Most mornings, I wake up grumpy. As in, “Why does morning always come this soon?” I hear you early risers judging me. That’s OK. I’ve done my time. Those years of sitting at my desk by 7:30 AM are behind me. And I rejoice! But still, I have to shift my grumpy attitude. I need to move from grumpy to grateful if I’m going to enjoy my day.

My shift out of grumpy comes from animals

Squirrels chasing away grumpinessThere are many ways to shift my attitude, but the consistent shift comes from animals. I watch them or interact with them and find myself renewed. This morning, I stared out the third-story window of my townhouse. It’s not a superb nature scene. There are townhouses across the street with big trees and small bushes along the street. Still, in this suburban setting, I found two young squirrels playing in the street. It reminded me of when we played street kickball when I was a kid. Well, until someone yelled “CAR!” Then we scattered till it passed. And those squirrels were having a grand time! They chased each other all over the street. At one point, they played hide and seek. They moved as if they owned the street, went under parked cars and up the tall tree across from my house.

Grumpy no more

Thanks to the squirrels, my grumpy morning face found its smile. And the memory’s available for replay whenever I need it.

My dogs and cats are good for anti-grumpiness

I also have two dogs and three cats who will provide a dose of anti-grumpy serum whenever I pay attention to them. I love when they come running to the door to greet me when I return home. All of them. Well, my cat Mac comes to greet me along with my dogs Tibor and Stella. My other two cats, Bunnie and Shadow slither down the stairs or around the couch AFTER all the crazy dog frenzy is completed.

Little Dog Wow releases my grumpy self

My friend, the poet Marynance Schellenbach shared this poem with me. Just reading the story moved my grumpy-meter down to zero.


By Marynance Schellenbach

On the corner of Day St. and Cabanas in Tujunga, California

He was all of 15” tall, with shiny black fur and perky ears leading his “mom” on their morning walk.

The March sky was a perfect clear blue with faint tracings of clouds.  The sun was bright, the air was fresh, and the world looked new.  He was trotting along as fast as “mom” would go, his bright eyes shining with pleasure at his wonderful adventure, an adventure that was happening right now, and just beginning to happen.

He caught my eye as I drove past, because every cubic inch of him sang “WOW!” to the beat of his four eager feet, “WOW!  Isn’t life just the most wonderful thing!” and the music of his body sent vibrant energy pulsing out in every direction.  “Wow!” sang his tail as it quivered his enjoyment of each scent.  No matter that he had probably walked that route dozens, hundreds of times.  It was as brand new and as fascinating as it could possibly be.

“wow…” I whispered softly to myself.   “wow, and wow, and wow…  I sat up a little bit straighter in a world that had just gotten so much brighter and full of sparkles.  “Thank you, little guy, for making my day,” I thought back at him as I drove up the hill and out of sight.

Marynance Schellenbach not grumpy

Marynance Schellenbach 

Artist, Poet, Life Coach, retired Liturgist and lifelong volunteer 

I’m a Southern California native and have lived all my life very close to the base of the San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles.  A college dropout, I was married to my husband Peter, an optometrist, for 57 years and became a widow seven years ago.  We had four children, 8 grandchildren, and I currently have 7 great-grandkids.

When my youngest got her driver’s license I went back to college, received my BA from Immaculate Heart College in Scripture and Poetry and an MA in Religious Education from Loyola Marymount College.  I presently live in a retirement community in Duarte, CA with my calico cat, Delilah.


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I’d love to hear how your encounter with animals moved you from grumpy to grateful!