Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Gratification Guaranteed, Laughter Optional

by Tammy Kaehler

At midnight December 31, the clocks hit “refresh” and a new year begins. What are your goals for 2016? Better health? Increased wealth? Reading more? Writing more? Giving back? 

How about just plain having more fun?

Last Saturday and Monday nights, my mother and I spent time in, first, a massive tent in the parking lots of the Rose Bowl, and second, in a humongous warehouse near Pasadena. Along with hundreds of other volunteers, we were there to decorate “Find Your Adventure” themed floats for the 127th Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.

We were a couple days too early for the blooming float elements, so we instead worked with dried flowers and leaves. First we picked black flecks out of a sea of coconut, then we sorted eucalyptus leaves by size and applied glue to the backs (see photo). Then we were finally allowed to apply material to a float—or a piece of one. (Our work was the sliverleaf you can see along the sides and tail of our fish in the second photo.) While I expected flowers everywhere, what overwhelmed us was glue. Oceans of glue to apply the leaves, the coconut (when you see white, that’s what it is), the dried strawflower (all the gold), and the chopped-up statice (the purple). Oceans of it, making your fingers stick to everything and each other.

In spite of the glue—or maybe because of it—we had such a blast it’s a wonder the float builders didn’t charge us to help, and the time we donated was paid back with a lifetime of happy memories. We’ll never look at the Rose Parade in the same way again.

Funny thing about volunteering—I find the more I do it, the happier I get. A study by the London School of Economics agrees: helping others kindles happiness. Aside from the big smile volunteering smears on your face, other benefits include a sense of purpose and accomplishment, self-confidence boosts, fond memories, and new friends.

Want in on the joy? It’s too late to glue leaves on the Rose Parade floats this year (but let me know if you want info for next year), but you can still help another wonderful, annual effort. At the heart of Left Coast Crime Phoenix is a generous team of volunteers who, among other things, monitor the panels or book signings, stuff registration packets and book bags, hand out badges, or staff the hospitality suite. You’ll know them by their positive attitudes and happy faces—and you can be part of the team! Take a feel-good leap into the New Year and join the LCC Phoenix volunteer team. Contact our coordinator at

May 2016 be your best year yet. See you in Phoenix in February!
Tammy Kaehler is the award-winning author of the Kate Reilly Racing Mystery series.

1 comment:

  1. You make volunteering sound like a 24-hour party, Tammy. I'm inspired!