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Laguna Beach

Dennis’ Tidbits


May 12, 2020

Hail, no! It won’t happen here.

Dennis 5Here on Sunday evening there’s some healthy wave energy from the Southern Hemisphere hitting our beaches. It’s been building all day with some overhead sets at Brooks Street and a solid 4-6 ft at Lower Trestles, coming in at an ideal direction. We’ve been getting some pretty decent pulses from the South Pacific so far this spring, which is making up for a dismal winter. Let’s hope we stay on a roll here.

Well, we’re locked into the May Gray syndrome, but at least our lives aren’t ruined in the matter of a few seconds by an EF-4 tornado or hail that does five billion dollars of damage during this supercell thunderstorm season. May Gray and June Gloom don’t seem so bad at all, as it’s a walk in the park compared to a lot of places in our country.

Occasionally, we have a hailstorm here in Laguna, but it’s usually pea to occasional marble-size, with no damage to speak of. Hail is always associated with thunderstorms falling out of a cumulonimbus cloud. Updrafts out here don’t amount to much, traveling no more than 30 mph at the most, plus the tops of these thunder makers extend no more than around 25,000 feet above the earth. But east of the Rockies it’s a different story altogether. Just yesterday in parts of eastern Texas there were reports of baseball-size hail riding updrafts of 85 mph. 

Hail is born when a raindrop that is getting ready to fall to earth suddenly gets caught up in an updraft, which proceeds to drive that raindrop high into the cloud where temps are well below freezing, thus forming a little ice ball. It may then begin its journey back to earth unless it becomes the property of that updraft, which if strong enough will repeat the procedure. 

This cycle will continue if the updraft is strong enough and can happen many times. Finally, when the surrounding air can no longer support the weight of this stone, that hailstone will finally succumb to the earth’s gravity and fall to the ground. 

Here’s the rundown: if the updraft is around 25-30 mph, hail size will be roughly pea to marble-size. If the updraft is 35-40 mph, you get quarter to half dollar-size hailstones. 45-50 mph updrafts will produce ping pong ball-sized hail. Golf ball-size stones are the product of 60 mph updrafts. 70-80 mph updrafts produce stones the size of tennis balls. Baseball-size comes from 85-95 mph updrafts. 

When updrafts reach 100-110 mph, we’re talking softballs. Grapefruit-size comes from updrafts up to 120 mph. The largest hailstone ever recorded was eight inches in diameter, roughly the size of a volleyball and weighing over two pounds! The updraft in this monster supercell was estimated to be 150-160 mph and the cloud top extended all the way to 60,000 feet. 

This freak of a hailstone hit the ground on a farm in western Nebraska and dug a two-foot-wide, six-inch-deep crater. Thankfully there was no damage as the monster landed in an open field far from any structures or people! Personally, the biggest hail I’ve ever witnessed was baseball-size in Amarillo, Texas Air Force Base on April 1, 1967.

Imagine thousands of baseballs falling from above at 100 mph, the speed of the highest velocity fastballs by a Major League pitcher! Scary stuff.

See y’all on Friday, ALOHA!

Local girl turns TikTok into personal phenomenon with over 254,000 followers 


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Even to the older generation who may not understand its appeal, it’s no secret that TikTok has become an international phenomenon. Tagged as the defining feature of the decade, it’s been described as “a quirky hybrid of Snapchat, the defunct video app Vine, and the TV segment ‘Carpool Karaoke’ – TikTok is a refreshing outlier in the social media universe.” No surprise. Its bite-size (15-60 seconds) content seems a perfect fit for the lightning speed culture of today’s young people. 

However, Laguna Beach resident Emily Roach, who will be a senior in the fall, has gone a step further and turned it into her own personal phenomenon and vehicle for expression – and others feel the same way. Since August of 2019, she has acquired an incredible number of worldwide followers – 254.4K – although Emily says most of them are in the U.S. The 300 videos she’s posted to @stupid.ratgirl have chalked up 7.8 million likes.

Local girl closeup

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Emily Roach is known as @stupid.ratgirl on TikTok

TikTok is a Chinese-made app that was known as until ByteDance, the Chinese internet conglomerate, acquired the company in 2017 and merged it with a video app it owned. It has a simple premise – users create short videos set to music, often lip-syncing along, dancing, or acting out short skits. The app contains templates and visual effects to spice up the videos. There is also a live-streaming feature that allows users to send virtual “gifts” to their favorite creators, which can be bought with real money. The rest works like any other social app – followers, hashtags, likes, and comments.

Granted @stupid.ratgirl is a catchy and unforgettable name. Emily meant it to be only temporary, but then she really took off and everyone knew her by that name, so she stuck with it. 

For Emily, TikTok has become a place where she can be herself and express her many talents. She posts two to four videos per day, and the content is just what pops in her head at the time. It could be about bird care, commentary on life, her perspective on things, making music, make-up tutorials, or anything else that may happen to come to her.

Priscilla, Emily’s mother, says, “I think she feels safe enough to be who she really is on TikTok and loves those who love her for who she is, which is not necessarily how people in real life would react.”

Local girl climbing

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Emily found a vehicle for personal expression

It appears that Emily found a refuge in TikTok.

As a matter of course, for those with Tourette Syndrome, the world isn’t always a safe and non-judgmental place. As it happens, Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month runs from May 15 – June 15, an effort that serves to raise understanding and acceptance for TS and Tic Disorder. Tourette Syndrome starts in childhood and involves uncontrollable repetitive movements or unwanted sounds (tics), such as repeatedly blinking the eyes, shrugging shoulders, or blurting out offensive words.

To raise awareness, each day for the past week, Emily has been posting facts about Tourette’s such as the types of tics, etc.

But Tourette’s is not what defines Emily.

Priscilla says, “Most of her posts are well-loved because she is real. She’s discarded all the ‘BS’ of trying to fit into a mold and conform and she expresses a real vulnerability. That is what makes her an appealing, universal voice. She is relatable. She makes commentary and observations on what she sees around her especially on things she finds absurd.” 

A prolific artist, Emily does everything from singing/songwriting and playing guitar to sculptures, jewelry making, paintings, and drawings. 

“She is driven and industrious and constantly ‘making,’” says Priscilla. “She had some of her original songs recorded a couple of years ago when she was just 14, and they are available on SoundCloud under the name of Kizzerain. They are moody and lyric-driven and not at all what you would imagine coming from a young teen. ‘Black Ink’ was written when she was 11.”

Local girl flowers

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Emily with Fletcher

It’s not unexpected that Emily’s favorite school subjects are Art and Music. 

Priscilla says, “She has always been musically inclined and has picked up playing instruments easily and is mostly self-taught. She has musicality coming down to her from both her mother’s and father’s sides of the family. At a very young age, adults were astounded by the depth she felt the music she wrote and performed.”

Emily also has other songs on SoundCloud including “Limousine” and “Lady Killer.” Take the time to listen to them. You’ll be impressed.

Diverse and timely, her video topics include: bird care, snail care, recipes and cooking, make-up and hair coloring, mental health, and anything else that may interest her in the moment. She has done a few product plugs and has reaped the benefits of that too.

Back in February, Emily created a video from a gathering of fans at Irvine Spectrum. She asked everyone to dress up in “Scene Look” which is similar to Avril Lavigne in the 90s. Another of her favorites (and mine) tells about what it was like when she was five and her mom tried to get her to wear socks. For some reason, her kooky video of snails having high tea – complete with a tiny tea set and snails comfortably situated in chairs – seems perfectly plausible and reminded me of a scene from the Mad Hatter’s table in Alice in Wonderland. Another favorite video of mine is about the breeds of dogs she likes and dislikes.

Local girl talking

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Emily the bird whisperer 

Evident in many of her posts is that Emily loves birds. Currently, she has four and has had birds as pets since she was six years old. Fletcher is a Mitred Conure. She also has a cobalt Lineolated Parakeet named Boba (after Boba Me Baby), a clear-winged Parakeet named Peony, and Blue Bell, a blue English Budgie. 

Emily was first attracted to birds when her older sister got a Parrotlet. “I love their intelligence, how silly, funny, pretty, and emotionally connected they are. They are hard to care for – when it is done properly – and there is a lot to know about them. They are not ‘starter pets’ as people often mistake them for.”

For the last three years, she’s been going down to Main Beach to remove strings that have become tangled around the pigeons’ feet. (There is a video of this on TikTok, too.)

It breaks my heart to see their toes become deformed and necrotic,” says Emily. “They can easily lose a whole foot. Keep an eye out for Smokey, a white pigeon covered in grey splotches, who stands out from the rest.”

Another of her videos “What’s in the Bird Bowl” shows what Fletcher eats in a day – which is pretty amazing, what bird gets an edible flower in his breakfast bowl? – and then Emily challenges three other viewers to post what they feed their birds in a day.

According to, TikTok has 500 million active monthly users. The average user spends 52 minutes per day on TikTok. Ninety percent of users access TikTok at least once a day, and the 50 most popular users on TikTok have almost 500 million followers. 

Hands down, TikTok is one of the most popular social platforms, particularly among Gen Z. But if you’re not a member of that particular population and haven’t yet downloaded TikTok, be sure to do it right away and watch Emily, whose followers have probably increased since I last checked – which was yesterday. 

There’s no doubt you will be enchanted by this talented and extraordinary young lady. It’s impossible not to be.

Seniors are grateful for Sally’s Fund services during stay-at-home time

The mission of Sally’s Fund is to make it possible for the senior citizens of Laguna Beach to continue to live independently by providing transportation and other essential services, thereby increasing the quality and dignity of lives. 

The COVID-19 virus and living in isolation have created fear, concern, and anxiety for many seniors who live alone, have no family, and who no longer drive.

On March 17, 2020, as medical offices and businesses began shutting down, Sally’s Fund senior transportation organization quickly shifted gears to ensure seniors in our community had access to food and proper nutrition. Sally’s Fund has partnered with the Laguna Food Pantry and is continuing to deliver groceries to approximately 140 seniors in need, each week. When seniors needed toilet paper, because none could be found in stores, Sally’s Fund went to the City of Laguna Beach who provided rolls for Sally’s Fund to distribute. When it became mandatory for masks to be worn in public, the Fire Department provided masks for Sally’s Fund to deliver.

Seniors are lady

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Sally’s Fund shopping 

Rachael Berger, Sally’s Fund executive director, said, “We saw the imminent need to deliver food and other items of necessity to seniors, and we acted quickly to alleviate anxiety, hunger, and confusion for the seniors in Laguna Beach.” 

Sally’s Fund is also making wellness calls every day and transporting seniors to medical appointments, grocery shopping, and running necessary errands. The organization’s utmost priority is the safety of the seniors it transports and for the drivers. Vehicles are wiped down with disinfectant after each ride, and masks are required for both driver and passengers.

With the closure of the Susi Q through the end of summer, Sally’s Fund is committed to continuing services to those most vulnerable in our community. 

Seniors are man

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Gathering items to deliver 

Many seniors have expressed their appreciation with kind notes and letters expressing appreciation. Sometimes Sally’s Fund drivers are the only face-to-face social contact for seniors sheltering in place, and they are always so happy and appreciative to see Sally’s Fund outside their door.

Click here to view some of the heartfelt letters received from seniors in the community letting Sally’s Fund know the positive impact it is making on their lives.

Please call Sally’s Fund at (949) 499-4100 if you need assistance or if you know someone who would benefit from our service.

For more information about Sally’s Fund, go to

(Link “here” through to attached PDF on separate/unique page)

Two local businessmen create online hub for Laguna Beach business owners and managers

Laguna Beach Business Club members Dave Csira – president of the LB Business Club – and Warren Ellison started a new Facebook group to assist local businesses. This group is an online hub for Laguna Beach business owners and managers. 

Csira says, “The idea came from Zoom conversations of the Laguna Beach Business Club.” 

“It exists so that we can help and support one another in any way that we can,” say Csira and Ellison. “This group is for you if you…” 

--Own or manage a business in Laguna Beach – virtual or brick and mortar 

--Are looking for any kind of help or support 

--Want to connect with other local business owners 

--Run your business with positivity and integrity

Two local Forest

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Facebook group will assist local businesses

Ellison and Csira and others from the Laguna Beach Business Club decided to create this group because, in times like these, they felt that the community as a whole needed a place to congregate.

Ellison says, “The world is shifting beneath our feet, and as a result, we are all facing unique challenges. Having others to interact with, bounce ideas off of, and share insights with felt like something that was needed.

“The purpose of this group is the sharing of knowledge, resources, and ideas that can help one another make positive strides in our local businesses.”

To access the Facebook group, click here.

Laguna Beach Books to host virtual event with Louise Erdrich on Friday

On Friday, May 15 at 5 p.m., Laguna Beach Books is pleased to present the latest virtual event in their new Signature Event Series. Enjoy a literary evening with award-winning author Louise Erdrich as she speaks about her new book The Night Watchman and answers your questions. 

Erdich will be in conversation with Laguna Beach writer Marrie Stone, and will be welcoming questions from attendees.

Laguna Beach Erdrich

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Author Louise Erdrich will join LB Books on Friday for a virtual event 

Louise Erdrich is the author of fifteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Award for Fiction. The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her debut novel, Love Medicine, was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Erdrich has received the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the prestigious PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.

Marrie Stone co-hosts “Writers on Writing,” a weekly radio show that broadcasts from UC Irvine. The program is dedicated to the craft and business of writing, and features interviews with authors, poets, agents, and publishers. Marrie’s own fiction and essays have appeared in Reed Magazine, Orange Coast Magazine, Stu News Laguna, and various other publications. A former corporate attorney, Marrie lives in Laguna Beach with her husband and daughter.

The events are free of charge to attend, and books are available to order from Laguna Beach Books’ website. Attendees can register by clicking on the link below, and they will be sent a link to the event. Books are also available for purchase. 

The Night Watchman is based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich’s grandfather, who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C. This powerful novel explores themes of love and death with lightness and gravity and unfolds with the elegant prose, sly humor, and depth of feeling of a master craftsman.

For more information and to register, visit

The William, Jeff and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation donates $50K to Laguna Food Pantry

The William, Jeff and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation, the charity founded by retired financial asset manager Bill Gross and his son and daughter, has donated a $50,000 emergency grant to the Laguna Food Pantry. 

The donation will assist the organization in its efforts to provide food to the dramatic surge in the number of South Orange County’s newly unemployed, food-insecure seniors, low-income families with children, disabled and sheltering veterans, and homeless men and women seeking help during this extraordinarily difficult time.

“Jeff, Jennifer and I greatly appreciate the work being done by the Laguna Food Pantry and its volunteers to bring nutritious food to our community during this crisis,” said Bill Gross, the co-founder of the Newport Beach-based PIMCO asset management firm and a longtime resident of Orange County. “Anne Belyea and her team deserve to be recognized for their tireless commitment to serving those in need.”

The William Bill

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Bill Gross of the William, Jeff and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation 

Anne Belyea, Executive Director of the Laguna Food Pantry, said: “Everyone at Laguna Food Pantry greatly appreciates the ongoing generous support received from the William, Jeff and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation. Thanks to the Gross Family Foundation and other donors, we can continue working to feed our neighbors-in-need in South Orange County.”

According to the Laguna Food Pantry, the Gross Family Foundation’s grant of $50,000 provides for:

--Groceries to 3,500 people and their 14,000 family members;

--PPE for Pantry volunteers and staff (masks, gloves, cleaning supplies);

--The ability to purchase protein (eggs, meat, peanut butter, beans, etc.) and fresh vegetables to augment fluctuating food bank staples and grocery store- rescued items;

--Trucking costs to pick up unique opportunities of donated or low-cost bulk food;

--Support for the new program of pre-packed fresh, nutritious groceries for delivery to seniors and veterans;

--Additional equipment and supplies to meet increased demand and accommodate outside distribution (an outdoor cold storage system for perishables, additional racks, carts, dollies, pop-up tents and tarps, grocery totes and cardboard boxes);

--One or two new refrigerators to hold the increased amount of perishables to meet the shopper volume;

--A new, three hours per day, five days a week, $12 per hour employee to handle the traffic flow during pick-up. (The employee is a previously unemployed, newly housed local man.)

William volunteers

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Food Pantry volunteers (L-R) Cecile Scott, Rebecca Washington-Lindsay, and Nancy Oughton

The population served by the Pantry was already struggling to provide food for themselves and their families. Since the outbreak, these food and financially insecure shoppers have lost their jobs and only source of income. 

The choice between paying rent and buying healthy food has become more desperate. With schools closed, more families need assistance to feed their children. 

In April, the Laguna Food Pantry served an all-time high of 472 first-time shoppers, a dramatic increase of new people needing food since the start of the pandemic.

The Gross Family Foundation’s donation to the Laguna Food Pantry continues a longstanding commitment to provide financial resources to organizations that provide a direct benefit to the communities in which they serve. 

The William, Jeff and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation and its predecessor have donated more than $60 million to nonprofit organizations since 2017, including $1.5 million in March to organizations providing relief from the effects of COVID-19 and its impact on Southern California communities. 

Prior to this latest donation, the Gross Family Foundation provided assistance to Miku, the industry’s leading contact-free baby monitor, in an accelerated program to equip hospitals nationwide with its real-time respiration monitoring system.

More information about the Gross Family Foundation can be found at

3,380 reported cases of COVID-19 in OC to date, 40 reported cases in Laguna Beach to date

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, May 9, reflect that there have been 3,380 reported cases of COVID-19 in Orange County to date, including 146 new cases reported today. Laguna Beach has a cumulative case count of 40 cases to date.

Laguna Beach has the second highest per capita rate in OC at 1.712 cases per thousand residents. Los Alamitos, with a population of 11,721 and 40 reported cases to date, has the highest per capita rate in OC, 3.413 cases per thousand residents.

Newport Beach has had 122 reported cases to date, a net increase of 17 cases today. Irvine has had 142 reported cases to date. Dana Point has had 22 reported cases to date.

Anaheim has had 504 reported cases to date, a net increase of 32 cases today. Santa Ana has had 499 reported cases to date, a net increase of 43 cases today.

The County reports 261 cases to date in its “Other” category, which includes the aggregate case count of the unincorporated areas of the county that have less than five cases, plus cases incarcerated in Orange County jails.

Sadly, the County reports 74 deaths due to COVID-19, including three deaths reported today. 218 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 87 are currently in ICU.

The County Public Health lab and reporting commercial labs have tested 48,714 people as of today, with a 6.9 percent positive rate.

The County is not releasing data on the number of individuals who have tested negative following a positive test at this time.

For more information, visit

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of May 9;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily

3,240 reported cases of COVID-19 in OC to date, 40 reported cases in Laguna Beach to date

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, May 8, reflect that there have been 3,240 reported cases of COVID-19 in Orange County to date, including 153 new cases reported today. Laguna Beach has a cumulative case count of 40 cases to date.

Laguna Beach has the second highest per capita rate in OC at 1.712 cases per thousand residents. Los Alamitos, with a population of 11,721 and 37 reported cases to date, has the highest per capita rate in OC, 3.157 cases per thousand residents.

Newport Beach has had 105 reported cases to date. Irvine has had 140 reported cases to date. Dana Point has had 22 reported cases to date.

Anaheim has had 472 reported cases to date. Santa Ana has had 456 reported cases to date.

The County reports 253 cases to date in its “Other” category, which includes the aggregate case count of the unincorporated areas of the county that have less than five cases, plus cases incarcerated in Orange County jails.

Sadly, the County reports 71 deaths due to COVID-19, including five deaths reported today. 188 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 74 are currently in ICU.

The County Public Health lab and reporting commercial labs have tested 46,372 people as of today, with a 7.0 percent positive rate.

The County is not releasing data on the number of individuals who have tested negative following a positive test at this time.

For more information, visit

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

3,240 reported cases 1

3,240 reported cases 2

3,240 reported cases 3

3,240 reported cases 4

Click on photos for larger images

Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of May 8;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily

Guest Column

Hope and healing during these challenging times

By Dr. Vidya Reddy

Hello and welcome. I’d like to begin by letting you all know that I’m deeply committed to supporting you mentally and spiritually during this time. I will continue to regularly give you tools for self-regulation and anxiety relief.

These are painful times and tragic times. The days are rife with fear, and people are dying and people are losing everything and people are getting lost. 

It will pass. Storms never last. Springs follow winters. 

The dark and darkening chaos exacerbates the situation and threatens the unspeakable of the unknown or of an abyss. 

In the mire of darkness, of pain, tragedy, and fear, I think of what my guru taught while I was in India: He said that we stood on a pinnacle and that things were about to get worse. Where and how we stepped from that pinnacle were crucial. 

Hope and doctor

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Photo by Johnny Antezana

Dr. Vidya Reddy

He added what I thought was an aside: Things are about to get much worse. I also think about what he said as my days with him were concluding: It’s time to be the Sentinel, the Champion, and the Guardian that we always have planned to be and that we are destined to be. 

So, I am being conscious of where I step and how I step. Where? Into the chaos. How? With resolve. 

I am stepping into the dark and then into the darkest parts of that chaos and in that depth, I am looking for the light. It’s there. 

Simply said, I found that light in the beauty and in the love. The dark chaos is neither beautiful nor loving; this novel virus is not beautiful and it’s not loving. But in the darkest chaos there is hope. 

Not the hope of desperation or last resort, and not my hope. In that darkest chaos, there is the shimmering hope that is a reflection of the soul and spirit of humankind. It’s not the hope that any of us can muster. 

It’s beyond what we can create. Luminous hope? Divine hope? Yeah. 

Oh, such a cliché, right? It can be that and it can be no more than a platitude, and when we argue for our limitations, we get them. 

I don’t know what that hope should be called. Maybe luminous and divine smack too much of cliché or platitude. 

Hope and pose

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

Shimmering hope in the darkest recesses 

Maybe it’s “hope without a name,” hope beyond our imagination and beliefs, maybe it’s “unfathomable hope.” Whatever we might choose to call it or not call it, it’s there.

And this hope is beauty, and it is love. Not beautiful and loving, it’s beauty and it’s love. And I know without the need for certainty that this shimmering hope is there in the darkest recesses of the chaos of this virus. 

It is waiting to be found. 

I also feel that this hope is the secret to the healing that COVID-19 is calling for. 

Healing doesn’t always fix things and return them to the way they were. 

Healing changes things and offers the opportunity to make things anew. 

I feel that this hope-beauty-love shimmering light is at the core of healing the devastation of the coronavirus and, at the core, what we need for the growing and changing in which we and our world are involved. 

I created the Naturally Happy podcast as a tool to help, as a reflection exercise and for your building spirit muscle. Please listen and share it at Use the podcast guide to find episodes to create some catharsis in your life.

In Peace, Love and Gratitude 

‘Til next time 

Dr.Vidya Reddy, ND, AMS, DAC, CLC

Angry star 

Angry star sun

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Photo by Scott Brashier

 A hot ball of glowing gases

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

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