Canva Update

I like this but I wish I could delete the punctuation. I did it for an Insta post and I’m still unsure about sizing. Like can I just make it fit Twitter, too? And Facebook? Pinterest? I’m sure the tools are there, just not of my ability to use them. This is not an intuitive process for me, I’m not patient enough to work through small details. Except on my books, and even there, I have an editor. Thus, creating images takes a lot of time, but I think in the end it will be worth it.

In other news I am also am working on a sell sheet, now that my publisher has distribution through Lightening Source. The PR person helps as much as my editor. She has given me a template on what to include and Canva should be helpful for that, too. Distribution is a huge thing. Before it was all e-sales or hand sell print books. Now I can send a book to the local St. Pete bookstores and hope they order some!

Crown of Stars

When several stars align tightly in the night sky, astrologers call it a “crown of stars.” You can tell by the name it’s something good, right? A new Crown of Stars will gather in 2021 on February 11. This particular constellation of stars is made up of the sun, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. What happens? Energy opens and pours forth. Energy for new projects. Energy releasing you where you were blocked or stuck. Yeah, it’s a good thing. I don’t know about you, but my creativity has been super low key for awhile now. Everything I thought would happen, and everything I planned on doing…none of it got done in January.

This is how bad it got. I have several cherished habits: yoga, meditation, daily morning diary, weekly blog post, usually on Monday, and of course, writing the next book in my new series Jane in St. Pete. All these activities were not stopped by Covid, like lots of other things I love to do on a regular basis. I still practice yoga and meditate daily. We all know what our fun is and, for almost everybody, at least some of that has been put on hold. I love my friends, and it wasn’t great when the hugs stopped, but we adapted. We survived.

*Moment of silence for those who have passed.*

My creative life started to unwind, bit by bit, and I let it. I figured I’d see what happened when I ran out of rope. So I didn’t write in my morning journal every day. Al’s retired and we like to chat over coffee. Some days I still journal, but not every day. Next to go was my weekly blog post. That was hard to reconcile. At first I just thought I needed a break, but eventually I figured I was beginning a new phase. And today is the introduction to that, at least for blogging. Once a month is better for me than once a week. This from a woman who blogged every single day for ten years! And once a week for nine years. Yes, in 2021 I will have been blogging 19 years.

Why did I stop? It felt right. What filled the void? Old fashioned email. We came to Florida in mid-December so we got lots of forwarded Christmas cards in January. I’m taking my time, but if you sent me a Christmas card and it made it’s way to Florida, I’ll be emailing you, if I haven’t already. I miss my friends and the holidays were hard in that respect. Al and I invited my dad over and we had a feast. My son called and Dad got to see his new house (new to Dad anyway) and his great-grandchildren. My other son called December 26, but with their Christmas card, they’d enclosed several “real” beautiful Christmas photos, and I let Dad choose one of those.

And for a long time, email and working on the next book, plus Zooming and conference calls with my writing friends to share helpful thoughts on manuscripts in process (I call this “critique” — a hangover from my teaching days) was more than enough. I didn’t worry about the journal or the blog. I didn’t even fret about not opening Facebook all that often. My thought was “something will happen.” I hoped it’d be sooner rather than later, but I just didn’t know when. I let ideas bubble up and pop into oblivion. I didn’t lecture myself about getting back on track. I considered that perhaps just writing the novel was enough.

Then I read my forecast for February on Astrology Zone by the amazing Susan Miller, all about the crown of stars this month, (and in Aries a stellium: three or more transiting planets in tight mathematical degree) I realized what was next for me. I already mentioned it once, but I’ll say it again, because it is stunning in its simplicity: I’ll be blogging once a month now instead of weekly. Oh, and yes, I’m still practicing Canva.

So that’s my news and I hope this month’s Crown of Stars brings lovely new energy your way, too.

Breaking Blogging Rules

In 2002, when I started blogging, most bloggers used Live Journal or Blogger. I had my own domain name. It felt a bit like floating untethered in a vast outer space. I liked it. My IT son maintained my site and taught me simple code, like image tags and hot links. He designed my wallpaper and added a blog roll plus a few other sidebar things. I only accepted one small text ad, because they paid me a lot of money. They sold computers. That is the only ad I ever had. I now pay WordPress $100 not to have ads.

My topic was writing and publication. I used my own works-in-progress and my problems plus solutions with manuscripts for some posts. I also blogged about submissions and rejections and acceptances. I did this every day for ten years. It was very casual and breezy. Writing about writing is the first blogging rule I broke, but I don’t think it was a rule then. If there were rules, I wasn’t aware of them. I still write about writing sometimes. I actually wrote my first book about writing. There were lots of “How to Write” books, but I could not find one I liked for my creative writing students, so I wrote and published it myself. I bought the books from the printer and sold them to the college bookstore, who sold them to my students. Once I made my money back, I got the book up on Kindle and gave away copies at workshops. I shipped Amazon a supply of print books, but they may be sold out by now. I was blogging about these processes through it all. And I still write about writing.

There are plenty of blogging rules, just google and you’ll find them. I do read the rules and blush at how many I’ve broken through the years. I’m no rebel, I just didn’t know. There seemed to be, when I started blogging, a kind of “no rules” mentality. I never revised a post. Blogging was a raw form, or so I thought. I do revise my posts now.

Another rule I still break is the one about the right way to choose titles. There is even a tool that you can submit your title to and it will tell you how clickable it is. I did that one time and scored poorly. I fixed it to the instructions and they gave me a really good grade, but I forgot to compare how many more clicks I got to those other posts I gave arty titles. When I was thinking about this post today, I only had a vague title. I had an idea for a subject, and I liked the title: “What It Is.” I knew it would not score high on the title name tool. I didn’t care. I’m drawn to intriguing titles that only make sense as you read the post. I can’t be out in space alone on this one.

My subject was going to be the state of things in my country (USA) from my point of view, but I really don’t like writing about politics (although I am interested in the topic and read a lot about it) and what can I say about Covid? I had it, it wasn’t fun but my breathing stayed ok and I never had a fever, so not that bad. I’m 65, it lasted two weeks, I stayed home, there are no vaccines, even for my 83 year old dad. I am sure I wrote about my own Covid adventure back in November when I had it, so basically I’d be bitching about the general state of affairs (political *cringe*) and the fact that I’m still wearing a mask.

But I liked that title. Which I ended up not using. Still, it got me to where I eventually found myself. Right here, like always.

What’s Up, 2021?

I am for sure not a great picture taker, but this quick selfie was to show off my new dress to a friend. Then I blew her a kiss because I was imitating one of the emojis we often send. Then I liked it. Fuzzy photo with no hair combing or a speck of make up on my face!

Figuring that we will still be masking for at least six more months, I’ve decided to swear off make up. Even eye make up. This conversation has been going on for a while between my friends and me. Make up smears your mask. It rubs your face and creates a not good complexion. Whatever your complexion was, it’s worse with make up under a mask. For me, anyway.

Also, I am 65. When will I allow myself to go natural? I never wore make up in high school, because I was a feminist! Then later I was still a feminist but I liked this guy and he wasn’t asking me out, so I got contact lenses and started wearing make up. He is now and will be forevermore the father of my children. So the make up habit continued, especially when I was teaching. Standing in front of a classroom can feel a bit like acting. I needed my disguise.

Then you know how we used to go out and have dinner or drinks or dancing? I was not going to be the only girl in my gang without make up. Then came Covid. I know people say eye make up is essential for masks. I don’t think so. My youthful feminist does not think so; she’s still inside advising me to just be myself. There used to be an age when women could slip into the matron stage without fuss. Especially if their hair was grey. Which mine is, but that’s a different blog.

Al, Dad and I went to check out the new pier (it’s lovely!) masks in place as needed. Then Dad wanted to have lunch downtown and there was plenty of outdoor seating. I didn’t think a thing about not having make up on…although I admit it would have been a different story if I was meeting girlfriends or even if the party was comprised of Al and I eating out (literally) with another couple.

As for the Zoom conundrum, I don’t care. Those thumb-sized images don’t show much. But. What if I were giving a professional presentation or a workshop? I did one of those when my book first came out and YES I did wear make up. So my vow to not wear make up anymore may be just for the duration of this damn virus.

I wasn’t optimistic enough to think 2021 would snap its fingers and all would be normal again. We’re getting closer, but it’s a slow slog. Slower than even scientists thought! Even my astrologer thought it would be over by now. Early in the pandemic she said the contagion might last as long as December 2020. Let’s just hope it’s over before Christmas 2021.

Happy New Year everyone *insert kiss emoji here*

Holiday Eating

Delicious food and drink are a lovely part of my holidays. It’s always been this way, but has become even more delightful now that my kids are grown and moved away. Kids are the main treat, really. Without them, we’re just adults stuffing ourselves silly and perhaps drinking too much eggnog. Even during Covid. I only had three people in my house but I purchased enough baked goods, high fat foods, and alcohol that we still have not finished off. Not a problem with the booze. It doesn’t spoil.

But I do have a problem with food, maybe more than one. First, I’m overweight, so I should not be eating cookies. Second, I have digestive issues I try to control with things like Omeprazole, Lactaid and IBGard. I also have a personal gastroenterologist who has been keeping track of my digestive tract for a very long time. Maybe twenty years.

Probably ten years in, I started having bathroom issues and I blamed that drug. My gastro guy said “Do you want to die of cancer or try to control your toilet trouble?” (The test for my persistent heartburn had revealed pre-cancer cells). So I kept taking the double dose until finally, after many clear tests, he suggested I try taking one pill a day, not two. I had to taper off the double dose gradually, but I did it without heartburn. It did nothing to help with the distress in my lower digestive system.

My personal physician advised Lactaid, then IBgard. I’ve tried pre and probiotics as well. I’ve tried every diet known to man, I’ve read and studied and I’m doing okay on most days. Holidays, not so good. Lactaid worked for a long time, but not so much these days. IBgard had me ecstatic for about a month. An expensive mix of pre-pro biotic plus a secret scarce ingredient found in a specific location that is very difficult to get to, had mixed results. Also I tried to find a dietician, but during Covid, that’s not easy. Meanwhile, sometimes, if I indulged in a treat like a slice of buttered toast, my body revolted in increasingly distressing ways. Even if the “butter” is non-dairy. I use almond milk-cream-peanut butter, etc.

That’s the back story. Moving forward to this Christmas and the feast I provided for my dad, my husband and myself. I was feeling pretty good about this expensive new pill. I ate whatever I wanted. I of course wanted it all. Twice. My dad and I talked a bit about this problem of mine…he has the same thing. My husband, who ate everything we did, does not have our digestive issues. Lucky him. Meanwhile Dad says “Have you looked down the diaper aisle lately? There’s as many diapers for old people as there are for babies.” I gave him some Lactaid because he has a dish of frozen yogurt every night.

My dad is only 18 years older than I am. I see my future and it’s not pretty. Unless I can successfully revise my eating habits. I’m currently reading an IBS cookbook that deals with FODMAP foods. I’ve read it before. Understanding FODMAP will drive you crazy, but wearing diapers? I can’t deal with the idea of that. If I can heal myself by what I eat, I’m doing it. I’m making an appointment with my gastro guy, who I had an appointment with during Covid. He cracks me up. When I reminded him that Omeprazole could be the source of my problem, he said “all medications cause diarrhea.” It’s ironic. Even medications to help cure diarrhea list “diarrhea” as a side effect.

What younger people (and people with better gut health, some of which is inherited) don’t know is that those side effects may not apply to you…until they do.