Pioneer to Extreme Sports IV

I’ve been talking with Hank,  a charming elderly gentleman about his pioneer exploits in extreme sporting.  OK,  so it’s not base jumping,  or sky diving but you have to admit,   hair raising experiences never the less!

When  we see young guys dressed  in skateboarding  get up,  or like Sean White in snowboarding duds,  we expect they are adrenaline junkies.  Who would have imagined that this mild-mannered well dressed war veteran  would have invented roof surfing?

Certainly not me!  I hope you enjoy the conclusion of  just one of Hank’s tales.  I might share some  of his fishing stories  in the spring.  ENJOY!


Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV: Passing the Torch

The waitress brought our pie, which diverted his attention long enough for me to get a word in. “I hear you were recently challenged.  Can you tell me about that?”

“It was my grandson, Joe.  He was seventeen at the time.  Big hotshot you know?  He’d heard the talk about me surfing on roofs and figured he could do it.  So, the wife and I went to the store to get a few things and when we got back, there was Joe’s beater in the drive.  We didn’t see him anywhere, so we went on in. Figured he might have gone up the street to visit one of his friends.  It was the wife that spotted the ladder.  I knew I hadn’t got it out, so I went to investigate.  Well, hanging from the gutter with one hand, holding on to the pine tree with his other, and his leg buried inside the tree somewhere was Joe.  Crazy kid.”

As he scraped the last bit of his pie from the plate with the side of his fork, Hank added “I’ll tell you though, when I went to the lodge and told the guys about it, it was easier to see the humor of my past experiences.”  He wiped the corners of his mouth meticulously with the linen napkin and finished his coffee.  “Yep!  I think old Ray has the right of it.  Roofing’s not a career choice for my family.  Too dangerous.”

John suddenly appeared to my right.  “Ready, Pop?”

I should have realized.  “So this is your grandson then?”

“Yep.  Not such a fool as his brother Joe.”  His eyes sparkled as a sly grin creased his face. “Course, quite the fool with women since he hasn’t asked you out yet.”

“Now, Pop, don’t go meddling.” John glanced at me briefly seeming a little agitated.

I had to think fast.  I wasn’t ready for Hank to leave, I had more questions.   “Before you go,  I have a few more questions.  What do you think about  this current craze of extreme sports?”

I only hoped it didn’t come out as desperate as it was.  I couldn’t let  this charming gentleman get away that easily.

His eyes sparkled and he winked at me.  “They’ll feel it when they get to be my age.  If they make it this far.”  He got to his feet with a great deal of effort, the strain of simple movements evident in his aged frame.

“Why don’t you have John bring you by my house, say next Tuesday.  We’ll continue our chat.  Maybe we’ll let him stay next time and learn a few things.  Like how to carry on a conversation with a beautiful woman.”

Always the charmer, I blushed at his words turning away so John didn’t see my reaction. “I’d like that.  I’ll even make you a pie.”

“Now that’s a deal that no man can turn down.  I like cherry pie best.”  He patted my hand with his.  I can’t explain  the sudden burning in my eyes,  the brief panic that he was walking out of my life when  his weathered knobby jointed  hand touched mine.  The loving gesture had me wanting to know more about him, about his life, his victories, his family.

Sudden images of imperfect family life flooded my mind. His sparkling eyes twinkling as the creases around it lifted in a full smile.  George Bailey didn’t have a thing on Hank, not at all.  He’d realized the true treasures in life and what was most important.

He shook my hand.  “It’s been a pleasure.” He made a head jerk towards John.  “Have him bring you by.  I’ll show you my war medals and maybe talk roofs again. Or fishing stories.  Maybe tell you about when this lunkhead stepped off the ramp into ten feet of water.”  He chuckled as he turned to leave.  “Get a chance to tell on him instead of on myself.”

Stature and fame do not define greatness.  Things we assume  on first glance seldom turn out to be true.  Earlier that day I would have passed by this man on the streets without a second thought.  How many  people do we pass by each and every day that have stories to tell?  How many of those elderly gentleman  sitting on the bench in front of Walmart are decorated veterans?

The elderly gentleman that left me staring after him was an adventurer, a war hero, and  a man of greatness. This man had character, integrity, and a sense of humor. My life was changed for the better that day,   with one lunch date with  Hank.   I could hardly wait until the following Tuesday.

That next Tuesday, and many more after that became a regular meeting with Hank and his wife Mary.   I did indeed make him a cherry pie.  Meticulously working with pie dough to make the best lattice crust I could manage,  eager to win his approval with my  meager gift in exchange for the  wonderful gift he blessed me with,   a new lease on life with my eyes open to see beyond my own selfish desires.

We looked through his war pictures, pictures of their grandchildren, walked in his garden, and even played a few rounds of gin rummy.  Hank and Mary quickly became like family to me,  and my adopted grandparents after John finally got up the nerve to ask me out.

Write on my friends, write on!


Pioneer to Extreme Sports III

Eight days  remaining to get those Christmas gifts purchased!

A little old man  with a cane in a hole in the wall diner forever changed my life and outlook.  This unassuming  gentleman had a wry sense of humor and a heart as big as Texas.

If you missed Part I, you can read it HERE.  Part II is HERE.

Hank had just regaled me with how he first started his roof surfing endeavors thanks to his pregnant wife Mary.

 Part III:  The Thrill Seeker

Like any true adrenaline junkie, Hank was not deterred.  This pioneer in extreme sporting would get a do-over.  One time occurrences are a fluke. After all is  said and done, bones are healed the memory remembers the adrenaline rush not the dangers. For me personally,  I would think that  I had a guardian angel protecting me to keep me from dying  on that one and only episode.  I avoid climbing onto roofs at all cost, hiring someone to even clean my gutters.  Ladders are scary enough to me!  Not Hank.

We tend to view life from our egocentric view of where people are now forgetting that they had a life before coming into our radar.  Logically we know that they are older and yes, they experienced life but we tend to not think about that person and what they were like when they were young men and women.  We see the weathered, aged features  not the events of life that created each line.

In January of 1982, he attempted a second “roof surfing” event.  There had been record snowfalls followed by strong winds that caused snow-drifts to pile up to six feet deep in places.

“You could hear the roof creaking from the weight of the snow.  I was afraid that it would collapse under all that weight.  Then we’d have no roof in January with sub-zero temperatures.  Couldn’t have that!”

Hank and his two sons climbed up on the roof and began shoveling away the snow.  Underneath the snow was a sheet of ice from freezing rain at the beginning of this winter storm.  They’d cleared about half of the roof when Hank lost his footing.  In perfect surfer stance, shovel in hand, Hank surfed down the roof, through the snow drift, and sailed right off the roof-edge two stories to the ground below.

Moments later the underlying ice released.  The snow followed Hank over the roof to the ground covering him.  His sons dug him out of the snow and loaded him into the family car.  Two  fractured ribs and a fractured pelvis were added to his list of injuries.  Weeks of lost wages and expensive medical bills didn’t make the doctor’s instructions to “slow down” any easier to swallow.

“Worst damn month of my life.  Stuck at home with them boys. ‘Bout as useless as tits on a boar hog.”  He shook his head reaching for his coffee then levels me with a serious expression. “Thought about enlisting  the both of them right then,  or shipping ’em off to military school.   I never  heard such moaning and whining  from a couple of boys.  My girls didn’t whine as much as those two.   Geez!”

He smiled a genuine smile at the waitress as she refilled our cups. “Thank you Shirl, how’s Marvin doing?”

“Oh, he’s getting on.  Recovering nicely after his knee surgery.  Sitting at home planning that fishing trip.  You and Mary still going, right?”  Shirley crossed her arm over her waist holding the coffee pot in her right hand.

“Wouldn’t miss it.  Tell him  I might stop by early next week,  got a new catalog from the Sports Store.

One of the  things I hated most about  small towns was also one of the things that was endearing, the fact that everyone knew everyone else.  As I sat there enjoying the easy comfortable exchange between longtime friends,  I felt a little twinge of jealousy for  their friendship, wishing I had kept in touch with  my high school friends.

“Where were we?”   He asked as he scooped up a forkful of mashed potatoes.

“You were telling me about having to stay home after  falling from the roof.”  I made a note to look up Shelley or Lisa on Facebook when I got back home.

“I didn’t fall.  It wasn’t falling.   I slid off from the ice.  Weren’t you listening?”

Why did I suddenly feel like a wayward child being corrected by the school master?  “Yes,  I was listening.”  Trying frantically to think of  questions to ask him so I would be off the hot seat.  “Did you manage to get all the snow off the roof from the drifts?”

“Yeah.  Well, not me but the boys did.  Had to keep on ’em. Ended up standing  out in the yard directing them to keep them on task. Let me tell you standing out in the cold does nothing for broken ribs.”   He shifted in his seat,  a brief twinge of pain evident on his face, then it was gone.  “After that, I figured I was better off paying someone when it involved a roof.”  Hank swirled the coffee in his cup then took a sip with a distant look in his eyes.  “Yeah, me and roofs.” He set his cup down. “Not such a good history.”

He recounted dangers from the war that he’d survived, and near misses on the job.  Then he leaned forward, leveled his eyes with mine “Survived D-Day, Ramagan, an entire war but roofs. . .”  Hank shook his head slowly.  “At the lodge they call me Hank the surfer.  I hate that.”

Tune in tomorrow for more of Hank’s story.

Write on my friends, write on!



Pioneer to Extreme Sports II


If you missed the first  part, you can read it HERE.

We left off with Hank just about to tell us about  removing the roof.

2013-06-15 16.36.40

II.  The Roof Surfer

“The plan was simple.  Pull the roof off; add reinforcements,  build a second floor, then put on a new roof.  Nothing to it. It was going to be easy money.  Except for her.”

Hank continued to recount the incident as he  enjoyed his meal.  The chains were attached to the roof and the other end was attached to his pickup truck.  When Hank gave the signal, Mary would drive forward and pull the roof off.  That’s when things went horribly wrong.

As Hank worked, securing the chains and removing the last few nails, his wife’s pregnant state was causing an urgent need for bladder relief.  Exchanges were made several times back and forth as she became increasingly restless.

“Now?” Mary yelled up to Hank.  It was the fifth time.  He was giving one final check to the bolt fastening the chains together.  He made a forward motion with his two fingers above his head while he tugged on the chain and yelled  “In a minute!”

Mary interpreted that as the signal.  She hoisted herself into the truck, started the engine and slowly eased up on the clutch.  Hank was straddling the peak, tightening the nut when he felt the tension in the chains.

The roof slid off the house as smoothly as planned.  Hank riding it to the ground had not been part of the plan.  Without even so much a s a backward glance Mary shut the truck off, jumped out and ran to the neighbor’s house where the family that owned the house was staying.  It was that neighbor who noticed Hank lying on the ground beside the roof, motionless.  Three fractured ribs, a dislocated shoulder and a broken collar-bone prohibited Hank from being able to complete the job or earn income from the work he’d already completed.  It also prevented him from earning any income for weeks from his regular job or side jobs.

He calmly sipped his coffee telling the story as if it  were nothing.

“Wait,  you mean you rode the roof to the ground and she just ran in the house and didn’t bother to  look?”  I asked in disbelief.

“Nature called.  She had to go.”  He calmly  cut into his  country fried steak.

“Were you planning to signal her from the roof?  What did she think was going to happen?”

He patted my hand in  a gentle grandfatherly manner. “Sweetheart,  I take it you’ve not been pregnant before.”

“Well, no I haven’t but” the look of horror on my face must have  had him disconcerted.

“It’s all fine.  We managed through that and worse.”  He gave a knowing nod and went back to his meal.”

Stay tuned to more of this fascinating man’s true life experiences.

Write on my friends, write on!




Pioneer to Extreme Sports

In preparation for the holiday festivities, this week  I’m doing something different.   The twelve days of Christmas has been done.  Flash fiction for the month has been done.  This week I give you a serial short.   A holiday tale to warm  your heart that is nonfiction.  That’s right peeps –  this is real life.  Remember how I said once that my life was like a Carol Burnett rerun?

Stuff just happens.  I don’t make this stuff up but I come by it honestly. Names and relations have been changed to protect the innocent and the not so innocent.

So get your cup of cocoa, sit back and enjoy.


      Part  1: A lunch date

He looked like any average old man; slightly stooped, with silver hair and deep wrinkles.  By appearance, I would have passed Hank by on the street without a second glance.  John, a coworker, kept insisting that I meet with Hank and get to know him.  He’d told me war stories and fishing tales about this guy for months.  Eventually I gave in, I had to find out for myself.  I’ve often been told that curiosity would be my undoing one day.  If nothing else, it would shut John up.  Hank turned out to be anything but average.

John arranged a time at a local café, Hank’s favorite hangout.  The cost of the interview was an order of country fried steak and coconut cream pie. There had to be a catch right?  I knew I was being set up.  Had to be!  But I played along.   John arrived promptly at the designated time with Hank.

He looked every bit of seventy and walked with a cane.  His nose had been broken at least once. His weathered face gave hint to the nature of his trade.  His manners were impeccable.

John stayed for a few minutes to make certain that  Hank was settled then excused himself to run errands.  Hank sensed my nervousness and joked “That man ain’t got a lick of sense, leaving a pretty girl like you alone with me.  Why ain’t he asking you out honey?”  Then he winked at me and patted my hand.  His hands were rough and weathered from years of hard work, his knuckles noticeably enlarged with arthritis.  The tenderness in his touch was comforting and gave me a sense of reassurance.

As the meal progressed he recalled some hair-raising incidents from the war.  It turns out Hank is a decorated veteran of World War II.  He was awarded a silver star and a bronze star.  His best adventures however, began after he returned home.

He went on to tell me more about himself, his family, wife and his hobbies.  I was, after all interviewing him on a piece for  my column.  One thing was for certain, Hank wasn’t a shy man. I asked a question and he answered with full sentences not short little quips like  the local celebrities had.   It was an easy flow of conversation, what I would have imagined if I could have sat down with my own grandparents if I had known them.

Hank was a carpenter by trade.  With his growing family of three children and another one on the way, Hank took many side jobs in order to make ends meet. The economy was booming but there were always demands that left more month than money. He regaled me of  renovations he’d  tackled, mentioned some of the  landmark buildings he’d  worked on, and  the profitable business of building cabinets.  Then things took a decided turn in a vein that I never would have imagined from this aged elderly gentleman.

It was 1954 when his first “extreme sports” incident occurred.  A friend’s home had been damaged by a severe storm and needed a new roof.  The owner decided this would be a good time to add a second floor to his small house to make room for his growing family.

“We’d cut the roof loose from the wall joists, see.  Removed the nails, it was just “floating” on top of the walls.  A strong wind would’ve lifted her right off o’ there.”  Hank paused long enough to wave the waitress over for a refill.  “We took a logging chain, and looped it through the third truss, then back through the damaged part of the roof.”  He leaned in towards me on one elbow  “It would’ve worked I think, if Mary hadn’t been pregnant.”

Ok, now my curiosity was piqued.  What did a damaged roof and a pregnant wife have to do with extreme sports?  I listened patiently as Hank had me hanging on his every word. The elderly gentleman was charming, entertaining, and interesting.

Tune in tomorrow to hear more of Hank’s story.

Write on my friends, write on!

Benefits of Writing


Look ahead they say.  Rejection is  a part of  the process they say.  Delayed gratification will come after a long road to  success.  All true but I need motivation right now!

Top ten benefits  that keep me going:

1.  I like having another identity besides the day job. It’s like I’m a super hero – changing from regular working grunt by day, Wonder Woman by night.  * Dons WonderWoman cape*

2. I have fun writing!  Well, most of the time.  It’s still a thrill to see my own name in print, whether it’s an article in a magazine, or in a column,  or  – brace yourself –   on the cover of a book!  SQUEEEEEEEE!

3. Writing keeps me out of trouble, mostly.   It’s  a relatively cheap pastime, it gives me great pleasure and a sense of accomplishment, and the fantasy world I create doesn’t hurt anyone,  Unless you count my characters. *Sigh*  Alright,  so maybe   in their  view it hurts.  The murder victims – yes,  they were necessary means to an end.  It wasn’t personal, really.  Rosanne Winters in ORal Dilemma, OK so maybe her tragic life seems harsh, but better way to “feel”  the emotions behind the songs?  LIke I said – mostly.  MOving on,  I don’t even want to get into the scenes with the dragons.

4. Writing adds excitement to my life! What other career can you fly with a dragon, murder a college bimbo,  meet an ancient Viking, kill the perfect boyfriend,  leave a man bound in leather and chains in the basement for –  going on 10 months now,  and  climb the mountain to a gorgeous waterfall all in the same day? Not only that,  but who knows what will happen when I send my babies out into the world. Will it be another rejection letter?  Will this be the one that says YES?  Will it be hated, loved, despised? It’s a mystery world don’t you know!!!

5. I’m pursuing my dream! What’s more satisfying than doing something you love, that you feel passionate about?

6.  I’m earning  money from my writing!  It’s not much,  just the occasional short story or article  now but soon my books will go out into the big, big world and multiply the few dollars into mucho dinero. Compared to the  tiny bit now,  trust me it will seem like mucho dinero. Don’t shout down my fantasy!

7.  Research!  I know you’re scratching your head and thinking I’ve gone off the deep end.  Hear me out –  I research things online,  in the library, to write a better story.  I research things that interest me.  Not to mention the fact that I get a strange pleasure from  gaining knowledge nad have this weird think for mostly useless trivia.  How many other people know the names of the Greek gods,  the Roman gods,  the Viking gods and the Egyptian gods?   I find mythology fascinating.

*Glares at readers.*  You watch Cat videos on YouTube.  Leave my gods alone!

8.  I learn more every day!  Learning about the craft,  perfecting my craft, perfecting my prose – it gives me  pleasure and a sense of accomplishment. Yes, I’m a dork and I like to learn!

Why do I suddenly feel like Evie? “You’re wondering, ‘What is a place like me doing in a girl like this?’  Look, I… I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O’Connell, but I am proud of what I am.”

Rick O’Connell: “What is that?”

I’m . . . a WRITER!”

9.Writing sharpens my mind. And my wit!  It’s an active thing –  the more I write the more I learn, then I write more and I learn more.  That’s deep, you should write that down!

10.  I take pride in contributing  something useful and being helpful.  Even if it’s ony a single sentence that someone gleans from my blog –   it  gives me a sense of accomplishment!  Every time someone likes my posts,  it’s a little zing of pleasure.  Every time I get a notice that someone follows my blog –  I’m annoyingly happy. (Just ask my husband about how I do a happy dance when I get notifications on my phone much to his dismay!)  The fact that  my followers have grown to the numbers I have –  I am amazed, humbled, and  completely blown away at times that anyone would bother to read a single word I say!  It makes me feel, even on the darkest days like maybe  I do matter.

There you have  it.  My top ten!  Now go write your own!

Write on my friends, write on!


Clouded Intent

Gold Nugget

Gold Nugget

Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. 

– Virginia Woolf

NEVER write for money.  It will show, your readers are perceptive.

NEVER write for a “market”.  “Market”  means “Formula” – your readers are perceptive and they will see the sneaky little hesitations  that creep in.

NEVER write “down” –  or for an audience that is “less intelligent”  than you think you are.  Your readers will be offended and see that you are talking down to them.  Besides, you are your own audience,  do you want to be talked down to?  Even if you are writing a children’s tale, don’t write “down” to children as if they are stupid.  They aren’t.

NEVER be vindictive in your writing. Truth has a way of coming out and you will be crucified publicly and then shamed by your own words.  Karma people,  you know how she is.

NEVER write  the “trend”.  By the time you get yours out there the tide has changed and it’s outdated material.

ALWAYS write the best book you can.  Success will come, eventually.

ALWAYS write what’s in your mind, your heart.  Use your own voice!

ALWAYS write from passion.   It will show in the quality of your prose and  empower your words.

ALWAYS write with the assumption that your audience is both intelligent and  perceptive.   Give the respect  to others that you would like yourself.

When an author writes out of preconceptions without learning the facts,  there are at least  one hundred people who will be ready to show you the error of your thinking.  Be prepared for a smack-down. Better yet, learn the facts.  Do the research.  Due diligence people!

It takes every word, every single idea,  every metaphor, every analogy to reach the final conclusion.  Don’t give up on yourself or your dreams.

Some ideas are  the  basaltic bedrock, others are the  metamorphic intrusions where the diamonds and gold are mined. (Yes,  I meant metamorphic as in rocks –  basalt is igneous,   limestone is sedimentary –  remember I studied rocks,  they don’t bleed. But if you wish to insert metaphorical you may.)

Give your self the best chance of success!  Learn the  rules of engagement.  Once you know the rules,  then you can use them as guidelines knowing where it is ok to bend and break.

Work hard.  Give it your best effort – not a good effort,  not a half-hearted effort – but your very best. Create something that you would  be proud to have your name associated with!

Celebrate your victories! Then start  the process over again.

Write on my friends, write on!


What Happens Next?

 I’m not sure what happened here,   but  this didn’t post when it was scheduled on November 29th. Please forgive the tardiness, but I think Nathan Lowell has some valuable insight.  Yes,  NANO is over for this year,  but take a moment and hear what he has to say.  In the meantime,  I’ll try to figure out what went wrong on my end as to why this didn’t go up on the right date. 

I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo for real since 2007. Odd numbered years work well for me. I finished titles in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013. The even years I got sidetracked by life, travel, medical emergencies, or some other silliness.

One of the most common questions is “What do you do to prepare?”

I’m a pantser. Generally my preparation starts on November 1 and consists of turning on my wordprocessor.

Which isn’t to say I don’t know what I want to write. Each of the years I’ve completed a work, I had the idea of the book. In 2007 it was the backstory of a character from my other novels.

The only time I actually thought about the story in advance was 2009. That year a writing colleague challenged me to finish NaNo in half a month — to write 50,000 words in 15 days. I accepted her challenge but then it got complicated when other fans piled on additional challenges. I had to write fantasy instead of my familiar genre – science fiction. I had to write a female main character – something I’d avoided up until then for fear that I wouldn’t do her justice.

I had two weeks to prepare. One of the more interesting things was creating her avatar in Second Life and trying to – at least figuratively – get into her skin. It was great fun.

For me, outlining is a waste of time. I’ve never managed to finish a story when I wrote an outline first. I’ve tried all the outlining methods – snowflake, three-act, four-act, beat sheets – and the problem is that once I know how the story goes, I completely lose interest in writing it. For me the magic happens when I get sucked into the story and can’t put it down because I need to find out how the next scene ends.

Which I can’t do until I write it.

That’s one of the tips I offer new writers.

Write what happens next.

I see a lot of newer writers bogging down in trying explain or describe what’s going on now. I understand the urge, but if you want to move the story along, start with your characters in a scene where something is about to happen. I think of it like where the actors are just before the director yells “Action!” on a movie set. When you hear the director, try to write fast enough to keep up with the movie in your mind.

Don’t waste time describing the color of the floor unless it’s covered with blood. Don’t stop the story to tell us what the characters are wearing. Just write what happens next.

I’m a full time author now but I love NaNoWriMo because it’s an excuse to be selfish about my time. I work at home so it’s easy to get sidetracked by the Honey-Do List or household chores. I’m the kids’ main taxi driver.

Except in November, I’m a bear. Don’t talk to me. I’m writing. I’ve got a deadline and — even though it’s self imposed, even though it’s twice as much as everybody else — I get very possessive of my writing time because so many of you are out there pounding away to beat the clock and I want to be there with you.

Break’s over. Go write something.


About the Author


Nathan Lowell writes science fiction and fantasy. He began podcasting his novels in 2007 and since that time has written ten novels, recorded eight of them, and published nine of the ten as ebooks. He’s currently working on getting all ten of his novels published in ebook, paper, and audio before the end of the year


Find out more about him and his work at

Thank you Nathan for being a guest on my blog!


The Monster Is OUT


We often know the right thing to do, it’s just a matter of whether or not we do  it.

I know how to eat properly. I know how nutrition works, and how I feel when I eat  junk food, sweets, and in general a poor diet.  I taught my kids about balanced meals,  proper portions, proper nutrition, and the importance of taking care of ourselves. So why is it, when the stresses of life are bearing down on me I revert to my old stress eating habits?

I know what I’m doing,  while I’m doing it even.  Yet,  I can’t seem to stop the hand-to-mouth action of consuming  an entire bag of chips until  the bag is empty.  The comfort food is inhaled,  not savored or tasted,  just shoveled in until it’s devoured.  My healthy green tea is  replaced by a 2 liter of coke that is all mine!  NO, I don’t have to share because He drinks Pepsi.

Food is the most abused drug of choice by a large percentage of the population.   We all have to eat right?  I had a friend that decided to quit smoking, and made a bargain with  that if I would go on a diet and drop twenty pounds they would stop smoking.  In the past I have argued the point that dieting is more difficult because you can’t just go cold turkey, we still need to eat to survive.

There is no patch that  supplies needed nutrients into your blood stream so we can go about our business to  just stop eating and drop excess pounds.  It would never work anyway because there is pleasure derived from eating food. Having  gastric surgery  really isn’t the answer, and I’ve said this before  –  it doesn’t fix the six inches between your ears.

I have thin friends  that  simply don’t understand.  I can’t make them see it.  I don’t even know how to stop doing it.  Trust me – I want to stop this cycle.

Ironically its emotional stress that is the  trigger to stress eating.  Emotions are raw,  painful.  Is it any wonder that we choose to self medicate into a food orgy?  Endorphins are released into your system after consuming ” pleasure” foods.   Endorphins that  cover the pain  those raw emotions  exposed or created.

It’s a conditioned response that goes back to childhood. ” Awww, you had a bad day,  here eat some cake.”  “You got an A on your paper?  Great!  here, eat some cake.”  “I’m very disappointed in you. No cake for you.”

Reward and punishment was doled out as food substance in my childhood home.  Affection was correlated to food.  In reality,  it’s a miracle I’m not  diabetic or tipping the scales at 600 pounds. Is it any wonder that I have this sick twisted relationship with food?  I think not.  It doesn’t change the fact that I hate it when I do it.

At least I recognize the truth of it now.  Unfortunately,  recognizing it doesn’t stop me from doing it.    I want to stop,  I tell myself inside my head –  stop this! You’re going to make yourself sick.  I think there is some part of me that  thinks I deserve to be sick and punished.  I am not a psychologist,  and I don’t have the answers.

I know some people  look down on stress eaters as  not having any self-control but that isn’t the issue.  It’s bigger than that.  I can have great self-control at times.   I  have self-discipline,  but when  the stress needle is pegged all rational thought flies out the window.

Today I feel the aftermath of  this last episode.  I feel nauseous,   have a pounding headache,  my skin feels  gross, and the image I have of myself returns to a pathetic weakling gorging on junk food.  It’s not pretty –  don’t look at me!

This  is an issue that I deal with  Not nearly as often as I used to, but it’s there.  Yesterday the monster was unleashed, and today I am paying for it.

A quick reminder that I don’t have it all together,  and  just how deep my emotions run.

Have you ever done this to yourself?  Do you know how to stop?  I can’t help but wonder if  this is how a drunk feels when he goes on a binge.

LIfe is too real at times. That’s why I create a world in fiction that has a happy ending.

Write on my friends, write on!


Adjust Your Attitude, Achieve More!

Quotidiandose does not own the rights to this image.  All rights reserved to the artist.

Quotidiandose does not own the rights to this image. All rights reserved to the artist.

Everyone wants to be happier, right?  A better tomorrow can begin with a simple change.

Our attitude determines our altitude.

The perspective we view the world from has a huge  effect on our overall level of happiness.  It can affect our success as well.

 The thing is,  over time our attitudes become habits.  Habits become a lifestyle.  Before you know it you’re stuck in a rut and all a rut is, is a grave with the ends cut out.  The biggest question I suppose is determining for ourselves  if the effort to change is worth our time or not.
Personally, I think it’s well worth the time  to invest in ourselves because we have to live with ourselves  till we die.  Here are  few techniques to change our attitude and outlook and  bring greater happiness and success in  the future:

     1. Gratitude –  Start each day with a short list of three (3) things that you’re thankful for.  You can do this before you ever get out of bed or in the shower  or while driving to work. This simple mental exercise will  tweak your focus to the good things that you already have.

     2. Believe in yourself – Come on,  have a little faith in yourself.  Remind yourself of previous accomplishments.  I’d be willing to bet that you’ve already done things that are more difficult than just about anything  you may still face.

Consider the following:

  • Learning to walk – How many times does a baby fall down before they finally stand up unassisted and  wobble their way to walking?  Even gawky teens don’t walk as well as a grown man.  We learn through practice.
  • How many times are you willing to fall down?  As adults we tend to lose our willingness to fall after meeting with a few failures. John Maxwell calls it failing forward.  Nobody likes to fail,  but  sometimes we stumble, scrape our knees.  The key is to get back up,  brush ourselves off and get back in there.  When you believe in yourself and expect success, you’re more likely to succeed.  Don’t look  at the falls as failures, instead view them as stepping-stones that you’ve learned what NOT to do.

3.  Be patient   We live in an instant gratification world. Everything is  microwave, instant, fast food, convenience.  LIFE doesn’t work that way.  Some things are like a crock pot – it takes time for things to blend,  simmer, get to know each other and work together, playing off the different flavors. Now seriously,  doesn’t a rich beef stew sound better than  a microwave burrito?

Some of the greatest things in life take time  to come to full fruition.

Enjoy the process! Life is a journey not a destination. Enjoy the scenery along the way.  Go ahead and rubberneck  at the accidents along the way.  Change the flat tire then get back on the road.  Get out, stretch your legs once in a while.  Each day brings you one step closer.  You can create the life you desire but if you are impatient and look only at the destination frustration will push your goals farther away.

      4. Love life, not stuff.   As most Americans,  I suffer from stuffitis.  We have way too much stuff.  I’ve been spending a great deal of time  ridding my home of stuff.  Goodwill, eBay, the swapshop – anywhere I can unload things including the trash bin.  Do you feel like “stuff” will make you happy?  It’s a lie! It’s a never-ending, bottomless pit of  acquisition, unsatisfaction, new acquisition, more dissatisfaction.  There may be some temporary fleeting happiness but it will never last.

The quality of your life itself is what will bring you happiness,  not the quality or quantity of your stuff.

Ellie,  I know stuff won’t bring me lasting happiness but how do I break the cycle?  How do I change my mindset? 

I’m glad you asked!  Here are just a couple of things you can do.

Spend time doing what you love.  It may not be everyday,  and sometimes it is difficult to fit in our schedule but if you don’t make time for yourself who will?

Work on building meaningful relationships that are uplifting.  Avoid the vampires, drop the negative relations.  Invest in yourself by building relationships that matter.

What matters to you?  What things excite you?  Take actions to creat a life filled with those things.  Don’t be just a spectator,  get yourself in the game!

 5. Being smart is sufficient. Most of the time we need to work smarter not harder. By approaching  challenges in this manner  we can save ourselves a lot of time and grief.  I was  taught by my dad that everything worthwhile requires a lot of hard work. It’s not always true.  In fact,  when you do the things you love it comes easy.  It flows in natural rhythms,  and gives great satisfaction.

Take some time,  sit down and reflect on your situation.  Ponder what needs to happen,  there is often a simple solution for life’s challenges.  You might just be surprised at how clever you are  if you make an effort to find the simple, satisfactory solution.   You’re welcome!

    6.  Seize Opportunities!   Not only seize them, but seize them with confidence. Renewed optimism will turn self-doubt around! A belief in yourself and your abilities will give you the confidence to  conquer your fears, overcome obstacles and launch you to action. Fear cripples, immobilizes you and keeps you from stepping out into action.  The worst regrets are often those of omission rather than commission. Take risks  – be brave – step out!  OK,  if you aren’t ready for that then take a baby step and at least stand up for yourself!

 7.  Failure is NOT an option.  Put another way,  there is no such thing as failure.  EAch time your plans fall short, ask yourself why, where things went wrong, learn from them and continue moving forward.  Use this knowledge to propel yourself forward.

Never, never, never give up! 

 Stop the negative thoughts! 

Once you catch yourself in that negative thought cycle stop! Acknowledge the process,   take control of them and for every negative you counter with a positive.  Evaluate where things went wrong and why. Realize that there are some things you have  no control over.  Let it go!

Accept what you have control over it and  make a difference in your own life!  Once you get things turned around you will be an asset to those around you.  You’ll be a more valuable employee,  a better wife/husband,   a good friend – your attitude will begin to show on the outside and  people will want to be around you.

Change your attitude and the impossible becomes possible! Your confidence will soar and you will be more capable of achieving your dreams! Once you believe it to be possible there is no stopping you!

Faith is the belief of  something in your heart.  When you combine that faith with active determination, the possibilities are endless.   When you have  that sort of faith,  faith in yourself and in your dreams, you can expect amazing things to  come from your actions.  Make the choice to focus on  how something CAN be done  rather than  on why it CAN’T be done, regardless of current restraints and  you’ll see  your dreams  become a reality.

There is a clear line that differentiates between being reckless and taking calculated risks.  Stepping outside of your comfort zone can be scary  but often necessary in order for us to grow. Violating your inner peace however is being reckless and destined for failure.  Realize your own limits, but also learn to push yourself outside of the comfortable box you’ve kept yourself in.

I make the conscious choice to lay fear aside and dare to act in unexpected and sometimes uncomfortable and awkward ways. By doing something I have never done before is how I will reap results beyond what I’ve achieved thus far!

This is the magic that dwells in each of us,  we have the ability to create our own destiny, to  direct our own lives, to redirect from tragedy to success, and to achieve the secret dreams that dwell inside of us.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1.  How can I avoid letting another opportunity slip through my fingers?
  2. What benefit  is there for me to focus on future potential rather than current restraints?
  3. What areas of my life do I need  to let optimism triumph?

By adjusting your attitude, you can shift your whole reality!

Write on my friends, write on!




The After(NANO)glow


I want to express my gratitude to each and every one of my guests.  THANK YOU!

Weren’t they awesome?  Maybe I can persuade a few of them to come back again.

I enjoyed reading through each of their views. I employed Lizette’s plan for making 30 points to work on each day.  For the most part, it worked.  There were a couple of points that carried over into the next day but since towards the end I utilized my Dragon Naturally Speaking software  to dictate about 14000 words and  covered 6 of my  30 points, it all worked out.  I’ve tried different methods, most of which haven’t worked for me.  I tried pantsing and ended up with scenes that really didn’t advance the story,  that just took the characters into an interesting little side loop rabbit trail.   I tried  to outline in detail and that was stifling to my creative mojo.  I’ve tried various plans – book in a year,  book on index cards, book in 30 days, in addition to  several that I’ve forgotten their labels.  So far,  Lizette’s simple plan has worked for me the best.  It allows a framework yet  freedom to be creative.

There has been much discussion as to what word processing program is the best.  There are many systems on the market.  Word is a standard option if you have Office. My husband got me Scrivener with my winner’s discount after winning in 2011.  Can I just say,  I LOVE my Scrivener! There are so many cool features it’s difficult to  highlight just a few, so I’ll just mention my three favorite.

  1. typewriter mode –  everything you type stays in the middle of the screen, so your words don’t drop down to the bottom of the page.
  2. daily targets – as I type it adds every word I put down.   I can see my word count climb as I work.
  3. the corkboard –   I can create my index cards for each chapter,  each scene within a chapter,  my characters,  the entire story on index cards on a virtual corkboard.

OK, so maybe you don’t get excited about word processors but it’s a vital tool for me.

It’s fascinating that  if you ask 10 writers the same question you get 20 different answers!  How is that possible?  Oh,  come on guys.  You should know by now that getting inside a writer’s mind is like opening a bag of popcorn.

You grab it by the opposite corners with every intention of keeping things neat and tidy, then transfer into the waiting vessel for consumption,  but the dog runs in and bumps your leg and you pull harder than you intended and popcorn goes everywhere much to the dog’s delight!

Most of the writers I know are not just one trick ponies.  If they were, they’d be one hit wonders and be done.  That old line that everyone has a book inside them holds true,  but a true writer has a library of books inside them.

This  fact makes for some interesting  forums in my writing groups.  For the most part I’ve found that writers encourage each other.  It’s not like some other fields where it’s backstabbing and trampling over one guy to push themselves higher.  We are on similar paths and there is a sense of camaraderie.  Well, at least for the friends  I have in my circle.

For everyone that attempted NANO,  congratulations!  It’s not an easy task.  Simple, but not easy. Just like baking is simple, but not everyone does it well.  I am working on honing my craft, practice does indeed make perfect.  It works with  piano lessons,  with golf, with most everything we do.

I figure whatever you are passionate about –  pursue it.  For me it’s a writing career.  I’m sending out finished manuscripts, which is a step in the right direction. NANO  is yet another tool for a writer to break old habits,  reestablish or establish good habits and focus on the goal. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me.

Thank you to my guests and to my readers.   You guys rock!

Write on my friends, write on!