laugh lines be damned (although, honestly, I don’t worry too much about that — after all “black don’t crack”) my goal every morning  is to smile as much as I possibly can.  Here are some of the things that make me do exactly that.  Try them — when my face cracks up I want company.

šŸ™‚   The Write Stuff

Where can I dodge blows in a bar fight in Viet Nam,  witness an aborted murder in the Arizona desert and lose my virginity under a starry Hawaiian sky all in one evening? Only at a meeting of The Write Stuff! This wonderfully supportive cocoon is made up of a very talented group of writers of different genders and genres who provide loving feedback for each other as we work through our various projects. Yes, I know that name sounds familiar.  So far on Over Easy you’ve heard from Jennifer Nigam, Layne Taylor, Mary DiVincenzo and of course, yours truly, and we’re just the beginning. So whether you’re just thinking about your writing project, buried deep in the heart of one or stuck somewhere on the highway to the end of it, come join us. We meet on the last Thursday of each month — at 7:00 PM — at the Center for Spiritual Living in Simi Valley.

šŸ™‚   CarolynsCreation

One of the loves that labels me a Victorian dinosaur is the handwritten note.  Receiving one tells me that the giver didn’t dash off to the store at the last moment and grab whatever screamed at them from the shelf — the sentiment expressed within was specifically for me. Giving one lets the recipient know how much I treasure them.

My source for incredibly unique handmade notecards is my friend Carolyn Gilbert — the right-brain behind CarolynsCreation.  Carolyn is like my “sister from another mother.” Like me, she’s funny, she’s an incredible cook (yes, I’m blushing) and she adores dogs. And like me, she is a breast cancer survivor. Unlike me she has the most adorable husband in the world (yes, I’m jealous). If this was a tabloid article it would say I slept with him. And I suppose I did — literally.  We attended a Rotary workshop together and, gentleman that he is, he drove — while I snored.

As much as I love her work, I adore Carolyn’s tagline: “helping people take the time to show their love.”  And that’s exactly what she does.  You feel it; Carolyn helps you make sure the ones you love feel it as well. And her offerings don’t stop with note cards.  Carolyn makes gift tags, photo albums, wall decor and invitations. When I slow down and let my next victim hubby catch me, guess who’ll be creating my wedding invitations?

So, if you’re cruising the Hallmark aisles looking desperately for a card that’s truly unique — leave immediately!  Whip out your iPad and go to CarolynsCreation. You’ll never tire of hearing “Oh my God, I LOVED your card!”

šŸ™‚   The Compassion Tea Company

“The Compassion Tea Company is all about enjoying a great cup of tea while making a difference.” (from The Compassion Tea Company website).

I couldn’t have said it better myself.  This past weekend I relaxed and enjoyed one of the company’s inaugural tea tastings while cruising Westlake Lake. I thought my favorite was the Peach-Apricot — that is, until I tried the Cinnamon Green — which became my favorite until I tried the Jasmine. Rarely has my mouth been so happy.  So, of course I became one of the very first members of their Tea Club so my mouth could receive two “surprise me” pouches of their best hand-selected teas each month.

However, more important than the love my palate has for their products is the love my heart has for their purpose. 100% of the after tax profit of the Compassion Tea Company goes to support one of my favorite charities, the CareNow Foundation.

For the past six years the CareNow Foundation has provided life-sustaining basic medical services — including pharmaceuticals , nurses, clinics and training — to the people of sub-Sahara Africa. There people often walk for days — sick, injured and in pain — to get the same antibiotics and bandages we take for granted in our medicine cabinets.

The products and the purpose of the Compassion Tea Company give not only me, but thousands of the world’s most underserved a reason to smile.

šŸ™‚   Phil Mendez  

Artist Phil Mendez has created my smiles far longer than I knew he was behind them. In fact, his animation, writing and entertaining have created smiles for millions of people for the past 40 years.

Phil was recently honored at the inaugural Ollies Animation Festival for his lifetime of accomplishments and contributions to the field of animation. He is best known for his million-selling book The Black Snowman. Among his many other accomplishments are his work as a designer and artist on Scooby Doo, Yogi Bear, The Jetsons, Jabber Jaw, Magilla Gorilla and many cartoons that have not only made us all laugh — they’ve kept our kids entertained and out of our hair for years.  His film credits include the Secret of NIMH II and Clifford the Big Red Dog.  One of the most popular lithographs in history — the poster introducing the Dumbo ride at Disneyland — was the work of Phil Mendez.  And later this summer, between cooking classes in Paris, I’ll be visiting two of his works which hang in the Louvre.

I love it when an e-mail from Phil arrives in my inbox. I know that attached to his message is a poem, cartoon or some other wonderful creation that’s going to make my day. Phil is a legend in the field of animation and he is definitely responsible for a few of the smile lines around my eyes.

šŸ™‚   Stevil

Sleep in on the weekend? And miss The Evil One? No way! As much as I trash this man on FB, there’s a reason I show up at Conejo Creek Park at 7:00 (7:15 Paula Standard Time) every Saturday morning for boot camp. Not only do we get a great workout, it’s a crapload of fun! Stevil (Steve Rodriguez, Optimal Fitness Solutions) brings to each session creative ideas for making muscles hurt that we didn’t even know we had. And he’s never met a squat he didn’t like — or make us do. The exercise, however, is just the beginning. We likely burn just as many calories complaining about it — and laughing. Stevil gets results.  With his help I went from barely being able to walk half a block to completing the 2010 Rock n Roll LA Half Marathon (with my fellow Boot Camp Babes, Dr Jane Rosner (West Valley Hearing Center) and Danielle Tharp). When I try to move on Sunday mornings I hate his ugly guts.  But all the other days, Stevil makes me smile.


10 responses »

  1. Yes, my cheeks get as much of a workout as the rest of my body on Saturday mornings! It’s a “smile”!

    • And he so nice — he lulls you into a false sense of competency. Then when you try to roll out of bed the next day, you realize you’ve been duped. But it’s all good…

  2. Mindy Norris

    sounds like a perfect match šŸ˜‰

  3. Thank you so much for the compliment. Wow. I’m truly speechless.

  4. Pingback: Still Smiling! « Over Easy

  5. Pingback: Grinning from Ear To Ear « Over Easy

  6. Deralyn Boyd

    Hey, are you guys really squatting or are you watching Stevie squat? Just thought I’d ask.


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