Rib Stickin’ Goodness – Part 1

This isn’t a food blog. I’ve never shared recipes before today, but hey. . . change is good, right?

Recently we’ve made some dietary changes. I’ve completely changed the way I’ve been cooking. I’m sure I’ve shared before I’m a pretty darn good cook. I’m never going to be on Master Chef, and I’m ok with that. I can create a fabulous meal with minimal ingredients.  I’ve had years of practice. Sometimes even the best household chef gets into a rut. This is when a change  can be good.  I have learned a few things from that show and enjoy watching it and sometimes get inspiration for recipes.

We’ve made the decision to go meatless for a time. Let me be clear here, we are not vegetarians, not vegans.  This was a decision made for various reasons.  I have to say that although I am enjoying the variety of new dishes, I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into some Thanksgiving turkey!

A few observations before I share the recipes.

  1. I feel better.  My stomach has not been churning or upset over the past two weeks of our new eating plan.
  2. These meals are surprisingly filling!  (Honestly, as a dedicated carnivore I was shocked.)
  3. Meatless meals cost (in general, there are the exceptions) less than with meat.
  4. I’ve lost a few pounds, felt fuller after meals, and feel more energetic.  Coincidence or not – just being honest.

These are not necessarily low-calorie,  but some are. My plan is to share with you 2 recipes a day this week, until Friday. Since it is November,  I  feel compelled to include NANOWRIMO into my repertoire.  I hope the Friday posts help encourage those who are  interested or participating in NANOWRIMO.

As kitchen manager, general dietitian, and master chef of the household, I spend a little time each week preparing a menu before shopping.  I shop from the menu, so that I have what I need on hand and reduce the amount of trips to the store, which in turn cuts down on impulse purchases. Yes, we use that nasty word here –  budget. I seldom buy convenience or prepackaged foods.  I also prepare my meals from scratch. It doesn’t really take that much time and the food tastes so much better.  Like Papa John says – better ingredients, better pizza.  OR in my case better meals all around.

Cost savings, no preservatives, fresh wholesome foods, and a sense of satisfaction for providing for my family. Yes, I am creative in the kitchen as well.

Alright, let’s get down to it then. Meatless meals. My definition for meatless –  it does not contain animal flesh, to include red meats, wild game, poultry, or aquatic (fish, mollusks, shrimp, lobster, etc) I do include dairy and eggs.  (No animal gave its life in the production of these meals!)

Hearty Vegetable Soup

Hearty Vegetable Soup

Hearty Vegetable Soup    

(7 on a scale of 10)

small bunch of parsley, finely chopped

1/2 onion, chopped                                 one clove of garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, chopped                         cayenne pepper

Black pepper                                          3 carrots chopped, ½ head of cabbage, shredded

Ginger                                                    4 cups vegetable broth

2 TBSP tomato paste                             2 cups water

½ cup pearled barley                             1 cup lentils, dry

2 TBSP olive oil

Pour olive oil into skillet. Saute onion and celery. Once onions are translucent add garlic and other seasonings to taste. (approximately ½ tsp each, but I add a dash more cayenne)  Add carrots.

Simmer  while adding broth to dutch oven. Bring to low boil.  Add lentils and barley. Add in the vegetables from the skillet. Cook for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.  Add in tomato paste, and 2 cups of water as the lentils and barley will have soaked up some of liquid.  Add in cabbage, and half of chopped parsley.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Top with parsley after serving.

This soup is 175 calories for 1 ½ cup serving. Surprisingly filling!

3 Cheese and Spinach Calzones

3 Cheese and Spinach Calzones

Three Cheese and Spinach Calzones.
(I’ll give this one an 8 on a scale of 10!)

1 package(10 ounce) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
1/2 cup ricotta
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
3 scallions, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 egg lightly beaten
I tube refrigerated pizza crust. ( I make my own from scratch, but store-bought is much easier and faster)
1 cup marinara sauce.

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl combine first 8 ingredients.Unroll pizza crust into an 11 inch square. Cut into four squares. Spoon mixture over half of each square (diagonally because you’re making triangles)Fold the other half over, and pinch edges closed. I make a small slit on top so it vents. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve with warmed marinara.

1 calzone with 1/4 cup of marinara sauce is 540 calories.  served with a salad,   this is a very filling meal!

This was a big hit with the family and even got the approval of my meat and potatoes husband. Now that the weather is cooler,  I don’t mind heating up the kitchen to experiment with new recipes.  Tired of our usual fare,  this  dietary change has been  a welcomed change.  When the schedule gets crowded,  I tend to revert to the old standards, where routine turns into a rut.  I hate ruts.

Give these a try and let me know what you think!  Would you like to see more recipes from my kitchen? Has anyone tried any of the recipes that are featured in the mini cookbook at the back of Red Wine & Roses?  What???  You didn’t know there was a cookbook in the back?

A little bonus feature for my readers!

Write on my friends, write on . . . and eat well!

The Hard Decisions

Yeserday I lamented about others; today I am lamenting about personal issues – the critical choices we have to make in order to have, well order in our lives. It’s sometimes difficult to deal with criticism from others.  We have to maintain a delicate balance for friends and family who sometimes feel compelled to express their opinions while if you offer yours it will cause hard feelings.  This double standard is frustrating.  However, I’ve found the hardest part is conquering myself.  *cough*  Yeah, I”m going there as well.

Top 10 Ways To Conquer Yourself

 1. Make the choice  to be inspired by difficulties, not intimidated. Life happens every day.  Sometimes it throws us a curve balls, sometimes it throws us a slider, and sometimes even a fastball.  Although it may be difficult at the moment, we can always find a silver lining.  Example:  A flood destroys your home and everything in it.  It is devestating, yet the lives of you and your loved ones are spared.  Stuff can always be replaced, people can not.

2. Make the choice to not fret!  Being a worrywart is damaging to your health, your mental well being and your ability to handle the future.  I have a friend that is a complete worrywart!  (By the way a worrywart is someone who constantly worries about everything)  Shef rets over the smallest little things.  It started when she was young , worrying about storms because she was quite scared during a thunderstorm.  Then it progressed into her clothing choices, her food choices, and now she can hardly make a single decision.  She is completely bound up by fear, constantly afraid to make any decision for fear that itwill be the wrong decision.  That is no way to live. There are things we have no choice in , and we learn to handle them.  Fear is a wicked and cruel master.

3.Be a knight not a Barbie!  I am borrowing that from a bit of my presentation last fall.  Knights go into battle prepared, ready to tackle whatever comes their way.  Sure they get knocked down but they are tough, battle seasoned, and don’t give up easily.  Barbie’s are plastic, and melt under pressure.  They are superficial and fall apart at the slightest little trouble.  You find out who you are under pressure.  You also find out who other people really are under pressure.  Are you calm during a storm, or crushed by it?

4. Don’t live PO’d – past oriented.  Keep your eyes firmly fixed in front of you, not constantly looking behind.  The windshield of your car is much larger than the rearview mirror for a good reason!  All of us have a past that makes us who we are today.  It affected us, molded and shaped us into the person we are but don’t  let the past keep ou from living your life. Learn from where you’ve been, and focus on the future!

5. Are you happy  or hopeless?   Your attitude determines your altitude.(John Maxwell)  We don’t have to be happy about some of the things that happen to us but we can choose happiness.  Only 10% of happiness is determined by outside forces.  That should make you stop and think.  We  are not hopeless, or helpless.  Being a victim doesn’t have to be a permanent state.

6. Tap into the well. I’ve heard it said that happiness is contagious, that smiles spread easily.  Joy is your strength, but jealousy destroys. I have unfortunately complained to my friends way too much.  I am really a happy person, but when little things get to me, I spend way too much time taking things to heart and letting it affect me.  I owe my friends the deepest apologies for crying on their shoulders and lamenting trivial and some not so trivial matters.  I know that’s what friends are there for, but there’s a time to get a grip and realize that it’s notworth the anxiety I am causing myself or them.

 7. Focus your lense. quit focusing on your mistakes. Quit looking back at the past and beating yourself up over it.  I should have. . . I could have . . . I wish I had . . . It’s a dead end trap to misery!  Adjust your lense to see the future, learning from the past and focus on the parts you did right.  Yeah, I need to work on this one big time!

8. Half full!  Choose to be an opomist.  I know it doesn’t come naturally for some, but it can be learned.  You cantrain your brain to jump tracks from pessimism to optomism.  Looking at future opportunities, and your own potential goes a long way on those days when your past can nearly overwhelm you.  Atreyu showed us in The NeverEnding Story that is all too easy to get lost in the swamp of despair forever.

9. Patience is a virtue!  Yes, well . . . not one of my strong suits.  I battle this one frequently.  HOwever, during a crisis I tend to stay calm, and not panic.  It’s not exactly patience, but a willingness to slow down, and not get overwhelmed by the circumstances.  Challenges happen all the time, we need to face them without buckling to panic.  Sometimes, we need to be patient, and outlast, outwit, and outplay our opponent.  Trying times happen, only you can determine your mental battle plan.

10. Choose strength over suffering.  This sounds obvious, but how many people do you know that seem to enjoy their suffering?  They wear their suffering like a badge.  I’m not talking about the sacrifices taht our veterans make.  they should be commended and honored for every second they gave so that we can have freedom. What I’m talking aobut is the neighbor or friend that practically boasts about their afflictions in a way that it makes them special. They want your attention, your time, but always spend your time lamenting their own woes.  Strength comes in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes it takes strength to get through a single day when your body is wracked with pain.  The difference is the sufferer will tel you every second how miserable they are looking for sympathy.  The strong will endure, frequesntly quiet to their plight and rarely ever speak of anything amiss.  They earn my respect every time.

The biggest challenges we often face is learning to conquer the screaming toddler within us, and conduct ourselves as responsible human beings.  Making the tough decisions to tackle our own “tyrant selves” in the long run makes us happier with ourselves.

Some things to think about anyway!

Write on my friends, write on!

Laugh Out Loud!

A news report that I heard this morning stated that Doctors at Washington University have release scientifically documented cases where laughter is very good medicine indeed.  I’ve known this for years!

While the serious-minded folks around me are working on permanent creases in their foreheads and raising their blood pressure, I approach life in a little less orthodox manner.  One of my Facebook friends recently commented about posting LOL. “Do people really laugh out loud?”

I do.  Often in fact.  I laugh at odd times, at unconventional things, and sometimes at very awkward situations.  I laugh when I’m nervous, and when I’m not.  I laugh at funny movies. Unfortunately there aren’t that many that are actually funny.  My life is like a Carol Burnett rerun, and sometimes like the Three Stooges.

These doctors have scientific proof that laughter reduces cholesterol levels, blood pressure and decreases your blood sugar levels.  Really? I have low blood pressure, low cholesterol and no diabetes despite being overweight.  I’ve told people for years to lighten up, but do they listen? Of course not.  Here pull my finger!

Sometimes the idiocy that is our lives can become overwhelming.  You can laugh or you can cry.  I prefer laughing.  Looking for the funny side is a choice.  It’s not easy at times, but when things become just so insanely overwhelming what am I going to do about it?  Debbie Downer is no fun and I don’t want to be her.  IN fact I try not to be around her.

I don’t want to get into a lot of psycho-babble about our temperaments and predetermined biological DNA as to why people are the way they are.  Although I think the shock of actually experiencing a good belly laugh might send some to the emergency room, or at least to the doctor’s office for medications, laughter is a good thing that grownups have forgotten how to do.

What makes you laugh?  For me it’s a variety of different things.  I laugh at my own mistakes, and my own ignorance.  I laugh at funny videos. I laugh at good jokes and even some corny stupid jokes.  I laugh at Mony Python and even the Stooges.  Slapstick is funny stuff!

My point is, don’t take yourself or life too seriously. None of us get out of here alive so why not kick back and enjoy the ride at least sometimes?  Surely there is something that you can find humor in.  If not, maybe see the doctor for some meds that make things seem funny.  I hear that stuff the dentist uses can be pretty good.  Mine uses needles, and I avoid him as much as possible.

When you can laugh so loud you snort, you’ve almost gotten there.  When you almost pee your pants  you are well on your way on the laugh track.  When you spray the person across the table with your soda, you make others laugh.  It’s a good thing I don’t embarrass easily.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:  LAUGH OUT LOUD!

Irrational Fears

Every one of us have fears.  Some people are afraid of snakes, spiders, heights, the dark, small places.  Those make sense to me.

  1.  I have a healthy respect for snakes, was bitten as a child by a Copperhead on my ankle and was very ill as a result.  the chances of being bitten by a black mamba or cobra is pretty slim as they don’t live in the area I live, but Copperheads, rattlesnakes, coral snakes, and cotton mouths do.  I’m not terrified of them but you won’t catch me on Fear Factor climbing into anything that contains any type of snake.
  2. I have a healthy dislike for spiders.  Arachnids may exist outside, but when they come inside my house they must die.  I have a scar on my forearm from a brown recluse bite.  What can I say? I grew up in the country.
  3. Heights – well some people are, and I won’t lean way out over an edge, but not really an issue for me.
  4. The dark – well all things evil exist in the dark don’t they?  Things go bump in the night, not in the day.  the only dark I”m afraid of is complete darkness, like when you’re in a cave and they shut the lights off and you can’t see your hand in front of your face.  I prayed fervently at that point thanking God that I was sighted!
  5. Small places.  I can understand this one, but other than the time I was completely stuck in a small tunnel while spelunking, it’s not really an issue.

These are all statistics from the US.  More people are afraid of public speaking than of dying.

Chances of dying from a snake bite is 1 in 50 million. Chances of dying from a dog bite are 1 in 120,864.

Most people are afraid of snakes, yet the deadliest animal in the US is the deer.  Chances of dying in an auto accident by hitting a deer is 1 in 28,8331.

Many are afraid to fly. The odds of death by plane crash are 1 in 11 million yet the odds of dying in an auto accident is 1 in 88.

These fears have sound reasoning behind them. Others I have trouble seeing a basis for.

Alien abduction, having your hand severed, killer asteroid, cloning,  . . . seriously people worry about these things.

My biggest fears are parasites and octopus.  Parasites are just so disgusting to me, and I watched this National Geographic show on octopus – a full-grown octopus can squeeze inside a 2 inch pipe and hide completely.  That’s just freaky! I had nightmares for a week!

Fears over the economy, our mortality, over relationships; these I can understand as all of us worry sometimes and wonder ‘what if’.   Being able to pay the mortgage when you’ve been laid off for 18 months is a real fear.  Worrying about what now when you are graduating from high school or college in the current economy can be scary.

Letting our worries become irrational fears is harmful to our well-being.  What are your fears?  What things freak you out, cause you heart palpitations? Is there anything you can do to work through your fears?  Example, if you are afraid of getting diabetes are you doing anything to prevent it?

If you have multiple phobias, maybe you shouldn’t be watching scary movies, just saying.  Prometheus is opening tonight  but I’ve got other plans. Maybe for a Sunday matinée, during daylight hours we’ll go see it.

Write on my friends, write on!


Reality Check

Summer is fast approaching.  I know that.  The end of school is rapidly approaching – I knew that too.

However, reality slapped me square in the face like a brick wall.  My kids only have 4 1/2 days of school left then they will be here full-time.  We’re still hoping for a summer job for the oldest, but so far no success. This is sooooo going to put a cramp in my writing schedule.

Yay for them, but this means that I will have to change my routine – yet again.  The oldest has no concept of time.  She plans to lounge in bed till ten or so, get up at her leisure, spend an hour writing her fan fiction, go with me to work out for an hour, eat lunch, then go to the pool in the afternoon.  I don’t know about you, but if you count from 10 am, to 5 pm which is when I start preparing dinner, there’s no way to get all of that in.  Reality is going to hit her hard in about 7 days.  First of all, our exercise blitz will start earlier in the day so that we’re not in the heat of the day.

Last night the family had some major issues with my writing.  I was working on my blog when the kids got home from school.  I didn’t give them my full undivided attention as I was trying to finish.  When I got the laptop out to write some after clearing the table from dinner, the hubs complained. You know it’s nice to be in demand, sometimes.  My kids are teenagers. Aren’t they suppose to want more independence?  Anyway, they were having issues over my writing.  Not the content as they never read anything I write.  I have a feeling that when my summer blog share for Storytime Trysts begins next Tuesday (May 22, 2012), it’s probably a good thing the hubs doesn’t read my stuff.  Talk about sizzle!  The introductory chapter is mild enough, but from Day 1 on her trip, Stephanie is on a no holds barred adventure.

She’s braver than me,  I was blushing while writing it!

I’m pretty stoked about this blog share project, as well as the one on RCGale’s blog.  In addition to that, I’m getting closer to the end of Kiss of the Dragon (copyright 2012 Ellie Mack).  The story is written more or less, but remember when I said I write myself big notes with capital letters about INSERT LOVE SCENE HERE?  There are several actually.  At the meeting of the dragon lords, I left a big WHAT DO MEN FIGHT ABOUT ANYWAY? that sparked conversations with the husband and a couple of online male friends.   The general consensus was: pride, ego and women.  In a section where Zane discovers the truth about dragon law and how his father handled it, I put a big note:  RESEARCH NOTES: CHRONICLES; KINGS; CONSEQUENCES.  That may not make sense to you, but it’s clear as Swarovski crystal to me.

I’m currently working on the final battle scene.  It’s all there except a few minor details, but as we know the devil is in the details.  My perfectly clear note to myself at this point to explain the past-present-future-present conundrum was: ???????????   I’m brilliant aren’t I?  I should have thought this out, but during NaNoWriMo I was writing as fast as I could get it down.  All of my other notes have research files, information, the direction I want to develop, or  perhaps just something to make the scene more believable.

For instance, in the dragon lord meeting; have you ever been in a board meeting with a bunch of men?  Oh my!  And they say women can’t stay on track.  In one particular meeting while working for the DOD, we were discussing targets for Desert Storm.  The media had published images of one of our targets being blown up – a 6 foot square power pylon.  Now think about the logistics of that and your faith in our military should be increased.  From a height of 35000 ft, we drop a bomb to take out the power pylon successfully that is only 6 ft square at the base.  You don’t need to know calculus here, just admit it’s amazing.   OK, well maybe not as amazing as dropping one down the elevator shaft of a ten story building.  That was just freaking awesome!

At this meeting they showed the footage from tv.  We were given “patent” responses to say to any media personnel regarding US targeting.  Five minutes later the guys were fervently debating which football team’s cheerleaders were hotter.  Yep; pride, ego and women.  Great strategists derailed by a shiny, especially if the shiny happens to be on a woman prancing around in a short sequined outfit.

Dragons are very carnal creatures that can become violent over their women folk.  Nations have gone to war over women throughout history.  Dragons are intense creatures with strong convictions.  Sometimes fate can override the strongest convictions in a split second, forever changing the course of time.  Knowing the consequences of jumping through time and how it affects the future, which was Isabelle’s present – well, it gets confusing if the details aren’t ironed out just exactly so.

I was hoping to have all of this completed, and begin editing for grammatical errors before school let out. As I’m untangling a knot that I’ve made, time is slipping away from me.  I don’t know if 4 1/2 days are enough to get it ironed out to my satisfaction.

I might mention here that I stopped by the store after leaving the Y from my aqua class, and stocked up on coffee.  I bought 6 cans of french roast, yeah the big cans.  that might last through the summer if the hubs wants any.  Now it’s down to crunch time, pushing myself for this self-imposed deadline.  (It’s usually self-imposed as a writer.)

I have plans for the summer with the writing, which I’ve shared. Fitness goals, household goals, and fun time goals. There are several movies coming out this summer that the girls and I would like to see.  I’ve set up some potential rewards for achieving certain goals, one of which will be going to the matinée.

It’s all about time management really.  It’s an area I struggle with.  I’ve added a few more irons to my fire, and time management is becoming an increasingly important aspect.  We don’t have a family vacation planned. but I have several day trips, and fun outings planned for me and  my girls.  My oldest daughter will be a senior in high school in the fall, then off to college.  I want it to be an enjoyable summer, but there’s work to be done as well.  I still have to do the day job, and plan to continue the writing as well.

As I tweak my schedule yet again, I am feeling very optimistic for this upcoming summer.  I’ll let you know next Thursday if I’ve met my goal or not.

Write ON!



Wonder Underdog

We Are Who We Are

Y’all are just too wonderful!  I’ve got to give a shout out to my soul sista – Satin Sheet Diva, my partner in crime – Cathy Brockman; my supporters Raymond Frazee, Penelope Price,  Madison Johns, Ben Hannigan,  and Linda J. Alexander.  You guys rock!

Thank you all for the wonderful support when I was feeling so frustrated yesterday.

Quick recap:

  • coffee this morning – ah!!!
  • headache is gone but that’s a bad sign when fasting for blood work makes my blood sugar plummet to the point of causing a headache
  • poked holes in my arm are fading, and the one is only slightly bruised.
  • I’ve decided (with the husband’s voice of reason) that perhaps this year it would do well for me to avoid the family gathering. As he put it:  “You know how they are going to be.  It’s just a matter of how quickly they get there.  Then the rest of the time is spent with them sitting around discussing their ailments.  I don’t really think it’s a very good atmosphere for you, the kids or me.  We have somewhere else to be that day, even if it is just at home.”   REASON #7894 why I love this man.

My own convictions for improved health demands that I continue along the safe but slower path that I am on.  I have made progress in that by the way – I went from a tight size 24 probably should have been in a size 26 to buying size 16.  Still a long way to go, but I’m getting there slowly but surely.  Still, not quite ready to share any bikini pictures.  There are some things the world just doesn’t need to see.

I discovered this morning that my swim instructor had a roux en Y bypass five years ago.  She asked what was going on, and I shared about my sister calling me  and telling me she was going to have the sleeve bypass on Monday.  She pipes up and says ” Oh, I had a gastric bypass three years ago. Best decision I ever made.”  I said nothing else about it.  I will tell you that the instructor is around 230.  NOT good advertisement for the procedure to me.  Just saying!

I have decided that my friends are right.  I’m doing the right thing.  It’s about so much more than just losing the weight.  Last week I had my doctor’s visit and I am happy to report my cholesterol is fine.  My blood pressure  – 120/64 is fine.  No diabetes, or arthritis.  the knee is healing nicely.  so other than carrying too much weight, and having this obsession with writing – I’m healthy.

If I had the money to do the procedure as an elective surgery I still wouldn’t do it.  I might hire Jillian to whip my butt into shape, or Dolvett Quince.  I promise not to give a bunch of lip while he’s training me!  then I’d spend the rest of my surplus money on new clothes!  A girl’s got to look good regardless of the size she wears.  I could rock it in a size 24, I can certainly rock it on the way down to wherever I land. *hand raise with a snap*

It’s about the attitude honey.  Sassy sista gonna strut her stuff and feel GOOD about it too! Uh huh!  Gonna work this body, demanding more from it.  Push myself a little harder and a little longer, each time to improve my cardio. Mmm, hmm that’s right. *head snap*  My inner diva is about to show up on the scene, slim and sexified!

Between Zumba fit, the cycling, the swimming, and occasionally other cardio machines and the hiking – I can just feel the fat melt away now!

To borrow Penelope’s word – my “fierce” inner diva steps up to handle the situation and sets my whimpering whining self-pity  woose down for a firm talking to.  Let me tell you, nobody can pop a hip like a sista bent out of shape.

Just so you know, I approach everything with the same intensity – full throttle!  It’s the only speed I know until I run out of gas.  Yesterday I was out of gas.  My tanks are full, and I’ve added some nitro (insert evil laugh here).

I feel ten times better about myself than I did when I weighed my highest weight.  I’m gaining confidence, and when my friend’s make such kind statements – me fierce – gotta love that! – then I feel compelled to live up to that.

No more whining!  Maybe some wine but not whine!  Write On my friends, Write ON!

Just Keep Swimming!

Just Keep Swimming

On March 3, 2012 I gave a presentation at a seminar, which I blogged about on earlier dates.  If you’re curious you can check out   Overcoming Emotions, Sir Rustalot, Freaky Friday, and Let’s Try the Remix.

Although I completely changed my prepared material the night before, I nailed it!  In my exuberance however, I managed to injure myself by acting goofy.  While disassembling the mannequin, I stepped down from the stage, and wrenched my knee.  I heard a loud pop, and a quick sharp pain.  No biggie, it was tolerable and I continued on.  It kept getting worse however.

The following weekend I went to Branson, and saw the devastation of the recent tornado.  I did a lot of walking – big mistake.  By Friday afternoon my knee was swollen to the size of a volleyball, partially deflated.  I kept telling myself I was just being a weenie and I need to suck it up.  Alas, I had to “suck it up” and go see doctor as it didn’t improve but kept getting worse.  After X-rays, and an MRI, they determined that I have a torn meniscus, and a torn ligament.  I also have a tumor at the back of my knee which is probably what weakened the joint.

I tell you all this to bring to the current issues I”m having with my lack of mobility.  I”m not used to restricted movements, the leg brace is driving me fruity, and making my leg itch insanely; and I have a greater appreciation for those who use crutches.   I remind myself to quit the self-pity thing and re watch the video of Nick Vujicic.

The essential part of what I do for my job, and as a writer is not affected by my knee.  Unfortunately it involves me sitting on my bum, parked in front of the computer.  Technically there is no reason for this to have affected my productivity level, but it has.  It’s taken a mental toll on me which is why I had to remind myself to Get over it!

So, what does this have to do with Dory?  I”m so very glad you asked!

Ahem!  *tap, tap, tap*  Is this mike on???  Testing?  OK, here goes.

About two weeks ago the Dr. cleared me to do aqua-aerobics, and walking in pool and some laps.  I have to be careful with the laps though, if I flex my knee too much it still causes great pain.  The indoor pool at our local YMCA  eats suits.  Any indoor pool really will destroy most bathing suits from the high levels of chlorine.  I have a great suit that I bought last year, that I think is flattering to my . . . mature physiche. (Let’s be honest here, I’ve got some serious junk in my trunk!)  I don’t want this suit destroyed.

I went online and ordered a chlorine tolerant suit in the size and color I needed.  It arrived 4 days later.  Great Service guys, but the size is completely wrong!  they sent me a child’s size equivalent to a 6X.  It won’t even fit my 7-year-old neighbor girl and she’s a toothpick!  Strike one, have to mail it back and get my refund.  Another week in the highly chlorinated water eating away at my good suit.

I went online again and found a couple of options, and one was a local Sports Authority.  I use the term local loosely here as it’s a 45 minute drive there.  I live in a rural area, nothing around here but a horse farm and some cows.  I called the local store, and asked if they did indeed have the suit that the online database said they had in stock – yes!  I specified the size (Ladies 16) and the color (navy blue).  Stephanie said she’d hold it for me for 24 hours.  GREAT!  I’d be there in 2 hours, after my aqua class.

I was so excited during class I could have done everything at twice the normal speed, and probably re-injured my knee, but I behaved.  I turned up the tunage in the car, excitedly driving to the store.  I get there and Stephanie pulls out a black suit in a size 14.  OK, before y’all get taken aback by my size the last suit I purchased was a size 24, not a 2-4 but a double-digit 24 plus sized.  I was pretty proud of myself for the hard work I’ve been putting in at the gym, and the changes I’ve made to my diet to shed the weight.  So for me to be able to fit in a 16 – I was excited, until I saw that it was a 14.  I went to the sad excuse for a changing room, and squeezed into the suit.  I could get it on, but not anything that should be seen in public.  I looked like a sausage stuffed into a black tube!  All the excitement I’d felt about the weight I’ve lost went running out the door – screaming – inadequate,  fatso!

Have you seen the current price of gas?  45 minutes there, 45 minutes home – I lost a substantial chunk of my day and came home suitless!  I’m so pissed at Stephanie from Sports Authority I could scream.  OH, and one more thing – ever try to maneuver crutches into a changing room the size of a bathroom stall?  She’s lucky I didn’t beat her with my crutches and try out some of those Tae Bo moves on her.

So here I am back at home once again surfing the web to find the suit I want.  Does it really have to be this hard to find a chlorine resistant suit?  Maybe I should just buy some in bulk at Wal-Mart and let the chlorine eat them apart one after the other.  For the price of one decent suit I could have probably 7 or 8 from Wal-Mart.

Even though I’m frustrated about this I kept hearing this little ditty (Just Keep Swimming) in my head on the drive home.

Perseverance will pay off in the end, I’m hoping.  Either that or I”ll try the bulk purchase method.  In the meantime, I’ll be swimming and aquacizing until I can get back to the elliptical and my Zumba.  Jillian Michael’s wouldn’t quit, but I think she’d tell me to follow the doctor’s instructions.  So until I can Zumba again I’ll just keep swimming!




Bottle Blues

I’ve spent the last two days trying to make a rather dry subject seem interesting.  Assigned topics are never as exciting as the subjects that we would choose on our own.  I wouldn’t have selected the topic of alcoholism and it’s effects on the families even though I have experience with it.  My father was an alcoholic, and I watched it destroy his health.  The effects it had in family dynamics can be attested to first hand, yet it’s one of those subjects that I don’t like to talk about.

I loved my father and he was never a violent drunk.  I am often very reserved in sharing personal information about myself and my family, because I don’t want to ever disrespect them in any way.  I understand why he started drinking, why he continued to drink, and I understand  the long reaching effects it had on our family.

I”m faced with research facts and medical documentation of symptoms that I experienced first hand.  For me this is a particularly difficult assignment because of the emotional pain behind it.  That’s the most devastating part of alcoholism that is never  considered in the younger “party” days.

My dad was a WWII veteran.  He went in on D-Day and lived first hand through horrors that were far greater than could be shown in the movie Saving Private Ryan.  He was in an Engineer corp on the front lines of battle throughout the European theatre. When most of our soldiers came home, the Engineer Corp stayed behind to clean up Auschwitz, Nuremberg, Dakow, and such. He saw depths of human despair that most of us will never experience.  I don’t begrudge him coping with those horrors through alcohol.  If it were today, doctors would overmedicate him and claim post traumatic stress disorder.  But that’s not how the heroes of World War II handled it.  They resumed life the best they knew how, jumped in with both feet and worked hard in their jobs to support their booming families.

Dad will always be a hero in my book.  He was a sweet gentle man who was slow to anger, and approached life with humor! He was a quiet unassuming man who stood 5’7″, but in my book he was a giant.

Over the years the alcoholism progressed, and he stayed comfortably numb most of the time. Between my siblings and myself, we exhibit every potential symptom of children of alcoholics.  Understanding is often the first step to freedom. The 12 step program that many help groups offer are great tools to achieve this freedom.

This assignment has hit a little too close to home with me, and as I begin to churn the facts, my emotions pour onto the page.  The loss of my father, the respect I will always have for him despite his problems with alcohol overshadow my words. Personal slant – uh yeah, I’d say so.  Personal experience pieces often sell.  I’m concerned that when it comes to matters of the heart, and especially when it concerns my father, this 48-year-old woman is reduced to that 7-year-old girl in pig tails running along behind daddy, trying to keep up with his strides.

How well this one will sell when the main emphasis is put on the emotional fallout rather than the clinical issues remains to be seen.

What gives you an edge over the competition to sell articles?  Your slant, or unique perspective.  How you convey the gleaned knowledge, the volumes of research and combine them into a winning recipe depends on you writer’s voice. Yet, it can’t be too personal or readers won’t relate.

It’s different for fiction than it is for nonfiction.  My nonfiction voice tends to fluctuate between an intelligent midwestern American voice of experience, and the sagacious wit which I often approach life with.  On occasion the two combine for a truly unique perspective on a chosen topic.  there’s not much opportunity for humor in this current piece, and I”m concerned that any intelligence fled the moment the emotions began to rise.

However, an assignment often means a guaranteed sale.  YEAH!  So, there’s hope yet that the editor may indeed accept it, or ask for a  revision without a complete rejection.

Writing from the heart can be deeply satisfying, yet emotionally draining.  If it’s truly from the heart it will carry impact to the reader.  It will grip them, until they feel the choking sensation rising within themselves.  Maybe one of their loved ones is experiencing the hell of alcoholism, or maybe it will bring conviction to their own drinking and help them see it through someone elses eyes.

An alcoholic never intends to harm those around them. In my dad’s case, it was to numb the pain, a self-administered medication.  How could I possibly fault him for alcoholism when I’ve done the same thing to myself with food?  In my case I can recover from the extra pounds with minimal damage.  It wasn’t the case for my father, it ruined his liver and his heart an eventually was the cause of his death.

I hope this piece does get published and that it has an impact on someone.  Many tears were shed in writing a 2500 word article on a topic I would not have chosen. I’ve put more energy into this piece than I thought I would, and it has been strangely cathartic. I’m also hoping this one gets published for the effort it has taken me.  I may not have sweated but it sure involved many tears.

Thanks for dropping by today and listening.  I’d appreciate any comments you wish to share on the subject!

Let’s Try the Remix

Yeah!  My presentation is finished. Whew!  So relieved that it’s over.  After stressing myself over it to the point of having an upset stomach, I nailed it!  Well, at least to the best that I could.

Ah, but wait the phone rings this morning and it’s the coordinator of the seminar.  Now I’m going to Branson this coming weekend for take 2.  WHAT?  Well, good thing I didn’t throw my notes out yet.  Speaking of notes, I completely rewrote them on Friday night.

I stuck to the main outline that was in the participant handbook, but edited the content in a complete overhaul.  Same topics, different ponts to explain.  Apparently it worked, as they’ve asked me to do another.  Either that or they really liked my jokes.

I thought this morning I would take it easy and read a little after I finished my first job.  I haven’t read for pleasure in about three months.  I miss my books.  Bask in the warmth of success, or at least of accomplishment. Now however, I’m trying to locate another mannequin.  I had to return Sir Rustalot’s randy woman to the shop owner.  Since I didn’t actually torch her into a pile of melted plastic, maybe they’ll let me borrow another. Hmmm, will have to check.  If not there are many department stores that might be willing.

Meanwhile, my stack of reading material sits unattended.  I flipped through them, deciding which one I would tackle first.  Looks like they will sit a little longer.  Next week I’ll have to take some time to read, just for fun.  Maybe I should use the bike at the Y instead of treadmill so I can read.

this week I had planned to focus on my current WIP, I haven’t written much the last few weeks.  I make a point to write a minimum amount every day. That’s all it’s been lately is the bare minimum.  I suppose thought, now that I ‘m expected to give the same presentation, there’s not much revisions I can make.  Which allows more time for the actual writing on the WIP.

Being the first Monday of the month, I evaluate where I am on my SMART plans and make adjustments to accomplish my goals.  Only 8% of the population can identify clear goals.  3% of the population ever write them down.  Wow, that means that I am already ahead of 97% of the population!  I’m sold on this goal thing because for years I never made goals, and therefore achieved – nothing.   By writing them down, and making sure they are SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timeframe) I have something I can work towards.  One of my fun goals is to read 48 books this year.  In January I read three books, in February I only read one book, but I was focused on other goals during that time.

My word count for my writing is at the bare minimum for February, and honestly that will not get me to one of the other goals of finishing my manuscript for publication.  My plan is to double my word count production from last month.  It’s doable, as long as I stay focused.  that’s part of what my presentation was about, engaging our will so we aren’t just coasting through life,  giving a concerted focused effort in our endeavors.

Whatever we choose to do, do it to our full capacity. Take that perceived level of exertion from the gym and apply it to my writing.  Can I dig a little deeper?  Can I push just a little more?  Can I go a few minutes longer?  Get our heads in the game, stop operating on autopilot, and live.   Live out loud!  Boldly go where you haven’t gone before, pushing your own limits to realize there’s more inside than you realized.

I’m having a blast rediscovering my limits.  what I thought were limits have since been shattered.  I’ve discovered that the weakness was  only in my mind by the imagined barriers that I had just never put the effort into pushing past.  When I tried they fell like cardboard cutouts.  It’s a good feeling!  Of course while I’m on the elliptical it can be a battle every second of every minute.  My muscles are screaming to stop, but my will is engaged and I have a goal.  I will quit when I reach the goal, maybe.  There are days that I blow past that goal simply because I’ve been a whiner.

There are times to rest,  relax, and regroup.  Then you get back in there and you ‘give ‘er all ye’ve got Cap’n’.  Imagine what we could accomplish in our jobs, in the different aspects of our lives if we just put forth the effort.  That relationship?  Treat them with love and concern instead of thinking what can they do for me.  The boring job?  Do the job the best you can, you’ll stand out from the other employees in no time at all.  It might even get you a promotion!   I won’t guarantee it because in this economy, well you never know.

I guarantee you’ll feel better about yourself at the end of the day no matter what it is you do.

Make yourself a plan, write it down and start working on it! Set some goals for yourself, and make a plan to achieve them.  Then, take a big breath, and go for it!