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Monday, March 26, 2012

A Scene from Losing Penny

The door exploded. Shards of splintered wood flew through the cabin. She tightened her shawl around her head, crouching beneath the berth, try to be as small and still as possible. The Pirate king burst into the room, wielding a wavy bladed dagger. Tattoos covered his brawny chest and muscular arms. When he caught sight of her he smiled, revealing his stained teeth that had been filed to sharp points. Shark teeth. His men crowded behind him, the lust in their eyes mirroring their King’s.
She slowly stood and the Pirate’s gaze raked over her, judging her the way one might select fresh produce, searching for blemishes, bruises, bee stings.

Fresh produce? This is a dream! Penny’s mind revolted, struggling to wake.
She flinched away as the Pirate king caressed her cheek with one coarse hand. The dagger clattered to the floor as he grabbed her wrist and pulled her into his arms.
“Penny!” He held her and she felt the now familiar thump of his heart and inhaled his scent. Somehow, he always smelled of paper and ink. Did paper even have a smell, she wasn’t sure, but if it did, it would smell like Drake. He whispered her name in her ear and his breath fanned her cheek. “Hush.”
Penny’s heart still raced, but her panic eased. “What are you doing in here?”
“I think I’m saving you from pirates.” He chuckled as she slumped against him.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Early to Bed, Early to Rise= A Wizard

We know the proverbs. Early to bed and early to rise make a woman healthy, wealthy and a wizard. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Here’s some current medical statistics to back up the old maxims.

“The evidence that sleep deprivation adversely affects cognition and motor performance is striking. One study [published in the Western Journal of Medicine] showed that people who were awake for up to 19 hours scored substantially worse on performance and alertness than those who were legally intoxicated.”

“A growing body of medical evidence links inadequate sleep with anger, anxiety, and sadness. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that when study subjects were only allowed to sleep 4.5 hours a night for one week, they reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted, with overall scores for mood and vigor declining steadily during the test period. When the subjects were allowed to get enough sleep, their mood scores improved dramatically.”

Okay, so we know sleep helps us not to be cranky and keeps us mentally sharp, but I also know that sleep can solve problems. I think that our minds work on our problems in our sleep. It’s like magic. Try to different experiments. They can even be done at the same time. First, go to bed and with the promise to yourself that you will sleep for a full eight hours—do a bit of math, figure out your wake up time, and stick to your promise. The second experiment—on a notebook beside your table, write down a worry or a concern—don’t stew over it, just close your eyes and sleep. First thing in the morning, write down any thoughts/dreams you may have had during the night.

This has worked for me on several different occasions, but sometimes I forget this amazingly simple problem solving tool. I wasn’t thinking of solving problems this week. I was just simply cranky. (Not enough sleep? Maybe, or maybe I was just discouraged and cranky.)

I’ll confess that I didn’t work on my manuscript at all yesterday or the day before. I’d set some lofty goals for the month and I’d meeting them fairly consistently and Tuesday night I went to bed with feelings like: writing has taken over my life, maybe I’m using my writing to avoid other things I should be doing, all this sitting and writing is making my bottom big. I woke up the next morning with the most amazing story idea. I’m not even half way through with the first draft of my current book and I’m a third of the way through editing another. I’m not at all ready to start to something new, but the idea was so mind boggling good I had to write the outline. Sometime later I remembered that writing is taking over my life, it’s helping me to avoid life’s messiness and it’s making my bottom big. Oh well, maybe some messes are best avoided and some people like big bottom girls enough to write songs about them. (No one writes songs about small bottom girls)

I think in sleep we draw closer to our real selves—the part of our souls that speaks to us, loves us best and provides gentle answers. When we don’t get enough sleep, when we’re exhausted, we close the door on intuition. The Bible dictionary defines dreams as “one of the ways that God communicates with man.” And in Joel 2:28 he tells us:

I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

Which is the best argument for a good night’s sleep of all.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Raisins Versus Anemia

I eat raisins. Not because I like them, but because I like what they do for my afternoons, even though I eat them in the morning. I used to suffer from an afternoon slump—a horrible zombie-like state that typically struck around 3pm. Surprisingly, cookies and other jolts of sugar didn’t really help. Raisins did.

You’re probably anemic, my sister said. And then I recalled all the times I went to the doctor and was told the exact same thing, although he replaced the word probably with seriously. It must be hereditary, because it used to be every time my sister tried to donate blood, they told her she was anemic and sent her home. She discovered that if she eats about a quarter of a cup of raisins before she donates—she’s fine. (Personally, I can’t give blood because I lived in England in the 1980’s and was exposed to mad cow disease. I don’t like to think of myself as a mad cow, but there it is. A part of me.) Kathy’s discovery has changed my life. I’d much rather eat raisins than take iron pills and the accompanying stool softeners my doctor tried to give me.

So, most mornings I eat a bowl of raisin bran. I like the Costco and Trader Joe brands. Neither is as sweet as the other brands and both, as my husband complains, have too many raisins. I mix the raisin bran with half a banana and a high fiber cereal. Again, I like the Trader Joe’s brand. It has the clever name “Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal” and has 80 calories and 9 grams of fiber.

All that fiber makes the stool softeners absolutely unnecessary.

Sometimes I eat oatmeal with raisins, diced apples, cinnamon and nutmeg. And sometimes I eat French toast drowned in maple syrup. But honestly, if my choices are:
1. Wasted, lethargic afternoons
2. Iron pills and stool softeners
3. A daily quarter of a cup of raisins

I’ll choose the raisins every single day.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Motivation

“We came to earth to learn how to control our bodies and our minds.” Mom Tate

I’m rereading Dennis Deaton’s The Book on Mind Management. I first heard Dr. Deaton speak at BYU’s Education Week. (I LOVE education week- I have a post about education week that you can read somewhere on this blog.) Anyway—love and highly recommend this book. If you need some motivation, read this book. If you don’t have the time, the money or the wherewithal to read his excellent book, here’s a few quotes for your motivational Monday.

“We alter our destiny by altering our thoughts.”
“The moment you start thinking differently, your world changes.”
“The power of thought is the power of creation. Thoughts exert direct effect upon your body, your behavior and even the external world around you.”
“You can alter circumstances and events at will by first creating a vision of what you want to have happen and then giving yourself permission to enact it.”
“Moment by moment, thought by thought, you author your own script.”
“The consummate truth of life is that we alter our destiny by altering our thoughts. The minds is our most crucial resource, our crowning asset, our ultimate battle arena. If we will master the power of our minds, we may do or be whatsoever we will.”

And a couple of more thoughts from a couple of more guys who seem to agree with Deaton.
“Thinking is the soul talking to itself.” Plato

I hold it true that thoughts are things;
They’re endowed with bodies, breath and wings;
And that we send them forth to fill
The world with good results, or ill.
That which we call our secret thought
Speeds forth to earth’s remotest spot,
Leaving its blessing or its woes
Like tracks behind it as it goes.
We build our future, thought by thought
For good or ill, yet know it nor.
Yet so the universe was wrought.
Henry Van Dyke

I’m not a follower of The Secret, by the way but I am devoted follower of Him that said, “As a man think in his heart, so is he.” And so today, as I start a new week, I’m asking myself—what am I thinking?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Workout Wednesday--Goals

I was what my swim teachers called a screamer--the little kid who sat on the beach during swim lessons and cried. My parents sent me to swim lessons for years and I still don’t swim. Not really. We have a boat and love spending our summers on a lake (sunny lakes.) My daughter was captain of her high school swim team. All my children took swim lessons and swam for the Rancho Santa Margarita Dolphins, but in my heart, I’m still the little kid, the screamer, sitting at the water’s edge. (To be fair, I grew up in Washington and the lessons were held at Lake Goodwin…in the rain. Anyone sane in a bathing suit, in the rain, at the beach has a perfectly good reason to cry.)

One particularly uninspired teacher threw me in the lake, giving me a motivation to swim (and an increased hatred of swimming lessons.) We all find our motivation differently. As an adult, I still don’t like being thrown in to anything. I’m more of a carrot and stick person. Actually, more of a carrot person. No one works well under a stick.

I like to make goals and promise myself rewards (carrots, although not actual carrots. Carrots themselves aren’t really all that incentivizing.) Doesn’t everyone do this? Are they one hundred percent successful? In October I made a writing goal—I would write 7-10 pages a day, six days a week. I couldn’t do it. Over long presidency meetings, dental appointments. Failing at my goal was sucking all the joy out of my writing and so I set my goals on the side of the road and just kept walking, enjoying the time I spent writing, loving my characters, being in thankful awe for the ideas.
Now it’s March. I’ve made lofty goals and I’m meeting every one of them. Blowing them out of the water, in fact. What’s the difference? I’m not sure.

October wasn’t the first time I’ve set a goal aside. (Not by any means. My life is littered with unmet goals.) Once when I was training for an upcoming race I went to Arlington to help celebrate my step-mother’s birthday. Visiting my parents is wonderful for many reasons, but not for training. For one thing, my dad’s favorite restaurant is an all you can eat buffet called Jumbos. (Real name.) So, I packed my work-out clothes and made myself a promise that if I could stay on schedule with my training over the dangerous weekend that I’d buy myself new exercise clothes when I returned home.

Friday night: an evening at Jumbos where I practiced moderation and iron clad restraint. Set my alarm for 5:30 am and went to bed.

Saturday morning, predawn: I woke to rain. No matter. I’d grown up running in the rain. I slipped from my bed and put on my running clothes. No shoes. I realized my sneakers must be in the trunk of my sister’s car. I dashed through the rain, barefoot. The car is locked. I returned to the house drenched. I searched for my sister’s purse and keys and then realized it must be in her room. Wake her up? There’s lightning and thunder and my sister is still snoring. I went to my room and promised myself that I’d run later.

Later never happened. Aunts, uncles, cousins, visiting—I could have excused myself, braved the rain and fulfilled my goal, but I didn’t. I didn’t feel badly about my choice, but I also knew that I didn’t deserve new exercise clothes. Unmet goal—no reward. Simple, really.

I returned home on a pink bag day. Pink bag days happen about once a month. In our neighborhood, a local charity places pink bags on our doorsteps and the neighbors fill the bags with donations to the charity. I love pink bag days and I was scouring the house for donations when I came across an unopened Christmas present in the back of a closet. I took it to my husband and asked if he knew anything about it.“I wondered where that went!” he said. “It’s for you.”

I opened it and found brand new exercise clothes for me. I took away many lessons from this experience, but the one I’m trying to keep in mind that sometimes, even if the goal isn’t met, the blessings can still come. I still write. I’m still in love with my characters. I’m still awestruck by the ideas that come. I can always run tomorrow.

But, sometimes it rains and sometimes I have to go to the dentist. And that’s okay. No need to sit on the beach and cry.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Please Welcome Guest Blogger Dr. Linda Cheek!

“If you have a good diet, of what use is a doctor? And if you don’t have a good diet, of what use is a doctor?”

Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food.

One of the reasons we are so overweight in this country is that we are dehydrated. Food does contain some fluid, so if we don't drink water, we eat more. The beverages today are usually dehydrating. Everyone should drink water regularly, and reverse osmosis is the best.

Another reason for being overweight is our bodies are crying out for trace elements and nutrition needed to run the cell machinery. Since most of what we eat is empty calories, they don't fit the need, so we continue to be hungry. Also, did you know that fast food restaurants put hunger-increasing ingredients in their products, just so you'll want more?

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is extremely acidifying. This removes minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Acidification creates stress, silent inflammation and dysbiosis. These conditions are the precursors to all chronic diseases, including cancer. Yes, cancer can be prevented and even cured through the alkaline diet. And by feeding our children acidifying foods, we are setting them up for chronic diseases and cancer.

What should you not eat or drink?

Soft Drinks, Coffee, Tea, Juice (except unsweetened apple juice), Milk

The evils of milk are discussed in The China Study. In this book Mr. Campbell's research links milk consumption with osteoporosis and cancer. The acidity of the fats and protein acidify the body and the calcium is not absorbed.

Okay to drink:
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar--drink 1 teaspoon in 1 cup water before each meal.
Herbal teas (no caffeine)

Omega 3's
It is important to have Omega 3's in your diet every day. There are essential fatty acids used by your nervous system that we can only get from fish oil and a few seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, flax, borage.

Why are alkaline foods better?

In order to get rid of toxins, the body must be slightly alkaline. Acidification causes the retention of toxins which leads to disease.

Foods that alkalinize
Most vegetables and fruits.
Vegetables and fruits contain primarily carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. So when they are broken down, waste products are carbon dioxide (exhaled) and water (neutral). Even fruits that are themselves acidic, such as lemons, become alkalinizing in the body. The minerals they leave behind are magnesium, calcium and potassium which alkalinize.

Olive oil can be used as an oil because it alkalinizes.

For grains and pasta, use quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat.

For protein, use beans, legumes and vegetables. Eggs are okay in moderation. For occasional meat use chicken, turkey or fish.

Food Groups to Avoid
Avoid all sweeteners, even natural like honey and stevia. They cause dumping of insulin, creating hypoglycemia and then anxiety with increased appetite. Sugar is the #1 acidifier.
Especially avoid artificial sweeteners as they are toxic to the liver.
Grains--wheat, rice, oats, barley
Red Meats--beef and pork.
Dairy--milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt
Fats & Oils--Margarine, butter, vegetable oils or shortening.

Avoid all alcohols--beer, wine, liquor

The Importance of Enzymes
Eat something raw before each meal to provide natural enzymes from the food. This takes the strain off the pancreas. Enzymes can also be taken in pill form.

Do a 24-hour juice fast one day per week. This provides micronutrients, rests the pancreas, and alkalinizes the body.

Dr. Cheek is an alternative medicine physician. Under attack by the government for providing nutritional counseling to her patients, she continues to teach through her website, and her book, Target: Pain Doc. Please visit and support the rights of patients in the country to be healthy and pain-free.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday's Menu--Roasted Garlic Cauliflower

2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large head cauliflower, separated into florets
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

The First Page of Losing Penny

One week into my new novel and I'm loving it. It's always a honeymoon when I start a new novel, but I think because I thought and mulled this one over for several weeks before I actually started writing it's pouring from my fingers. Or maybe it's because I've spent so many years yo-yo dieting that I can really relate to my character Penny. Or maybe it's because I already know my hero, Drake. Drake appeared in the novel I wrote years ago and that I'm currently rewriting.

That's right.

I'm drafting a new novel and editing an old one. Why? Because I love drafting and editing not so much. And yet, I can't throw The Rhyme's Library away. It's too good and I spent way too much time on it to let it die. I work on it on Thursdays. My Costco day...but that's another blog post.

Here's the first page of Losing Penny. Enjoy.

Penny loved Richard and she adored Rose, but she her feelings toward Pralines and Cream were mediocre at best and standing on a platform with a woman with a mouth full of pins in her mouth at her feet, looking at herself in the mirror Penny had to say she looked exactly like an overflowing Pralines and Cream ice cream cone. Dress sizes come and go but wedding pictures are forever, she thought.

Rose smiled at her from across the room. Because of all the mirrors lining the walls, Rose came in quadruples. Rose’s dress reminded Penny of a lamp shade. Understated—Rose’s wedding buzz word. Rose wanted a very simple, elegant, $150 thousand dollar wedding. And Penny’s brother Richard couldn’t deny his finance even one little thing, not even a waffle cone dress for his sister.

“It’s a little snug,” Rose said, frowning at the Penny’s multiple reflections.
“Harrumph,” the woman at Penny’s feet said.

Rose, a fashion designer, understood tailor-speak, but Penny didn’t. She guessed the woman said, It doesn’t matter what she looks like, everyone will be looking at you and you’ll be drop dead gorgeous.

“I know,” Rose sighed. “Still, we want her to look her best.”

“Harrumph,” the woman retorted, which Penny interpreted as You can paint a barn in fancy colors, but it’s still a barn.

“She’s worked so hard, it would be a shame not to show her off,” Rose said, she smiled at Penny and tugged at the dress’s bodice, exposing more creamy cleavage.

Please don’t let my pralines show, Penny prayed.

“Just a little more va va voom,” Rose said, frowning at Penny’s spillover cleavage.

And that’s why Penny spent the next three hours at the gym. She wanted less va va and definitely less voom. With grim determination stamped on her face, she raced on the treadmill. All around her, Orange County toothpicks and giraffes sweated on the machines. Music blared from the speakers, but Penny only heard her own internal mantra. Less va va. Weigh less voom. Soon.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Importance of Journaling

Just get it down on paper and then we’ll see what to do with it
Maxwell Perkins

Goals really can be applied in any area of your life and the beauty of a good goal is that it spills over and blesses not only you, but everyone around you. When you’re healthy, you’re better able to serve and bless the people you love. So, if you have some goals, write them down. Be specific. Give every goal a time and a place. Remember the old adage, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Someone once told me that life is like a closet, if your life is full, you'll need to take something out if you want to put something new in. And don't we all have full lives? We spend our time doing something, but some things are more worthwhile than others. If you need to make time for exercise, where can you steal some time? What can you replace? Can you dovetail, for example--if you currently spend your mornings reading the newspaper, can you do that on an exercise bike? Can you watch your favorite TV show while on a treadmill?

If you really don't think you have time to spare, try this exercise (no pun intended). Make out or purchase a weekly calendar that has every hour of everyday listed. For one week, keep track of how you spend every hour. You might be surprised at the "islands of time" available. You'll probably also see that there are countless of ways to be more efficient, tasks that can and should be delegated, and that there many ways to reclaim your life and your health.