I was in Ukiah yesterday getting a recurring spot of cancer removed from my face, along with seemingly dozens of other patients that were cycling through the doctor’s office like widgets on a conveyor belt. We were all getting a procedure called Moh’s surgery, in which the doc removes skin at the site, sends the sample to a nearby lab for analysis and cuts out more skin until no more cancer cells show up at the edges of the sample.

So there were lots of bored people sitting in the waiting room with big pressure bandages on the incision site, thumbing through outdated People magazines, waiting for a cancer-free sample that would allow them to get stitched back up and go home. As usual, I had some Happiness Cards with me, so I approached each patient with a handful of fanned out cards and suggested he/she take one, read the quotation on the back and keep it if it “spoke” to them or select another if it didn’t.

The first woman drew the card with the photo below, and on the back was a quote by the author, Anais Nin: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” She told me her daughter brought her to the appointment. Although perfectly capable of driving herself, recently she became afraid to do so, even short distances in town. Now she thought she’d do the driving on her way back home. With her daughter in the car they’d both see if she was safe behind the wheel. She thanked me profusely for helping her see how she’d been limiting her independence and her life.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. Anais Nin
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
Anais Nin

All of us in the waiting room were seniors, a group that responds well to my cards, I’d thought they probably wouldn’t appeal so much to young people. But many of the staff, who appeared to be in their 30’s, looked as if they could use a brief diversion so I passed around Happiness Cards to them as well. I received big smiles and thank-you’s and more thanks as I left to return home.

I am naturally a rather shy person and approaching strangers wasn’t easy to do at first. But seeing how people respond to my cards has embolden me, and I look forward to every opportunity to spread a little happiness and sometimes an “Aha” that changes a life.

See my cards at wwwhappinesscards.net


Despite my initial skepticism, fumbled beginnings and ongoing frustrations, I think I actually love Facebook. It’s taken me awhile to get the hang of it, and I often don’t know what I’m doing, but so far I haven’t made any embarrassing mistakes, that I know of.

I used to eat breakfast alone, but now I eat while catching up with what my family and friends have been up to since I checked the day before. Yes, I know, I’m doing more than one thing at a time, and interfering with mindfulness about the food I’m eating, but the pleasure I get from connecting with family members who are hundreds of miles away is worth it. I’ll be mindful later.

Inevitably I find some post that makes me laugh out loud (what better way to begin the day?), and if I take the time to look at a video or two, I’m in for more fun. It’s not just the funny stuff I like, either. I love being steered to an interesting TED talk, an inspiring quotation or article, a beautiful photograph or whatever my friends share.

Recent research tells us that senior citizens are the biggest group of new users on social media. As a senior myself I can completely understand that. I often run into younger people who seem surprised that I am on Facebook and have a website: www.happinesscards.net. I designed and put it together when I was 83. Take a look.