Posts Tagged ‘Nala’

I got the flu shot, and now I’m feeling pretty sick. So, instead of the post I was planning…

Here is a cat in a bag:

Saber made a lot of effort to get into this bag.

Saber made a lot of effort to get into this bag.

And here is a little dog who loves to be petted:

Nala is particularly fond of belly scratches.

Nala is particularly fond of belly scratches.

I’m going to go do nice, wholesome things like sleep and eat soup now.

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Cute Dog!

Here, have some cuteness to brighten your day:

Nala is so fond of her fox, she's decided to incorporate it into her wardrobe. Photo by Yvette Ono.

Nala is so fond of her fox, she’s decided to incorporate it into her wardrobe. Photo by Yvette Ono.

Happy October!



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The headline sums it up nicely. I’ll be taking a break from the blog, social media, and email for the next few weeks. So do not fear when next Tuesday rolls around and there isn’t a new post; I’m doing fine, just taking some time off.

See you later in August!

I can't leave without a cute Nala photo. :)

I can’t leave without a cute Nala photo. 🙂

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For my American readers: Happy Fourth of July! For everyone else: Carry on!

How am I celebrating today? Well, I’m having some friends over to play a spirited indie RPG game called Spirit of the Century, in which I play an ace reporter/cat burglar (my character loves shiny things sooo much). Afterwards, we will grill some meats and non-meats on the barbecue, as is traditional. And we will try to comfort Nala if the fireworks get too loud.

If the fireworks get too loud, Nala will wear her Thundershirt.

If the fireworks get too loud, Nala will wear her Thundershirt.

Then on Friday, I’m off to Portland to attend the World Domination Summit, the brain child of blogger and travel hacker Chris Guillebeau. I am going to learn, be inspired, and meet people who are following their dreams. It should be quite a weekend.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

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Guess what time it is? Birthday week! I’ve been spending the past week celebrating, and there will even more celebrating through the weekend. (Battlestar Galactica the board game! Fancy tea! And also frozen yogurt!) And today is my actual birthday, so I am spending time doing fun things…and also revising. Because revising seems to be a never-ending process in my life at the moment.

For the last couple of years on the blog, I’ve made a birthday post listing five happy things. But today I’d like to take a moment to think about one BIG happy thing: gratitude.

The reason thinking about five happy things every day is supposed to increase general happiness is that it helps us cultivate a sense of gratitude. This year has been a tough one for me, and what I’ve learned is that in the face of adversity, feeling gratitude is even more important. It’s so easy to get caught up in a tidal wave of difficult emotions, but being aware of all the positive parts of life helps keep things in balance. And because of the contrast, the good and the sweet and the special feel even stronger and more important than they normally do.

So today on my birthday, I am feeling gratitude and appreciation. There are so many wonderful people in my life, many of whom will be reading these words today, and my life is so much richer because of you. Whether I am learning from you or having fascinating conversations with you, having super fun times with you or offering and receiving support, you make a difference in my life. I only wish I could see those of you who don’t live close to me more than I do.

Taken during birthday week! Nala is too excited to hold still and look at the camera.

Taken during birthday week, by Yvette Ono. Nala is too excited to hold still and look at the camera.

I have been lucky this past year in many ways. I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time doing creative work that is important to me: revising The Academy of Forgetting (and revising some more), starting on the Space Novel, thinking of future story ideas. I’ve gotten to spend time in Seattle and New York and Boston, Chicago and Toronto and Detroit. I’ve reconnected with some people who matter to me, met some new people who have been fantastic, and deepened my existing friendships. I’ve been on the receiving end of a whole lot of generosity.

I live somewhere I feel comfortable and safe. My knees have been cooperating, and my allergies have improved. My friend Ferrett survived his triple bypass. I learned a lot about myself, and I’m on the path to creating the life I want. I have a little dog who brightens every single one of my days.

So here’s to another year! I know there will be challenges, but there will also be so much joy and gratitude that I get to be here experiencing life in all its glory.

What do you feel grateful for today? Let’s spread the happiness around.

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As I write this, Nala is sitting right next to me keeping me company, as she usually does while I write blog posts on my laptop. Actually, in this case, she is sprawled upside down, limbs akimbo, the top of her head smushed up into the side of her bed so I can’t see her eyes, only her white ear and lots of paw.

Sleepy dog.

Sometimes, she curls up in a little ball instead.

Four years ago this month, I saw a photo of Nala on the Silicon Valley Humane Society’s website. She looked scruffy and scrawny, and I fell instantly in love.

When I met her, she wasn’t interested in me. She didn’t want to snuggle, and she seemed nervous around people. She was much more interested in exploring the shades covering the window. I put her on a 24-hour hold so I could sleep on such a major decision. But I went directly from the shelter to the pet store to get everything a little one-and-a-half-year dog could need.

Nala loves to howl when she gets excited.

Nala loves to howl when she gets excited.

When I first got her, I was really excited every time I was on my way home because I knew I’d be seeing her soon. I figured that eventually this feeling would fade. But four years later, it hasn’t changed a bit. Whether I’m coming home from an errand or a long trip, I always look forward to seeing her.

Nala, Wisdom Dog

Things aren’t always easy. Nala has been suffering from increased separation anxiety the last few months, and I worry about her even while I’m trying to help her adjust. And Nala worries about me too sometimes, even while she’s licking my hands and staying close, doing her best to cheer me up. But we get through the hard times together.

She's also a great listener.

She’s also a great listener. (Photo by Yvette Ono)

Adopting Nala has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. She is my constant companion and my best doggie friend. The flow of unconditional love between us is one of the most beautiful parts of my life. She makes every day better with her presence.

I love my little dog.

Best friends!

Best friends! (Photo by Yvette Ono)

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I am especially busy this week, I’m afraid, so you only get a short post from me today.

Speaking of busy, Cal Newport says in order to be remarkable, you should try not to be busy. Apparently the work flow of many high achieving individuals is best organized if there is flexibility to allow for times of deep thought/work/flow. Inevitably this means that when such deep work isn’t happening, down time will result. I’m thrilled with this theory, of course, as it justifies some of the work-life balance principles I’ve embraced for years now.

And apparently I haven’t been too busy to have a bit of fun.This first photo shows me giving my first lecture on social media strategy for writers. I gave it at the Rainforest Writers Retreat early in March, and I had a great time and received many interesting questions.

Photo by Patrick Swenson

This next photo shows me up onstage during my first magic show. Unfortunately, the show featured some sexist jokes and banter…but was otherwise entertaining. When I went up onstage, though, I did feel beholden to say that I felt all people had intuition, not just women. No need to either belittle intuition or make it into something it’s not. My friend and I also inadvertently messed up the magician’s trick a little bit, but it all worked out, so all’s well that ends well, right?



And this photo is from my recent visit to Valve up in Seattle, where my friend was kind enough to give me a tour.

It's adorable!

It’s adorable!

And finally, Nala looks skeptical.

Nala the Hound looking skeptical

Enjoy the rest of your week!

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My Christmas Friends

I’d like to introduce you all to my new friend Chewie.

Chewbacca helps in kitchen

Today he was helping me in the kitchen. After Thanksgiving’s success, I made more cranberry sauce…

Chewbacca and cinnamon rolls

And he ate several of my cinnamon rolls. Luckily the pumpkin pie is still safe in the oven, baking.

Meanwhile, Nala was her normal clever self and stole her stocking from where it hung above the fireplace.


I was able to distract her with Chewie and get the stocking back. She’s finding his name misleading, because she thinks it means he’s another one of her chewtoys.

Nala meets Chewbacca

Chewie also makes strange Wookie noises that encourage Nala to bark. In a friendly way, of course.

We’re ready to celebrate Christmas. For all of you who are celebrating today, Merry Christmas! And for those of you who aren’t, I hope you’re having a fabulous day.


The days are growing longer once more, and today is a time I’m reminded of the human spirit. Each of us has so much potential and so much to offer the world. Here’s to another year of living large!

Nala says Merry Christmas

I’ll see you on Thursday!

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Homes of the Heart

I drove down to Santa Cruz with my dog this weekend. I’m not sure when I had been there last, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was for my birthday last year, which would mean a whopping fifteen months between visits. I felt lighter the minute my car was in the midst of the pine trees that line Highway 17, and by the time I’d reached my favorite view of the ocean, the entire world felt like a better place.

The egregious cute dog picture here.

This got me thinking about the homes of my heart. I have two places I’ve lived in the past that have the same effect on me. I feel happier thinking about them, and when I am actually physically present within them, I feel this strong sense of homecoming. Of rightness. One of them is Santa Cruz, and the other one is London.

That’s not to say that Silicon Valley, where I live now, isn’t my home. I know a lot of people here and have some fabulous friends close enough to see often. I really like the park near my house. I know my way around. I know where to obtain goods and services. I have spent several years of my life here. But it isn’t my heart’s home. I don’t feel joy from simply living here. I feel grateful for the mild weather, but that’s not really the same thing as joy.

Now Santa Cruz, I can tell you what makes it special (even though I do not go down there anywhere near often enough). London, I can talk on and on about why I love it. I wish more people would do that, actually: give me the opportunity for a long London monologue. If we are together and you want to make me happy, bring up London, be ready to listen patiently, and we’ll be all set. But Silicon Valley, well. If you want to be involved with a tech start-up, this is the place to be.

However, I am NOT involved in a tech start-up. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it would be fascinating. But it’s not what I’m doing right now.)

What effect does it have, I’ve been wondering, when you spend so many years not living in one of your heart’s homes? I’ve been here for eleven years this winter, and even the first year, when I lived in San Francisco proper, was not what I’d call an unqualified success (although that might be related to the neighborhood I chose to live in). It must happen to a lot of people, living in a place because of work or family or finances or because that’s just how it worked out, even though it doesn’t resonate with them. Maybe it doesn’t really matter. Your friends and communities are probably more important in the grand scheme of things than your geographical location.

And yet, here in Santa Cruz, I look so much like ME.

But I miss looking out my bedroom window at redwood trees. I miss walking by the ocean. I miss London’s parks and the indifferent sandwiches I’d eat on the omnipresent benches, and I miss taking the Tube down to the Tate Modern on a Sunday afternoon. I miss rambling on the Heath and getting lost beforehand and afterwards, and I miss carrying my A to Zed everywhere I went (although now, I suppose, cell phones have replaced A to Zeds). I miss the late night excursions to the physics building’s merry-go-round and the cheap music concerts and the two pound coins and the inevitable pub and the scarf shops.

I could go back, I suppose, but I think there’s an element to heart’s homes that is related to time and context. I don’t think we can simply return to living in our heart’s homes whenever we feel like it. They might no longer fit exactly right. Sometimes we may be lucky and another right time to live there may come along. Other times we have to discover new ones instead.

Where are your heart’s homes?


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Sometimes my world feels very small.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my house for the last three months, waiting for my foot to heal. The truth is, I usually spend a lot of time in my house, but there’s a difference between doing it by choice and doing it by necessity. When staying in by necessity, the entire structure seems to shrink and squeeze, and free time that would normally seem pleasant and relaxing slows down into something resembling tedium.

And then there’s the physical energy that has no real outlet, leaving my mind restless. I’m ready for action that my body cannot perform.

The most critical part of this kind of long-term healing isn’t the regularity of icing, or elevating, or taking Ibuprofen. It’s mood management. It’s keeping the spirits up so I don’t fall into a funk or give up in despair or become deeply depressed. It’s focusing on what I can do instead of what I can’t do. It’s dealing with the stress of constantly having to ask for help, and then doing without the help I can’t bring myself to ask for. And it’s letting go of the times when I make my physical limitations known and people ignore them and I wonder how many more days of healing this has added to the final recovery.

It’s also cherishing the moments when people help me take care of myself. When people sit down to talk to me instead of making snide comments about how sitting is bad for your health. When people give up a chair for me. When they go out of their way to drop me off right in front of our destination so I don’t have to walk as far. When they slow down their pace to match mine. When they think of an activity I can do to alleviate the sameness of my days.

We don’t talk much about what it’s like to have a slow-healing or chronic injury, do we? After all, I don’t want to be defined by my limitations. Even as I type this, I’m thinking about how there’s going to be somebody out there who thinks I’m whining or how so many other people are worse off (problem comparing for the win!) or who just isn’t going to get it. Because somehow whining has become equivalent to talking about things that are hard. So then we just don’t talk about it; it’s easier to be silent.

But this is my reality. And it feels a little strange not to talk about it.

What really helps with mood management is reminding myself that, however small my world might feel right now, it is actually big and rich and varied and dynamic. Sometimes I do this by imagining what I’d like to do in the future: travel to China, go to the Walt Disney Museum and the Academy of Sciences, go walk by the ocean, travel to London, travel to Morocco, travel travel travel. Make it to the park with my dog, even though it is a very, very long block away.

Little dogs are also very helpful for mood management. 🙂

Sometimes, though, thinking about the future doesn’t help because it feels like I’m never going to get there. So then I think about how I can enrich my life right now. I romanticize the idea of living a life of the mind. I take adventures and learn what it’s like to be other people through fiction: books, movies, TV shows. I write. I read about economics or neuroscience or Mars or feminism. I sing. I learn how to play new games. I enter into interesting conversations. I feel grateful for all the interesting people in the world who help to keep me entertained and engaged.

What about you? What do you do to manage your mood when times are tough? Have you ever experienced an illness or injury that you had to overcome? I’d love to hear your stories.

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