Monday Musings – The Magic is Coming!


If you’re like me you love this time of year. It’s almost as if, with the gradual sloughing off of Summer’s sweltering temps, magic begins to rise. Magic is in the panorama of colors adorning the trees…in the memory-laced scent of burning leaves…and in the plethora of wonderful holidays on the near horizon. Have you ever wondered why there are so many holidays lumped into the space of 5 months? From October through February, we celebrate a holiday every month. These are all cool to cold weather holidays. Why is that? Is it because Summer is its own celebration? Maybe. We do have Memorial and Labor days marking summer’s beginning and end, but on the celebration scale these are fairly minor holidays. No, the real magic is in the Fall/Winter holidays. From the fun and playful energy of Halloween, to Thanksgiving’s celebration of our many blessings, the delightful expectation of Christmas, the new beginnings represented by New Years, and the love and loving represented by Valentine’s Day…Winter is chock full of fun and magic.

Maybe that’s to offset the bitter cold and annoying ice. But I don’t think so. I believe we’ve always been inspired by the peace and beauty of Winter. To me, snow covered ground and sparkling trees are a portal to a magic place. I embrace the fog of expelled breath on icy air. The sweet smell of a Winter-painted landscape. And the crackle of a warming fire inside a cozy cabin. I love it all. And I can’t wait to embrace it again.

Happy Winter everybody!

Monday Musings – This Thing Called Dieting


I’m fat. Not grossly fat. Like 2 seats in an airplane fat. But fatter than I should be for my height.

When I look in the mirror I see a round person staring back at me. Cheekbones are still there but they’re struggling mightily to be seen under the squish. Am I unhealthy? That depends on where you look for input. Some studies say that people with a little squish are better off than skin and bones types. I’m definitely not skin and bones but I don’t think I’m obese either. I have middle of the road squish. Still, it really doesn’t matter how fat I am if my clothes don’t fit or I feel like a beach ball rolling around the house. When the way I look gets in the way of my life, it’s probably time to do something about it.

I’m basically a very motivated person. If I set my mind to something, I generally put my nose to the grindstone and keep it there until I get the task done. (Or I have no nose left hehehe) So why is losing and keeping weight off so hard? Too much Estrogen? Slow metabolism? Squirrel storing fat for Winter? (My own personal favorite) Or just plain over eating? I’m probably like most of you. I don’t overeat on a regular basis. I have days when I eat everything that crosses under my nose (ooh, mouse, yum) and though I have great intentions, my energy output is sporadic.

Here’s the real issue though. I’m a food addict. I love food. I love the look of it, the taste of it, the smell of it. I love the feelings it gives me when I eat, the memories of family and fun it induces. Sigh… I just love food. But unlike other addictions, you can’t give food up. You can’t avoid it. All you can do is eat bland, tasteless, ishy stuff you would never touch if you had a choice. And you can only eat it in serving sizes as big as your little finger. Yum, sign me up. Add to that little bit of torture the fact that you also need to exercise, thus burning away the tidbit of food your diet allows you to consume and making you so hungry that, yes, even that mouse looks good.

In addition, your routines get all screwed up. You can’t enjoy that glass of wine at night anymore. Popcorn at the movies? A distant memory. And a visit home is pure torture, because your always skinny sister, niece and nephew-in-law can eat pretty much anything they want without ever gaining weight. I hate their guts.

Sigh… No wonder this dieting crap is so hard.

Do I ever wish I was a zombie, able to eat and eat and eat and never gain weight? Yes. Do I HATE people who can eat whatever they want and not battle their weight. Oh mama do I!

Yesterday I tried to eat my fingers with a little salt. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on.

But I’m trying…

Pray for me.

Monday Musings – Here we go Again!


Farmer’s Almanac is predicting another bitter Winter season.

Really?

What have we done to piss you off, Mama Nature? Whatever it is, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do it. I’ll never do it again. blah, blah, blah.

Last year was our first year living in the hilly landscape of Southern Indiana and I really thought all the hills and trees were pretty.

Gawd I’m stupid.

Our driveway is like a roller coaster ride at a major amusement park. It starts with a short flat spot to throw you off and then, as you clear the curve in the drive surrounded by trees, plunges downward at a breathtaking rate that heads right toward our pond. It’s so steep I barely resist the urge to fling up my hands and scream.

Add in a good patch of ice or two and you’ll quickly find yourself swimming with the fishes wearing a ton of steel as a skirt and circular, rubber shoes.

Not good. I don’t think that’s what aficionados of ice fishing had in mind. I really don’t.

So, last year, DH and I spent lots of quality time together climbing our sheer drop called a driveway and flinging salt on the near vertical surface to avoid the whole swimming with the fishes thing. Our new neighbors who, for whatever reason have decided they like us, kept calling to make sure we weren’t packing up the kitchen and preparing to move to Saint Lucia.

We weren’t. Gawd we’re stupid.

 

We’d been duped. When we moved farther South we really thought Winters would be slightly milder. When Winter arrived with a roar in our little neck of the woods, we convinced ourselves the whole cold, icy Winter thing was a fluke…a rarity. In fact we were repeatedly assured by our neighbors that was the case. But they flippin’ lied. The only question is whether they all got together ahead of time and came up with the lie for grins, or if they just pulled it right out of their butts, all spur of the moment like.

So here we go again.

This year I’m gonna do it. As I plunge downward toward the icy, fish-filled water below, I’m flinging up my hands and screaming. I might as well entertain myself as I die.

Monday Musings – Failure or Success – 2 Sides of the Same Coin?


There’s a New York Times article making the rounds in the writing world right now. Entitled, Failure, Writing’s Constant Companion by Rachel Shteir, the article focuses on the things that challenge writers in the day-to-day pursuit of their careers. Inability to reach goals, writer’s block, poor sales and bad reviews are some of the reasons the author cites as examples of writing failures. Not many of us in the trenches would argue that those things are definitely negatives. The article quotes author Philip Roth as saying, “I no longer have the stamina to endure the frustration. Writing is frustration — it’s daily frustration, not to mention humiliation. It’s just like baseball: you fail two-thirds of the time.”

Wow. That’s depressing.

In fact, that’s exactly the kind of negativity that keeps many authors from writing. Personally, I don’t like to focus on failure. How depressing it would be to live like that. And negativity drains creativity. Besides, you could say the same about any task you set for yourself:

I failed today because I didn’t get the cleaning done I’d planned.
I failed because I burned the chicken for dinner.

Or you could instead celebrate the fact that you spent the time you would have used for cleaning visiting with a friend you haven’t talked to in years. Or understanding that the chicken got burned because you were outside planting a tree that you hope will give you fruit in a couple of years. Every failure lays the groundwork for a future success. I’d much rather look at life through that lens, because that’s the kind of thinking that gives my muse energy.

Happy reading (and writing) everybody!

10 Ways You Can Improve Your Life


Things don’t always go smoothly in life. Lord knows some days I just want to get back into bed and cover my head. But there are ways to make things better…coping mechanisms if you will…and if you use these 10 tricks I promise your life will improve!

10. Spend at least 30 minutes doing something that gives you pleasure every day. Nothing can be harder when you’re struggling to fix or complete something than stopping and walking away. But it will usually make you a bunch more effective when you return and it’ll definitely improve your overall outlook.

09. View your goals from 30,000 feet rather than six inches. This is a big one for me. There are days when I feel like I’m not getting anywhere with my career. Sales are light…I get a couple of bad reviews…somebody yells at me… Sigh… Those are the days I’m tempted to walk away and do something different. But if I step back and examine the bigger picture of where I am today versus where I was when I started this wonderful journey, I realize I really am on track to reach my goals.

08. Avoid negativity. We all encounter people from day to day who are negative and even downright nasty. You don’t need those people in your life. Purge them immediately!

07. Regularly take stock of what you really want out of your life or your job. It’s easy to just get pulled along in the ebb and flow of everyday life and, before you know it you’re doing a bunch of things that don’t fit your goals or your lifestyle. Identify those things and expunge them from your schedule.

06. Don’t use other people as an excuse not to do something you know you should do.

05. Kind of in the same vein as number 6 — Take responsibility for your own actions and inaction.

04. Own your mistakes. You can’t learn from them if you deny you’re at fault.

03. Indulge in love. Don’t forget the people who are most important to you. Don’t take them for granted. Carve out time for them. Tell them you love them. Give them a hug. It will expand your happiness exponentially.

02. Help someone with something, no matter how small, every day.

01. Laugh…often…whole-heartedly. This is no small thing. Laughter releases endorphins that make you feel better. It’s a natural and fun way to lift your spirits.

 

That’s it. No barn burners here, just common sense, but sometimes it helps to be reminded. Life truly is what you make it.

Happy Monday, Everybody!

 

Monday Musings – Why I LOVE Mondays!


Yeah, it’s probably a little weird to love Mondays. I most likely wouldn’t feel the same way if I were doing a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday job that I hated. I get that. But I’m lucky because I get to do what I love to do. Even though it’s sometimes really hard to make myself sit down and start writing, I love being an author and I love the stories I create. So that helps. But it’s more than that.

Mondays are like a mini season change.

I love all the seasons, but by the time they’re dying down I’m more than ready to welcome in the next one. Mondays are like that to me. Weekends are great, but I fill every minute with stuff I want and need to do and, honestly, by Sunday night I’m exhausted and ready to go back into my office. LOL

Mondays are like a flower bud, slowly opening to reveal the bright bloom of the rest of the week. On Mondays the color is bright, the petals soft and vibrant, and the sweet scent is still strong. As the week ages, so does the bloom. It’s why we try so many tricks to make Wednesdays and Thursdays more interesting. Hump day and Throw-back Thursday serve to mask the wilting week and give us something to think about other than the fact that the water around our flower is getting slimy. LOL

Fridays are a whole different animal. On Fridays we finally throw out the wilted, sad little bud and look eagerly toward the next phase. Weekends don’t need flowers, they don’t need tricks, they’re like rainbows that draw us in with their innate magic. But by Sunday night we start to anticipate the change again. Sometimes that’s a melancholy thought. Sometimes it’s fat with expectation…but whichever way we view the new week, it’s still a fresh new flower, remanded into our care by Father Time.

So embrace the new bud of this week. Nestle it carefully in your palm. Because every day is a gift and every week is a lesson in maturation. Which makes every moment a blessing.

Happy reading, Everybody!

Monday Musings – Perception vs Reality or God’s a Dude


I consider myself an intelligent person. I guess that doesn’t mean much because most people, if you ask them, will tell you they’re pretty smart. That’s their perception of themselves…like the perception that they’re taller than they are, better looking than they are, more popular than they are…etc.  Aging is a perfect example of perception having it all over reality. Even when you hit middle age and your figure starts to resemble an apple with four stems, or your hair starts getting less blond, brown, black or red and becomes…well kind of the opposite of all those colors. Even when those things happen you still manage to tell yourself you’re young. The mind doesn’t perceive age like the mirror does. It lies to you out of kindness.

In fact, perception is generally kinder than reality, though there are exceptions. Take for example the teenage girl, or really women of all ages. Generally women perceive themselves to be flawed beyond redemption…physically, emotionally, intellectually…flawed.  We focus so hard on those flaws that we start to forget everything that makes us unique and wonderful.

Men are the total opposite. They think they’re gods…all of them. A guy will look in the mirror and he won’t see the reality of a short, balding guy with a big nose and floppy ears. What he sees is Brad Pitt or The Rock. That’s why guys will saunter up to a woman who is so far out of their league that it’s laughable, and talk to her like she has no choice but to be with him. Problem is, that beautiful woman is probably so focused on her own flaws that she might believe the short, floppy-eared guy standing before her is all she can attract. It kind of works out in a weird sort of way. At least for hetro couples.

Gay couples have it all over the rest of us. Both members of the couple think they’re god’s gift, so everybody’s happy. No stress. No mess. No harsh reality checks. Lesbian couples? All I can say is, sorry ladies. But look at the bright side, your partner is probably so busy beating herself up she has no time or energy to notice the flaws you probably don’t have but think you do.  Right?

The whole situation is just more proof that god is a dude.

Ya feelin’ me?