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Smiling. Part I.

If I told you smiling helps you live longer, would you believe me?

Well you should. Because I just pulled up like five interesting sources that I was thinking of talking about and then thought HEY! STICK WITH SMILING STORIES! NOT BORING RESEARCH!

So no research. I’m not writing a thesis.

Just know that if you smile you will live longer. It’s proven somewhere.

But seriously, you have to make yourself smile. You especially have to make it happen if it’s not been happening enough.

You know who you are.

I was thinking about smiles lately because of Rachael Ray and Paris Hilton.

Rachael Ray is leaving her show and Paris Hilton had a baby and wrote a book! There’s a lot going on!

But they both have smiling in common. They’re both like professional smilers!

Paris Hilton smiles all the time. I’m just noticing it now because she’s popping up a lot lately on tv and internet.

And every time I see her she is smiling. Even if nothing is going on.

Paris Hilton looks like she has just been presented with a gift.

All the time.

And it makes me smile because I start thinking of reasons she could be smiling like that and I think of really funny things.

And none of them have to do with a baby that someone had for her. In fact, many of them are followed by “Didn’t she just have a baby?”

And Rachael Ray – I’ve been thinking about her lately because she is ending her show. Rachael Ray is a very smiley person.

I would know because Rachael Ray was my smile mentor in 2009.

In 2009, I was working out near Ft. Meade in an operations setting. And that’s all I can say.

But I will also, for the sake of the story, say that I was the lone attorney in a sea of highly technical professionals.

And that’s all I can say.

But Rachael Ray was my guide and my savior at that time.

Because I had spent the past many years around lawyer types who never smiled. And now I needed to prove that I knew how to smile because otherwise I would fit the description of a boring lawyer type who didn’t know how to smile.

So at night I would watch taped shows of Rachael Ray who smiled all the time. And I would take notes on how to smile while talking to other people. And then the next day at work I would practice.

And Rachael Ray was the hot ticket to smiling, for me. I would just say – inside my head – “do your Rachael Ray!” and I would smile the most inviting smile ever.

Now it’s possible I was just walking around looking mentally ill.

I suppose we would have to ask my colleagues from that time. But let’s not.

I just hope I smiled a lot. In the normal friendly person looking way.

So anyway, the point of all this is that you need to make sure you’re smiling.

I know how hard it is to smile when life is really hard, but it’s important to do something that switches your brain into the mode where it can be lighter and brighter and hooked or crooked by something other than whatever it is all wrapped up in.

And here’s the thing: you can’t wait until you’re in the mood to smile. You could be waiting a really long time. Especially if you’re out of practice.

So you have to make it happen even if you’re not in the mood.

Actually, you have to make it happen especially if you’re not in the mood.

Not all the time, of course.

But sometimes.

Or more often, if you’re really out of practice.

This is for really just for some of you who are just really out of practice.

At the risk of sounding redundant, I’ll just say you know who you are since you probably do.

So go. Make the smiling happen. You know how.

xoxoxoxo, dee (and bella)

Choose your preference.

Be a Mostly Good Listener.

Behind the Scenes

This cartoon is a good example of a cartoon I had to find a character to give the punchline to. This punchline is really straight out of my mouth – me, dee, the author of the writing.

So normally I would give my real life lines to the character Lizzie. Lizzie, the one with the side ponytail, has the most annoying lines because I have the most annoying thoughts in real life.

But Lizzie can’t have all the lines or the cartoons would be too dull. So sometimes I distribute lines that would otherwise be Lizzie’s to other characters. And I just hope that their ‘real people’ (the real life people behind the characters) won’t mind too much that I gave then an annoying line that might make people think negatively about their character.

It’s the downside of inspiring a character in a cartoon.

So this time, the real life person behind Ann, my colleague, took the hit. Thank you, Stacey.

Stacey has been taking a lot of lines for Lizzie lately as I need more and to distribute annoying lines.

So here’s the real life deal.


And I am really honest about that with everyone in my life. I really am.

And yet, there are some people in my life who are just REALLY PHONE PEOPLE  who insist on phone calls. So I do phone calls with them.

Even though they supposedly know that I’m no good on the phone.

And then, during the phone call, I get distracted because there are keyboards everywhere around me. And I am a writer.

And there are snacks everywhere around me. And I am a snacker.

And I said I’m not good on the phone! I warned you.

So you choose.

Do you want me to chew or type?

Cause I can’t just talk on the phone. I didn’t get that singular focus-while-on-the phone-gene.

My mom got it. And her sister got it.  And they can talk to each other on the phone for hours without doing anything else.

But I don’t got that talent.

So that’s how this cartoon came to be.

Because someone got mad at me for chewing or typing.

But it was probably typing.

It was probably 99.9% odds it was typing.

I’m sorry. I’m just a writer on the loose.

We type whenever we see a keyboard. It’s what we do.

At least I don’t scratch my balls.

Because I don’t have balls.

Maybe I would scratch my balls if I had balls. I don’t know.

One more thing I will never know.

Oh well.

Thank you for reading Reply All. And if I ever tap tap tap while you’re talking, I apologize in advance. It’s like scratching an itch.

And it doesn’t mean I don’t love you.

If I’m talking to you on the phone, believe me, I love you.

And if you’re reading cartoons, thank you extra. We love our readers.


dee and the Reply All Family

Save Me



The best thing about having a new brain is that it’s receptive to everything. Everything is possibly the best thing in the whole entire world.

And everything is possibly the answer to the puzzle that could never be solved, but maybe now can be.

The bad thing about walking around with a new brain it that you risk falling into a crumbling pile of tears anywhere anytime without much notice. Sights and sounds trigger old and new memories and wake up feelings you didn’t know existed. It’s not magic like in the movies. It’s shocking, like when the car lurches.

That’s why it’s hard to see Tony Denikos in person. Tony makes my head and my heart hurt so bad. But in the good way.

I just need practice feeling the hurt. Without crumbling in public places.

And I need to start wearing waterproof mascara.

Happy Sunday.

Listen to Tony’s soul soothing music.. He goes there on almost every song so be sure to have something strong around to keep you afloat.

I’ve got coffee and peanut M&Ms. And a fluffy white dog. Luckily, she has no interest in Peanut M&Ms.

xoxoxo, dee (and bella)

You can Follow Tony here.


What’s It Like?


TMS is like having a small hammer bang against your head repeatedly. Technically, each treatment session includes 55 trains of 36 pulses (for a total of 1980 pulses per session) delivered over 20 min at 18 Hz and intensity of 120% relative to the patient’s resting motor threshold (MT).

What does that mean?

Well, the resting motor threshold is the basic unit of dosing in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) research and practice.  There are several different approaches to estimating the resting motor threshold and apparently little consensus on the best method for estimating it. BUT don’t take my word for it. I am not a doctor or a scientist. There is a lot of research easily available on the internet so look it up if you are interested in learning more.

The little I know is that In a healthy brain, neural activity in the motor areas of both hemispheres is functionally related to muscle control. An active movement of a hand is associated with an enhanced neural activity in certain motor areas. My resting motor threshold has been determined multiple times through a process of stimulating my brain with magnetic pulses and measuring the correlating hand movement. It’s kind of cool.

When I have TMS, a cap is put on my head. The cap has measurements indicated on it that show where a magnetic coil should be placed. The coil sits near the front of my head over my right eye close to my eyebrow. The coil is in what feels like a helmet and the helmet is strapped tightly to my head. I wear ear pods to listen to music and I wear mouth guards to protect my teeth and jaw from the twitching caused on the right side of my face. My right eye twitches too but I do not need anything for that. I only need to not be wearing glasses.

The tapping is the minimum amount of power needed to stimulate my brain cells, the amount that meets my individual threshold that causes my thumb muscles to twitch. During the treatment, my right hand twitches so I cannot hold my phone or anything with that hand.

The actual tapping procedure takes twenty minutes and I am awake, sitting up in a comfortable chair. I cannot move since I am attached to a helmet that is attached to a machine. Every twenty seconds, the tapping taps tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap for two seconds.

Every twenty seconds for two seconds.

After a while it’s meditative if you let it be. And after a while my brow goes numb. In a non-annoying way.

But the time goes fast if I listen to music. Sometimes I read texts or emails. by holding the phone up to  my face and far enough away with my glasses held up and squinting since I’m not actually wearing my glasses.

Yes, it is a TMS shit show.

After treatment, I can go back to work. No sedation or anesthesia is necessary so after treatment I am good to go.

Treatment is every day for 30 days, Monday through Friday for six weeks or so.

I have been through two cycles of treatment with remarkable results. I should be on a commercial for TMS. It has changed my life.

Whether the effects of TMS will last or not is a different story, but for the first time ever I have major hope that I can live differently. With TMS, my brain is no longer the boss of me.

With TMS, my brain no longer bullies me into performing repetitive daily rituals that exhaust me and render me incapable of living a normal life.

Now TMS won’t work for everyone, obviously,  since nothing works for everyone. But look at some of the links I’ve provided. The areas they’re researching for the use of TMS are amazing.

But there are so many options out there now that I urge everyone to research everything.

Even with TMS, there are different kinds of coils.

I began TMS for treatment of “Major Depressive Disorder” because that is what the insurance company will authorize, but it turned out that TMS release me from the chains of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Now we are trying to get the insurance company to authorize payment for a different coil that targets OCD.

If I could get that treatment, then WOW. I mean, W.O.W.

Like seriously. I could be a totally new person.

Because depression really isn’t my problem. I can manage my depression.

My real problem – the one that really wrecks the quality of my life – is the OCD.

So naturally I wish I had tried TMS years ago, but you don’t know until you know. So I didn’t know about TMS until I knew about TMS.

And I can’t dwell on time I could have been living life instead of waiting for life to be over.

But enough of that nonsense!

I have provided so many resources under the Resources tab. You should take a look even though you shouldn’t use the word ‘should’ and neither should I.

But ‘should’ is a discussion for another day.

For today, find something that gives you hope.

I have hope now that my life can be about living.

That’s not what it was about before.

It’s not that I didn’t want to live, it’s just that the OCD kept telling me to do violent and harmful things through constant intrusive thoughts I could not stop.

Medications helped me to manage those thoughts so I could hold a job and keep cartooning, but managing a life is not the same as living a life.

Now I have hope that I can live my life.

And now I have the ability to help other people figure out how to live their lives too.

A long time ago, I became a professional problem solver. In some parts, they call that a lawyer. In other parts they call that an advocate.

Now that my brain has backed off from sending me violent, harmful intrusive messages I can devote myself to advocacy. Just the way I always dreamed of.

Check out the resources. They are really good.

Today is a great day to do something different to make your life better and you may just find it right here.

I hope it’s at least a start.

I hope your Saturday is really great.

And green. Something about green, apparently.

💚 💚 💚

xoxoxoxo, dee (and bella)

Could it BE More Easy?


Could this be easier?

It has always been this hard.

I understand that. But can’t we make this easier for you?

But it has always been this hard.

Yes, of course.


What if we simplify it?

Is that even possible?


But it’s been this way forever. 

So it’s a great time to try changing it.

But can I change it?

Well, you’ve got lots of practice so the transition to doing it easier shouldn’t be too tough.

I wish I had known it didn’t have to be this hard.

You were busy learning other things you needed to learn.

Oh yeah. I did need to learn those things.

Yeah. Look at how much you know! You know a lot of useful stuff!

This is kind of exciting! Let’s make everything easier!

Now THAT is a good addiction.

Be addicted to making things easier. And better.

Be addicted to getting there faster. 

But only if you’re getting to somewhere better from somewhere bad.

Otherwise, keep it slow and steady.

And remember to breathe.



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