Monday Musings – Junior the French Bulldog


I’ve been sitting here trying to think of something wise and wonderful to say to send you into your Christmas with a light heart and a smile on your lips. I finally decided there’s really only one thing that will do the trick. Junior the French Bulldog. Before I share one of Junior’s wonderful videos with you, let me just say that there’s a reason Junior and his wonderful daddies have taken the Internet by storm. Sure Junior is adorable. Sure he’s a unique musical talent worthy of the canine version of American (or in this case, German) Idol. But the real reason I and millions like me keep returning to Junior’s videos on Youtube and his Facebook page  is the obvious love his daddies have for Junior and the secure happiness that is so evident on his squishy little face.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before (probably several times) that I have a lot of dogs, currently 13. We rescue dogs and consider them part of the family. So it does my heart good to see how much Junior’s daddies love him. It’s a happy story for Junior of course, but it’s also a happy story for the two men who have brought the sweet little guy into their lives and allowed themselves to cherish him. Dogs have so much love to give…so much personality…if only we humans will take the time to discover the riches within them. I can’t think of a better metaphor for the Christmas season.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

I’m Thankful that I never have to watch St. Vincent again…


I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always as thankful as I should be. Life happens, the world turns, and I’m always right there in the middle of all of it trying to pull it into some kind of order. My Type A personality is great for getting things done…but not so much for stepping back, indulging on introspection, and remembering what I’m thankful for. So I’ve strapped my butt in my chair and removed all mental and physical objects that might remind me of the dozens of tasks I still need to get done today…and I’m going to take the time to smell the turkey…erm…or something like that.  So, here goes:

I’m thankful that…

My loved ones, flesh and fur, are healthy and happy.

My computer still works, my car still runs, and my physical form remains in working order.

I never have to relive this year’s crop of bad and truly horrifying movies. Gah, Hollywood…just gah!

I discovered the A Cappella group, Pentatonix.

There’s another season of Walking Dead. Whoop, whoop!

I was able to keep my fingers firmly in my ears through all discussion of how gluten, and all my favorite things which contain the stuff, is bad…erm…lalalalalalala.

Christmas is still a month away.

I have no full length mirrors in my house.

The people who’ve read my books haven’t sued me for wasting their time.

I have a blog so I can expose the world to the drivel that is my mind.

That’s all I’ve got right now. Aren’t you glad? hehehe Happy Thanksgiving everybody! May your day be filled with lots of yummy stuff and a soft couch to catch you when you pass out from overeating!

 

Declan Sands writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms.  Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Declan is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

 

 

 

 

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!