Rethinking the whole business of New Year’s resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are not something I often think about.

That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of room for change or that I don’t want anything or that I don’t have dreams for myself, others and the world at large.

Perhaps, it’s that I think the positive changes I would like to see can’t be summed up in a resolution. Maybe this ritual of making New Year’s resolutions seems trite when so many are broken before January is even over.

Change takes work. It takes time, diligence, will power and the acknowledgement it may not come on the first try.

That’s why I believe anyone who wants change needs to make it a lifetime endeavor. Even if you succeed with one desire, there will be more.

We humans are a work in progress just as is the world we inhabit. So, maybe everyone’s lifetime resolution should be to leave the world a better a place.

Yes, we will all have our own definition of better. But we only get one shot at this thing called life (at least as far as I know), so why not resolve to make it a better world while we are in it and for those who are left behind?

This isn’t a Jan. 1 kind of resolution, but an everyday commitment to do better, be better, think better, live better for myself, those I love, those I don’t know, for my community, the places I visit, and the places I’ll never set foot.

Happy New Year!

Appreciating the power of massage 25 years after graduation

When I was in massage school no one talked about the power of helping others.

Maybe we were supposed to know that comes with being a massage therapist. More likely it’s something you learn long after graduation; at least that is how it worked for me.

Twenty-five years ago this month I graduated from massage school.

Power too often these days is meant in a negative way. For these purposes it’s only a positive word.

Massage is powerful in so many ways. If you have had one, you understand.

Lake Tahoe promotional massage photo circa 2007. (Image: Taylor Flynn)

But giving massage is also powerful. That’s the part I don’t remember being taught, or if it was, I didn’t understand it at the time.

It’s powerful because people are turning over their bodies to you. Being naked on a table can be a vulnerable scenario for people. Clients put tremendous trust in me. I take that responsibility seriously.

People are on my table because they believe in self-care, they have pain they want to relieve, they want help recovering from physical and emotional stress, they want a tune-up, they want an hour (or more) of time just to themselves.

There are countless other reasons to get a massage. The benefits of massage go on and on.

Each body is like a puzzle. In some ways I’m trying to get all the pieces to work better together. It’s a rewarding challenge to help people. It’s powerful—in a good way.

I have to admit this is the first year I have gotten regular massage. I finally decided money should not be the deterrent. I suppose as I get older I feel like I can’t afford not to get them regularly. Self-care is too important.

Each month I get a 90 minute massage. Sometimes I have her work on a specific body part, sometimes she finds spots to work on I didn’t know were in need of special attention, and other times it’s what I call a tune-up—where nothing in particular is focused on, deep work is usually minimal, and all parts seem to get the same amount of attention.

While massage has never been my sole income, it has at times been a large part of it and other times the table was in storage or got little use. In Tahoe I rented space where I had two rooms, one big enough to fit two tables—so three massages could be going on at the same time. I had about six therapists who worked for me as independent contractors.

Today I strictly do outcall massage. This means I go to people’s houses. As long as it continues to be rewarding work, I want to keep doing it. The combination of massage and writing bring wonderful balance to my life.

Relishing the fact the days are going to be longer

The days are going to start getting longer this week.

The end of darkness—that’s my definition of the winter solstice.

I used to think the early darkness seemed to last forever. Not so anymore. I shifted my mentality a few years back to no longer think all of winter is filled with darkness.

To me, the shorter days are a brief stretch between when the clocks change in early November to Dec. 21, winter solstice.

After the solstice, which is the shortest day of the year (or the one with the most darkness) every day gets a little bit longer. The solstice marks the day the Earth and sun are the farthest away from each other.

The additional light can be hard to notice at first. But it’s there. It’s real. Even just the knowledge of that fact makes things seem brighter.

Like so many things in life, it’s all about perspective.

I like longer days and from here on out I’m going to keep counting those additional minutes.

Happily Keeping Up-To-Date With COVID Vaccinations

I’m continuing to follow science when it comes to protecting myself from getting COVID-19.

I got the latest booster last month. Arm was a little sore the next day so tennis was a no-go, but I could still sit at my desk and work. So, not much of a negative reaction; and I’m someone who has a phobia of needles.

Apparently, my fear of a deadly virus is more pronounced, thus the reason to get inoculated. More than 1 million people in the United States have died from this virus. That’s not a statistic I want to join.

I’m sure people can come up with plenty of good reasons not to get boosted, though I’m guessing I probably wouldn’t agree with most. What still amazes me is people call the vaccines gene therapy. That is a lie; with this being a good story laying out the facts.

While I’m not a big fan of going to doctors, I have done a pretty good job with keeping up with vaccines and the big checkups—colonoscopy, mammograms, etc.

Yes, I know it’s still possible to get COVID even if one is vaccinated. But did you know no vaccine is 100% effective? Even so, I still believe in vaccines.

I’m increasing my odds of not getting this virus or any other disease from which I’m inoculated against. With COVID, I’m also reducing the likelihood I would need hospitalization or die if I were to contract the virus.

I’m super happy to know I am fully vaccinated against COVID-19. I just wish more people were.

Unable to meet the requirements for a Real ID at the DMV

Logic and government seldom go together. And when the agency is the DMV, well, things always seem to go haywire.

My driver’s license expired on my birthday this fall so I thought now would be a good time to get a Real ID. I tried and I failed.

I still have a regular license.

The Real ID is something the federal government is mandating everyone (not just Californians) have as of May 3, 2023, in order to fly domestically or enter certain federal buildings, like a courthouse. A passport will suffice at all locations if one does not have a Real ID.

Chico DMV has friendly workers, with clients patiently waiting. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

“Passed by Congress in 2005, the Real ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government ‘set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.’ The act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits certain federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards,” says the Department of Homeland security on its website.

In other words, it’s another layer of government from an agency that has only existed since November 2002. DHS came into being after the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh. The agency is supposed to guard us against terrorism. Considering we seem to have more domestic terrorists than international ones, I question the purpose of this bureaucracy which this fiscal year has a budget of nearly $186 billion.

But I digress.

One more thing, first. The DHS answers a series of questions on its site. One is: Is DHS trying to build a national database with all of our information. The answer: “No. Real ID is a national set of standards, not a national identification card. Real ID does not create a federal database of driver license information. Each jurisdiction continues to issue its own unique license, maintains its own records, and controls who gets access to those records and under what circumstances. The purpose of Real ID is to make our identity documents more consistent and secure.”

Interesting wording on the question—is it trying to build a national database. It may not be trying to, but we know it is building a database.

I don’t really care because I don’t have much to hide—today. But little good comes from the government collecting more data on every single person.

OK, done with that digression.

So, back to why I don’t have a Real ID. I wanted to put my post office box on my license and not my street address. To get a Real ID you have to have a variety of paperwork to prove you are you and your address is your address. I didn’t have a document that had my street address and post office box, so I couldn’t get my post office on the Real ID. And I was one document shy of being able to get the Real ID with my street address because I thought I had what I needed for the PO box.

I was told the PG&E bill should have both addresses. I explained the primary person on that bill is my housemate, aka my mom, and she doesn’t use my post office box. The woman said I could come in with that utility bill, my mom, and my birth certificate—and all of my other documentation. I said I would fly with my passport and skip the Real ID hoopla.

(An aside, the Chico DMV is great—clean, nice and friendly workers.)

The odd part about all of this is that in renewing my license I needed to change my address from Tahoe to Chico. I was able to get a regular license with my post office box on it no questions asked.

So, why can’t my license and passport be enough to get a Real ID? Ask the government, they make the rules.

Thanksgiving a time to be grateful

I’ve never made a turkey. This could matter only because mom and I are hosting Thanksgiving.

Even a day later I’ll still be able to say I have never made a turkey.

Nothing is written in stone that Thanksgiving dinner must include a dead bird. OK, that was a little dramatic, but I am a vegetarian after all. And the last time I remember hosting Thanksgiving was years ago in Tahoe. I’m pretty sure mom made the turkey that year. It certainly wasn’t me.

There will be meat served this year, just not turkey. After all, everyone else who will be at the table is of the meat-eating persuasion, including the other hostess. She’ll be taking care of that part of the meal.

Others in the family are contributing in different ways. In other words, it’s a communal meal of sorts with mom and I the conductors.

Shared experiences (ideally good ones) are the foundation of memories. Building memories is in large part what life is about. Even the not so great memories are pieces that enhance the larger picture. In fact, sometimes it is the dark moments of life that can make the good ones seem even better.

Enjoy this Thanksgiving.

As Willie Nelson said, “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

‘Guilty Christmas’–A Comical Play About S. Lake Tahoe

The cast of “Guilty Christmas” entertains at the Valhalla Boathouse Theater through Nov. 20. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Be ready to laugh, shake your head and have an evening of fun at “Guilty Pleasures,” the self-deprecating musical comedy about most things Tahoe related.

If this play sounds familiar, then you probably saw the original “Guilty Pleasures” when it first came to the stage at the Boathouse Theater at Valhalla in 2002. That play had multiple iterations through the years.

Then director Dave Hamilton and music director Mark Williams got the idea for a Christmas version of this irreverent show. Covid and snowstorms prevented it from being staged the last two years.

It opened Nov. 15 to a nearly sold-out audience. Get your tickets now as the show runs through Nov. 20.

One of my favorite scenes in the two-act play was “The 12 Days of Quarantine” that was sung to “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” It would be hard to find someone who could not relate to most of the lyrics. This definitely received the loudest applause.

While that was one of the numbers that was not Tahoe specific, most were.

All those bearded beanie wearing guys of a certain age have been immortalized in “The Guy from South Lake Tahoe”—a parody about what it’s like for a single woman looking for a man in Tahoe.

While the original “Guilty Pleasures” had a driving scene about driving 50 on 50 (as in Highway 50), the holiday show starts off with “Winter Driving” and the hazards of being on the road with tourists.

Another memorable segment was “I Have Seen the Light” which saw Scrooge, who is a greedy developer, reliving Tahoe past to see what he created that is now Tahoe present and what Tahoe future might be.

Vacation rentals were not spared, nor was the South Lake Tahoe City Council or TRPA.

One would not have to be a local (or former local as the case may be) to understand all the references, but it sure helps. An out-of-towner isn’t going to appreciate the reference to the Jamie Orr-ification of South Lake Tahoe.

If you want a night of frivolity that will have you laughing, applauding and making you appreciate South Lake Tahoe despite all of its imperfections, then go see “Guilty Christmas.”

Get rid of polling, focus on issues and educate yourself

The media’s fixation with polls needs to end.

I understand a candidate taking a poll or having focus groups to gauge what people are thinking. That will help them to solidify their platform and message. This would be akin to companies doing market research.

The polls that bother me are the ones asking people who they are going to vote for, what you think of a candidate, potential candidate, or current elected. Who do these polls help? What is the purpose? Why should an individual care?


I don’t care that more than 60 percent of those polled (that doesn’t mean more than 60 percent of the population) give a thumbs down to President Biden. He’s certainly not my favorite president. Depending on how the polling question were phrased I would be part of that 60 percent.

However, that does not mean I would rather have his 2020 opponent in the White House. Never would that be the case.

Plus, polls are only as good as the answers received. In other words, were the respondents being truthful? With the outcome of the recent election, one might surmise the pollsters were lied to.

Let’s get rid of polls and talk issues. Let’s talk solutions. That’s what matters.

One of the problems is we have an ill-informed electorate that struggles to or is unable or unwilling to talk issues.

But dammit that’s not good enough. You can’t whine about gas prices, food prices and whatever else without knowing why prices are escalating and who can actually do something about it.

Have you looked at corporate profits? Do you know who wants corporations to pay their fair share of taxes and who has given them more tax breaks?

If people were asked what they thought about the Inflation Reduction Act that was signed into law this year, would they have an opinion? There is so much to this bill that it is understandable to be overwhelmed by it and not comprehend it.

According to the Senate, these are some of the things the Inflation Reduction Act will do:

  • Enacts historic deficit reduction to fight inflation.
  • Lowers energy costs, increases cleaner production, and reduces carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.
  • Allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices and caps out-of-pocket costs to $2,000.
  • Lowers ACA health care premiums for millions of Americans.
  • Make biggest corporations and ultra-wealthy pay their fair share.
  • There are no new taxes on families making $400,000 or less and no new taxes on small businesses. We are closing tax loopholes and enforcing the tax code.

The CHIPS and Science Act is another huge bill that passed Congress and was signed by the president this year. This will bring more jobs to the United States and will mean less dependency on China.

Also passed this year were the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act and the Emmett Till Antilynching Act. Biden also signed the Safer Communities Act. This is the first major piece of gun legislation to become law since 1994.

I mention all of these laws because I know most people know nothing about them.

People who are not in Biden’s party (I’m not in it either) have told me he isn’t doing anything. Look at the above legislation and other laws that he has signed. You may not like these laws, but you can’t legitimately say he is not doing anything. And, of course, he is not doing this alone. The House and Senate first had to approve them.

It’s time the media spend more time on issues and less time on polls. Then maybe we would have a better informed electorate. Of course this is assuming people actually want to become informed. After all, there is a lot of legitimate information out there if people were paying attention and cared.

Walking with the purpose of finding gratitude

More than 50 people on Nov. 5 participate in the inaugural Gratitude Walk in Chico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Every organized walk has a purpose beyond walking. It’s usually to raise money for some worthy cause. But when, if ever, have you walked with the purpose being gratitude?

Saturday was the first time for me. It’s not that I haven’t been grateful for being able to walk, to be with the people or dogs I was with—or even alone, or even in the environment I found myself in. What made this different is that it was called Gratitude Walk.

Chico resident Crystal Lively made the years’ long idea become a reality on Nov. 5. She told the Enterprise-Record, “The goal is to bring gratitude to the hearts and minds of each of us individually and together collectively.”

This city could use some healing, which in turn means everyone in it could use a dose of gratitude. I have never seen such vile political propaganda mailers. It was bad, really bad. This hateful crap involved local City Council and school board elections.

Besides this being election week, Nov. 8 marked the four-year anniversary of the Camp Fire which decimated the town of Paradise and in turn seems to have forever changed Chico with the migration of people and influx of problems the city wasn’t ready to handle.

Kae, Priscilla and Cleo at the “love” station along the walk.

So, it’s easy to see why someone would find it in their heart to want to focus on gratitude, if only for a morning.

The Chico Area Interfaith Council is one of the three financial beneficiaries of the event. A tag on bottles of water at the event said the following:

“The Interfaith Council Believes:

  • You do not have to be wrong for me to be right.
  • Our diversity makes us unique and beautiful.
  • To love God is good enough, and the path to that love should not cause disunity.
  • There can be unity in diversity.
  • Shine in your unique way and love all of humankind.”

While I’m not religious, it is hard not to agree with the sentiments being conveyed.

(Other groups receiving part of the proceeds include Friends of Bidwell Park and North Valley Community Foundation,)

Along the route in Lower Bidwell Park were different “stations” including: peace, joy, love, connection, harmony, compassion, community and grateful.

It was the “connection” stop that had us pause on a bridge crossing the creek. Facing one direction we were to open our arms and silently get rid of at least some of the negativity in our life. Walking to the other side we were again told to outstretch our arms and “embrace” the good we want to hold onto.

It’s amazing how I actually felt lighter as I consciously said to myself the negatives I wanted to let go of. I want to remember that feeling so I don’t let that negative aspect of my life consume such a large chunk of my consciousness, thus impacting my well (or not) well being.

Yes, I really do believe in positive affirmations.

I have a ton of gratitude for Priscilla and mom inviting me on this walk.

Gripping documentary about 1982 Alpine avalanche

Because people will never be able to control Mother Nature there will always be deadly avalanches.

One of the most memorable ones in California was on March 31, 1982, at Alpine Meadows ski resort. Seven people died that day when the snow came tumbling down the mountain. It could have been worse. The Tahoe area resort was closed because of potential danger so not many people were there.

The story of that fateful day, and the ensuing rescue and recovery are the subject of a movie that came out this fall. It opened in Bay Area theaters in September, but just this week became available on Amazon and Apple TV.

Buried: The 1982 Alpine Meadows Avalanche is a documentary worth watching even if you think you know all you want to know about that deadly day. This feels like such a complete, truthful telling of what happened 40 years ago.

Filmmakers Jared Drake and Steven Siig both live in Lake Tahoe. I’m sure this helped make the film so authentic.

Plus, Siig is personally familiar with avalanches because of living in the Alpine Meadows’ avalanche zone. This 2017 story by his wife, Melissa, relives one of their encounters.

The movie is as much about avalanches as it is the ski patrollers who were tasked with keeping the resort safe to ride. Interviews with several of the people who were there that day is what makes the film so intriguing.

While I knew the outcome, the movie kept my attention all 96 minutes of it.

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