Falling didn’t faze this 77-year-old man; but realizing how isolated he’d become did…enter LifeLong Laguna


Early one morning last year, 77-year-old Stanley Noman found himself flat on his back outside his home, gazing up at the pearly sky that arched above the garden path upon which he lay. 

His head hurt. His spine ached. He thought he might have broken a bone. 

In his rush to pick up his newspaper before curious neighbors spotted him in his PJs, Stanley had slipped on the mist-dampened patio directly outside his back door and then descended painfully, feet first, down a flight of four stairs.

The neighbors would only see him if he were upright

Of course, neighbors would only see him if he was upright. Flat on the ground like this, he was invisible to all.

Which was great, Stanley realized through his pain, when you were only concerned about how you looked in your pajamas, but not so great when you needed help.

As he lay there, afraid to move, Stanley realized it was only Monday.

Which meant that if he was badly injured, he might only be found on Wednesday, because Wednesday was the day the gardener came.

And that’s when Stanley realized that his main challenge as he grew older was not necessarily falling – he was in pretty good shape mostly, and even young people fall and break their legs sometimes, and there was always one of those alarm thingies you could carry around and press for help… 

When you lose your partner, you may also lose your connection with community – and a sounding board

No, the challenge these days to Stanley’s quality of life, and to his overall health, was his increasing isolation from the community in the three years since his wife died.

“You know, when you have a partner, you always have someone at your shoulder, someone you know will be there if you need them,” Stanley says, six months after the incident (he found he was able to get up by himself after all, and fortunately wasn’t too badly hurt). 

“You don’t even think about that until she’s gone, how important that is, how nobody really knows what your daily schedule is or would know if you didn’t turn up somewhere. And with a partner you always have someone to talk to.”

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Photo by Lynette Brasfield

“Stanley” – not his real name – in front of the steps where he fell

Stanley, John Fay (Laguna Beach Seniors program manager) and I are sitting in Stanley’s kitchen, which has a view of San Clemente Island in the distance. It’s peaceful in this gated community, maybe too peaceful, each house closed in on itself. 

“My wife died, then my brother, and then I had surgery,” Stanley explains. “It took the fall to make me realize how much I’d withdrawn from the community after those years. And I can’t do so many of the things I used to do, like swim in the ocean, so I’m here by myself a lot of the time.”

Stanley is hale now, if not quite hearty, after surgery last year.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Susi Q center, headquarters for Laguna Beach Seniors

Around this time, Laguna Beach Seniors [the nonprofit that runs the senior center] wanted to try out a pilot program for the LifeLong Laguna concept, or Aging in Place. 

The goal of LifeLong Laguna is to make it possible for locals to continue to live in their homes for as long as possible, by matching volunteers with members to help them stay connected with the community and safe in their homes.

Lagunans shouldn’t have to feel that they have to move away when they get older, John points out. Not when there are ways to keep them comfortable and secure in their longtime homes. 

“Sometimes that takes the form of providing transport, or helping with computer issues in their homes, or even taking them grocery shopping,” he says. 

“In Stanley’s case, in our pilot program, we started with a Home Modification Assessment as our first project with him. It’s been a great success story.”

The LifeLong Laguna program is now official and available to seniors

Following the successful pilot, the LifeLong Laguna program has now been officially launched. 

“Such a smart concept,” Stanley says. “You might know something needs to be done in the house, but you aren’t sure what is best, and you don’t know which contractors to trust. The LifeLong Laguna volunteers are all so nice. It’s so good being able to trust someone, knowing they’re helping because they want to help, they’re not under any obligation, they have no vested interest in contractors, for example. They’re a sounding board, you can talk things through. And they see things around the house you don’t see.”

Six months since that Home Modification Assessment, Stanley’s patio has been painted over with nonslip material and strips placed along the top of each stair. 

Then and now: What a difference

Television and computer wires that had threatened to trip Stanley up are neatly coiled where they can cause no harm. 

A motion sensor outside his bathroom switches on a light when Stanley rises from his bed in the middle of the night to use the facilities.

A loudspeaker mounted near his bedroom ensures that hard-of-hearing Stanley will hear the doorbell no matter where he is in his house when it rings.

And his garage is tidy, with access down its one step eased by a grab-bar. Stanley is no longer in fear that the rotting rafters – once packed to the hilt with 35 boxes of Christmas decorations and more – might fall on his head or bury his car in unwanted tinsel and baubles.

“Volunteers go through training to ensure that they recognize a variety of challenges that LifeLong Laguna members might have,” John Fay says. “They know when to call 911 for example. It’s not a caregiver program, it’s a way to link seniors with community resources. And we do our best to match volunteer skills with member needs.”

LifeLong Laguna means it: Members are members for life

Members remain members for as long as they like. Volunteers stay in touch and, as happened with Stanley, the program may recommend a different volunteer for a different task – and so it was that Stanley received help in sorting and labeling his files, a task that had become difficult because of a medical condition called a “trigger finger.”

Over time, the trained volunteers may become a kind of second family – people that you know have your interests at heart.

The pilot program involved two members and four volunteers. 

In 2018, John says, the goal is 50 members and 50 volunteers. Volunteers spend an average of 4 - 6 hours a month working with LifeLong Laguna.

With the median age of Laguna at 50, and our population aging, the timing for this program seems perfect.

And now, when Stanley looks at the sky, it’s because he wants to see the sunset, or the sunrise, or the stars – not (thanks to LifeLong Laguna) because he is flat on his back after falling.

For more information, visit www.thesusiq.org or call 949-464-6645.

Note: Stanley Noman is a pseudonym. Names of members of LifeLong Laguna are kept strictly confidential.

Cool season veggie workshop will take place on March 24 at Kitchen in The Canyon 

On Saturday, March 24, Chef Patrick DiGiacomo and Robert Villanueva of Kitchen in The Canyon will demonstrate creative ways to prepare cool season vegetables. The event will take place at the South Laguna Community Garden Park, located at Eagle Rock Way and Coast Highway, at 10 a.m.  Learn how to make all the root and cruciferous veggies and the wonderful greens even more delicious. This workshop is free, and donations are appreciated.  

Submitted Photo

Patrick DiGiacomo (L) and Robert Villanueva (R) will be teaching together at the Community Garden Park  

In 2016, Patrick founded the popular Kitchen in The Canyon near the Sawdust Festival grounds. As well as breakfast and lunch at the cafe, he offers on and off-site catering and home chef, hands-on cooking classes.

Reservations are advised as this will be a popular event. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Observations from a first-time floater at Laguna Beach’s only Float Lounge


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Freelance writing is a good gig. Because I’ve developed a reputation on the Stu News staff as the one willing to try anything, I get a lot of interesting assignments. So when an opportunity arose to experience the Float Lounge, I’m told my name floated to the top of the list. The editors were right – I didn’t even have to think about it – I was all in.

It hadn’t occurred to me to be nervous until I started previewing my upcoming adventure with friends who fell into two general camps: “I’ve always wanted to try that!” and “I’d never do that!” The term “sensory deprivation” came up quite a bit, though I’ve since learned that’s an antiquated phrase. 

No one I knew had actually floated, so I was left with few expectations and more than a little anticipatory excitement. I researched the basics – I had to get naked; I had to get wet; it would be black; it would be silent; and I would be alone. I also knew it would last 60 minutes, which sounded equal parts luxuriously languid and terrifyingly eternal. 

Debunking the myths about floating

Several of those things turned out not to be true. You can float in a bathing suit, although there’s no need since you have the space to yourself and a suit can feel constricting. You can request music, although in the interest of silent solitude and unplugging from stimuli, the experience is best enjoyed without. You can leave the hatch door open and let the light in. And you can get out whenever you wish. First timers often do some, or all, of those things. 

Owner Rosanne Ramirez told me she tried to bail three times during her first float. Her husband and co-owner, Jeff Brion, only lasted 45 minutes his first time. 

But I was writing as a reporter, and figured journalistic integrity required the full experience. So I went the distance.

Rosanne and Jeff have owned the Float Lounge for six years, three in its current location on Coast Highway, across from Active Culture. The lounge contains two spacious rooms, each equipped with its own private shower and tank. The rooms are dimly lit and relaxing, and Rosanne spends ample time talking with first-time clients, letting them know what to expect.

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The vibe is peaceful and relaxing, a boon when you’re about to be buoyant

First fears first. The Float Lounge is extremely sanitary. Once I saw the space, it never entered my mind to consider hygienic issues. Everything felt pristine, and I’m a bit of a neat freak. There’s also an emphasis on going green, organic and holistic – from the cork-backed floorboards to the insulation in the walls – Rosanne and Jeff are committed to chemical-free health and wellness. 

“I won’t ever get into a chlorine pool anymore,” Rosanne says. “The skin is your biggest organ. We’re careful about what we let touch it.”

What touches it is 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts and pure filtered water. Even the showers are equipped with filtered water, as well as organic shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. You’ll want to shower before and after your float. And after, you’ll notice the Epsom salts make your hair and skin feel very soft.

The water holds steady at 93.5 degrees, our skin’s natural temperature, making it difficult to distinguish between your body and the water. 

Rosanne recommends consistent clients float once a week, but more frequently at the beginning as they get used to the experience.

The many benefits of floating

Before talking to Rosanne, I didn’t fully appreciate the why of floating. It sounded relaxing - a compelling way to fully unplug from our frenetic world. Beyond that, I figured it was simply a strange new experience to tell my friends. Wrong.

Many use floating as a physical remedy, recommended for sports injuries, back problems and spinal compression. Most people use it to mentally release from the ego-driven world. Floating facilitates meditation and is used by spiritualists and others as a consciousness-expanding tool. Artists use it to accelerate their creative process. 

The brain typically enters the theta state, the place between sleep and consciousness that allows for deep meditation. The same state where creative and subconscious ideas bubble up. Rosanne says many people refer to it as a “think tank” or “feedback machine.” 

Finding your flow

Knowing the logistics – the what, when, where and why – didn’t tell me what I really needed to know. How would I react? The idea of being left alone with my own thoughts for an hour seemed daunting. Would it be like my usual 2 a.m. insomnia, when every fear I have surfaces and magnifies? Or would I simply fall asleep and miss the whole thing? A therapist once told me that being in my head was like being in “a dark attic full of knives.” True. So how could this turn out well? I didn’t know.

I rehearsed what I would say to myself once I got in there. But, like any new experience, you never know until you’re inside it. Talking about it doesn’t help. It’s your mind, after all. Your thoughts and ego, your fears and anxieties, in the tank with you. No one else.

Then again, talking did help

I sat with Rosanne for a long time before going in. She said a few things I knew to be true: “It’s challenging to be with ourselves at the beginning. Most of us aren’t comfortable with quietness, stillness, and aloneness.” No kidding. 

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Co-owner Rosanne Ramirez offers wisdom along with comforting words

She said some things I hadn’t thought about: “Fear is just your ego making up excuses,” and “How you do anything is how you do everything.” 

“It’s not the tank, it’s you,” got me through many of the literal dark moments. And Rosanne’s observation that, “If you’re creating fear and anxiety in the tank, you’re also doing it all day long in the real world” rang entirely true for me. And so, when the dark got exceptionally dark, these were the things I told myself. 

Just like in meditation, thoughts rush in. The key is to let them go. So I kept Rosanne’s final words of wisdom with me: “Then I let go…and it was beautiful.” 

I had pockets of that beautiful experience. For a first-timer, it was equal parts relaxing and terrifying. A work in progress, just like everything. But when I did let go, it was pretty surreal.

A study in contradictions

For me, a first time floater, the experience felt like a study in contradictions. How could something be equal parts relaxing and terrifying? How could I crave quiet time with my thoughts, and simultaneously want to run away? It struck me that those who might benefit most are the least apt to seek it out. 

“It’s a matter of learning to be with ourselves,” says Rosanne. Which is, after all, one of life’s largest and most challenging paradoxes. We’re always with ourselves. And we’re often the ones we most want to escape. “Floating,” Rosanne says, “is one of the best tools we’ve found to integrate the mind, body and spirit.” While that’s something many of us might want, getting there can be scary.

“Before floating, I couldn’t meditate to save my life,” says Rosanne. “That is true.” Truth is what float therapy is intended to reveal. 

For more information about The Float Lounge, call 949-715-5565 or visit www.thefloatlounge.com.  The Float Lounge is located at 1031 S Coast Hwy.

Rainbow Reflections


We love a parade…

An important milestone: on Saturday March 3, the LGBTQ community returned to the Patriots Day Parade and we were very warmly welcomed for our “renaissance.” It had been almost two decades since the LGBTQ Community was represented in the parade and we were welcomed with bursts of cheering and many, many heartfelt thanks from so many along the parade route. 

Thank you, Laguna Beach, for being so inclusive and supportive of diversity.

Indeed, the LGBTQ Heritage and Culture Committee was awarded third place in our category…it’s a start!

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Submitted photo

Local personality Endora had a great time at the Parade

We love a party…

Speaking of which, the LGBTQ Heritage and Culture month, June, as identified in a Laguna Beach Proclamation last year, is just 80 days away! Kicking off the month will be our own LGBTQ Pride Party. A long weekend of fun is being planned, from June 1 – 3, so save the dates. 

The preliminary plans can be found on Visit Laguna Beach’s website at www.visitlagunabeach.com.

Friday: Reception Club Party at Main Street Bar & Cabaret

Saturday: Block Party in Laguna Beach LBGTQ Heritage District 

Sunday: Beach Party at West Street Beach

Another party…a Garden Party…

HRC, Human Rights Campaign, is searching for a location to have their annual fantastic “Garden Party.” These parties are held at private residences and HRC would be thrilled to find a generous person offering a location and with it, the opportunity to have another event in 2018. 

The date is Sat, August 4 and we need a location that can accommodate approximately 200 people, plus a silent auction. 

If you have suggestions, please contact Jeff Brumett at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - or contact HRC’s Michelle Bentcliff and use the opportunity to congratulate her for being their Steering Committee Member of the Year. She’ll have all the details. It is a fun and very social event, and all for an excellent cause, Human Rights.

Other LBGTQ fun stuff…

Don’t forget every Wednesday at LUXE in Dana Point is Rainbow Wednesday, and by special engagement for one night, March 14, the entertainment will be Laguna’s own Endora and Tony performing and serenading the guests. It is always fun and a great opportunity to meet new friends and have an excellent meal. 

I personally recommend a glass of red wine and meatballs. All very affordable and sophisticated!

We love burlesque…

Main Street Bar and Cabaret has gone Burlesque. Yes, it is true, the next show is March 18 between 1–4 p.m. Rumor has it that they also have “BOYlesque” entertainers. So, save the date…it’ll be very civilized.

We love Larry…

Club Q Laguna Beach is a seniors’ organization at the Susi Q, stewarded by a very generous and thoughtful Larry Ricci for several years. Larry has some new commitments and is stepping away as the leader, and the organization is looking for new leadership.

Larry’s shoes will be hard to fill…but likely not impossible! If you are interested, or you know of someone that might be interested in this fun and active social opportunity, please contact the Susi Q at and leave a message for Larry. Again, thank you Larry! We feel your love. 

We love Rainbow Radio…

This coming Saturday the Rainbow Radio program will be about Laguna Beach artists – it’s our regular monthly Town Hall event for artists to communicate and have a voice. 

Special guest Lisa M. Berman along with a host of other artists will be live on-air. Also, check out our Facebook at “Independent Artists Consortia” for more details and tune in on Saturday at 9 AM on KX 93.5 FM or go to www.Rainbow-Radio.com to listen to it at your convenience.

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Submitted photo

Lisa M. Berman

If you would like to submit suggestions for guests, businesses or to feature anything LGBTQ in this column, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as we love to keep everything interesting and relevant, and well, yes, fun and entertaining!

Sandbags are available to help you avoid property damage during forecast storms

With winter storms forecast this weekend, the City is offering pre-filled sandbags at no cost to residents and business owners of Laguna Beach who may need them to protect their property. These sandbags are not for private contractors or commercial purposes.

Pre-filled sandbags are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week beginning Wed, March 14, on a first-come-first-serve basis, (limit 10 per resident). Sandbags can be picked up at either of the two following locations:  

ACT V Parking Lot – 1900 Laguna Canyon Road

Aliso Beach Inland Parking Lot – 31118 Coast Highway

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Submitted photo

Reminder of past floods in Laguna

Additionally, the City offers free, unfilled sandbags at the four fire stations. The unfilled sandbags cannot be filled with sand from Laguna’s beaches or playgrounds. For locations where sand can be purchased go to www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/police/emergprep/sandbags.htm.  

The City is also doing its part to protect the community by cleaning and inspecting the Laguna Canyon Channel, maintaining public terrace drains and manholes, and conducting outreach including workshops and mailers to property and business owners. The City encourages residents to protect their homes from flooding by remembering the following tips: 

Clear out rain gutters and pick up litter and loose objects on your property.

Sand-bag all flood prone areas.

Check your own yard drains to make sure they are not clogged. 

While not required, flood insurance is recommended for flood prone properties. 

Please visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/police/emergprep/ for further information about Emergency Preparedness and for video footage from past Laguna Beach disasters. 

For further information, please contact Jordan Villwock, emergency operations coordinator, at 949-497-0389 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Scott Tenney of Bluebird Canyon Farms calls second Open House “extraordinarily successful”

Scott Tenney, of Bluebird Canyon Farms, reports that the Open House on Sunday, March 4, was “extraordinarily successful.” This was the second of three scheduled open house events designed to share information about the farm with the public and to listen to feedback from neighbors to help them improve operations. 

The Farm’s final free Open House is scheduled for Tuesday evening, April 10, and once again will be designed as a forum for neighbors to ask questions and share their perspectives.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Scott Tenney welcomes attendees at Bluebird Canyon Farm’s open house

Scott says, “We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of goodwill we continue to receive and are especially thankful for the constructive dialogue and honest feedback with many of our neighbors. Some of the shared information will certainly be incorporated into our site practices and should improve how we interact with the neighborhood.” 

The event was well attended by members of the community, some of whom visited the site for the first time. Scott notes, “It was especially nice to listen to unscripted feedback and opinion from those in attendance.” 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Bluebird Canyon Farms spreads out a feast for the eye and palate at their open house

 “We were also happy to welcome our friends from the Laguna Beach Police Department, including Animal Control and Beach Patrol officers, who participated in the discussions while mingling with the crowd,” says Scott.  

Additionally, Ernest Hackmon from KX 93.5 broadcast live from the event, with his interviews airing on the station’s Sunday radio show. 

Bluebird Canyon Farms is located at 1085 Bluebird Canyon Dr. The phone number is 949-715-0325. 

For more information, go to www.bluebirdcanyonfarms.com.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

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