Emotional Encryption

reunion4Emotions are funny things. The way we move our bodies, the way we think our thoughts, the way we see the world, all of that goes into the emotion of the moment. Dancing, for example, makes me feel good. Like a secret code, moving my body to music changes my emotions in a positive, healthy way.

Dance is the answer to my search for some kind of aerobic exercise besides boring walking. I love yoga but in order to “live long and die short” six days of exercise is a must. And some of those need to be vigorous. I’m a writer. My fingers get more exercise than any other part of my body. I also love to read, so my eyes get a work out every day, too. 

For me, enjoying what I do is key. I needed to find something I loved as much as all my sedentary pursuits like meditation and yoga and reading and writing. I loved walking the hills of Seattle but I don’t live there and I need the endorphins of aerobic exercise now. I’ve considered joining many groups and classes, like a hiking group or a Zumba class. But my schedule is very full of group things just now and I need to guard my alone time.

Something solitary, then, was needed. After my Gypsy post, I got a clue. Dance. Alone. I don’t do well to choreographed moves, and I don’t go out dancing much anymore. I miss it. So I made up a playlist and it will be my pleasure to dance alone in my living room for 20 minutes three times a week. Maybe more! 

Gonna ease in with my yoga sun salutation to “Here Comes the Sun” (The Beatles)

Then will make myself laugh and shake my behind to “Get Up Off of That Thing” (James Brown)

3. “Call Me” — St Paul & the Broken Bones

4. “Hundreds of Ways” — Conor Oberst

5. “Rimbaud Eyes” — Dum Dum Girls

6. “Stranger to my Happiness” — Sharon Jones

7. “Under the Pressure” — The War on Drugs. “Under the Pressure” is an 8 minute song that has so many great dance moments but also kind of cools down near the end like a scarf trailing off in the wind.

Aerobic exercise is the final piece of my part of the Lisa Plan puzzle. I’m so pleased with myself for finally figuring it out. For this diet to work, it has to fit my life. I had to finesse it for me. So, Lisa and I plan to incorporate my alternatives into her awesome (and easy! and it works!) plan. 

This is the final Lisa Plan post. As we write the proposal and talk with agents, we will keep the permalink public for a few more weeks. For all the Lisa Plan posts, check top menu or click here.

“Meet the Grandson” Vacation

Jess.32weeks.IMG_7400Jessica, due this week, must be looking forward to losing some weight:) Even though to me she looks absolutely beautiful, we all want to hold the baby and I will be there in Seattle this week waiting for his delivery. I don’t start fall term here in Detroit for almost a month, so I can be there until baby boy shows up:)

This is not a normal vacation, so I’m hoping I don’t gain weight. In fact I have been planning ways just so that doesn’t happen. First of all, this vacation is all about the baby, so there’s not going to be a lot of going out to dinner and drinking many glasses of wine. I will be sticking very close to Ballard, the neighborhood Mike and Jess live in. I’ve got a “mother-in-law” apartment five minutes’ walk from their place for the first several days and it has its own kitchen so I can

1. Shop for my own food and prep mini-meals. Restaurant food is loaded with fat, sugar, and sodium.

Ballard is a neighborhood in the city of Seattle, and I’ve been there a few times before. They have everything a person needs within walking distance and I’ve broken in two new pair of sneakers just so I can walk everywhere this trip. I’m probably not even going to bother renting a car. The kids’ house is five minutes from me, the hospital just a thirty minute walk. I plan to walk, walk, walk. And who knows maybe drop in on a yoga class or two or even climb a mountain. Okay, maybe not the mountain.

2. Exercise. Walk, bike, hike, climb mountains, find a yoga studio or maybe yoga on the Pacific. 

The second half of the trip may be a bit more challenging as I’ll be staying at an urban farm B&B where they are famous for their breakfasts. On the plus side, I can walk off breakfast better than I can walk off dinner. It’s just five minutes from the kids, too:)  And when eating out, one thing I have learned to do is have smaller portions. I often order an appetizer for dinner. Or fish and salad make great options too. Split a dinner between two people, but only if you really want the same thing. But as I said, lots of calories in restaurant prep. So I just eat less.

3. Split restaurant dinners or choose an appetizer instead of a meal.

I have given up sugar. I really believe that has taken hold. So I’m not worried about ice cream. I’ve had chocolate in my house for months and have not touched it except for that tiny S’more the other night and it did not trigger a full-on sugar craving. But there is the Chardonnay. Nothing like being on vacation and relaxing with a nice glass of Chard, maybe watching the sunset over the ocean. Bliss! I don’t plan to deprive myself of that pleasure. But this vacation is going to be a time when I want to take it all in, savor every moment, and so I’ll be saving the Chardonnay for a glass with dinner or over a sunset. In a word, I will not use vacation as an excuse to drink more than I know is good for me. I won’t be indulging in “daytime drinking.” Okay, possibly, when I meet Laura Zera in person for the fist time, she’s driving to lunch, so maybe we’ll have a glass of wine. I have the best reason in the world. So this will be a mostly sober vacation but for the best reason in the world.

4. Don’t drink too much alcohol.

I feel pretty confident with these cornerstones for this “Meet the Grandson” vacation.  Except for the one where I need to fit into my jeans by the end of the trip, they all come from the Lisa Plan. Find all Lisa Plan entries here.





Writing Thru the Holidays

Does anybody get any writing done during the holidays? For me, it’s a challenge, but I manage to write (almost) every day. Here are 5 fail-proof fallbacks:

#1 Morning Pages. Write in your paper journal about whatever is on your mind. Aim for three pages. If you only get a paragraph, that’s okay. But push yourself to do more!

#2 First drafts. Really there is no way to screw up a first draft. None.

#3 Collaborate. I am working on a first draft of a non-fiction book with a friend. We email each other sections of whatever shows up in our minds that day regarding our subject. We chat. We brainstorm back and forth. We ask and answer each other’s questions on our topic.

#4 Blog. I have never been one to revise my blog. When I started out blogs were spontaneous and even misspelled words were okay. Bloggers posted every day. I did not miss a day for the first three or four years! Now it’s acceptable to do “once a week.” Piece of cake! Don’t listen to the rules of blogging. I recently saw that you MUST have a photo with every blog. Nope! Do it your way.

#5 Christmas Letters & Emails. Correspondence counts!


A few weeks ago, I got some unfortunate news from my doctor. I have pre-diabetes. This is not the first time I have had sugar problems, and in the past, knowing the problem, I’d cut sugar out of my diet and the issue would solve itself. So of course, I vowed this time to cut out all treats that were made with sugar, while still allowing myself a little dark chocolate with high cocoa content, because I don’t binge on it and it’s healthy.

Shortly after making that promise to myself, I went out to lunch with a friend and ate the two free warm chocolate chip cookies that came with our meal. I didn’t eat them so much as inhale them. My friend Donna had one cookie, ate it slowly, and took the other home. So sensible. So not me.

I’ve been trying to beat my sugar addiction forever. Well, since I stopped smoking in 1987 and food started tasting good. Before 1987 I could care less about candy, cake, bread, chips. Eating was an annoying necessity. I was all about the nicotine. Pack a day for 15 years, except for the two times I was pregnant and the 10-20 times I tried to quit. But finally to my utter amazement I was able to quit nicotine. Harder to get off than heroin! So how come I can’t quit sugar?

I really don’t know the answer. I just know that I can’t quit trying to quit. I’m hoping Judy Smith, who has a chapter on indulging in her book “Good Self, Bad Self” will give me clues. She does have a method, it’s a little complicated, you really have to read the book, but I’m trying to put it into action. Today I figured out that I can actually work The Plan (a healthy lifestyle eating habit my friend Lisa came up with to successfully lose 30 lbs.) and exercise.  Instead of saying “well I’m shopping later so that’s exercise” I got on my treadmill and then hit the yoga mat.

And I’m still going shopping:) Will I be able to give up sugar with the same ease that I have incorporated exercise into my life? It seems so stupid to keep eating cakes and candies and cookies when I am headed on a fast train to giving myself shots of insulin. But I’m not stupid, just a sugar junkie.

I was able to add exercise because it makes me feel so better afterward. Yoga is a must for my back. I hurt if I don’t do some yoga every day. And walking helps cheer me up. I’ve been depressed, I admit it. I hate admitting that. But what I noticed when I started walking was that I am not depressed after 30 minutes on a treadmill. A little exercise gets me through a 24 hour day in a much better mood. Amazing!

Giving up sugar doesn’t have that same gratification. Sugar tastes good. It’s an instant hit of wonderful. I don’t feel a sugar crash like some people do. There is nothing tangible to keep me from indulging. Well, except my health, and I value it as much as my mood. Except when I am confronted with a delicious something full of sugar and slip into sweet denial.

I am motivated to quit sugar. Now I just need to get some practice with “no thanks” under my belt. I need a few successes. The next three days’ social events will all be sugar-rich opportunities. If I say no three times, I’ll have those successes to lean on during the coming holiday sugar rush. Wish me luck. And determination.

The Plan

For about a month now, I have been working every day on a non-fiction project with a good friend. Yes, I am collaborating. Something I thought I’d never, ever do. But it is going well and I’m glad to be attached to this particular project for a variety of reasons dear to my heart. Too soon to talk specifics, but we are calling it The Plan for now. Just a place-holder name.

Meanwhile, my unfinished novel sits in the drawer taking a nap. I’d like to figure out a way to work on both projects, a little bit every day. But then I think, well, I’m getting edits from my publisher 12/1/12 or so for Blue Heaven, and the holidays are coming, and etc etc. I do have a critique group meeting on 12/1/12 and I need to bring them something from the novel. So I have at least that to keep me somewhat into the unfinished novel (also very dear to my heart!).

Feeling a little torn. But really, I love my life right now. I get to pick my projects, I have a publishing house working to get my next release ready, the blog has a new look, I have three published books with a fourth coming soon and a fifth in the pipeline. Life is good for the moment.

Been reading lots of novels with death as a theme. It came to me that the reason so many people over 50, or over 60, are depressed is more than just “the kids never visit, they never call” — it’s because they are on the other side of life, looking at their accomplishments or lack thereof and possibly feeling sad about not fulfilling their dreams.

My dreams didn’t turn out exactly like I planned. (Who plans on an information superhighway in 1980? Not me.) But they have come to fruition in new ways and that make me happy. I knew it the minute I started this blog. The fire to “be published” began to cool. I felt published, even though blogging is self-publishing. For me, the happy feeling, the reward, is the same. I don’t blog because I need to promote my novels. I blog because I love feeling connected to other writers.

So the other side of 50 is working for me. I am still amazed that I teach college. If my high school yearbook had a motto, under my picture it would have said “most likely to burn out fast.” Or “least likely to succeed.” And at the time I believed those things to be true. That they are the opposite of true amazes and humbles me. Feeling grateful today. Hope you all are too.