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.

 

 

 

 

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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 – 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 – Does Social Media Bring us Closer? Or Drag us Farther Apart?


Until recently, I always kind of agreed with the general wisdom that social media was robbing us of the ability to interact human to human. But then I read something from a well-known and very entertaining social media maven, Kristen Lamb, that made me reconsider. In her book, Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World, Lamb put social media into historical perspective, which was a fascinating exercise. She believes that social media is a natural result of our short attention spans, and that it is part of a natural evolution from an earlier time, when lengthy tomes like War and Peace were the norm. But more importantly, Lamb posits that social media has allowed us to interact better because we can now reach out to millions of people around the world, instantaneously connecting and sharing. It’s easy to see where a shy person, safely hidden behind the anonymity of a user name and an Avatar, could enjoy much more human interaction than before social media. Writers are a perfect example of that! Most of us tend to be introverts and if left to our own devices would probably never leave the safety and comfort of our own little spheres. But with social media we can reach out and connect with readers, other authors, and people who share our interests.

Yes, some conversations that might otherwise have been conducted face to face are now happening on a broader, much more public stage. And there is definitely a danger in hiding behind anonymity. It’s much easier to treat people badly if you don’t have to look them in the eye. It’s a danger we all need to guard against. But what we lose in physical touch, maybe we can make that up in emotional gains. While a Facebook friend is not necessarily the type of friend who will help you move or bring you chicken soup when you’re sick, if you treat that friend right…with human kindness and consideration…there’s no reason the friendship can’t gain that type of gravitas over time.

Have we connected online? If not, what are we waiting for? #:0)

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Amazon Author Page

 

 

Monday Musings – Fishing for Benevolence


It seems that the world consists of two kinds of people, the givers and the takers. It’s easy to look down on the takers and love the givers. On the surface that makes a lot of sense. But it’s not really that simple. I’m afraid the givers have to take some responsibility for the fact that the takers get what they want. Sound harsh? Maybe it is…a little bit. But it’s true. For every taker there’s a giver who is an enabler. You probably don’t need to look much further than your own family for proof of this. Do you have a sister, brother, aunt or uncle who always seems to be there with his or her hand out when you come into a little cash? Is there a relative who always jumps to the front of the line when there’s a death in the family…looking for the most treasured items, the highest value goods from the estate?

You probably talk about this person don’t you? How ugly her actions are. How insensitive. How selfish. But what do you do when this person puts his hand out? Do you simply step aside? Give in? Allow him to get exactly what he wants? Or do you even take it a step further and offer cash or your recently deceased grandma’s antique china to him before he even asks?

If so, you’re an enabler. We all are to a certain extent. I’m just as guilty as the next guy. I like to think of myself as a giver. I’m always the last one to put up my hand for stuff, preferring to earn my own way. I don’t like to feel like I owe anybody anything. But I have a friend who is very poor. She’s always in need of some kind of help. And since she’s a nice lady, she always gets the help she needs. I’ve given her cash. I’ve given her clothes and furniture. I’ve bought her stuff. And, to be honest I don’t regret a bit of it. I believe we should take care of people who need our help. But there’s always the concern that by giving stuff we help people stay weak. It’s so much easier to take what is given us with good will, then to go out and find a way to work for it.

It’s easy. But is it good for emotional health? Does it teach the right messages? Is it smart in the long run?

No on all fronts. It isn’t good for their psyches, it doesn’t teach the right message, and it isn’t smart. It’s human nature to want to help, and I’m not suggesting in any way that we shouldn’t help each other. We should always help. But maybe we need to change the way we help so we don’t enable the wrong behaviors, locking people forever into dependency. Because dependency sucks.

Remember the old adage: Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.

Sounds like good advice to me!

 

Monday Musings – Facing Challenges


Last week one of my dogs ran under the car as I was coming up the drive and he now has a broken leg and fractured tail. He was lucky. This morning three of my dogs fought and my sweet little cattle dog alpha is now at the vet getting stitches. She was lucky too. It was horrible. I’m still an emotional mess.

Sometimes it seems like life just kicks you in the ribs and then, while you’re gasping for breath, hits you over the head. I’m waiting for the shoe enema which is sure to come. After all, they say bad things always come in threes.

I don’t want a third bad thing. Especially if it has to do with my dogs. I’m already reeling.

When you have times like this your first thought is often to go to bed and pull the covers over your head. I always give that option some thought and then reject it. I’m much better if I’m proactive. The worst thing about having bad things happen to you is the feeling that you have no control. Being proactive puts you in control again. Then you need to fix or at least repair as best you can the results. Sometimes the best you can do is take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. As unsatisfactory as these actions might be, they’re positive steps in the right direction.

Most important is an awareness that the bad will pass and the good will return. That might be the hardest thing of all. But it is true. And a positive outlook can go a long way toward making you feel better.

That’s what I’m working on right now. #:0)

Positive thoughts everybody!