An entrepreneur’s moment of zen

One of the joys of being an entrepreneur is being able to step away from the computer for a moment of zen at the litter box.

On days when your writing is a tad constipated, chances are the cat didn’t have the same problem.

Tidying up her productivity provides you with a sense of accomplishment —  and a moment of quiet reflection that puts everything in perspective.

Litter box haiku

Litter box haiku

This moment of zen was inspired by the late, great Luna, an entrepreneur’s best friend.

She was always happy to help make the bed…

Luna making the bed 2

…or share some TV after a hard day’s typing.

Luna watching TV Julie Andrews love scene Torn Curtain

(Luna watching Julie Andrews in Hitchcock’s “Torn Curtain.”)

c 2014 Kathy Barthel

If you’re really in love, break some furniture ;)

If you’re in love and having the time of your life, go ahead —

  • break the couch
  • bust your zipper
  • kiss till your lips peel
  • practice reaching high C

Blistex on the headboard

(Blistex on the headboard is always a good idea;)

When you get tired, cuddle up and listen to the rain outside your window, and to him, breathing beside you. There’s no better lullaby.

If it’s love, go deep.  

You will never be more blessed than you are right now.

c 2016 Kathy Barthel

What your shopping quirks reveal about you

Ever notice the quirky little things you can’t resist doing in a store?

You know, obsessively alphabetizing the DVDs in the sales bin. Or neatly folding — in thirds — all the jammed up jeans.

Shirt buttons

I am a compulsive shirt un-buttoner.

I have to undo the first two or three buttons and loosen the shirt up a bit, right there on the hanger. Can’t help it. 

My coat buttons in the dead of winter, are another story. I do not like being cold. But shirts are made to be undone.

Those first few buttons are meant to weigh down the shirt just enough so that each side falls away from my neck.

I can breathe, the shirt can breathe, everybody’s happy — except the scowling sales clerk behind me, buttoning up the rejects.

I’m glad I am not a guy; I’d never have mastered that buttoned up shirt and tie thing.

Touchy-feely books

When I see raised words on the cover of a book, I have to touch them. I cannot resist. And, if those words are in a metallic colour (sigh) like gold, copper, silver, blue or red, I am a bee to honey!

Perdita book cover

Books are a tactile experience. People who love books will tell you this. Feeling real leather, raised type, the texture of the paper — these things are as much a part of the experience of buying a book as the words inside.

What are the things you can’t resist doing in a store?  They reveal a lot about you.

If you’re feeling stuck in your life or career, think about those quirky little habits of yours. They offer clues to your personality and even aspects of your work style.

I’m not a buttoned-up sort of person. I thrive in open, creative environments where there’s lots of collaborating and brainstorming going on.

Being a brat is about embracing your quirks and having a little fun with them.

When people tease you about your shopping habits, tease them right back. They’re probably closet DVD straighteners.

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

Cyber-Seniors — the movie!

The web is a great place to find men if you are 77. Just ask Annette, one of the stars of the new documentary, Cyber-Seniors.

The film shows what happens when teenage sisters Kascha and Macaulee get their high school friends to teach seniors how to use computers. It pokes gentle fun at the generational divide and then shows it disappear as friendships form.

A YouTube video contest grew out of the school project and eventually so did this film, directed by the girls’ sister, Saffron.

I met many of the seniors last summer, when I was one of the judges of the Cyber-Seniors video contest, so it was great to reconnect with them at last night’s screening.

Olivia Chow, MP, Trinity-Spadina, stopped by to give some rousing opening remarks and to chat with the cyber-seniors including Shura (below centre) who was enjoying the evening with her friend Linda Wells (left).

Cyber Seniors screening with Olivia Chow

Then it was off to the movies for cyber-senior gold:

Learning new things

“When you’re 90, the elevator goes slowly to the third floor.”  Barbara (90)

Barbara Cyber Seniors-1

Forgetting new things

Teen teacher: “I’ve had quite a few of them forget their passwords. The answer to the security question never helps.”

Finding your way online 

Frances:  “I typed in”  Max (teacher): “Yes, that’s the problem.”

What is Facebook?

“It’s where you put all your friends and then you delete them.” Annette (77)

Facebook etiquette 

Lydia discovers a man that she hasn’t seen in ages on Facebook and thinks she’ll just “poke” him.  Granddaughter Courtney tells her that poking someone you don’t know is, well, rude.

Annette feels it is inappropriate to post pictures of yourself kissing someone. Teacher Henri says,”This is exactly why I don’t have my grandmother on Facebook!”

Annette and Henri Cyber Seniors-1

Finding love online

Annette becomes intrigued with online dating sites. “Single woman wanted!” she reads aloud. “You make these things go too fast,” she tells Henri as they scan a site. ”Can’t you go back to the single man?”

Celebrating setbacks

Senior: “I crashed! I’m proud of it; I didn’t know I could!”

Cyber Seniors movie party Linda Wells, Diana Martin and her sister Shura

(Linda, Shura’s sister Diana Martin and Shura)

Cooking lessons

As Shura got used to the computer, she became very fond of watching cooking videos on YouTube.

So, she decided to make her own.

In “Cooking with Shura,” she demonstrates how to boil corn-on-the-cob in an electric kettle and cook grilled cheese sandwiches with an iron.

The moment when she leans in to choose the correct setting before ironing her sandwich, is priceless.

Cyber-Seniors video contest

After watching Shura’s video, others wanted to get in on the act.

Marion, 93, who still has all of her teeth, shows them off in a rap video.

Marion Cyber Seniors

Lydia Cyber Seniors-1

Lydia talks about her passion for gardening and Ellard (90) demonstrates his exercise routine.

Ellard on exercise bike Cyber Seniors-1

Annette goes on the town for, “Six tips on how to pick up” men.

My grandmother would love this video about seniors and technology. It celebrates that bratty spirit that pushes you to try new things, to be who you are and to pull the rug out from anything that gets in your way. And it inspires others do the same.

And, it has the Hallelujah Chorus!

Carpe diem filmmakers, teachers and Cyber-Seniors!

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

Send me a sign, Mom

Several years ago I decided to plant my first flower garden and my mom wanted to give me some gladiolus bulbs.  My late grandmother in her typically droll way said, “You’d better tell her which end is up.” My mom was stunned and said that of course, I would know that.

But my grandmother was right; I had no idea that I was supposed to plant them with the pointy end up. My gladiolus would have been blooming “all the way down to China”, or more accurately, into the Indian Ocean.

My mom passed away a couple of weeks ago so she and my grandmother are together again. I can imagine the conversation shortly after she arrived. “I want to send Kathy a sign that I’m OK,” she’d say to my grandmother.

Is it a fly?

A few days after my mom died I was sitting with my dad in his favourite coffee shop when a green (my mom’s favourite colour) fly appeared on my left hand. Its tiny torso shone like a water droplet on a green leaf. I noticed how beautiful it was but a moment later, I smucked it. Gone. Not a trace of fly to be seen. Then I thought, “Oh! Was that a sign?”

Up in heaven my grandmother was saying, “Don’t send Kathy another bug”.

Is it a bird?

My parents’ house is on the bank of a river. I stayed there with my dad for several days after my mom’s passing. One day my brother mentioned the Canada birds he’d heard. I had no idea which ones they were but once he pointed out the sound, I realized I’d been hearing them constantly, especially outside the bathroom window in the early morning. They were one of my mom’s favourite birds, but if they were a sign I almost missed them.

Green hangers 598 px W x 298 px H Greener

It’s a hanger!

On our first visit to the funeral home to make the arrangements, my dad and I took a look around. As we walked through the main entryway, I saw long closets on either side of us. Hanging from each one were rows and rows of big, green, plastic hangers. In most public places, especially a funeral home, you would expect to see stately wooden hangers or sleek, brushed steel, but here were all these green ones. “It’s a sign!” I said to my dad. “Mom would love these!”

It was a sign that this was the right place, that our plans to honour my mom here would work out just fine, with lots of love and lots of green.

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

Death by a thousand words

I’m typing away on the laptop when I realize I need to print something out, so down to the basement office I go, crazy cat alongside.

words 700 x 500 px

I’ve been printing out pages for a while when I hear a tiny squeak behind me. I figure it’s the cat but I look around anyway and there she is, a chair’s width behind me, absolutely fascinated by the baby mouse she’s batted into near-death submission.

The victim

Soon I am standing in my bare feet, six inches from the rodent’s flat little body when I hear a faint squeak coming from a cardboard box near the door. There are more of them! Any one of them could scrabble across my feet and up my bare legs. And where is their mother? She’ll be even bigger!

This from the same tenderhearted animal lover who as a kid, fed cheese to a baby mouse with one hand, while restraining the family feline with the other. But those mice lived in an unused chimney and I was wearing pjs and slippers.

This is completely different. The cat, a street shark gone soft, has lost interest and wandered away. I am alone, all appendages bare.

The weapon

I start looking around for a weapon. Anything will do but all I can see are stacks of paper, file folders and my own frantic reflection in the computer monitor. It’s an office; the only other thing here is books, tons of them and—the Oxford English Dictionary, hardcover edition.

I’m the house bug killer. I smack bugs of all kinds, including centipedes, with the flat of my hand. You must strike quickly or you’ll have hundreds of tiny legs crawling all over your skin.

I took the same approach to the task at hand. It was not my finest hour, but it was humane and quick. DOA by the OED.

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

My new anti-aging skin care regimen: Sex, sleep and sardines

I hate anti-aging skin creams and I am a nasty customer when I go out to buy them. All those bogus potions do is fleece your bank account — and they do nothing for your face and who-knows-what to your health.

They make me mad.

And I hate that I’m embarrassed to have them in my shopping cart. I wonder if people are looking at me more closely. Oooh, you’re buying wrinkle cream? You must be older than I thought. 

So I decided to create my own cheap, all-natural, anti-aging, skin care regimen.

It’s a three-step system called, “Sex, Sleep and Sardines”. The first two steps will cost you nothing and the third is only $2.99.

Here’s how it works—

1. SEX:  In addition to being a fabulous use of your time, sex brings a rush of blood to your skin, gets everything circulating and really gives you a youthful glow. And that burst of cardio is a lot more fun than the one I get from my elliptical. Try to break a sweat if you can. It takes 10 years off my face every time.

Frequency: Three times per week and build up from there

2. SLEEP: Segue right from the sex to the sleep if you can. Getting enough sleep is so important: the less you get, the older you’ll look. I know there’s always dim lighting but that’s a little awkward to pull off during the day. Besides, sleep rejuvenates and repairs your skin for free. If you have trouble nodding off, follow step one first, but take it easy; you want to wind down, not rev up.

Frequency: Seven or eight hours per night

Millionnaire Sardines can

3. SARDINES: This is where you run into some cost because the only kind of sardines I can stand are called Millionnaires, although at $2.99 a can, they’re still a good deal. They’re a little slippery going down, but you won’t throw up if you chase them with something tart like cranberry juice. Sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep your skin cells flexible, plump and full of water and nutrients. They also keep the cell membrane healthy so that all the good things stay in and the waste products go out. That means softer, younger-looking skin.

Frequency: Minimum of three times per week

This little regimen was working quite well for me until I ran out of the first ingredient; I broke up with the boyfriend and I’ve been really upset but it’s been especially hard on my face.

You may have this problem too so I’m working on a solution. As soon as I have it, I’ll let you know.

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

Mowing the driveway

My driveway is a delightful mix of weeds, grass and rocks. I was just out there yesterday mowing it.

Driveway gravel, grass and weeds TWO

I made a grand stab at getting it paved when I became a single parent but could only afford the first layer of gravel—which is now partly in the drive and partly in the front lawn, due to several winters of enthusiastic snow shoveling.

One thing you learn about mowing the drive is the need to wear protective eye gear. Dollar store shades will do but you’ve got to keep them on, even on hot, sweaty days when they steam up and slide off your nose.

On the plus side, it just occurred to me that mowing the driveway may be why the lawnmower’s blades always seem sharp even though I never maintain them. The gravel is a natural sharpening system!

I’ve made peace with my driveway’s stubbly bits and now I mow them with pride.

Of course, if you’d like to start a little crowdfunding campaign to throw some pavement on there, I wouldn’t object.

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

Don’t cry over chipped teeth

I chipped a piece off one of my back molars several weeks ago. It was bound to happen; I eat so many seeds and nuts I’m basically a squirrel.

But that wasn’t the cause. Nope. I bit down too hard during an orgasm.

No, no one else was injured.

I know I should go to the dentist and have my tooth fixed but I don’t have any insurance.

So I look on the bright side; every time my tongue slides back there, it reminds me of something awesome.

And every time I put money away for the dentist, I’ll have a smile on my face. That’s not so bad.

Besides, there’s a lesson in everything. This one is, don’t clench…your teeth.;)

c 2013 Kathy Barthel