The routine

diving off the blocks at a college meet.
My daughter off the blocks at a college duel meet. She’s the one with the pointed toes.

My daughter had a job interview yesterday. She called me afterwards. She brought up a compelling point. They asked her how she handles stress or pressure on the job.

“I go to a private place, take a deep breath and shake it out. Then the anxiety leaves and I can prioritize what needs to be done,” she said.

She told me that was exactly what she did before the interview. She followed her pre-race routine. I’ve seen it a million times. She would stand behind the blocks, shake out her right arm, her left arm. Put her right leg on the blocks and stretch, repeat with the left leg.”

I remembered taking golf lessons when my kids were toddlers. My golf pro established a pre-hit routine for me. Each time I “addressed the ball” I would take two baseball swings with my golf club to loosen up. I’d take a deep breath and stand over the ball.

If you watch swimming, golf, or other sports — you’ll notice most athletes have a routine before they move. It frees their mind from thinking. It’s a signal to put their game face on and react physically, letting go of negative thoughts or any thoughts at all.

Six or seven years ago, I read “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, former wife of Martin Scorsese. She preached about morning routines. I began morning pages back then and have stuck with the routine. When I wake up, I reach for a journal and write three pages of whatever is on my mind. It can be a to do list, about my dreams, my prior day or anything that jumps into my brain. It releases anxiety and clears my head for more creativity.

Also, my morning routine includes prayer and a walk.

I feel centered and grounded and ready to carry on for the rest of the day.

What routines do you have in your life? What benefits do you see?

Beach walk cut short

Beach
Empty beach below our Vrbo.

This morning on our beach walk, I first noticed three signs and yellow tape.

marine wildlife warning sign
Warning signs posted at the beach.

We stopped to read the signs and a woman approached us wearing a hat that said volunteer for some marine life organization. She said there was a distressed sea lion ahead. It had been resting on the beach behind the signs and yellow tape.

Then when a young woman was walking her pit bull, the dog pulled out of its harness and attacked the sea lion.

The volunteer from the Channel Islands Marine Wildlife Institute told us the sea lion escaped into the ocean. She explained that the sea lion was suffering from Domoic Acid poisoning, which is caused by algae bloom.

My husband said that algae bloom happens every year. Isn’t that a normal thing? Wouldn’t sea lions be used to it?

She said they were inundated with calls about sick sea lions along the coast and that the Domoic Acid poisoning could be fatal. The volunteers were out observing the sea lions from sunrise to sunset along the beaches. Apparently stress could make the illness worse. She was standing on the beach all day to keep people and dogs away from the sick sea lion.

I asked if we could still take our morning walk.

“If you have to,” she answered. “Please stay along the cliffs and as far away from the sea lion as possible.”

We started on our walk, but as we got closer to the sea lion, we turned around. It wasn’t worth it.

We also spotted the young woman with her pit bull walking down a trail to finish their morning walk. She was avoiding the volunteer who was positioned by the signs. The young woman spotted the sea lion in the ocean in front of her and thankfully turned her dog around and headed back up the trail.

If you want to read more about the sea lions and Domoic Acid poisoning, here’s an article from the local news. The article said the Institute is fielding 50 to 100 calls a day.

Who knew that stress was so harmful to sea lions? What are your thoughts about what stress can do to us?

sea lion sick with Domoic Acid poisoning
The sea lion seeking comfort in the ocean.

My worst typos — ever

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Some of my most embarrassing moments have happened with typos. I’ve been writing professionally since college graduation. I won’t mention exactly how many years that is. But, it’s plenty. Plenty of time to make more than a few mistakes.

ONE

I had a typo on SwimSwam. I left out a number on my tips.

My process begins with a small idea. Then I write a rough sloppy draft. Then I begin to hone it down into something tight and simple — and I number my tips. Along the way I cut out one tip that didn’t seem to fit. But, the story didn’t automatically renumber itself. Making a mistake like that on a busy forum like SwimSwam is decidedly embarrassing. Of course in the comments section the readers pointed it out.

You can read that story HERE: 12 Parent Tips on How to Behave at Practice.

On the bright side, I got a RT by Natalie Coughlin. I was super excited about that, so the story still worked even if it was not perfect.

Natalie Coughlin
Natalie Coughlin

TWO

My second worst typo was in the ’80s. I worked for a PR and advertising firm and I wrote eight newsletters a month, plus three or four press releases daily. It was a busy, intense job. I was in charge of PR for a fundraiser for abused women which was held at a local country club. In my press release that ran just about everywhere — I mistakenly put in my own phone number instead of the club’s to RSVP! There was no taking that one back. I lived through it by hooking up an answering machine. Remember when we used those?

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I felt humiliated though, when my co-workers relentlessly teased me.

THREE

My all-time worst typo was when I had my own PR and advertising business. I had some super-duper clients including the hospital’s cancer center and a local branch of a major Wall Street firm. When the boss at the Wall Street branch was promoted to NYC to corporate headquarters, he still used me for all of his work. I was SO excited! Then I made a typo on his Power Point presentation. It was on the new logo he had me create for the Western Region of the United States of America. Ugh.

He was so angry with me, because I made him look bad in front of the entire Board. I’ll never forgive myself for that one. And he no longer used me. Of course.

I was working with an amazing art director to create the logo for the Western Region. I think it said “Westen.” I didn’t proof read the type on the logo, I was focusing on the design.

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FOUR

Not the worst, but worth mentioning because it happened in recently. All these years later I’m still making typos. In the March issue of our HOA newsletter, I mistyped a “Welcome to the Neighborhood” phone number of a new neighbor. The new person emailed me to let me know.

I assured her I’d correct it in the next issue which went out last week. I lost the document of the last newsletter, which I was going to use as a template because of computer problems. I did have the very first issue somewhat intact, so I worked off of that.

Somehow, in the “Welcome to the Neighborhood” section, I added the new neighbors’ names and double triple checked the phone numbers — but left the address in from the first issue — which was the wrong house!!! Fortunately, the board proofs the newsletter, and we have one ace proofer who caught it before it was printed.

Still, I’m embarrassed about making two typos on the same newcomer’s entry!

The thing with typos is your brain can trick you into seeing what you intended to be there.

My tips to catch typos:

1. Read the piece from the bottom, sentence by sentence.

2. Read it out loud.

3. Put it away for a few days to get a fresh view.

4. Have other people proofread for you.

5. Don’t forget to proofread the title and headers. Numbers, too.

What are your worst typos? What tips do you have to catch them?

On getting hacked

Desert lavender
This has nothing to do with my post, but it’s such a beautiful desert lavender plant in our yard I had to share.

I had an issue with my emails and wrote about it HERE last week. I was afraid I was hacked. Or in the very least someone was playing fast and loose with my email address. I set up a new email account and so far everything is going peachy.

But then I heard from someone today that their bank account got hacked. Listen to this: someone got into their bank account online and changed the user name and password so they couldn’t access their account! Then the hacker transferred money out using Zelle. This friend didn’t even use Zelle. But. if a person can get your username and password by hacking into your computer, they can turn on Zelle.

I found a few articles about the scam. Here’s a quote from one:

Stealing money using Zelle is apparently as easy as adding a phone number to a consumer’s checking account, and then telling the bank to “Zelle” money to a hacker-controlled account — at least in some cases.

When following up my story earlier this week about consumers who don’t even use Zelle get hit by Zelle fraud, a bank official told me that’s how it’s done. Criminals — potentially using stolen online banking credentials or credential stuffing attacks — add a cell phone they control to the user’s profile, then send money to the hacker’s account.

After the hacker’s mobile number is added to the bank account, the banks’ confirmation code to verify the transaction is misdirected to that fraudulent number, and the hacker confirms the transaction. So once the account is compromised, a fraudster is able to transfer money out of the account.

https://bobsullivan.net/cybercrime/heres-how-hackers-are-using-zelle-to-raid-bank-accounts-and-why-victim-was-out-1800-until-i-wrote-to-the-bank/

I decided that changing my password wasn’t enough. I turned on two-factor authentication.

Have you ever had a credit card, bank account or email account hacked? What did you do about it?

Kitty soup

cat in a cat carrier
Olive waiting for the vet. Not a happy camper.

I realized how much the cat adds to our daily lives when she hasn’t been feeling well for the past few days.

Olive refused to eat over the weekend and didn’t use the litter box. She spent most of the time under the bed in the dark.

I tried to tempt her with Friskies ‘Lil Soup. When I call “Kitty soup!” Olive usually runs to me and answers with a “Meow-oup!”

But to no avail. She wasn’t having any of it.

The vet pumped her up with fluids and meds, did blood work, took X-rays. They aren’t sure what is causing her discomfort, but hopefully the treatment will make her feel better. He said she has “obstipation” which is a new word I learned. It’s chronic or severe constipation.

I want Olive to get back to our routine, where she hangs out in my husband’s office in the mornings, sits on my lap in the afternoon while I read. She enjoys a good game of chase around the coffee table and sofa in the living room.

The vet discovered she has a gallstone that’s quite large with a piece broken off that’s moved into the bile duct. He’s not sure if that’s what causing her discomfort or not. He said it could have been there for years — or not.

Here’s the X-ray:

X-ray of cat's gallstone
The gallstone is the white spotty thing to the left and the small piece to the right and slightly higher.

Naturally, I had to research gallstones and what causes them. One cause is high cholesterol. Another is too much bilirubin. I’m worried about the results of her blood work. The liver could be causing the issues. Not good.

Have you had pets? How do they add to your lives?

Needing some downtime

Pink flower
The simple beauty of nature.

It’s been a few weeks since our vacation to Utah and I’m already feeling the need to get away. There’s something about the heat of the desert, being stuck inside because of 100-plus degree temperatures that gets to people.

I remember in my former life in Palm Springs that controversy always bubbled up mid-July to early August. Especially with our swim team. You take a bunch of over-involved parents who are competitive about their kids — put them on a hot pool deck — and you have a recipe for a few outbursts.

Once the former president of our swim team told me “Take this team and shove it up your A**!”

Then he walked off the pool deck with his kids and started his own team, taking about 30 or 40 swimmers with him. I stood in shock. As a board member, I had been in the middle of a power struggle between our coach and him. He wanted to be the coach and was actively trying to discredit our current coach.

It was an ugly episode in my parenting years. We noticed every summer around the same time things began to boil.

I don’t thrive with conflict. I try to avoid unpleasantness in my life.

Last week, a club meeting rivaled the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

A woman who I consider a friend acted horribly out of anger. I don’t know where the anger came from. But what should have been a nice night of having dinner and friendship turned into a battleground. I feel especially bad for the woman who opened up her home, prepared dinner and dessert for the club.

Now I feel caught in the middle. It’s a bad place to be. I want to get along. I am willing to give people a second chance and the benefit of the doubt. Even when they lose their temper and act badly. We are all human and make mistakes.

I’m going to distance myself from all these clubs for awhile until my emotions settle down. I can’t wait to get out of the heat and out of town, which is in a couple weeks.

How do you handle conflict? Do you forgive people for bad behavior or write them off?

Amazing Movie Day

poster for Lion movie.
Movie we watched for movie day.

When I got home from movie day at a neighbor’s house yesterday, I immediately texted my kids to watch the movie “Lion.” Then I bought the movie online so my husband could watch it, too.

The movie stars Dev Patel from “Slumdog Millionaire” fame and Nicole Kidman. The actor who plays the five-year-old main character Saroo is amazing and steals the show. It’s based on a true story of a young boy who gets lost and separated from his family. He’s eventually adopted by a loving couple a continent away from home. He tries to find his family 25 years later.

It’s powerful story. It’s intense. It’s easily the best movie I’ve watched in years. It came out in 2016 and I wonder how I missed it? It was nominated for six Oscars and won BAFTA awards. It’s a movie produced jointly by Australia and the UK, but was distributed in the US by the Weinstein Company. In any case, I’m thankful for the invitation to movie day and the discovery of this movie.

As for movie day, I was a little uncomfortable going to a neighbor’s home I had never met before. She had a dozen women over, all older than me. I knew only two of them. Eventually, I relaxed and enjoyed myself. The food was delicious. It was a potluck lunch and the host hand-churned mint and strawberry-ice cream for dessert!

Have you seen the movie “Lion?” If yes, what was your opinion of it? What are a few of the best movies you’ve watched this year?