Hopes for 2019

On January 1 the calendar’s a blank slate. Another chance to get things right. I always feel excited in a new year, ready to dig in to healthier eating and other habits, but I wouldn’t call these things resolutions as much as common sense. I’d just spent December in an orgy of sugar. It seems an obvious time to clean up my act. I made a great pot of vegetable soup yesterday. Also cookies for my husband as he likes them with his coffee in the morning.

Since I’m on the borderline of diabetes, I won’t be eating any of the cookies, although I sampled a few broken ones yesterday. I also won’t be having coffee, because that among other things had to go in 2018 when I did a deep dive into just what was wrong with my digestion. I changed a lot of things about what I eat, but I’m not crying. There’s an abundance of foods still available to me, and I intend to bring my blood sugar levels back to normal in 2019.

For the first time in many years, Al had the holidays off. Tomorrow he’ll be back on the job, but at least we got in a good binge of “Jack Ryan.” Eight episodes all gobbled up like another holiday treat. I’d recommend that series (it’s on Amazon Prime). It was entertaining but also made me think. Mostly about the plight of refugees. The show involved Middle Eastern refugees, but the news here IRL is all about those from Central America seeking asylum in the USA. Two young children died in December on the border while in US custody. We need to fix this broken system, and I hope it happens in 2019.

I read some great books in 2018; my favorite rock memoir was “Thank you Mr. Kibblewhite” by Roger Daltrey. He lets the reader in, almost like a friend. He’s frank and honest. He admits it hurt his feelings when Pete Townsend made disdainful remarks about his singing. Roger, Pete’s just jealous, because you and your voice both were gorgeous and onstage got all the adulation from the beautiful girls while he had to be satisfied with guitar obsessed men. He was so mad he frequently bashed his guitar to pieces.

I also loved “The Recovering” by Leslie Jamison. I’ve long had a fascination with drinking memoirs. I like to read about young rockers before they hit the big time and also about young drinkers and how they cope once they realize their drinking has surpassed all reason. I’m always rooting for the young rocker to make it big and for the old drinker to get sober. In fiction, I really loved Michael Connelly’s “Dark Sacred Night” the first of his Bosch series to feature Renee Ballard. Nancy Thayer’s “An Island Christmas” was a frothy delight. Kate Atkinson can do no wrong in my mind, and her 2018 novel “Transcription” came through as always. I loved Tana French’s “The Witch Elm” very much, too. Right now I’m in the middle of “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” by Stephen Hawking. I quite enjoy theoretical physics and Hawking writes in a clear style anyone can comprehend. Well, most of the time. I also am a regular reader of Buddhist thought and Mark Epstein’s “Advice Not Given” is a superb 2018 example of its kind.

Goodreads says I’ve read well over 900 books on my Kindle since they started tracking such things, and a very satisfactory moment in 2019 will be when I hit the 1,000 book mark, even though it’s a number without much meaning as I read books outside Kindle, of course. I buy them at book fairs and conventions and conferences. I buy them at real brick and mortar bookstores! Also I order a fair share on Amazon. I read more than literary mysteries, Buddhists texts, and memoir. Those are just the ones who stand out as being great in 2018. I’m sure 2019 will bring many new books, gee maybe I’ll even finish one of my own by the end of this year. I expect I will, since I have a first draft done.

I expect 2019 to be an excellent year for so many reasons and I hope your blank slate fills up with lots of joy, too. Happy New Year!

Stick With It

Rewrote the end of the manuscript I’ve been working on for a few years now. The first and last chapters always need the most revision. But I think this time I’ve got it. The photo is of the finally finished product. I say finished by that’s just the story I’ve told. Now I need to edit, add chapter headings, and construct a timeline. These are things I’d rather not do, but do them I must. Only then, when I feel the narrative is as tight and the writing as polished as I want it to be, can I send it to my editor.

I have a lot of experience sticking to my writing projects. In other areas of life, I’m not so great. I’ve gained and lost weight for 25 years, never able to stay for long on the slim end of the scale. I’ve also started and abandoned every kind of exercise program you can imagine from running to weight training to every kind of dance class under the sun to yoga. I like yoga best, but even that hasn’t stuck as firmly as I wish.

Which is why when I was at the bookstore the other day, a book called “Stick To It” caught my eye. I’d just had a bad report on my blood sugar from my doctor (I can never stick to the plan not to eat cake, either) and she suggested I go on the Mediterranean diet. While at the bookstore, I picked up a cookbook, too. The Mediterranean food pyramid looks a bit different than the one from the USDA.

Because I’ve been on so many diets, I worry that this is yet another one I won’t be able to stick to. Thus, the new self-help book might finally give me ways to stick to a diet and exercise routine that work for life. Here’s hoping. The subtitle to the book by Sean Young is “A Scientifically Proven Process for Changing Your Life–For Good.”  Young has a process he calls SCIENCE. It’s an acronym for stepladder, community, important, easy, neurohacks, captivating, and engrained.

Over the weekend I finished a couple of chapters. The stepladder concept is simple and makes sense (unlike some of the other words that seem silly, like “captivating” or strange like “neurohacks”). Stepladders are just breaking goals down into manageable steps. Before that, people need to discern what goals are really dreams. Dreams come after you’ve done the work with the steps toward a goal. That makes sense. One step at a time.

I outlined some steps toward my goals of exercising more and eating right. I even rejoined Weight Watchers (the “C” in SCIENCE is) so there’s my community for diet. I bought the cookbook. And each day I’ve used at least one recipe from the cookbook. So, I’m eating Mediterranean. I also joined an online group called Gaia (gaia.com) that has a terrific 20 minute yoga flow. I’ve managed to do that once. I plan to do it again today, but not sure if I will have the time since I need to pack for a much anticipated trip to Seattle to meet my new granddaughter, Julia June, just a few weeks old. We leave early tomorrow morning.

Not bringing the book with me, but I will be grocery shopping for easy Mediterranean fare like hummus and pita and grape leaves. I kind of know how to do this from my years as a vegetarian. I always get lots of exercise in Seattle. Owen likes the playground down the street, Murphy likes a walk, Al loves riding a bike around the neighborhood the kids live in, everybody in that house loves being active, so I know I will be more active than usual too, but in a fun way. I’m sure I’ll be doing my regular sun salutations, and Gaia has a mobile app, so I may even try that. Maybe.

I plan to write a series of posts on “Sticking With It” upon my return from Seattle  I’ll track my progress here. The main goal for this week is to reconnect in real time with my Seattle family. Namaste.

 

 

 

Laid Back

IMG_3620Despite the fact that periodically I had to stoop to their level when my weight got out of control and my doctor started talking about diabetes, I used to think people who continuously made the care and feeding and exercising of their bodies top priority were missing something. I pitied them because I had an idea of their sad motives: vanity and fear of death.

This was not my first stupid idea, but it’s been the most persistent.

It’s not a secret: I love  to write. Writing is a reliable friend, words knit me together, there is safety in sentences. Everything else is black and white, writing is color. I used to say I’d write until I died, and I still believe that, but in the past few months I’ve gotten way more laid back about the whole writing thing. I recently stopped writing morning pages. I just didn’t want to do them anymore. Maybe the urge to take pen in hand before the first cup of tea is done brewing will come back, maybe it won’t. Either way, I’m cool with it.

Contentment, I’ve learned, comes in more ways than one. The gym rats knew a few things all along that I never guessed. Like how much mood improves with exercise. Yes, I “knew” this, just thought it didn’t particularly apply to me. I had the creative person exemption.

Turns out, sunshine helps color my world, too, way more than I ever dreamed during the frozen Michigan winters. I think I might have had S.A.D. my whole life, but it felt normal, so I didn’t know any different. The Florida sun has lit me up in new ways. Ways that have me thinking that maybe writing doesn’t fix everything wrong in a life. Maybe all of it can be in color. With palm trees and pink flamingos.

Thousands of self-help books later, the truth dawned because I did a geographic. My good life comes not just from exercising creative muscles but by balancing body and mind. By walking out there in the world with my own two legs. Working on my physical self  for my mental health might not be the ultimate vanity project. It might in fact be the next right thing to do until I die.

Sauntering Into 60

Every day as I sit at my desk, I high five this guy. His arm swings. He’s my good luck charm. I need him because change is scary and the only thing that doesn’t change is that everything changes.

The internet changed publishing so fast people in the book biz still find it difficult to catch their breath, find a rhythm, secure a spot at the table. Me, I’ve given up on all that. Well, today anyway. Taking it day by day for a while until I get myself sorted. April is revision month and after that I’m just not sure. I know I have a book due, an editor waiting and a publisher willing today.

But then the world could turn upside down tomorrow.  There’s an eclipse coming April 4 that is sure to shake up everyone’s life in out-of-the-blue unexpected ways big or small. People born on or close to that day will feel the effects more than others, according to Susan Miller at Astrology Zone.

2015PromoPosterCollage

Social media changes even faster than the internet. I do my best to keep up but I’m done running. I’m 60 and sauntering. You’ll see some changes here on the blog soon, and maybe notice a difference if you follow me on Twitter or are a Facebook friend. I’m getting rid of the Fan page. I’m the last to know but the Facebook Fan page has outlived its usefulness as a free site. The latest thing is to let everyone be your friend, which was what I did before, but everything old is new again.

So…my FB updates will change as I seek to guard my friend and family’s privacy a little better than before. I am so open online, and it has never hurt me, or not much anyway, but not everybody is like me. Also, you might not know this, but there are private pieces of me. No really! Also, some of my friends who are not on Facebook have asked me not to post pictures or updates that include them on the site. I have to respect their wishes.

I’m slowly evolving into my “Fourth Twenty” in other ways too. Taking better care of my health. This is a scary thing because if I lose all the weight my doctor says I need to, my face is gonna be trashed. I mean, more than it already is. I like being a little plump because it means less wrinkles and sag. But I’m 60. Vanity is not going to take me to the plastic surgeon or even an injectable party, thank you very much. I look to letting that go. I think it will be interesting not to be interested in my looks.

The other thing is my blood sugar, which I have battled for years. It looks like giving up sweets is not going to be enough to bring my numbers down. I cut carbs and calories, but it looks like grains are going to have to go, at least until I’m stabilized. So how exactly does a vegetarian get her complete protein, the full amino acid chain, without combining beans and rice or pasta and pine nuts? Could a bigger change than I ever anticipated be afoot?

Continuing Adventures

This is the cute B & B I found less than a mile from the studio where I will participate in a weekend workshop that is for the first time in my life NOT about writing. My friend Laura Zera facilitates these Desire Map workshops with deep inner attention to core desires. Like what will you regret NOT doing on your deathbed? And how can you get off your duff and do it already?

It’s amazing how much of the day I spend NOT doing what I want to do, but instead mindlessly drift from here to there in cyberspace, in my car, in the supermarket, or this week, from doctor to doctor. Giant pain in the ass, a little bit scary for a minute, but also a huge burst of happiness when I learned that I did not, in fact, have to have my vein cut open, I did not have to have a suspect “mass” removed, I did not have to wait for a biopsy to tell me if it was malignant. After three different people did ultrasounds at a hospital that shall remain nameless, the last guy thought he had it all figured out. “We just don’t know what kind of surgeon you’re gonna need,” he said.

ballard.starbucks.IMG_0989

He actually seemed kind of excited that he’d found this rare thing; it was a tiny bit dehumanizing. In fact, I wandered dazed into Starbucks for a soy latte afterward and while waiting for my drink checked Facebook & posted what I thought was a discreet update. Ha. My son calls me “the most extroverted person he knows” on social media. Which is funny because in real life, I’m an introvert. But my post turned out to be a good thing. Lots of love plus I believe in positive vibrations.

Also, a friend I have known since junior high school is married to a surgeon. She saw my post and sent a text offering help. I wasn’t going to bother them; my doctor said surgery was not a for sure thing. “We would, however, like you to consult with this vascular surgeon…” and it was my friends’  husband, who I have also known since junior high.

Trust him with my life? You bet! So I called my friend and she got me in the next day. He was so kind and delivered the most excellent news. I didn’t need surgery, I didn’t need to do anything, this little clot was dissolving on its own and I was gonna be just fine.

And see how discreet I am? I didn’t say their names! Or the name of our junior high even! My son has no idea how much I don’t tell, which is way more than I do. I keep paper journals for the really intense stuff. Or I turn it into fiction. So…on a natural high I naturally came home and booked the workshop.

Even though it’s in Seattle, Washington and I live in Washington, Michigan. Because I deserve it and I need to figure out what to do with this next part of my wonderful life that I don’t want to sleepwalk through or throw away doing something stupid that doesn’t matter. Also, I’m working in a day with Owen, my Seattle grandson. Then I’ll meet Al in California, where we will spend a week with our NEW grandson, who is not yet born. Don’t you think Owen’s already looking like the older cousin? He’s Granny’s big boy now.

IMG_4889

I had one more doctor appointment this week, my yearly eye check and the only thing that happened was he dialated my eyes (still that miraculous 20/20, or as Al would say “expensive” 20/20) so I couldn’t read the fine print on the menu when I met my friends for lunch later that day. No problem. Ordered my usual sweet potato fries and a glass of Chardonnay.

Then we went shopping. I am not an avid shopper and I do better at it after a glass of wine. Not that I need an excuse to have a glass of wine or six. But even with just the one glass, I found an antique desk I really like. And a new suitcase I can manage on my own with a carry on. Because Al isn’t coming with me to Seattle this time. And I’m not going home in between trips. And he refuses to bring my huge month-in-Europe suitcase to California. Which means I need to be organized and independent and so forth. I need luggage I can handle on my own. That’s good. It’s part of my core desire, I think. I’ll know for sure after the workshop.

And of course I’ll tell you my core desires when I figure them out because I am the social media extrovert who spills all. (Not.) For example, I could talk more about Al not bringing my second suitcase to California, making it necessary for me to lug around an extra bag. (Do you think that word lug is the root of luggage?) I will say that I am okay with Al refusing to be responsible for my extra shoes and outfits. He’s got his own baggage. Actual and otherwise. Notice how I don’t say what exactly all that is. The only person I tell on is myself. That’s my rule. That and always order the sweet potato fries.

 Life is good and so were these.