Thursday, August 11, 2016

Because I’m Happy

The other day I was super happy.  This is not a big shock as I’m typically in a good mood but this was beyond my normal happiness level.  Did I win the lottery? Unfortunately no it wasn’t anything that epic.  Was I on some kind of special happy pills?  I’m a say no to drugs kind of person so that wasn’t the cause either.  In fact it wasn’t anything particular at all as far as I could determine. 

It was fun going through the day feeling so happy and energetic and I’d like that feeling more often.  It made me wonder what causes happiness.  The only difference I can see from the previous blah day to this happy day was I had enough sleep and water.  I really think it is hard to be happy when you are tired and having enough sleep and being well hydrated help you feel rested. 

There are other activities that make me happier including exercise, being outdoors, singing, being silly and spending time with friends.  So I do try to add these things to my life as much as possible. 

Doing good deeds for others who I feel are deserving also makes me feel good.  I wouldn’t want to give money to the “chef” who pretends his car broke down since I know he is a scam artist in Orlando but I’d gladly help a neighbor carry something upstairs.   Small acts like this are not difficult or time consuming and make me feel useful and happy. 

Also I think your mindset can play a big part.  Being grateful for what you do have can make you much happier than being critical of what you don’t.  Some days I look at my small dumpy apartment, no kids and blog that almost no one reads (sigh) and feel down.  But then the very next day I think of it as the a cool pad where I don’t have to mow a yard, time for myself since I don’t to care for kids and a blog that brings me joy since I thrive on the creativity.  Absolutely nothing has changed from one day to the next except my mindset.

If nothing else you can just thank your lucky stars you were born in a first world country in the 21st century.  Imagine if you lived in some parts of the world like Haiti where women have to worry about being raped just trying to get water for their family.  Or if you were born a couple hundred years ago when there were no cell phones, cars, central air conditioner and people died from diseases that are now preventable.  When you look at it that way your life is pretty darn good!

I hope my random thoughts on happiness and gratitude have helped you (my three loyal readers) to have an awesome day and be able to look on the bright side of things. 

Cat “Don’t Worry be Happy” Cathy 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Happy Acro Anniversary!

It was one year ago today that I had a yoga overdose.  I met a friend for a regular old outside yoga class.  Afterwards we stayed for a special laughter yoga class.  That was fun and silly and may have held a more special place in my life if it wasn’t for what came next.   As we finished our laughing we saw a bunch of crazy people doing super cool aerial gymnastic yoga type moves.  These moves were done with two or more people, one of which was in the air.  It looked amazing, fun and scary all at the same time.

I so wanted to try but I didn’t know anyone and it looked like you had to have a partner and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do any of it anyway.  I cans sometimes be a bit shy about approaching people but I was with a friend so I was slightly more confident and I really just had to know more about this.  So I somewhat bravely walked up to a couple and started asking questions.  The couple was sweet, very helpful and informative.  Not only did they explain that it was called acro yoga (acrobatic yoga) but they also took the time to do a few moves with my friend and I.  Before I knew it I was flying in the air doing the basic move called bird.  This felt awesome and liberating and exciting. Next thing I knew I was doing a bow pose 4 feet off the ground!  Next up was some odd moves on my back and then something with my shoulders on someone’s feet.  In the few minutes they worked with me I did several poses that I would have never thought I was capable of doing just minutes before.  I learned that I was called the flyer and the person on the ground is the base.  I was so excited and instantly hooked!  I joined the Facebook group immediately and watched a bunch of YouTube videos as soon as I got home. 

With so many other hobbies I don’t get to do acro nearly as much as I would like.  In the last year I’ve probably only played about 20 or so times.  But each time has been a great experience of meeting new people, learning more about the sport, challenging myself to improve, helping other newbies and  most of all having fun!   In the past year there have been some classes, some acro parties and many jams which is what we call it when acro monkeys (as we call ourselves) just want to get together and play.  There have also been a couple island acro camping weekends which were awesome and perfect for beautiful sunset acro pictures.  And I can’t forget the themed events where you dress in costume and do acro.  I have photos of Santa as my base which is super cool and sure to be next year’s Christmas card. 

I’ve learned a lot about the sport including the names of many different moves and how you should have your joints stacked which significantly reduces the weight for the base person.  I made a few new friends including one who is often my base and I’ve lost count of the number of acquaintances I’ve met.     

I’m not totally sure why I’m so drawn to acro.  I guess I like the artistic aspect as some of moves are beautiful to watch, especially when performed by very flexible people.  I like that it is often done outdoors which is always a plus in my book.  Also it is different from most of my other sports so it challenges me in different ways like being more flexible and graceful.  And it probably doesn’t hurt that random strangers like to stop and watch us and take our pictures.  It is kind of nice to get that attention and feel a bit like a rock star. 

Most sports I don’t remember when I got hooked but this one I surely do.  I’m happy to add it to my sports collection.  I now refer to the couple that helped me that first day as my acro mom and dad….which is a bit odd since they are like 15 years younger than me.

I’m still a beginner in this sport.  In the next year I hope to get more in to pops, whips and washing machines which are just cool terms for the next levels of new moves I can learn.  If you ever see this frenzy going on in your local park feel free to stop by and say hi.  Most acro people are friendly enough and will give you an introduction you won’t soon forget. 

Cat “Watch me Whip” Cathy

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Happily Never After

I apparently spent way too much time as a kid reading and believing fairytales.  So many of these stories have a handsome prince and a white horse and love at first sight and of course a happily ever after ending.  All these fairytales seem to do is set women up for disappointment.  In my entire life I have yet to meet a single prince and I don’t even know anyone who owns a horse…not even a brown one.  When I eat apples all that happens is I get some nutrients and fiber in my diet.  My hair is slightly longer than shoulder length and at no time has it ever been down to my feet let alone several stories long!  And while I am quite the nap taker, I’ve never slept for 100 years. And finally I don’t own a single pair of glass footwear.  I feel like fairytales should be more realistic and modernized for the times.  So here’s a more realistic one:

Once there was a cute little girl named Cinderwhite Beautyrapunz.  She had low self-esteem from seeing way too many marketing ads that made her feel she wasn’t pretty enough since she didn’t wear tons of makeup or have the latest fashions.  Her mom and dad always seemed busy and working so she had very little one on one time with them growing up.  She realized they had to work to pay bills but it made her feel very lonely and she practically had to raise herself.  So one day when a man finally showed her some attention she thought she was in love.  It was nice to finally be noticed and feel special.  But the man had a junky job and therefore no money for traveling. He also had a few 
kids from another woman he’d knocked up many years before and seemed to have a bit of a problem with honesty and perhaps hit the bottle a little too much too.  They dated a while but the kids took all of their dad’s attention and time.  There wasn’t enough of him to go around so again Cathy…oops I mean Cinderwhite Beautyrapunz felt all alone and like there was no one special for her.    After a few years of trudging along she finally broke it off.  Luckily she had a good job, lots of friends and lots of hobbies.  So she lived happily ever after enjoying blogging, traveling, mountain biking and many other activities with her friends and an occasional non-prince non-horse riding man who would come along.  But it wasn’t love at first sight and definitely not happily ever after and sometimes he even had bad breath.

I hope this doesn’t sound too negative as it was meant to be tongue and cheek.  Here’s hoping everyone does find their prince or princess but realizes that they are only human and have faults too. 

Cat “Sisters Grimm” Cathy

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wild Wild West Adventure

Zion Canyoneering 
I’m a collector of hobbies, especially sports and apparently I was overdue to add to my collection. So my latest hobby is… drum roll please ….canyoneering!  What is canyoneering you may ask?  Well it’s like mountaineering except you are working your way through canyons.  I like to call it a hike on steroids since you hike but then you often have to down climb, rappel and problem solve to work your way through a canyon. I’d canyoneered before but only on tours where the guides do all the work and you basically just say “weeeeee this is fun”.

You would think these tours would be enough for a Floridian but I wanted to be able to tie the knots, know the name of my equipment and do it all myself.  So I took two days of training in North Carolina where I learned a lot including how to use a totem, figure 8 and carabiner (even though I kept calling it a cantilever).   I was amazed at how much I learned and figured I was ready to hit the canyons out west so I headed out for the annual Zion Canyoneering Rendezvous.  I decided an extra practice day might be a good idea which was a wise choice since I learned about double rope rappels, critters, piranhas and so many other things with odd names that were brand new to me.  I guess they do things differently out west.  My mind was full and a wee bit confused but it eventually came together that there are just many ways to skin a cat… or in this case, rappel a canyon.

North Carolina Canyoneering 
Finally after all the training in NC and at Zion I was ready for my first day in a real canyon.  ‘Some guy’ named Tom Jones was offering to lead a group on Tom’s Secret Canyon called Fiddle Me This.  I signed up since I’d heard he was somewhat of a legend in the canyoneering world but I didn’t know why.  Well it turns out he wrote the Zion canyoneering guide book so I really lucked out.

This ended up being one of the most extreme days of my life!  We were doing something called ghost canyoneering so we wouldn’t leave any trace (anchors, ropes, bolts) behind.  This adds another lever of difficulty that I was perhaps not quite ready for.  Just the day before in training they asked us if you can use another person as an anchor.  My answer was no.  This seemed ludicrous to me!  But then the instructors (they were awesome btw) told me that yes you could indeed use another person as an anchor.  At the time I was shocked but figured it was no big deal as I would be using nice strong safe trees for my anchors thank you very much.  But then came this ghost canyoneering with Tom and the first thing we had to do was a 200’ rappel on a meat anchor!  Luckily our meat anchor happened to be a somewhat beefy (pun intended) man of about 220 pounds which helped calm me down just a bit.  Later that day I would actually become the meat anchor for a much shorter rappel and then down climb while the people I anchored tried to make sure I didn’t fall.  This was crazy stuff for a flatland Floridian!

As if the meat anchor wasn’t enough there was another surprise in store for me.  On training day I saw a small piece of plastic about 1 inch thick and 6 inches long.  This piece of plastic called a Fiddlestick is used to make an anchor fail so you can retrieve the rope and leave no trace.  Essentially you are a putting your life in the hands of ten cents of plastic material (which costs much more since it is canyoneering specific).  This is the one time I was thankful that plastic has a long shelf life.  

After our first two rappels we put on our wetsuits for the remainder of the trip since there were many wet sections.  We continued down the canyon doing everything we could not to leave any trace of our adventure.  At one point in Tom’s secret canyon we wanted sand for an anchor but the sand had been washed out in the last storm so we had to walk a bit back up the canyon and carry a large trunk of a tree down and wedge it in the canyon.  Shivering a bit in my wetsuit in the shade of the canyon I couldn’t help but smile a bit at the extremeness of it all.  This is what I wanted when I got in to the sport and it reminded me of the quote on Tom’s t-shirt: Canyoneering: sorta like fun…but different.

The secret canyon has three sections.  After the second section with so many things changed from the storm our guide Tom said we should stop since the next section may be really difficult.  No one in the group complained.  We’d been through a lot and we were sure Tom knew best.  But then a few minutes later Tom was like “well let’s give it a try”.  This did not give me a warm and fuzzy at all and it did end up being a very difficult section where we had to use a backpack filled up with air as a floatation device to help us climb out of the water.

After nine hours in the pretty yet often wet and cold canyon I was an expert with fiddlesticks and meat anchors.  Something I wanted to proudly share with my Facebook friends but was concerned over the inevitable dirty replies that would result.  I was exhausted but happy and extremely proud of myself for my accomplishment.  I’d wanted to do this for years and finally did it.  I couldn’t find any friends to go with me but I didn’t let that stop me.  Last minute a friend’s son decided to join me but I was already set on going no matter what.  I got the training, bought the gear and made it happen! And now I have some new canyoneering friends that I’m looking forward to seeing at the next rendezvous.
I Heart Canyoneering 

If you’re at all interested I definitely recommend trying canyoneering.  Do a guided trip first for your safety and see if you enjoy it.  If you have any interest that you’ve been putting off, make today the day you start on that adventure. You will feel proud of yourself for the accomplishment.  Go for it and good luck!

Cat “Meat Anchor for Hire” Cathy

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Beaten, Battered and Black and Blue Equals Fun, Fit and Fabulous!

Yet Another Black and Blue Day Not Related to my Mountain Bike Story

I often come to work on Monday’s with a few bruises and sore muscles from my weekend warrior events.  Recently I was sporting a somewhat large black and blue mark on my arm from a mountain biking fall.  My coworker noticed my bruise and said “why would you do that to yourself”.  Well it wasn’t like I purposely bruised myself.  I was just out having fun, getting fresh air, enjoying nature, satisfying my need for speed and exercising when I had an oopsy daisy and fell.  There was very little pain involved at the time of the crash and burn.  The next day when I noticed the bruise I actually had to think back to where it happened. 


My sports and adventures make me happy, keep me fit and strong and make me feel truly alive.  So after being questioned on my lifestyle by a heavyset coworker I couldn’t help but think “Why would you do that to yourself”.  I will gladly take the bruises and sore muscles and yes even the occasional worse injuries I’ve had including a broken leg and a few torn tendons and ligaments.  At least these come with a side of strength, energy, happiness, pride and accomplishment.  Oh and a size 4 body too.   How she could let herself be so out of shape and overweight seems like a better question.  Of course I couldn’t say this as it would be politically incorrect so I just said it was fun and I feel strong and healthy.  My hope is to lead by example and maybe others will see and agree with my way of life.  If not that’s fine since we are all different but I don’t think others should criticize someone for a bruise or three.


Cat “Am I Blue” Cathy




Friday, February 20, 2015

Paris Part Deux

Paris day two started with a trip to the catacombs.  This is a highly rated tourist attraction which unfortunately means a long wait and it was a cold and dreary day.  My feel of being in an exotic far away world was ruined by the two hour wait with two young American girls in line behind me.  If I heard “I know right” or “OMG” one more time I was going to scream fermez votre bouche (shut your mouth)!   Thankfully I knew this expression well from my High School French Teacher.  I wanted to learn and practice my French but mostly just learned teenager talk and proper English due to the “please mind the gap between the train and the platform” recording which is transmitted over the speaker at every metro stop in proper Queens English of course.  In the end, the catacombs were just ok IMHO.  I would have liked a more adventurous illegal underground tour but I couldn’t find one.  What does one search for on the internet “illegal tours a la Paris”?  Besides, turning human bones into a tourist attraction seems wrong on so many levels.

Next thing I did was find the closest restaurant.  Unfortunately it was called The Americana or something like that but I was tired, cold and hungry and didn’t care.  A nice guy on his bicycle informed me I had to go inside if I wanted to order food and they only serve wine on the patio.  I was all prepared to figure out what I wanted to eat as I knew ‘poulet’ for chicken, ‘poisson’ for fish and ‘boeuf’ for beef, but the nice guy from the street actually came in to help me read the menu.  Now that was really sweet and one of many nice gestures I noticed that made me question the whole rude French thing I’d always heard.  Anyway, as the guy offered to help me I happened to notice the menu was in English so I thanked him but knew I could take it from there. 

The weather turned nice so I took out a bike from the Velib bike share which are located everywhere and did some biking around the city.  I love my sports and outdoors and this was much more pleasant than waiting in lines for junky tourist traps.  I biked to the Eiffel tower and by now the weather had turned almost perfect.  I just sat around eating my crepe and taking it all in.  That’s always such a nice experience to just be in the moment.  I must have looked like a Parisian since someone took my picture of me eating a crepe with my Velib bicycle and the tower.  I tried to dress like a Parisian which pretty much meant bland colors and somewhat conservative dressy clothes to me.  But it must have worked since they took my picture and I was asked on the subway for directions a few times and I was spoken to in French on a few occasions too.  I just think it would be funny if someone was showing off their ‘authentic’ Paris pictures and someone said hey that’s Catastrophe Cathy and she’s American. 

I was asked if I wanted to buy some Eiffel tower key chains at five for 1 Euro.  That took a few minutes and was pretty much the end of my gift shopping.  I typically don’t spend a lot of time shopping when I travel.  I sure hope the key chain recipients don’t read this …and if they do they remember “it’s the thought that counts”. 

As a side note, finding a bathroom is not easy in Paris.  Many establishments expect you to pay or be a customer.  There were some new public restrooms but they were perhaps the world’s most inefficient toilets serving maybe one person every few minutes. 

Cat “Bonne Nuit” Cathy

Monday, January 12, 2015

Paris in The The Spring!

My new year’s resolution was to start blogging again.  So I found my old half completed Paris blog and decided to complete it.  A year or so late but I still have fond memories of this adventure and I hope you enjoy it too!

I have lists of places I would like to travel but often I end up at a place I never intended just because someone invites me or the stars align or whatever.  Such is the case of my recent Paris trip.  I was invited by a Belgium Facebook friend to stay at her dorm in Paris.   She’s much younger than I am and I didn’t know her well since we’d just hung out a few times when she lived in Orlando the previous summer.  But I readily accepted her offer anticipating I’d do much of the exploring on my own since she would be busy with school and work.  This was a big step for me since I’d never traveled this far alone and especially not overseas to a different country when I really didn’t speak enough of the language to get by.  But it seemed like a fun adventure so c’est la vie!

I didn’t know much about Paris since the last time I was there was for a school trip in 1989.  So I did a bit of research for cell phones, ATMs, the Velib bike share program and many other things that didn’t even exist when I last traveled to the City of Lights.  I didn’t have much time to plan and I was nervous since I was traveling alone but everything went very smoothly.  I arrived at the Charles De Gaulle Airport, withdrew some euros from an airport ATM, purchased a sim card for my unlocked phone from an airport store and bought a carne of metro passes and one more expensive pass from the airport to downtown Paris.  All this took less than one hour.  (And it would be even easier today since my T-Mobile phone works in Paris without having to do anything. I love progress!)

My friend met me at the RER station and showed me my new home for the week.  I would be staying in her dorm room which was tiny even by my standards and I would also be sharing a kitchen.  After unpacking and catching up a bit with my friend, I ventured out alone to see what I could find.  I quickly rented a Velib bicycle from the Paris bike share program.  This was amazingly easy since I had already signed up for a one week membership prior to my travel.  I biked around my friend’s neighborhood and was amazed by the number of people and different ways to commute.  There were skaters, walkers, bikers, cars, scooters, a trolley and of course the metro with people coming and going all the time.  This was a big change from the much smaller city that I call home.

Seeing as I was still not recovered from travel and not familiar with the city I decided to eat a bit and call it an early day.  I found a pizza place and ate outside watching people go by.  I felt a bit lame getting pizza but I didn’t see any true French restaurants in the area and with my limited French speaking ability I chose a place where I could just point and sort of try to say the words best I could.  It was a delicious if not a typical French meal.  BTW I later discovered you don’t have to tip.  Tip and tax are already included in the price listed for a meal. You can leave a little extra if you like though. 

Day one was a “no big deal” day except for the excitement of this big adventure alone.  But travel days are never the highlight of the trip so stay tuned for my actual adventures in future blogs. 

Cat “Oh La La” Cathy