What Can I Say?


Welcome to my blog!

For the month of June, I planned to post 30 Days of Definition, well . . . if you’ve stopped by this past week,  you know I haven’t managed to do that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I managed to get the first week in –  defining moments. Sort of.

You know,  it’s like as soon as I make a plan to do X the universe conspires to make sure it doesn’t happen. Yes, that is an exaggeration,  but it sure seems like it at times.

What’s been happening in my world? Aside from the panic that comes with book publishing after the revisions are dead, I’ve been swamped in the day job. That and a general malaise that I”m trying to overcome with a change in medicines. (Have I said lately that Cancer sucks?)

I feel really bad now because I invited other bloggers to participate in this and I haven’t even managed to post.

Today I’m going to touch on something that defines us as individuals.  Or rather me.

I read a book once, can’t remember the title,  but in the first chapter, it asked –  how do we define ourselves. Without using our usual monackers of mom, wife, sister, our job – what defines US.

I had a tough time with this, and it really made me think. Beware, we’re going to the deep end.

We are not defined by our jobs-  that’s what we do. We are not defined by our titles or monackers – mom, sister, wife.  I was me before I became a mom. It changed me sure,  but I was still me.

It’s not achievements we’ve made, the laurels we have achieved, or battles we’ve won.

So truly, what defines me as different than everyone else? What makes me stand out from the crowd or am I just one in a crowd of lemmings?

I have to be honest,  I didn’t finish the book because it sent me into a tailspin. Since then, I’ve still thought on this many times.

This is the conclusion that I’ve come to: the essence of what defines us as individuals is ultimately our soul. It’s how you treat other people. It’s your humanity, your compassion, your personality, your strengths and weaknesses, and the love that you show towards your fellow human being.

Human being – not those who are the same religion as you, same skin color as you, speak the same language, or have the same lifestyle.

I’ve shared my faith before and I am appalled at the hatred and prejudice that comes from many claiming to be Christians.  All of us are in the same human condition – flawed, broken, and mortal.

Love is the answer!

Seriously, would you expect anything less from a romance author? Wait let me amend that –  a romance author and paranormal fantasy suspense author.

The Awakening: Book 1 of the Valkyrie’s Curse series releases on June 20th! Yes, I had to get that in there-  I’m proud of my accomplishment and  I think this one will blow you away!!!

 

 

The Awakening 

Helena Eskildson is obsessed with Vikings and Norse Mythology. Neither Helena nor her sister know they are Freya’s daughters – Valkyries, the shieldmaidens to Odin.
When her obsession leads her to a remote site at Roskilde and it’s two monolithic rune stones, her destiny is awakened.
While the team wages a battle between a cursed site and a sociopathic killer, time is ticking closer to Ragnarok.
Will her friends be able to save her before the gjallerhorn sounds?

 

Available now on PReorder for $0.99

 

Write on my friends, write on!

Advertisements

Nothing Goes As Planned


Welcome to my blog!

I’ve been doing the MFRW blog hop for a while, kind of hit or miss.  I’ve tried to get back onto the WEWRIWA Sunday Snippets, mostly off. Things have been hectic and overwhelming lately, so of course, I decided to do a new thing! You know how I love new things!

For the month of June, I will be posting Definition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first week is defining moments.

de·fin·ing mo·ment

noun
plural noun: defining moments
          an event that typifies or determines all subsequently related occurrences.
~~~~~~~~~
And this is where things have gone terribly off track!
Seriously, I had a plan outlined and scheduled to write on for each day this month.
Then, Tuesday through Thursday,  I was neck deep in it getting my manuscript ready to send to the editor and formatter.
I was determined to get it sent out to the point I have neglected my housework, preparing proper meals (What adult has a PBJ for dinner one night and BLT the next?), and pretty much everything else in order to make certain that I had my t’s crossed and i’s dotted.
So here’s what I’m going to do since I’m a few days behind.  I”m going to give you the abbreviated versions of the other Defining Moments.

Day 5 – Public Speaking

I am an extrovert. I’m the kind of extrovert that most introverts hate.  I will talk to strangers in an elevator.  I will smile and say how you doing to a stranger as I pass them in the hallway.  In fact, I will confront someone who is doing something uncouth.  Don’t get me wrong,  I’m not going to be stupid about it.

When my mother was in the hospital numerous times,  I hate that ‘get on the elevator and stare straight ahead and don’t talk to anyone’ thing.  The guy is holding a plant with a Congratulations on a new baby balloon – heck yeah I’m going to comment “Good news I see”  Or if it’s nothing so obvious I’ll comment about the weather –  whether it’s hot, cold, raining, or gorgeous.

Most people will respond with at least a nod.  Here’s the thing though,  our society has been teaching kids for ages “Don’t talk to strangers”.  But, in a self-defense class, one of the things that they said was rapists and muggers will target the fearful.  I don’t cower.  I don’t walk with my shoulders slumped,  or curved inward.  I walk with my head held high and if a guy is coming towards me with intent to harm me,  I’m going to make the biggest loudest scene I can. 98% of criminals will walk the other way and wait for an easier target.

For that 2% –  I have pepper spray and know some maneuvers to protect myself.  Anyway,  this isn’t about not making myself a victim.  This is about the extrovert thing.

When I was in college and had to give a presentation to the department staff for my senior theses, I was shaking like a leaf.  When I was first asked to speak publicly it was awkward,  filled with OK, and ummms,  but I lived.  The next time it was easier.  If I have the time to add lib a little I can have the audience laughing.

I’ve mentioned before that I try to use the EIEIO method, it seems to work for me. Along with informing and educating,  you have to entertain them at least a little.  If you can do that you can keep their attention.

OK, well it may help that I’ve been told that I should be a stand-up comedian as well.  Not going to happen,  but I use the sense of humor to help with speaking.  My largest crowd so far has only been about 150 people which is small,  but I’m not done yet.

Day 6 -Moment of Clarity

I really don’t have a better way of describing this. So here goes.

Several months ago, the doctor prescribed a medication for me to deal with the increased anxiety after the cancer diagnosis.  Part of that is I can’t “cope” with the same habits I had before.  I am a stress eater.  I have self-medicated myself most of my life to avoid the feels, the hurts, and the emotions. Just being honest. If you have ever watched Biggest Loser,  you’d see that the majority of fatties are in the same boat.  It’s not the simple formula of less food in more calorie output equals weight loss.

Why does someone eat themselves up to 200, 250, 300 or more pounds? It’s insulation.  Insulation from having to deal with life.  Having to deal with our past.  Having to deal with emotional wounds and baggage.

So I can’t do that anymore,  most of the “comfort foods” I would turn to are now off the menu because of the big C. Hence, the increased anxiety.

So I was taking this medicine and my daughter commented that I was considerably more chill.  IF it weren’t for some very bad side effects that I couldn’t live with,  it really did help. During the time I was taking it,  I could see clearly the issues.  I could see that the problem was that I had all these emotional issues that I would have formerly turned to food and that wasn’t an option. I’ve said before,  the best diet in the world doesn’t fix the most important six inches.

During one of those moments of clarity, I was reading some articles that the dietician had directed me to, and one of them was a quiz for a food addict. I got a perfect score! NO, that’s not a good thing.  I had to say yes to every single question. I never put two and two together,  but after answering those questions,  I can see it.

Trigger foods that cause that reaction inside my body or head,  that I have to have more. The biggest triggers across the board are sugar, carbs, chocolate, fast foods, and most junk foods.  A new study shows that the brains of women with food addictions are similar to drug addictions and an alcoholic. Since then, I’ve recognized the cycle and been able to stop before binging.  I”m happy to say I’ve stayed on the wagon.

We all have our issues,  don’t judge.

DAY 7- The Big C

Cancer has a way of leveling the playing field.  One day, you’re carefree and even though you know you’re not immortal, you plan to live to a ripe old age and spoil grandbabies and cause a ruckus at the old folk’s home. (I’ve already warned my kids that if they stick me in a home it better be in Florida or I’ll be causing a scene weekly.)

Then one day you get a diagnosis that literally changes your life. Cancer is an equal opportunity bastard of a disease. It doesn’t care what race, religion, persuasion, financial status, or age you are.

At first, I was in shock. I’ve shared before that from the date of diagnosis to the day of surgery was a whirlwind that didn’t give me time to think.  It’s just as well. It was during the radiation treatment while taking the oral medications that I had a true “Come to Jesus” moment.

I was slapped in my face with my own mortality, and I very much view this as a second chance to get it right.  What was important to me?

What did I want to accomplish in my life?

What would my legacy be?

The most important thing to me is my family. I decided that I would make certain to spend time with my family, including my siblings and extended family.

I wanted to publish as many of my books as I could get out.  I looked at the pace I was going and realized that I was a long way from getting even half of them out if I didn’t kick it into gear. When I first tried to sit down and write,  I couldn’t focus.  My mind was blank.  I cried numerous times thinking that I may have lost my opportunity. However,  after radiation was over and I was slowly beginning to recover,  it started coming back to me and I was determined in a way that I was never determined before.

I don’t even care if people don’t like Roxy Sings the Blues,  it will forever be an important milestone to me because I managed to finish that after Cancer. It made me realize that if I wanted to achieve my goals, I was going to have to put out a concerted effort which meant I have to focus.

There are many other moments in our lives that we could say are defining moments and many other moments.  It’s what we do with those moments that matter.

What are your defining moments?

Write on my friends, write on!

Resignation/Retirement


WElcome to my blog!

I’ve been doing the MFRW blog hop for a while, kind of hit or miss.  I’ve tried to get back onto the WEWRIWA Sunday Snippets, mostly off. Things have been hectic and overwhelming lately, so of course, I decided to do a new thing!

For the month of June, I will be posting Definition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first week is defining moments.

de·fin·ing mo·ment

noun
plural noun: defining moments
          an event that typifies or determines all subsequently related occurrences.

DAY 4 – Resignation/Retirement

For most of my young adult l had focused on career. Graduation from high school was briefly celebrated as I moved to the next stepping stone – college. College was a means to an end – a well-paying career.

I had already made the decision that the double major of forensic anthropology wasn’t going to work, and focusing on cartography. My father worked for Defense Mapping Agency and urged me to pursue cartography.  It’s currently known as National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. Cartographers make good money –  I mean, really good money.

Life was great. I was in a department that I enjoyed and had worked my way up to target expert in the digital productions division. I was a shoe-in for the position after working in points during Desert Storm.  I liked what I was doing and I was good at it!

Then I delivered my second child. I returned to work after maternity leave,  but my daughter caught RSV virus at the daycare that we had our children in and ended up in the hospital.  My husband and I alternated who would take off work to stay with her. The opportunity came up to do a buyout, and essentially retire. We ran the numbers and I was shocked to see that despite my great salary,  I was essentially working for 5 an hour after gas, auto maintenance, and daycare expenses. The decision was easier to make after seeing the numbers, and the nudge that made the decision final was another admission to the hospital for my baby. It’s hard to see your child under an oxygen tent, and that was the last straw.  I had to stay home with my kids.

Before that, I identified myself as what I did in my job. I was identifying myself as a mom also,  but when people say tell me about yourself,  the government employment came first.  I was proud of my job, proud of my work,  and proud of who I was.

IT was quite a shock to only be a “mom” for a while.  Don’t get me wrong please,  I love my kids with everything I am. It’s just that I was a professional for ten years before kids. It took some adjustments.

I loved those years though,  and so glad that we made the decision because I was able to raise my children, not someone at a daycare. Which of course means that anything they are screwed up about is on me!

I enjoyed the majority of those years.  I would trade the vomit in a heartbeat, but everything else – priceless!

OUr kids have turned out to be amazing young adults that I am so very proud of, I guess maybe I did a few things right or I was just blessed with amazing kids.

Anyway, leave a comment and brag about your kids if you want!

WRite on my friends, write on!

Three’s a Charm


I did it! Three days of posting in a row! Yes, this is an accomplishment for me. It’s been a while since I have done more than a once a week post. Ironically a fellow blogger and Romance author commented about my regular blogging and then suddenly,  I couldn’t seem to manage more than once a week if that.

Before I start in on my celebration dance, I suppose we should get to the 3rd and final quote for this challenge. I’ve been nominated to participate in a 3 Day Quote Challenge by Misty Harvey at her blog Misty Harvey. This is the third day of the quote challenge.

Let’s not waste any time dilly-dallying around.

There is tremendous joy in accomplishment. As an author,  I can definitely say that there haven’t been too many “thrills” as satisfying as completing my books.  The combined effort of the creative process that culminates in a completed book – priceless.

Last year,  I wasn’t able to work on my writing at all while going through treatments.  After completing it, I was determined to get myself back on track.  The satisfaction of completing Roxy Sings the Blues, after going through cancer treatment was in my mind,  a great accomplishment that made me uber happy!

Now I come to that part of the challenge to nominate another 3 people to carry the torch.

As for the way this challenge works I  nominate 3 new blogs to carry the torch. I have picked 3 people that have inspired me in various ways and I think will really bring great things to this challenge.

  1. Dana Ellington
  2. BrokeBella
  3. joyful2beeblogs

Thank you for joining me for the 3 Day quote challenge. What quote is meaningful to you? Do you display them in your home? On the walls? As framed art?

Write on my friends, write on!

 

What’s Going on In Your Neck of the Woods?


Forgive me, readers, it’s been weeks since my last confession. I mean blog post. Well, sometimes they are about the same thing.

At the beginning of each year, I make plans.  Often, big plans! One of those plans was to get back to regularly posting. If I could figure out how to get onto my blog from my tablet, it would speed things up tremendously. Sometimes I am technically inept. I’ll figure it out eventually.

My husband is an IT guy. A code monkey. Name the electronics, he masters it. He writes in SQL all day at work. I was lost back in the day when I had to use Fortran and Cobol. Yes, I’m showing my age but oh well.

Until I have the time, (*cackles hysterically* time,  as in extra time – a delusional thought that most authors fantasize about) I’ll keep coming back to the laptop to enter my posts. Now that I’ve met my deadline for the anthology, I can return to a more manageable writing schedule.  Well, more manageable for me anyway.

My friend Vicki Locey is like a writing machine. She doesn’t use any dictation aids,  she just plugs away every day at her writing while managing a small farm. I don’t know how she does it. Other author friends have to juggle their home life, some with jobs whether part time or full time outside the home and still manage to crank out the books.

OK, a year ago I would have been stressed to the max over that,  but not anymore.  It is what it is and if nothing else, I’ve learned over the past year that I have to put blinders on to what “Other authors” do and DO what I can do. PERIOD! So, let’s do a little catch-up, shall we? Since I’ve been in absentia, maybe one or two of you have wondered where I disappeared. You did, right? Right?

January I had big plans! Some, I realize are on the dream level because if you never aim for the stars, you won’t ever clear the trees. I was super focused on decluttering our home and preparing to move closer to my husband’s work. We did great on that,  taking several carloads full of plunder to Goodwill. The estimated dollar value for all of the stuff we removed from our home –  $3500. Yes,  you read that right. Between clothing, (mostly mine in larger sizes that I am proud to say no longer fit!) furniture, small appliances, children’s toys that somehow got stored in a corner of the basement, and a plethora of knick-knacks. I should mention that our kids are adults now. I was shocked to find that we still had toys from their grade school years.

Just a word of advice –  if you are planning to make donations to a charity,   if you limit the donation amount to under $500, you are less likely to be audited.  We wrote off most of the stuff because I doubt that we are going to be able to itemize anyway.

The house was looking better,  after each purge we let the dust settle,  literally. Had to give a day or two between sessions because the dust aggravated the sinuses. Then we found the shop vac –  and began to be more proactive.

One shocking bit of purge –  books.  I know, I know,  y’all are shocked. I got rid of over 100 books. A few of those were my books from college, my husband’s books from college, reference books, and many old novels. I kept my first edition copies, despite the hubs protests.

February – decluttering continued but I was more focused on writing.  Value of things hauled out of our home to Goodwill or set on the curb with a sign  – FREE estimated at $2600.  (Not that I’m bragging if anything it’s embarrassing to admit how much stuff I didn’t need that I purchased with retail therapy over the years.) I had two anthology submissions to have in by the beginning of April.  The doctor appointments,  weekly therapy for lymphedema and aquasize classes kept me more than busy and by the time I got home from the aquacise classes and the therapy, I was drained.  My stamina is greatly improved since radiation treatments,  but I’m still not there yet.Fatigue is a very real issue.

I spent the majority of the month writing The Blood Key for the 12 Realms Fantasy Anthology while I worked out a plot line for my short novella for the Cancer Research anthology. Then I went gangbusters on that one. More about this in a bit.

March – this is where the train comes to a screeching halt while our lives are derailed. Things were going well.  We were making progress on the house. We could start renovations mid-March if we kept going at the same pace.

March 12 – 16, our oldest daughter was home for Spring Break. She didn’t get to go to Ft. Lauderdale or anywhere cool because she had doctors appointments, dentist appointments, and had to get her regular scheduled auto work done. While home she told us her big plans for the following school year, which were quite frankly ridiculous.  Her plans were to move back in with us and commute every day. Now, that may not sound like a problem except that the commute would be an hour and forty minute drive one way, every day, to and from.  That’s three hours on the road on a highway that semis use regularly. Sometimes she works late hours.

Being a mom,  I was terrified!  What if the semis push her little car around and she has an accident? What if she is so tired that she falls asleep driving?  What if she starts skipping classes because she’s tired of driving????? 

The following week I spent a day researching available apartments in Cape.  I set up appointments for the next day when she would be available to go see them.  We viewed 14  apartments in about four hours. They ranged from roach motel to the Bates Motel, to meh, to College Life Resort center. Obviously, we didn’t want her to be in the roach motel, and we couldn’t swing the Resort.

So, our plans for renovations are on hold for a while so that we can help her finish to get her degree. Our plans to move closer to his work are on hold because, . . .  well,  moving costs money. There are closing costs, moving expenses and we have decided that our daughter’s safety is more important.

This put a big kink in the writing for a few days, so then I was back at it like gangbusters when I got news that the 12 Realms Fantasy anthology was canceled. SIGH

I’ll take The Blood Key and work on it some more,  develop it more. 15,000 words were limiting, I was just getting warmed up at 10,000! Now I can put in some of those scenes I had in my mind. It will have to be worked into the schedule for writing though as it’s been pushed from top priority to about fifth down the pipeline.

Now the good news! Break Line is complete! Cover Reveal for the anthology, next week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought things were getting back on track and then . . .  hospital. People need to stop getting sick and hurting themselves! I’ve been to the hospital more times than I can count over the past few weeks.

Life always throws you a curve ball when things are going smooth, and sometimes the ball machine goes haywire and throws out multiple balls when you’re already under the gun!

For now, things are calm and I’m back to writing or rather revisions. Valkyrie’s Curse has been on my desk for a while, a couple of years. In 2016, I did revisions on it and realized that it wasn’t a complete story. Back to the drawing board. Valkyrie’s Curse: The Awakening is in revisions again. This time I’m checking my grammar before sending it off to my alpha. The release date for this one will be in a couple months,  I’ll have more of a set date next week.

So, now you know what I’ve been up to. There was a funeral,  sickness,  and dealing with anxiety all thrown in the mix as well. More about the anxiety at a later post but for now,  I need to get a couple more chapters done for today.

What’s going on in your neck of the woods?

Thanks for stopping by! Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

Get Your Mojo On!


Monday morning, rise and shine! It’s a new beginning, a fresh start, a day for opportunities to abound! 

Don’t even talk to me before I’ve had my coffee.

Then get your coffee Ms. Crabpatch and get busy. Just take a look at the gorgeous sky.

Do you realize the temperatures are in the single digits? Maybe I’ll just crawl back into bed.

Now is that any way to accomplish your goals? Where’s your resolve for those plans you made? Are you giving up that quickly?

~~~~~

Please tell me I’m not the only one who has those self-talks.  It’s like the angel on one shoulder, demon on the other, each of them whispering into my head, but I have to make the choice.

It’s true –  the week is full of opportunities. Monday is the start of a fresh new week, a chance to have this week count as a success in my planner. Before I started using my bullet journal,  I had plans in my head.  I kept a mental to-do list and rarely got past the first two.

But then I discovered the bullet journal! This amazing tool is priceless to me.  I don’t keep it up every day, and I’m not going to stress over that.  Life has gotten pretty crazy over the past year and I’ve learned to chill out and do what I can and go with the flow when I need to.

One of the ways that I feel that my bullet journal, or bujo for short, has helped me is that I have my daily to-do list. When I first started,  I wrote out my daily wishlist as my todo list. It looked something like this:

  • Housekeeping (sweep, mop, vacuum, clean counter, clean bathrooms, dust, clear clutter out of living room)
  • writing – blog, Point #3, 2 scenes, 2500 words
  • exercise – walking, aquacise, weights
  • appointment if I had one that day
  • MLO job – correspondence with emails, check sop updates, check rates, make calls, upload documents.

Now my daily to-do list looks more like this:

  • MLO job -make calls, correspondence, upload documents, etc ( there really isn’t much I can do to change what needs to be done at a job that someone else is paying me to do a specific job.)
  • HOusekeeping: chore of the day – focused on one room
  • Writing -1000 words minimum,
  • exercise: aquacize 45 minutes
  • Scheduled appointments

At first glance, you may not notice a big difference but it’s there. realistically, I know I am not going to get the entire house clean in one day. I’ve decided to focus on one area per day. Since I’ve been doing it this way, my house is cleaner. It’s not where I want it to be yet, but that’s because of the clutter. Much improved, but still room for more improvement.

I have to do certain tasks for the dayjob, so that doesn’t change other than I don’t stress out about it like I used to. There are days when I only get a couple tasks completed, and that’s OK. Some processes take longer than others.

My daily word count used to be 2500. It will go back up to that but for now, I am trying to hit at least 1000 words daily. To be honest,  on days when I have appointments or therapy, it may not happen. Last Friday I had an appointment, I couldn’t concentrate before the appointment,  then afterwards I crashed! I didn’t realize that I had been so keyed up over that appointment,  but apparently I was. I got a whole whopping 460 words last Friday –  I still count that as a win because I got some words.

My point is, back to the opportunities; by not putting a bunch of constraints on my schedule,  I have the flexibility to adapt to those urgent things that pop up unexpected.  Before, I never allowed ten minutes downtime so if anything happened, anything,  I was stressed and freaking out because I didn’t have the wiggle room. For instance –  being stuck in traffic. I sat in traffic for nearly 2 hours on a drive that should have been thirty-five minutes. It was aggravating,  but I took the opportunity to enjoy the music on the radio.  It was soothing. What could have been a very stressful 2 hours turned out to be calming. I couldn’t do anything about it anyway but in the past I would have been biting my nails, yelling at the moron driver who caused the accident up ahead and probably using some colorful metaphors in my monolog!

We can take the opportunity to take charge of our lives,  how we deal with what life throws at us or we can take the approach that we are helpless victims being tossed about by the wind and waves. The storms are going to happen so be prepared! Some of them can be avoided. Sometimes we get caught out in the rain. Other times, we have plenty of warning.

Seize the day while you can!

By the way, I stayed up, I went to my exercise class, I did the things, and I feel better for it. Regret is a hard task master that I plan to avoid! There is nothing that can beat you down faster than a bad case of the ‘should-haves’.

Is there one thing that you can do today to improve your outlook or  decrease your stress levels?

Write on my friends, write on!

This Year’s Plan


You may have noticed my absence. I got one post in for this year’s 52 week blog hop and then I got hit with the flu. Along with feeling ill,  I’ve been uber frustrated with not getting my blog up. Sorry guys and gals!

This is the first time I have ever gotten a flu shot,  at the direction of my oncologist and I got the flu anyway. *Levels look*

The past few days I haven’t been online because I have been tackling the decluttering/organizing for our home that is at the top of my goals for this year. OK, part of this is avoiding the anxiety I am having over my scheduled mammogram –  the first since my diagnosis last year.

Timeout for a sec:  It is my intention to avoid talking about cancer,  to stay focused on the present,  the future, and not give any more attention to the hell that was last year. Having said that,  ultimately this is the cause of my current anxiety because I sure didn’t expect the diagnosis last time.

I’ve removed 5 bags of stuff- clothing, bedding, linens, miscellaneous stuff to take to Goodwill,  but it’s still sitting by the front door as it’s been too cold to get out if I didn’t have to. It’s going to be warmer tomorrow,  so it goes bye bye with me when I leave!!

I think that is a fair amount of progress for this week, that equates to a full trash bag per day!  I’ve been too embarrassed at the mess – seriously,  the whole time I was going through treatments,  it was all I could do to cook a few meals,  to sweep the floor on occasion, and swish the toilet. Since nobody else bothered, the accumulation of stuff is overwhelming.

Stuffitis is a serious issue here. But this year,  2018 –  the Year of the Dog, we are going with close to austere existence.  Minimalism is my new favorite word.

In fact, I’ve been pondering my word for this year.  I’ve seen several of my friends post here or there that their word for the year is. *fill in the blank*. I didn’t have a word.  I was looking for something spiritual I think, but yesterday it hit me like a 12-pound bowling ball on a rope –MINIMIZE!

  • Minimize the clutter and stuff.
  • Minimize the clothes that no longer fit or suit me.
  • Minimize the pantry contents.
  • Minimize my schedule.
  • Minimize my measurements –  making progress on that one!!!!
  • Minimize the emotional baggage I’ve been carrying.
  • Minimize wasted time.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure I figured out that this is my word for the year.

So for this year on the blog,  I have a few things planned but I’m not promising that I won’t go off track.

There may be recipe shares, craft shares, writing shares,  health and diet information. ( I found a couple really interesting things I want to share.)

So,  I realize we are in the third week of January –  but my first two weeks have been mostly occupied with sickness.  So, here’s hoping for a great year –  for all of us!

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

 

Secret Recipes and Family Favorites


This week’s MFRW blog hop post  – week 49 – A Favorite Recipe.

Being a lifelong foodie, my recent dietary changes have eliminated a lot of my favorites. It’s hard to choose just one, so I will give you a few categories.

Sherri’s Secret Salad – a lady at our church  (Sherri) prides herself on this salad. Everyone loves it, including me.  She has sworn the recipe to secrecy so that you will buy the bottled dressing from her. The funny thing is,  I wasn’t aware of that when I first tasted her salad and copied it. I can generally figure out a recipe by taste most of the time. I figured it out pretty closely, but alas it has sugar in the dressing so I have to figure out something else.

Salad base:

  • romaine lettuce, chopped
  • red onion, sliced very thin
  • cherry tomatoes, sliced in halve
  • iceburg lettuce, chopped ( I prefer to use buttercrunch myself)
  • cucumber, peeled, chopped
  • carrot shreds
  • shredded cheddar

The dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Italian dressing bottled
  • 1/4 cup wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 TBSP additional Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Combine dressing ingredients, whisk together and pour over salad. Toss gently and serve. Guess it’s not a secret anymore,  but I can’t guarantee that is exactly the recipe she follows.

Yeast rolls – I make homemade yeast rolls every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas and occasionally other times in the year. I can’t have any,  but I still make them for the family. White bread more than other bread sends my blood sugar soaring, so I have to bypass. There is just something satisfying about kneading bread.  I follow the Betty Crocker recipe in an old tattered book that I received as a wedding present 32 years ago! I’m sure you can find it online, look up dinner rolls.

Rosemary and garlic potatoes – again, one of my favorites but I can’t do potatoes anymore because it affects my blood sugar. (Another thing I can thank cancer for!)

Super simple –

  • red potatoes  – scrub them, cutting out eyes and any bad spots.
  • yellow onion – cut into coarse chunks and separate.
  • rinse in cold water.
  • Put into large bowl and drizzle generously with olive oil.
  • Add 1 tsp salt or sea salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp minced garlic
  • one stem of rosemary leaves, rake leaves off of stem from tip to base. Fresh is best,  the dried is like eating twigs.

Roast in oven at 375 for about 40 minutes.

Lasagna – I’ve often had requests for my lasagna. I don’t have some guarded family secret.  I use ingredients from Aldi – the secret is in the seasoning.

Find the Betty Crocker recipe online – when you make your meat sauce, add a little more garlic,  some additional Italian seasoning,  and fresh basil. If there’s any secret,  that is it. Basil is amazing.

Tonight, in fact, I am making lasagna. However, since pasta is on my no-no list, I am making zucchini lasagna. This is tricky to an old-fashioned pasta fiend such as me.

Instead of lasagna noodles, buy 3 to 4 zucchini. You can peel or leave the skin on – your choice.  I peeled mine so it wasn’t such a shock to the family. Cut the stem end and bottom end off. Slice lengthwise into thin strips, so you have long skinny lasagna “noodles”. Have your pan of boiling water at a full boil before dropping them in, and you only want to parboil them, then drain on a paper towel. Otherwise, they end up mushy and the only thing worse than mushy is gooey.

Everything else is the same in the recipe, except I omit the pinch of sugar I normally add to my marinara. Add a little parsley to cut down on indigestion if needed.

I’ve only tried this with the lasagna once before, so let’s hope that it works!

My all-time favorite dessert – brownies, just aren’t’ the same without sugar. I’m still searching for a palatable sugar-free alternative. I’ve tried a dozen or so paleo, sugar-free, carb free, and otherwise craptastic recipes. Most have ended up in the trash.

So, since you, my wonderful readers aren’t restricted to a no sugar diet, I will share the full recipe that I have always used. This recipe has won baking contests!

Best Brownies

(I usually double this)

Ingredients

  •  1/2 cup butter (real butter not margarine)

Frosting:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.

To Make Frosting: Combine 3 tablespoons softened butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa, honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 cup confectioners’ sugar. Stir until smooth. Frost brownies while they are still warm. 

 

As this is a blog hop, there are many other authors who are participating.  You can check them out HERE: when I scheduled this,  the list wasn’t up yet so hopefully you will be able to go there and get the fresh list.

What’s your favorite recipe?

Remember to leave a comment to be entered into the prize drawing for the week!

 

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

There’s a Hole in My Bucket


This week’s MFRW blog hop post  – week 48 – 5 Things on My Bucket List.

First, I have a couple things to say before we dive in.  I am so grateful to my friend Cathy Brockman, for sharing this blog hop. At a time when I was at my lowest low, thinking I may not survive the breast cancer, this blog hop kept calling to me to get back to writing. Yes, I’m well aware that I can be overly dramatic. My father called me on that one back when I was like six. Anyway, it may sound silly but this blog hop, even though I missed several months for a while, kept calling me back. I have met ( online ) a great group of authors associated with this blog and read their blogs.  I don’t always leave comments, but I read them.

The Bucket List is something that became all too real to me during that time. Focus on what’s important and let the rest go. I had to keep reminding myself of the four agreements, specifically do your best every day.  Some days my best was get to radiation, eat something, and sleep.  That was it.  Cancer treatment is different for each individual and for me,   fatigue was a constant.

It is still a long road to recovery, but I’m getting there!

Now, on to 5 Things On My Bucket List.

  1. Publish 20 of my books. I have a huge file of partially completed and completed stories that I have been clinging to, reluctant to release my babies. Then what did I write them for? Why do I write in the first place?  To entertain others. How is anyone going to enjoy them when they are squirreled away in a locked file?
  2. Decorate my home the way I want!  I spent many years, trying to pease my mother, trying to win the approval of my mother in law.  I spent so long trying to fit in with everyone else,  I didn’t put things on my wall that I like. Currently,  we have very little on the walls. I can’t really use the excuse of we just painted because we painted over 5 years ago. I need to minimize the clutter in my home and organize, and put up minimum decorations in this house, in order to sell.  But when we move, Katy Bar the Door! I’ve got some great ideas saved on Pinterest.
  3. Travel!!! Nova Scotia, Western Caribbean, Hawaii, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Venice, Rome, Australia – not sure I want to go to the outback and experience the wildlife like black mambas – crikey! There are places in the US that I haven’t been to yet, and I want to go. The Badlands, Grand Canyon, and many others!
  4. Be the Keynote Speaker at an Author Event. Someday. I have done public speaking before,  that’s not the challenge.  The challenge is to do it for other writers. It will be so much more fun than speaking of scientific type stuff.
  5. MY OWN OFFICE!!!!  Let me clarify, my own home office. If you’ve read last week’s post about the office you will understand. And here is where we have the hole in the bucket.

 

There are many more items on my revised bucket list, but I know you have better things to do than stay here reading.  In fact,  why don’t you share something off of your bucket list in the comments.  Come on, do it!  Just one item, you can do that right?

As this is a blog hop, there are many other authors who are participating.  You can check them out HERE: when I scheduled this,  the list wasn’t up yet so hopefully you will be able to go there and get the fresh list.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

Chill Out!


This post deals with the third factor that we can have control over to improve our odds of not having cancer or having a recurrence.

There are four areas. They are:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Activity
  3. Stress Management
  4. Toxins

Today my focus is on stress management.

I am all ears.  I seriously need to learn how to handle stress. Many of the times I get sick it was stress induced.  I  tend to stuff it down until things are so volatile I explode emotionally.

 

There are numerous things that you can do to relax and unwind. I’m going to share with you the ones suggested to me, and the ones I have found to help reduce stress.

Yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and  a daily devotional were at the top of lists of suggestions. My attemps at yoga were not stress reducing.  The instructor was good,  the moves weren’t  beyond a normal person’s range,  but with a back injury, any pressure on the lower spine caused pain and all floor moves were a strain. I am interested in trying Tai Chi. I have asked at our local YMCA if they offer it,  if not I may look it up on Youtube.

I have a daily devotional, and I journal in my bullet journal.  I find that by writing down my thoughts in my bujo,  I tend to write it down, and not vent to others.  This seems to be somewhat calming because as I write it out, I can often think of how to resolve or  see that I need to shake it off.

Exercise in various forms can be a huge stress releiver. The swim classes that I have been taking are relaxing to me. Walking on a treadmill is not relaxing,  but  going for a walk at the park is very relaxing. OK, maybe not while I am huffing up that little hill on the backside,  but when I am finished and have walked the distance,  there is a satisfaction of accomplishment and a soothing effect on the entire body.  When I was exercising regularly a few years ago,  I would use the elliptical and I participated in a kickboxing class. I really enjoyed the kickboxing,  but then they dropped it.  I didn’t feel like the elliptical was helping in stress reduction, although it was helping me to achieve better cardiovascular fitness so in effect it really was helping to reduce my stress!

A healthy nutritious diet can also reduce stress whereas a high junkfood diet can contribute to additional stress in your body.

Adult coloring books. There is something very gratifying about coloring in those little spaces! My husband bought me a couple different types of coloring books, and I recently purchased a coloring book planner.  My attention lately has been fully devoted to the planner.  If I’m not jotting my to do list, and scheduling apointments, I’m coloring in the margins. The only time this isn’t relaxing is when my eyes are strained, and it becomes aggravating and can actually lead to a headache.

A glass of wine. Red wine has  many benefits,  one of which is to relax you. My oncologist stated that a glass of red wine, three times a week would be  beneficial for my health and well being. Three glasses, not three bottles.

Some  people find fishing relaxing and a way to cope with stress. Others  will paint furniture or landscapes. I am going to try my hand at the rock painting and leave them around our area. I’ll take a picture of them once I go find some flat river rocks.

Even with all of these options,   I  have a hard time with stress management. I tend to be one of those people who wears their heart on their sleeve and take things to heart. I get wound up when things don’t go as planned, which is most of the time. I get upset when others don’t do their part. I worry about my kids,  where they are what they are doing, whether they are safe. I worry about the cancer –  what if it comes back, what if it spreads next time,  what if my girls end up with it, what if . . . and then I am so wound up that even the bottle of wine doesn’t help.

My sister’s solution is Xanax.  I don’t have a prescription to Xanax, but I am wondering  how in the world I am going to manage this emotional rollercoaster that I have been on ever since being diagnosed. The medications only contribute more, causing my emotions to be heightened.

While you are reading this, I will be practicing my favorite form of relaxation: toes in the sand.

What do you do to unwind? How do you manage the daily stress? The emotional stress? What form of stress releif do you practice?

I will do everything within my power to never have to go through this again, including changing my lifestyle completely.

Write on my friends, write on.